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Eye guyís story gets play at Sundance
By MARY BELLOTTI
Issue date: 1/24/2003

Portland filmmaker Vance Malone is having his moment in the sun ó the Sundance Film Festival, that is.

Malone, a director with Food Chain Films, a Portland film production company, is at the influential Park City, Utah, festival this week screening his own eight-minute, black-and-white documentary, "Ocularist," about the work of Portlandís Fred Harwin, who makes artificial eyes.

Malone has been to a directorsí lunch featuring festival founder Robert Redford. He has spotted Hollywood stars including Steve Buscemi, Kevin Spacey and Olympia Dukakis.

"Itís a great honor," Malone said by phone Tuesday night after his filmís second screening. "To have a film at Sundance is worth its weight in gold."

He said he has been approached "by people interested in purchasing the film" and by organizers of other film festivals, including one in Milan, Italy.

Malone made "Ocularist" last year after seeing a Portland Tribune business feature about Harwin. He had been researching a condition prevalent in his family called macular degeneration, which Malone describes as "slow-growing blindness."

"At that time, the Portland Tribune article came out and I saw (a photo of) Fred holding an (artificial) eye. The photo was eerily attractive. I read the article, then I called Fred."

Harwinís charisma and "amazing artistry" inspired Malone to make "Ocularist," which shows how Harwin meticulously customizes each artificial eye for his patients. In the film, he crafts an eye for an Eastern Oregon teen, Andy Jackman.

"Ocularist" was one of 3,500 short films submitted to the festival and one of only 90 chosen to be shown at the festival. The film is being screened five times.

Harwin is attending the festival with his wife, Sara, and daughter, Lise. About two dozen other Portlanders are at the festival, including most of Food Chainís staff and Portland musician Keith Schreiner, who wrote the score for "Ocularist" and heads a group called Auditory Sculpture.

The movie is available on the festivalís Web site, www.sundanceonlinefilmfestival.com, under "Short Film Showcase."

Contact Mary Bellotti at mbellotti@portlandtribune.com.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from: http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=16140

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