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What Makes NW Salmon "Iconic"? OR Filmmaker Aims to Find Out

November 9, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - An epic tale of the Northwest is headed for the big screen. The story of endangered wild salmon in the region involves more than lawsuits, political debates, science, hydro-power and irrigation. That's the point of a film premiering on Wednesday in Portland.

In "The Greatest Migration," filmmaker Andy Maser follows the fishes' journey as they swim upstream from the ocean, through Oregon and Washington, to spawn in the rivers and lakes of Idaho. Along the way, he interviews those who are interested in saving the species for what often are very personal reasons, people ranging from a Nez Perce tribal elder to an Oregon public servant.

"Ed Bowles, Oregon's Chief of Fisheries, who we meet first, honestly wants to save these fish and is trying to find a way to balance the needs of hydroelectricity and the needs of these salmon. He understands all of these very important connections."

The fish travel farther inland and higher than any other salmon in the world by the time they head up the Columbia River and successfully reach Idaho. The film was made by EP Productions of Portland, with backing by the group Save Our Wild Salmon, and KEEN Footwear.

In the debate about how to save salmon, Maser says, the remarkable journey of the fish and their importance to local history and cultures are often overlooked. He hopes his project will provide a fresh perspective.

"This film is really about touching on those things that go deeper than economics or politics, when it comes to salmon recovery. In the real-world situation, it is the economics and the politics that really get things done, but you have to get people motivated to care. "

"The Greatest Migration" premieres Wednesday at 7 p.m. at KEEN Footwear headquarters at 926 N.W. 13th Avenue in Portland. Maser says it will also be entered in the "Wild and Scenic Film Festival" in January.

The film trailer is at vimeo.com

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR