A retired Washington teacher and local historian has now helped found two film festivals – one in Ainsworth and another in Oslo, Norway. Michael Zahs has been working for decades to preserve and share some of the world’s oldest films that once belonged to Frank and Indiana Brinton. Through this work he became the subject of the documentary Saving Brinton and has traveled the world featuring the documentary.
Through those travels Zahs met people from Oslo who asked for his help in founding a film festival. Zahs says that not only will this be the first film festival in Oslo, it will be a first for Saving Brinton, “They are basing on our film. They wanted to show the community aspect of films. And each film has a whole day dedicated to it. And then they’ll kind of show the audience how to watch a film and things, and try to develop a continuing interest in films there. And I had always said that I wanted to show the Brinton films or the documentary in a tent, because the Brintons traveled with a tent. So they will pitch a tent on top of a four-story building in downtown Oslo and we will show the film in a tent.” That festival will be in October.
This year marks a century since Frank Brinton passed away. Zahs says the Heartland plays an important role in film, “I just think that Frank and Indiana would be so, so pleased. And we just, and I’ve said this before, but we just don’t understand how important Washington County, and Iowa is in the whole world of entertainment.”
The 23rd Annual Brinton Film Festival in Ainsworth will again be held the last Friday and Saturday in July. Each evening begins with an ice cream social in the Ainsworth Opera House, followed by select Brinton films and magic lantern slides. Admission is a free-will donation to benefit the Opera House. Zahs will be on-hand at both festivals.