The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is back, this year with numerous can’t-miss films from all corners of the globe. The festival screenings kick off February 5, 2015, and continue through February 21 at various theaters around Portland. Over the next several weeks, check back here for in-depth reviews of those screenings -- but in the meantime, study up; we've culled together a list of the most tantalizing offerings you'll want to check out.
Schedules are subject to change, so please consult the official festival website before you head out! Jauja, directed by Lisandro Alonso
ENGLISH TEXT & INTERVIEWS BY KARLA HERNANDEZ
Imagine an ordinary day. You're driving home from work, maybe listening to the new Gardens & Villa track -- or perhaps that one Vampire Weekend song that you pretend not to like, or something more classic like The Beatles. You then stop at a red light, and the car next to you is blasting mariachi music. Annoyed, you instantly think to yourself, 'Why is it so loud? Why is the singer wailing? What is the singer even saying?' Something unfamiliar shows up, and instantly a barrier goes up. It's okay. We all do it, to varying degrees. Maybe at that Chinese restaurant where you dined last night, the moment the server went into the kitchen and started talking really fast in Mandarin, you gave your friend a funny look.
SPANISH TRANSLATION BY JEAN-CLAIRE PELTIAE
Imagina un día ordinario. Estas conduciendo del trabajo a la casa, quizás escuchando el nuevo tema de Gardens & Villa, o tal vez esa canción de Vampire Weekend que finges que no te gusta, o algo más clásico como los Beatles. A continuación, te detienes en un semáforo en rojo, y el auto al lado tiene música mariachi a todo volumen. Molesto, de inmediato piensas, "¿Por qué lo tienen tan alto? ¿Por qué esta gimiendo el cantante? ¿Qué está diciendo el cantante?" Aparece algo desconocido, y en este instante se forma una barrera. Todos lo hacemos, en grados diferentes. Tal vez en ese restaurant chino donde comiste anoche, en el momento que el mesero entro a la cocina y empezó hablando rápido en Mandarín, le dio a tu amigo una mirada rara.
Considering the large populations of immigrants that have lived throughout the past hundreds of years in the United States, it's odd to think that something as simple as language can create disconnections between us. Going back to Gardens & Villa, Vampire Weekend, and The Beatles, we listen to these bands without giving it a second thought. However, their music would not exist today without the cultural blending that occurred decades before them.
Considerando la gran población de inmigrantes que han vivido en los Estados Unidos a través de los últimos siglos, es extraño pensar que algo tan simple como el idioma puede crear desconexiones entre nosotros. Volviendo a Gardens & Villa, Vampire Weekend y los Beatles, escuchamos estos grupos sin pensarlo. Sin embargo, su música no existiría hoy sin la mixtura cultural que ocurrió décadas antes de su aparición.
 
Blues and jazz were born in African-American communities, and rock mixed R&B with country, blues and folk. The Beatles received a lot of attention for incorporating the sitar in some of their songs, while Paul Simon was influenced by music from South Africa. Who knows where modern Western music would be today if our musical ancestors did not explore and experiment with mixing their own regional music with that of other areas? These were musicians who traveled to different regions of the world and were inspired by the music of other countries. Now, these other countries are affecting contemporary Western music through immigration. To use the United States as an example, immigrants here are changing the DNA of communities, job markets, schools, public policy, and the economy. Musicians who are immigrants or children of immigrants are finding their feet, heart, and minds in two worlds. Not only is their worldview different; the way that they communicate is literally different.
El Blues y el Jazz nacieron en comunidades afro-americanas, y rock mezcló R&B con country, blues y folk. Los Beatles recibieron mucha atención por incorporar el citar en algunas de sus canciones, mientras Paul Simon fue influenciado por la música de Sudáfrica. ¿Quién sabe donde estaría la música occidental hoy si nuestros ancestros musicales no hubieran explorado, experimentado y mezclando su propia música regional con la de otras áreas? Estos eran músicos que viajaban a diferentes regiones del mundo y fueron inspirados por la música de otros países. Ahora estos otros países están afectando la música occidental a través de la inmigración. Usando a los Estados Unidos como ejemplo, los inmigrantes aquí están cambiando el ADN de comunidades, mercados de trabajo, escuelas, políticas públicas y la economía. Los músicos que son inmigrantes o hijos de inmigrantes están encontrando sus pies, corazones y mentes en los dos mundos, sus dos países. No solo su visión global es diferente; su forma de comunicarse es distinta literalmente.
The mythological quest to express the sublime through the human body can be the great mystery and significance of dance. The grace and emotive gravity of dance inspire us to explore shared resonance and to comprehend our substance through a most intimate artistry. Yet we are ever limited by our human bodies, those endlessly elusive entities that enrobe our vocabularies and begin and end our extraordinary worlds. Butoh dancing (舞踏) is an expression of body that has found relevance outside of its roots in Japan, across cultures and generations.
Originally known only as the "dance of darkness" or "dance of death", Butoh has evolved into an encompassing expression of every element to be found through the human body. It does not transcend the human form or express a superhuman consciousness, but challenges us to comprehend ourselves through a different mentality. Despite the fairly recent origination of this dance form, it has quickly appealed and demonstrated that it speaks to something common within us, however we may allow our cultural and geographic borders to define us.

