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Published: 12 December 2011

The North Portland Multimedia Training Center (NPMTC), a project of The Skanner Foundation, received funding from the Mount Hood Cable Regulatory Commission (MHCRC) Capital Grant Program for their 2011 grant cycle. MHCRC grants fund equipment purchases for projects that engage the community in filmmaking.

The project, "Life in Vanport," is a yearlong film festival beginning January 2012 running through December 2012. Entries will be accepted monthly and posted to the NPMTC website. The public will view monthly entries and vote for them via the web. Each monthly winning entry will be awarded a prize worth $25. Contest organizer Naomi Pierce said, "We hope the contest draws out some meaningful stories about Vanport and some creative talent in the community." Outreach to promote the festival includes presentations at neighborhood association meetings, churches, internet advertising, and social media.

The Vanport flood does not have to be the focus of the production, Pierce noted. The focus is on the individuals who lived there and what their life was like. This is an opportunity to record their history in their own words about a place that no longer exists. The project supports novice filmmakers and individuals inexperienced in this type of documentary filming. Several websites pointing to information about Vanport and oral history instructional sites are on the Vanport Film Festival Contest web pages, in addition to contest information, rules, and the registration form. Films are limited to 5 minutes or less in length. Use of a digital video camera for filming productions is required. Equipment loan and training are also available through NPMTC.

In December 2012 when the contest ends, all monthly winning entries will be viewed by a panel of judges who will vote selecting the Grand Prize winning entry. Producer of the Grand Prize entry will be awarded $1,000 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast, January 2013.

According to the Oral History Society:
Historical documents and books can't tell us everything about our past. Often they concentrate on famous people and big events, and tend to miss out ordinary people talking about everyday events. They also neglect people on the margins of society - ethnic communities, disabled and unemployed people for example - whose voices have been hidden from history. Oral history fills in the gaps and gives us history which includes everyone. Unfortunately, because memories die when people do, if we don't record peoples' life histories they are lost forever(1)

To further aid filmmakers and Vanport oral history participants, NPMTC will facilitate a match if you need a subject to film or need someone to film your story. This contest has ended.

Thressia Del Colbert and her family remember the Vanport Flood

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