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Illumination Guaranteed at PIFF

— by BEV QUESTAD —

The most risky, courageous, artful, intellectually enriching movies in the world are shown at film festivals. Portland, no stranger to daring, but pragmatic policies, is hosting the 34th Annual Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) from Feb 10 to 26. PIFF’s motto is “illumination guaranteed.”


17 Days / 88 Features / 42 Shorts / 19 Documentaries / 6 Oscar Nominees

Twenty of PIFF’s foreign film selections have been submitted for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Two of the Academy Award’s final five picks are represented: Canada’s “Incendies” and Denmark’s “In a Better World.”

After you see Germany’s entry, “When They Leave,” on Feb. 23 (also Feb. 26), explain why that film might have been left out of the Oscar finals. Risky and courageous — this is the epitome of an excellent PIFF film that begs to be shown to the world and is a tribute to PIFF courage for including on its roster.

Another courageous film, “How to Die in Oregon” has sold so many advance tickets that an additional screening has been added to the schedule.


129 films from over 40 countries

New this year is PIFF’s intriguing Hispanic Film Showcase, focusing on Hispanic film and fiction. For the seventh year in a row PIFF has collaborated with Portland State University, Oregon State University and the University of Oregon to enrich the festival with academic representation.


Portland Jazz Festival

One of the great things about PIFF is that it coincides with a cornucopia of other special events in the city. A special treat is its coincidence with the Portland Jazz Festival. Before and after a film viewers can walk down the block to enjoy jazz sets in nearby bars and bistros where the cover charge is sometimes non-existent.

The Oregon World Affairs Council is also hosting a presentation by US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice on Feb. 11, right down the block from PIFF headquarters. In addition, The Oregon Ballet Theater (The Stravinsky Project) and the Oregon Symphony auditoriums are steps away from PIFF film venues. The city is absolutely teeming with an abundance of culture for every taste.


The 10th Annual Worst Day of the Year Bike Ride

In all of this cultural exposure, don’t forget Oregon’s natural scenery. Portland is second only to Reykjavik, Iceland, as the greenest city in the world. It is also the second most bike friendly city (after Amsterdam). Between films take a break and rent a bike for the 18-mile WDY Bike Ride around Portland on Feb. 13.


Critic’s Picks

Amy experience you have in Portland is likely to be an experiment and an adventure. But add to that the fact that at PIFF there won’t be an insignificant or superficial film experience.

Based on an interest in films of social import, my first three recommendations for PIFF film viewing and unavoidable post-film discussion are “When We Leave,” “Incendies,” and “How to Die in Oregon.”


Illumination Guaranteed

Opening Portland’s 17-day cornucopia of opportunities is PIFF’s grand opening night film and party on Feb. 10. Supported by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, it will feature “Potiche,” with the most lovely Catherine Deneuve, and a party afterwards at the PIFF Lounge at Nel Centro.

Amongst new features for the festival this year is the addition of a new state-of-the-art HD digital projection system in The Whitsell Auditorium at the Portland Art Museum. In addition, PIFF has also expanded its territory with three more venues, including the historic Hollywood Theater.

Portland, known as the jazz capital (per capita) of the world and a vanguard of independent thought, is the ideal setting for easily accessible, modestly priced illuminating movies at this year’s 34th Annual Portland International Film Festival.

PIFF: Feb. 10 to 26, 2011

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Follow Bev Questad on Twitter at http://twitter.com/questad.

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