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Short-film director LaRonn Katchia travels to Paris 48 Hour Film Project Filmapalooza.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - LaRonn Katchia (second from left), formerly of Warm Springs, and Isaac Trimble (right), of Portland, had the opportunity to meet a famous French actress/director, Josiane Balasko, and her husband, Native American actor George Aguilar, originally from The Dalles, while in Paris. The meeting was set up by Sunny Techer, left. 
Last month, short-film director LaRonn Katchia, formerly of Warm Springs, flew more than 5,000 miles to pick up an award — all the way to Paris, France.

Katchia, 27, whose seven-minute film, "Missing Indigenous," was named Best Film of 2017 at the Portland 48 Hour Film Project in June, flew to Paris March 5.

Along with his producer, Isaac Trimble, of Portland, and actress Lacy Frost, of Hermiston, Katchia attended the Paris 48 Hour Film Project Filmapalooza from March 6-9, at the Forum des Images, where their film competed against others from around the globe.

"We made history as the first all Native American cast and crew for a 48 Hour Film Project," said Katchia, noting that their short film had a powerful message about murdered and missing indigenous women.

Around the world, some 120 cities made selections from about 4,500 entries to send to Filmapalooza. "We were chosen from our state to represent out of 43-plus great teams in Portland, Oregon," he said. "I could not be more proud of our team!"

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Left to right, Isaac Trimble of Portland, Lacy Frost of Hermiston, and LaRonn Katchia, who grew up in Warm Springs, attend the Paris 48 Hour Film Project Filmapalooza.Besides being named the Best Film of 2017 at the Portland festival, it was also honored in the category of Best Cinematography. The team received the award from the Portland event in Paris.

"Our film had an incredible reception. People loved it," said Katchia. "The feedback from the other producers and directors was that the film was profound and eye-opening."

"Most people around the globe are unaware of the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and this film made them want to know more," he said. "Cinematically, there were many curious inquiries about our creative process and techniques."

During the nine days they spent in Paris, Katchia and Trimble stayed in a hotel on the east side of Paris, a few Metro stops away from the Filmapalooza locations.

"It was a quaint little boutique hotel with wrought iron balconies, a beautiful spiral staircase and a classic French courtyard with a cobblestone patio and flowering vines climbing the walls," said Trimble. "The hotel was within walking distance to many Parisian cafés, restaurants, shops and galleries."

When they weren't busy with the film festival, they found time to visit some of the city's most famous sites: the Louvre museum, where they saw the Mona Lisa painting, the Eiffel Tower, the underground catacombs and many other historical landmarks.

"In addition to the traditional tourist attractions, some of the best parts of the trip were just walking around the city, riding the double-decker bus, and chatting with the Parisian people, one of which was the world-renowned French actress, writer, and director Josiane Balasko, who is well-known and respected for her work in theater and film," said Katchia.

The visitors learned that Balasko is married to George Aguilar, formerly of The Dalles, who is a respected Native American actor, and were invited to have coffee and lunch with them.

"We were welcomed into their home, shared stories, experiences of past and current works, laughed a lot, and were blessed to receive wise advice and guidance," he said.

Trimble also found the experience extraordinarily memorable. "It was powerful to see other Best 48 Hour Films and visit with teams and filmmakers from around the world," he said.

"Having the opportunity to see each other's projects and ask questions about techniques, struggles, and to reflect on our triumphs and frustrations was important for growth — knowing we are not alone in digital storytelling," noted Trimble. "The point of making cinema is to capture the human condition and to be present in that moment."

In addition, the filmmakers were able to attend workshops on writing, directing, acting, visual effects, and planning out their next steps in filmmaking.

"During this experience, I learned more effective ways of digital storytelling through the interaction with people and cultures that are different from our own," said Katchia. "Learning about other people's contexts and avenues for making art afforded us a whole new perspective on our own work. It offered fresh insight on how we want to create and represent Native American cinema moving forward."

"I also learned that we are not alone in producing and directing indigenous films," he added. "With our struggles and strengths, we are right where we need to be. I gained knowledge on how to build and lead stronger teams and how to make decisions faster and more effectively."

Katchia is thankful for all the support they have received — both locally and globally. "Through our film and this experience, I hope to inspire other Native American filmmakers to pursue their passion and to tell their stories," he said.

The short, silent film can be seen at www.48hourfilm.com/portland-or/films/26424.

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