TYPE: Documentary Feature
Tucked in the trees of Oregon’s Mount Hood, an introspective young snowboarder camps alone, anticipating a winter of adventure and self-renewal in this hybrid form documentary.
Tenacious, 19-year old Sadie Ford operates within the poetic persona of a searching pioneer. Her footsteps track over the town of Government Camp’s mountain landscape, her dog Scooter her only constant companion. Deep among the Douglas firs Sadie snowshoes to build her nestled tentsite, a place she feels more at ease than anywhere with four walls. Riding sessions and house parties in town provide breaths of social interaction and connection, but otherwise she chooses to spend time in solitude. Sadie’s simple quest for joy is tempered by melancholy when increasingly warm temperatures on the mountain cause rain to replace snow, and the winter season grows shorter. Striking a youthful yet elegiac tone, WOODSRIDER is a meditative film about identity, home, and the way that human experience echoes that of the natural world.
WOODSRIDER originally began as an endeavor to portray a character I resonated with strongly, and yet hadn’t ever seen onscreen with the layered complexity that my own experience as a female snowboarder deserved.
Riding through tree-built cathedrals of mountain woods demands that a rider visualize her path, follow that line without flinching, and generate a new set of personal tracks in the snow. In this intimate space, she feels alone in the world, but also embraced. I wanted to see a female protagonist move through an outdoor journey, the kind where risk, self-reliance, laser focus and communion with nature all meet. Inspired by Western-set stories like INTO THE WILD and JEREMIAH JOHNSON, the idea of showing Sadie Ford’s experience as a woman in this environment felt fresh, rarely seen, and radical, much like the act of snowboarding itself feels.
In casting the film, I looked for a ‘typical’ snowboarder chick. I wanted someone young, highly proficient at snowboarding, deeply in love with the sport, and who lived on the mountain full-time. Once Sadie agreed to participate, the plan was to film alongside her, using her perspective to reflect the posturing, bravado, camaraderie, and devotion of the snowboarding culture at the height of the winter season. The film would be equally a celebration and a critique, highlighting Sadie’s inner experience and outer world.
But the weather, in late February and early March of 2014, did not pan out. Instead of snow, Mount Hood atypically received over two weeks of rain. Limited by our schedule, Sadie and the crew together decided to film anyway. We were in for some surprises.
Sadie was a combination of Natty Gan, Sissy Hankshaw, and Snow White. She slept alone under a tarp for weeks at a time through snow and rain. She used her mother’s 1970’s snowshoes to reach her campsite, and covered up her tracks so as not to be detected. She whistled and cursed, hitchhiked with friends, and fearlessly practiced her tricks. She constantly reached out to touch trees, picking off bits of moss and exploring their texture in her palm. When the snow showed up, she vanished into its jowls in a flash.
But far from the winter wonderland originally envisioned for the shoot, we witnessed a parade of grey, overcast skies and heard the perpetual sound of water, dripping and flowing everywhere. Boisterous folks like Sadie were often quiet, the resort town’s tourists disappeared, and the mountain subsided into snow melt and bare ground. An opportunity emerged for a level of reflection not entirely anticipated.
As it became clear that the film would not serve as a platform to showcase an idealized version of her snowboarding self, Sadie effortlessly moved into a deep understanding of the project’s larger thematic possibilities. She saw the value of showing herself in moments of stillness and vulnerability, and made frequent accommodations to be filmed while in these states. Her extensive collaboration with the camera while ‘performing’ the actions of her own life gives the feeling of watching a narrative film.
WOODSRIDER does not attempt to romanticize nature, nor the internal journey so often taken when we stay outside for a while. Like Sadie, the mountain setting has its flaws and imperfections, its yearnings and visions of glory. Regeneration and change are inevitable. This film is about taking the time to examine ourselves and grow.
