Film, video, art, lectures and jazz.
Portland, Ore., hosts an entertaining, thought-provoking indulgence of quality film artistry that coincides every year with the world renowned Portland Jazz Festival, cutting edge exhibits at the Portland Art Museum and events sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Oregon.
The 33rd Portland International Film Festival, presented by the Northwest Film Center, The Northwest’s premier film school, has got to be among the best and most surprisingly well-organized film festivals in the world.
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has a knack for backing great cultural venues. Along with 48 other sponsors, it helped produce a mega-screening of 77 features and 39 shorts from 36 countries — including the U.S. — in February.
American and international jazz from the likes of The Mingus Big Band, Seim & Haltli, a Norwegian saxophone/accordion duo, and Lusiana Souza, the 2008 Grammy winner from Brazil, were a part of the Jazz Festival. Speakers at different venues in town included Joseph Stiglitz, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics, and Tom Hayden, activist and author.
This festival comes just before the Oscars, so screenings of the foreign nominations for the Oscars are especially popular. Other film opportunities include winners of the Cannes Festival, selected foreign documentaries and films from Pacific Rim.
Festival-goers voted on each film and the final festival winners included: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sweden) for Best Narrative Feature; “The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls” (New Zealand) for Best Documentary; “The Mouse that Soared” (U.S. and Portland filmmaker) for Best Short; and Hernán A. Goldfrid for the Best New Director Award for his work on “Music on Hold” (Argentina).
Besides the thought-provoking selection of excellent films, each theatre venue is drop-dead comfortable. In addition, the Portland Festival has so many friendly neighborhood volunteers that you hardly need a companion. These individuals are situated outside the theatres chatting with folks in line and they edge theatre hallways directing you to your film of choice.
Also, neither transportation nor parking is a problem. Despite Portland’s growing bus and Max train expediency and true accommodations for bicyclists, the biggest venue has a parking garage inside its main theatre.
Films reviewed this year for “It’s Just Movies” include: “Chameleon,” the story of a womanizer and his resulting karma: “Looking for Eric,” a psycho-drama of a man’s potential journey for his own essential self; and “Ward 6,” Chekhov’s satire on the delineation between mental patients and, ahem… the rest of us.
Also included is a review of a concurrent speaking engagement by ’60s radical hero, Tom Hayden, featured in the 2008 documentary, “This Brave Nation.”
Early advice to arts buffs, music connoisseurs and intellectuals is to mark your calendar for the last two weeks of February 2011 for entertaining, thought-provoking film artistry that coincides with world-famous jazz guests, cutting edge art exhibits and progressive speakers — all representative of the independent-minded Oregonian.
. . .
Follow It’s Just Movies on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ItsJustMovies.