About the Festival
Beloved Whitworth Professor of English Leonard Oakland has held a lifelong passion for films and filmmaking. That passion led him to introduce film studies at Whitworth, to become involved with the Spokane-area movie scene, and to work on several Hollywood motion pictures. Oakland, who joined the Whitworth English Department faculty in 1966, began teaching film at Whitworth in 1970. Since then he has introduced several generations of students to classic American, foreign and independent movies and documentaries.
To honor Oakland and his dedication to film studies, Whitworth launched the Leonard Oakland Film Festival in February 2009. The inaugural festival featured three film showings as well as discussions with several of the filmmakers, including Oakland's longtime friend Ron Shelton, writer/director of Bull Durham and White Men Can't Jump, in which Oakland had a small acting role. During the festival, Whitworth hosted a Leonard A. Oakland Celebration Banquet that included the premiere of a new short film, A Portrait of Leonard Oakland, produced by Whitworth alumna Andrea Palpant Dilley, '00.
The inaugural festival also featured the kickoff of a film studies endowment that was initiated in Oakland's honor to fund the annual film festival. Whitworth is working with alumni, friends and Oakland's family to establish long-term funding of the endowment.
"I'm interested in seeing the study of film and visual literacy continue, and it needs a home," Oakland says. "That's the dream behind this festival and the legacy we hope to leave with this endowment."