Cambria Matlow - Director/Producer/Editor
Cambria Matlow received the inaugural 2016 Oregon Filmmaker’s Residency Award to write a feature length narrative script for an environmental fable about Mexican women set in the high desert during the Rogue River Wars (1855-56) in Southern Oregon. Her latest feature film, WOODSRIDER, is an immersive documentary portrait of a female snowboarder on Mt Hood, slated to premiere on the festival circuit in 2017. BURNING IN THE SUN (2010), about a young man who starts a local solar energy business in Mali, West Africa, was her directorial debut. The film was selected for IFP’s Documentary Lab and Independent Film Week, broadcast on Al Jazeera and PBS, and seen in festivals worldwide, including Rooftop Films, FICMA Barcelona, New York African Film Festival and Addis Int’l Film Festival, eventually winning the Cinema for Peace International Green Film Award in Berlin.
Cambria’s films seek meaning in moments of stillness and value the emotional experiences created from atmosphere and mood. Small interactions and environmental realities reveal personal and political truths. Her work has been awarded grants and artist residencies from LEF Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council, Experimental Television Center, the Puffin Foundation, and NW Documentary. Cambria holds a Certificate in Film Production from Burlington College in Vermont and a B.A. in Hispanic Studies from Columbia University. She anticipates earning her Masters in Essay Documentary from EICTV in Cuba in 2018.
Janique Robillard - Producer/Editor
Janique Robillard is a freelance producer and director. Currently pursuing an MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art, she was previously based in Portland, OR. She recently won Women in Film’s Vision Grant for her debut feature documentary, 1000 Times, about female MMA fighters. Raised in a family of athletes, Janique has pursued various winter sports. She found herself training primarily with men, and her options for athletic female role models limited. This experience drives her creative desire to capture portraits of women in power, especially in sports, without compromising their femininity or eliminating all depth from their character. Janique seeks opportunities to collaborate with women, working to elevate women’s voices in film.
Jerred North - Director of Photography
After several audits of NYU film courses, Jerred North enrolled at Maine Media Workshops and completed his Residency in Cinematography. In 2012 he founded Cascadium Pictures, where he created JamQwest (Mill Valley Film Festival 2014), in which he followed a drummer up the legendary Monkey Face 350-foot spire in Oregon's Smith Rock. His graceful, patient style of documentary camerawork and shared sense of aesthetics made him a perfect collaborator on The Woodsriders. He is currently in development on a web series that chronicles the lives of developers pioneering new forms of content for modern Virtual Reality platforms, recently showcased at SXSW.
Ronen Landa - Original Score
Ronen's music has been hailed as “an astounding auditory journey... an intricate and delightful aural treat.” His work has been heard in film screenings around the globe, on television, and in concert halls. A 2011 Sundance Institute Fellow, Ronen especially enjoys collaborating with filmmakers; cinema inspires him to create music that is inventive and daring, and, above all, music that communicates. Films he has scored include The Pact (IFC Films, Official Selection: Sundance), The Dreams of Sparrows (Official Selection: SXSW), City of Borders (Teddy Audience Award, Berlin International Film Festival), and Burning In the Sun with director Cambria Matlow.
Claire Weingarten - Associate Producer
A veteran of film distribution and exhibition, Claire Weingarten has worked with The Film Society of Lincoln Center, The American Film Institute, and on the inaugural two years of AFI’s documentary festival, Silverdocs. She currently serves as Director of New Media for the Chelsea-based foreign and independent film company, Film Movement, where she manages all digital and cable distribution. In 2005, Claire aligned with Cambria Matlow as co-producer at Birdgirl Productions, where their critically acclaimed first film Burning In the Sun received extensive distribution. Her extensive working knowledge of niche distribution models will ensure Woodsrider receives a wide release.
Richard Beer - Producer
Richard Beer has spent over 30 years working in film production, distribution, marketing and theatrical exhibition. He has served as a programmer, advisor, board member and juror for dozens of film festivals around the world and as an editorial consultant for many independent films.
After graduating from Columbia College Chicago’s film program in 1990, Richard worked for the Chicago International Film Festival, Facets Multimedia, and helped launch the Moving Image Archives at the North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking. For nearly 14 years he was the Artistic Director for Film Action Oregon (FAO) and the Hollywood Theatre Project in Portland where he oversaw programming and restoration of the historic venue, as well as FAO’s educational and fiscal sponsor programs. In addition to his consulting work he is currently the Director of Programming for the independent Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver, Washington.
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