The 2014 Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) Alaska Airlines Audience Awards have been announced. This year PIFF screened 104 features and 24 shorts from countries around the world. A few were nominees for the 2014 Oscars, but most you’ve never heard of.
The problem for most festival votes is that the voters don’t see all the films. Some festivals, like Cannes and Sundance, have a jury that determines the awards. However, at PIFF all awards are determined by the viewers, so the votes are not by comparison but by ratings given each film by an audience. One benefit is that politics and behind-the-scenes promos don’t corrupt the voting process.
Voted on by more than 38,000 viewers despite a snow storm that temporarily shut down the festival, here is how it all played out.
1. TWO LIVES / Germany / George Maas, Judith Kaufmann * best narrative feature
2. IDA / Poland / Pawel Pawlikowski
3. THE LUNCHBOX / India / Ritesh Batra
4. CIRCLES / Serbia / Srdan Golubovic
5. COHERENCE /US /James Ward Byrkit
6. THE ZIG ZAG KID / The Netherlands / Vincent Bal
7. ERNEST AND CELESTINE / France / S. Aubier, V. Patar, B. Renner
8. OMAR / Palestine / Hany Abu-Assad
9. THE BUTTERFLY’S DREAM / Turkey / Yilmaz Erdogan
10. THE WIND RISES / Japan / Hayao Miyazaki
1. FINDING VIVIAN MAIER / US / John Maloof, Charlie Siskel *best documentary feature
2. TIM’S VERMEER / US / Teller
3. PARTICLE FEVER / US / Mark Levinson
4. LEVITATED MASS / US / Doug Pray
5. CODE BLACK / US / Ryan McGarry
6. MAIDENTRIP / The Netherlands / Jillian Schlesinger
7. REMOTE AREA MEDICAL / US / Jeff Reichert, Farihah Zaman
8. THE NEW RIJKSMUSEUM / The Netherlands / Oeke Hoogendijk
9. CAIRO DRIVE / Egypt / Sherief Elkatsha
10. GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN / Great Britain / Ben Lewis
BEST NEW DIRECTORS
1. FINDING VIVIAN MAIER / US / John Maloof, Charlie Siskel *best new director(s)
2. CODE BLACK / US / Ryan McGarry
3. THE LUNCHBOX / India / Ritesh Batra
4. MAIDENTRIP / The Netherlands / Jillian Schlesinger
5. THE DAY OF THE CROWS / France / Jean-Christophe Dessaint
1. ERNEST AND CELESTINE / France / S. Aubier, V. Patar, B. Renner *best animated feature
2. CHEATIN’ / US / Bill Plympton
3. THE DAY OF THE CROWS / France / Jean-Christophe Dessaint
1. GRANDPA AND ME AND A HELICOPTER TO HEAVEN / Sweden / Asa Blanck, Johan Palmgren *best short film
2. SATURDAY GIRLS / France / Emilie Cherpitel
3. GREAT / Germany / Andreas Henn
4. ONE LAST HUG AND A FEW SMOOCHES: THREE DAYS AT GRIEF CAMP / Portland / Irene Taylor Brodsky
5. THE APOTHOCARY / US / Helen Hood Scheer
1. ONE LAST HUG AND A FEW SMOOCHES: THREE DAYS AT GRIEF CAMP / Portland / Irene Taylor Brodsky *best Oregon short film
2. 9 / Portland / Kimberly Warner
3. PORTLAND MEADOWS / Portland / Vanessa Renwick
My list of 10 recommendations is much shorter and based on what I had the chance to see. The films are listed without regard to category but on the basis of what every person should see in regards to the value of your time.
What every person should see, in this order:
1. Remote Area Medical (US)
Shocking doc about the people who need medical care
2. Ernest and Celestine (France)
Delightful, warm-hearted, inspiring, artistically delicate animation for everyone 7 years and up
3. Wind Rises (Japan)
Internationally touted as the best animation ever made, it’s surprising subject matter overlooks the infamy of Pearl Harbor and focuses on creativity, dreams and perseverance.
4. The Galapagos Affair (US)
Gripping true story of human nature and what can happen when you leave society to create your own utopia.
5. Ilo Ilo (Singapore)
Dennis the Menace meets Mary Poppins in this well-organized little film about true values.
What every person should avoid, in this order:
1. Manakamana (Nepal)
Boring, unnecessary experimentation by that same lame Harvard group producing “Leviathan”
2. Mary, Queen of Scotts (Switzerland)
This is a fabricated psychological portrayal weak on contextual honesty
Up for grabs
1. I am Yours (Norway)
Cultural and gender stereotype issues whirl around a Pakistani gal in Norway trying to find happiness… in all the wrong places. Based on writer/director’s own experiences.
2. A World Not Ours (Lebanon)
Palestinians are still in a Lebanese refugee camp – and this film explores why – though the biggest reason, Lebanon’s refusal to assimilate them, is neither elaborated nor explained.
3. Just a Sigh (France)
An illicit romance – what else from Paris?
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