7hills

Jesse Locke, with camera, films at 7Hills Skatepark in Amman, Jordan.

Who: Jesse Locke is the Bend filmmaker behind Unlocked Films and "7Hills," a new, 74-minute documentary about 7Hills Skatepark in Amman, Jordan. Begun in 2017, the film has been selected into festivals including the 2019 San Pedro International Film Festival and the 2020 Docs Without Borders Film Festival. It will make its Oregon premiere at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Cascades Academy, 19860 Tumalo Reservoir Road in Tumalo, followed by a Q&A including Locke and a recently transplanted family from Syria. Admission is free. Contact: cascadesacademy.org.

Locke's next documentary, "A Reflection of Hope," about three young Central Oregon activists, will premiere March 5 at the 2020 MUSE Conference, taking place March 5-8 in Bend. Locke has also put on live script-readings of films such as "Die Hard" and "Ghostbusters." Up next, in May, is "Back to the Future."

"My life is like, it's good, dude," Locke said. "I'm having a good time."

Q: Can you give a thumbnail of what "7Hills" is about?

A: "7Hills" is a documentary about 7 Hills Skatepark in Amman, Jordan, which was built in 2015 and teaches refugee children from Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Gaza and Sudan how to skate. They put on classes and they bus kids from the local refugee camps, and so it's an uplifting tale about a lot of things. We cover a lot of things in the film. It’s about skateboarding and the culture of skateboarding and what that means to the skateboarders on the surface. And then as we dive deeper into the film it's about what's going on in the Middle East and why these kids are in Amman, how they got there, and what this skatepark means to them.

Q: I know when we talked back in 2018, you were getting ready to go back to Jordan. How many times did you go?

A: Went over there twice, and the last time I spent a month.

Q: Have many people seen it yet?

A: Yeah. We got into four film festivals throughout the land, and that's about it, really. We filmed at a film festival in Ireland and Sweden and another in L.A. This will be the Oregon premiere.

Q: What kind of reactions are you getting from people?

A: For everybody who's seen it, it's really amazing, actually (laughs). It's getting really good feedback. It's gone through a couple of re-edits, as you do making movies, but I love where it's at right now. It's definitely the most mature film I've ever made, so I hope to just keep getting better and better at making films.

Q: Anything else you'd like people to know about the evening?

A: I would love to see the crowd filled with young people. I believe skateboarding bridges the gaps of all this heavy information that we're going to be offering you. But it's easy to digest when we have skateboarding, and what skateboarding means. Because skateboarding's like the universal language that is worldwide. … Bring the whole family. My goal for this film, and this screening here in Bend is to start a conversation. And if we can start a conversation, then that would be fantastic. Then we can have another conversation, and we can actually start talking about some of the issues happening in the Middle East.

David Jasper: 541-383-0349, djasper@bendbulletin.com

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