By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

McMinnville Short Film Fesitval to feature 104 entries

Directors of more than 500 short films submitted their work to McMinnville Short Film Festival organizers for the 2023 event.

An Academy Award nominee and several made in Yamhill County are among the 104 films hosen to be screened Feb. 23 to 26. Films will show in the McMinnville Cinemas on Northeast Cumulus Avenue; other events are scheduled in various locations downtown.

This will be the first fully in-person McMinnville Short Film Festival since February 2020. It was held online in 2021 because of the COVID pandemic, and as a hybrid with both online and in-person events in 2022.

This year’s keynote speaker will be a producer and actor almost everyone will recognize if they see him walking through downtown McMinnville on the way from one film festival event to another.

Peter Billingsley, who looks much like he did when he played Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” 40 years ago, will headline the festival’s dinner and awards presentation at 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, in The Bindery event space, 610 N.E. Fourth St.

Billingsley likely will talk about films he’s produced as well as those in which he’s appeared, such as “Iron Man” and “Couples Retreat” — and, of course, the popular holiday movie now streamed dozens of times each Christmas.

The dinner is open to the public, as well as people who are attending the rest of the film festival. Cost is $40 per person for dinner only. Reservations are needed; go to the festival website at

Tickets for the festival itself also are available on the website, as well as at the door. An all-event pass with dinner costs $120; access to all the films without dinner is $80. Single event tickets, which admit the viewer to thematic blocks of movies such as “Environmental,” “Native American,” and “Drama/Comedy” also can be purchased for $8 each.

“We have an exciting festival this year,” said Heather Older, festival director, who took over for founders Dan and Nancy Morrow.

The Morrow started the event in 2011 when they owned Movietime Video; they later closed the video store and reopened as an art gallery. The festival has grown steadily over the years and become one of the best-known in Oregon.

Older, who became festival director last year, said she is especially excited about having an Academy Award nominee among the selections. “My Year of Dicks,” a coming-of-age story, will show in the block of animated films at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26. The block is labeled as having “adult content.”

Older also is excited about a longer film that will make a special appearance at the festival.

“ClayDream” is a feature-length documentary about McMinnville native Will Vinton, who went on to fame with his Claymation animation technique. The film premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and played in some theaters, but never was shown in Vinton’s hometown.

“ClayDream” director Marq Evans will speak at the showing, which will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, in the McMinnville Cinema. The showing is sponsored by Visit McMinnville.

Cost is $8, which covers both the feature film and the festival’s animation block.

This year’s McMinnville Short Film Festival also includes a new category for films, LGTQ-plus. A new award, the Founders’ Award, will be presented to the outstanding female filmmaker. “There are a lot of them. It’s a really strong field,” Older said.

Several of them entered films in Older’s favorite category, Horror/Suspense, which will be screened on Saturday, Feb. 25.

“It’s a really great block,” she said. “A lot of very high-quality films this year.”



See the films and meet the filmmakers

The 2023 McMinnville Short Film Festival will open Thursday, Feb. 23, with a block of films in the category “student.” Entries include films from Portland State University, Pacific University and other schools. Segments are scheduled at 6:15, 7:45 and 8:45 p.m.

A block of local films also will be offered that evening, starting at 5 p.m. Yamhill County filmmakers get to enter the festival free. They can enter the “locals” category or any other category, Older said.

An Oregon filmmakers block is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.

Also on Friday, the first of three blocks of “Drama/Comedy” films will be shown, along with Environmental entries and the popular category, “Experimental/A Bit Strange.”

Saturday’s events include a “Meet the Filmmakers” mixer at 3 p.m. in the Troon Winery tasting room at 620 N.E. Third St. It also is open to the public with a ticket.

Sunday morning will include “Breakfast with a Filmmaker” featuring Sean Parker, who makes puppet stop-motion animated pieces. The breakfast will start at 9:30 a.m. at Gallery Theater, Second and Ford streets.

Filmmakers from all over the world are represented at this year’s festival — from Japan, Canada, Australia and many other countries. Many will spend Feb. 23 to 26 in McMinnville to see audiences react to their work and to talk with fellow creators.

The McMinnville Short Film Festival has been attracting more entries and a more diverse selection of films each year, Older said, and it’s on the path to continued growth.

The event also will be changing locations eventually: When the Mack Theater refurbishing project is finished, Older said, the downtown venue will become the festival’s new home.

For a full list of films and show times, or to buy tickets, go to the film festival website,


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