A controversy has divided this once-idyllic town. A circuit court ruling giving endangered species status to the Spotted Owl meant that vast tracts of timberland would be closed to logging. The ruling hit Philomath—a logging town—hard. All but two of the town's twelve mills have closed in the years since. At the same time, "urban immigrants" from the nearby town of Corvallis, home to a Hewlett Packard plant and Oregon State University, moved into Philomath, transforming this once booming timber town into a bedroom community for white-collar workers. The hi-tech transplants brought with them a more liberal set of values, impacting both the town and school district. There were rumors that teachers had begun to instruct their students that logging was wrong and timber cutters were "murderers." The cultural divide in Philomath, between liberal and conservative, faith-based and secular, is a microcosm of what is happening across America today. It’s America’s culture war writ small—told through the struggle of a rural Oregon logging town. But in Philomath, there’s more at stake than an abstraction about where our American culture is headed. There’s also a scholarship and, very literally, children’s futures at stake.
Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival - 2006
Best Documentary: Sarasota Film Festival - 2006
"...a brilliant documentary that is like watching America's social and political landscape inside a test tube” – Variety Magazine
“Through the story of Philomath, “Clear Cut" effortlessly expands to become a portrait of changing communities across the West.” – New West
"'Clear Cut' is...packed with information and insight and made with delicate technique that opens a wide world through a single, specific keyhole. You read about issues like the ones it's concerned with all the time, but in the abstract; it's remarkable to see them presented in a way that helps you both see and feel the reality.” – The Oregonian