James Blue: Filmmaker, Educator, Activist (1930-1980)

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

“Discovering James Blue” documents the life, art, cinema, teaching, social contribution, and archives of James Blue.

This film “Discovering James Blue”, is made possible and made by Master Filmmakers Peter Frengs, Krysta Maksim, Terry Bishop, Maclean Cannon, and Daniel Miller. It is inspired above all by James Blue, his work, his humanity, and the integrity and humanity of all those voices, people and stories, he cared for, filmed and brought to the world.

Special Thanks to all of those listed above for allowing The James and Richard Blue Foundation to embed this special documentary. Many thanks to all the contributors to the James Blue Project at the University of Oregon.


Who Was James Blue?

An award-winning documentary filmmaker, James Blue was a truth-searcher and communicator, an aesthetician, master teacher and actor; a journalist, a poet, a film pioneer. Blue was a generous spirit who gave himself without reservation to his colleagues, his subjects and his art. In 1980, James Blue died at the age of 49, leaving behind a remarkable legacy. A rebel, a storyteller, a world citizen, an award-winning filmmaker and a revered educator, Blue’s life and work continue to influence filmmakers, artists and agents of social change.

"While most documentary films intend to convince us of their veracity/validity, Jim's work has the sense of probing, searching and questioning."Paul Sharits
"He...communicated intensely, like someone who is inspired, like someone who is lonely, like a teacher, like someone who sees what is happening to the others and wants to give a helping hand.”Johan van der Keuken
“That ethic of participatory filmmaking which carries throughout James Blue’s career is probably the heart of where I think his legacy is meant to continue to build.”Richard Herskowitz, Cinema Pacific
"James Blue was Oregon's first internationally known independent writer-director-producer. He marked the trail. James Ivory, Bill Plympton, and Gus Van Sant followed it."Anne Richardson, Oregon writer Oregon Movies, A to Z
"James Blue inspired a generation of film students to search constantly for the truths that underlie conventional wisdom."David McDougall

The Pioneer of Participatory Media

With the sensibility of an actor, the discipline of a craftsman and the soul of a poet, his award-winning films like The March, The Olive Trees of Justice, and A Few Notes on Our Food Problem inspired generations of filmmakers to explore film as a medium to empower the voiceless while helping audiences better understand the complexities of the human condition. His unconventional style of interactive filmmaking began with asking questions and allowing his films to reveal the answers through engaging his subjects. He was the visionary pioneer of participatory media, which today’s social networks and blogs have placed squarely into the hands of Everyman.

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