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Film Fortitude: 2014 Treefort Film Fest

"We're focusing on programming the best emerging independent artists. The films do not have to be music-centric; they are simply great films."


Benjamin Morgan is a name you probably aren't familiar with, though you undoubtedly will be one day. The San Francisco native's career has gone in every direction but boring; from failed child actor to graffiti artist, Morgan seems like a man destined for greatness--or at least a fascinating autobiography. And he thinks Boise holds the next great adventure for his eclectic skillset.

Treefort Music Fest, now in its third year, is Boise's annual three-day celebration of its ever-widening music scene. Or, at least it has been the past two years. Now, it is well past time to shake things up.

"There has always been a wonderful connection between musicians and filmmakers," said Morgan. "We feel that there is a segment of the Boise population that isn't currently engaged with the music fest."

Morgan, currently splitting his time between Eastern Oregon University (where he teaches a class on screenwriting) and working as a filmmaker (his movie, Quality of Life, has garnered awards from festivals around the world, including the Berlin International Film Festival), is adding yet another title to his impressive resume: director of the Treefort Film Fest.

"We're focusing on programming the best emerging independent artists. The films do not have to be music-centric; they are simply great films," said Morgan.

Included in the lineup are a handful of films that come with sizeable reputations. Opening night features Doomsdays, voted one of the "Best Films Not Playing at a Theater Near You" by the Museum of Modern Art, and Yearbook, which won best animated short at the Sundance Film Festival this year. "We have been very fortunate to score incredible films that no one in Idaho--or often anywhere outside of Sundance or South by Southwest--has seen," Morgan said. "Ian [Clark, Morgan's programming partner] and I are drawn to human stories. Filmmaker Q&As will follow many of the screenings."

Morgan said he was looking for the best of the best when it came to a venue in which to hold the screenings, Q&As and workshops: naturally, of course, that led him to The Flicks.

"The Flicks is a wonderful art house theater. Carole Skinner is a very seasoned, savvy exhibitor. She recognizes the power and momentum of Treefort, and is just as excited about the synergy as we are," Morgan said

Skinner put it simply. "It felt like a good fit," she said, noting that with the success of the music festival, adding film into the mix seemed "like a natural step."

Outside of The Flicks, Morgan is thrilled that Treefort Film Fest finds its home in Boise.

"There's an incredible artistic community here. Boise embraces that art. Music and films, among other artistic endeavors, are hugely supported by the community and the city. It's an ideal place for artists to live and create," he said.

Asked to describe his vision for the festival, Morgan had a matter-of-fact response.

"My experience touring my last film, Quality of Life, at film festivals informs my vision for the Treefort Film Fest. It is imperative to program great films and focus on the filmmakers--make sure they are treated with respect and can connect directly with the community. 'It's the artists, stupid.' That should totally be our motto."