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Originally published Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Film world comes to Washougal

From Africa to India to the Sundance Film Festival to her home on Mount Norway, Breven Angaelica Warren has moved quickly — largely...

The Columbian

WASHOUGAL, Clark County — From Africa to India to the Sundance Film Festival to her home on Mount Norway, Breven Angaelica Warren has moved quickly — largely over the Internet — to organize the First International Washougal Film Festival.

"Next year maybe it will be called the fruit and film festival," said Warren, 29, who has planted 30 fruit trees along the driveway of the country home she shares with her parents. They are the international Christian activists Donald and Suzy Warren, who run a nonprofit called Equipping Ministries International. They are building a farm and radio station in Sudan.

Warren is working to spread community through her movie work.

She has produced films of all kinds over the past few years, and said she has 30 entries from 10 countries already in hand for the festival. She has films from many of the U.S. states, China, Poland, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, India, Argentina, Mexico and Canada, she said.

Using the World Wide Web, she expects to gain a lot more entries before the festival, scheduled Aug. 20-23. The screenings will be right in the center of old town, in the new Washougal Town Center — both inside and outside in the courtyard. Any overflow will go to Washougal High School.

It's a good time for the festival, she noted. It's the 100th anniversary of Washougal, and community leaders are staging a centennial Washougalfest on July 25 and 26, the same summer weekend as nearby Camas Days and the American Motorcyclist Association Motocross Championship at Washougal MX Park.

For her event, a month later, Warren has the green light from the city, said Washougal Mayor Stacee Sellers.

"We're happy to have the festival here," Sellers said.

"It's exciting to have someone with that kind of passion in our community," said Jinger Jacobson, executive director of the Washougal Downtown Revitalization Implementation Committee. "We're thrilled."

Warren said she couldn't believe how helpful everyone has been in staging the festival, from city officials to Wes Hickey, owner of the Town Center.

"I needed a special venue," she said, "and it wasn't until Mr. Hickey and Lone Wolf started building that I just fell in love with the Town Square." There was no special need to stage the festival in Washougal, she said, but the building of the new downtown center was the deciding factor for her.

She said she has seven of her own films, ranging in length from three minutes to two hours, in a film festival in London this spring. That's not unusual. She's shown her films in many venues before.

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She doesn't expect to show any of her films at Washougal, however. In this case, she said, she's the catalyst to share works by others.

The worldwide film subculture is diverse, she said. Around the world, festivals range from one theater with one screen for a couple of hours to 20 screens over a period of two weeks, she said.

This festival will include multiple screens. "I would like to have as many as possible," she said, "so we could put as many films together as possible, playing on a rotating schedule."

She said the festival will feature "family-friendly films" and will be open to everyone. "I want one of the largest screens to be in the courtyard of the Town Square." The films will be previewed by about 30 people who will make sure quality and family-appropriate films are shown, she said.

After living in Florida, California, India and Africa, Warren said, she came to Washougal three years ago. It's the home base of her parents, who grew up in eastern Clark County. Her father was the captain of the Camas football team, and her mother was the captain of the Washougal cheer team. They overcame the rivalry and got together, she said, laughing.

She herself has degrees in anthropology and literature from Florida State University and global ecology from Boston University. She studied sustainable living in India, Mexico, England, New Zealand and the Philippines. Her real love, she said, is storytelling. That's how she moved into film.

She shot a documentary film while in Sudan, is editing it now, and also has an option on a feature film called "Native Land," to be shot in Sudan. The film project is described in the online arts magazine theartsmanager.com.

It's about refugees and construction of a farm. "We're actually going to build the farm, as opposed to building a movie set and walking away when it is done," she said.

"The whole effort is more about the farm," she said. "I get to walk away with the film, but the farm stays there, and it's sustainable and it will be run by locals."

She'd like to see the farm become a place where Sudanese farmers can exchange skills, she said.

The land for the farm and nearby radio station was given to her family, she said, because her father was the only person who responded to a plea from the chief's brother when the chief got cerebral malaria.

"My father answered an e-mail and had him flown out for treatment. The chief, in turn, is now my father's son and my brother, and he gave my family a very large piece of land." On the land is a tall hill where her family is building the radio station.

The project recently suffered a shocking, serious setback, she said. Her friends in Sudan were abducted and tortured by a rebel army.

She hasn't been able to talk with her friends.

"They closed the roads, and I was going to go there, but now I don't know when I can do that," she said. "My dad is leaving for there in a few days."

She intends to go back soon, however, and take up the film project, which she sees as a way of sharing life experience and knowledge.

There's little difference between the Africa project, she said, and the film festival she plans to bring to her hometown.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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