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Old Films Brought Back to Life in Ashland Independent Film Festival Documentary

Small town Iowa history teacher Michael Zahs didn't know the documentary 'Saving Brinton' was actually going to be about him until he saw the film for the first time.

Posted: Apr 14, 2018 6:27 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2020 7:58 AM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- Small town Iowa history teacher Michael Zahs didn't know the documentary 'Saving Brinton' was actually going to be about him until he saw the film for the first time. He said didn’t want any input into the making of the film because he wanted to make sure ‘Saving Brinton’ was the documentarians’ film, not his.

"It's just been a great part of my life," Zahs said.

Zahs’ journey to the big screen started almost 40 years ago in 1981 in a basement. He was cleaning one out and discovered Frank Brinton’s showreels from the early 1900s. Brinton is credited to bringing motion pictures to the Midwest and Zahs got his hands on those films decades later.

"I was able to haul three truckloads of stuff. I had no money and it was an adventure and I had no idea what was there and we're still finding things in the collection. There are so many parts to it," Zahs added.

Now he tours all over the globe, with the people who made the documentary, teaching movie goers about early motion pictures. They made a stop in Ashland for the Ashland Independent Film Festival and did just that. But he still says ‘Saving Brinton’ isn't necessarily about him.

"I don't think it's my story so much but if it can help people to--I've had people say you've justified me saving things well, that's good," Zahs said. “I think I get more credit by far than what I deserve. If I can put a face on saving things and the value of dreaming and telling stories than it is okay.”

He hopes this documentary inspires people to hang on to some of their history.

"There are things that we're too close to to understand the value of until time and so we need to give people more time. And we live in a period when time is something that gets in our way and it should slow us down."

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