By Midge Pierce


Positive reviews continue to pour in for Land Ho!, a newly released independent film by Portland native Aaron Katz. From The New York Times to local art mags, the film is praised for its charm, authenticity and magical touch.

This is the fourth film by Katz, who has developed the kind of quirky characters only towns like Portland can produce.

The septuagenarian buddy road trip was filmed in far-off Iceland and is a comedy about a pair of ex-brothers in laws. One is recently widowed, the other divorced  and both are bound for outdoor adventures and encounters with beautiful women in the sunset of their lives.

The characters in Land Ho, Katz says, are reminiscent of the kind of people he knew growing up: “real people with genuine feelings”.

Two of Katz’ earlier films were shot in Portland and all were influenced by Stumptown’s chameleon-like skies and  neighborhood ambience.

“Portland played an important role in Cold Weather (Katz’ 2010 film). I shot a lot in SE, around Sunnyside. The vibrant colors in the neighborhoods are heightened by Portland’s steely gray skies. It is a great setting for mystery and romance.

Aaron Katz, co-director Marthat Stephens, and actor Earl Lynn Nelson on location in Iceland

Aaron Katz, co-director Marthat Stephens, and actor Earl Lynn Nelson on location in Iceland

A major difference between shooting in Iceland vs. Portland was the expense. He and co-director Martha Stephens were shocked to find that gas cost $8 a gallon in the land of ice. Still, he loved the experience.

“Both Portland and Iceland are visually-wonderful places to shoot. There is so much variety closeby. In Iceland. Reykjavík  is a very urban setting but you don’t have to go far to feel like you’ve landed on another planet.”

Katz credits the film classes he took from teacher Barry Hunt at Pacific Crest Community School at NE 29th and Davis St. for sparking his interest in movie making. Hunt taught him the importance of having – and being – a mentor, someone who helps give you direction in life.

Another Pacific Crest alumna and longtime friend Keegan DeWwitt, wrote the lyrical music score.

Katz would move back to Portland, but for the connections that can only be had in Hollywood. He is currently working on a script for a sci-fi movie and says he is leaving options open for where to film.