A Background on Butoh

tatsumi-hijikata Kazuo Ohno © H. Tsukamoto Dance is a corporeal poetry that speaks to us through sensual body memory and intangible thought, thus communicating experience and expressing ideals. We may, for instance, find the most exquisite aspirations to perfection in the sculptural forms of ballet and the etiquettes of ballroom dance -- but what dance is there to speak of anguish and terror? What of the uncontainable spirit that seeps from our grotesque beings in spite of vigilant taboo? Would it not be deceptive to express the most visceral of human experience through only forms of chiseled beauty? Dance that declares itself as an encompassing language for human experience yet speaks from under a veneer of piety for conventional aesthetics is fundamentally dishonest. With passionate protest to the void in integrity of expression and against standards of superficiality, Butoh emerged at the end of the 20th century. It was in the shadow of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Butoh's first breaths were drawn, already shuddering naked and borne by true darkness. Shaped into its ghostly form by dancers Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata, Butoh came to define Japanese avant-garde dance in its embrace of the totality of emotional experience and the absurdity found in the raw body. Ohno and Hijikata composed a new lyric for the human body where nothing was forbidden to experience. The revolutionary spirit of Butoh explored morbidity and sexuality in its most explicit forms. By doing so, it not only transformed the Japanese stage but connected with international audiences and dancers, tantalizing a universal desire for this same purity of expression. Until the '60s, there had been no such dance within Japan that allowed for the communication of the uninhibited body and, as far as technical form, there still exist few such parallels.

Kazuo Ohno & Tatsumi Hijikata

"Butoh, as [with] so many true arts, contains the beautiful spectrum of being. Often these first looks at Butoh are early works of suffering individuals. I have found that once the repressed or taboo aspects of life and the soul are allowed to naturally surface through the body and art, the lightness and loving joy must also be revealed." - Maureen Freehill (Seattle-based Butoh dancer, Artistic Director of "Butopia")
Amassing rare and forgotten music is a peculiar sort of hobby -- one that slowly transforms into an addiction. It's not that I don't love mainstream music. It's just that the thrill of listening to some forgotten gem that everybody else has overlooked is powerful. It also feeds into the collector's impulse I have to overturn every stone to find that song, and my love of complete collections. Not surprisingly, I also like to collect comic books. I guess I'm the type. In any event, here are five lesser-known musicians that I believe everybody should give a listen to, dating as far back as the 1920s and focusing on jazz, folk, and blues.

Mississippi Joe Callicott (1899 - 1969)

Callicott was not your typical North Mississippi blues musician. Musicians from the hill country tend to vamp on a few chords, focusing on a droning, almost hypnotic sound; Callicott was a fingerpicker in the vein of a Piedmont guitarist, with a dash of Jimmie Rodgers. He recorded three songs independently in 1929 and 1930: "Fare Thee Well Blues," "Traveling Mama," and "Mississippi Boll Weevil Blues", the last of which went unreleased. Two additional tracks were recorded with Garfield Akers, the "Cottonfield Blues" -- and here, his finger picking is energetic and nimble, bordering on aggressive.1 After the 1930 session, he went unrecorded for 37 years. He was not totally forgotten, however, as his songs started to appear in anthologies of Delta Blues. He was eventually found in Nesbit, Mississippi by George Mitchell, who recorded several songs with him in August 1967. These became the basis for a number of records and re-releases, the best of which was probably Fat Possum's Ain't a Gonna Lie to You. Unfortunately, his guitar playing had diminished somewhat by this time, but his voice had matured beautifully. His singing on "Frankie and Albert" is expressive and full of sadness yet was beautiful and nuanced throughout. After these sessions, he recorded several songs for Blue Horizons which were a bit lower-quality and rougher. He died in 1969 and was only recently given a proper headstone. Purchase Mississippi Joe Callicott Albums On Amazon Mississippi Joe Callicott - "Cottonfield Blues" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Joe-Callicott_Cottonfield-Blues.mp3|titles=Mississippi Joe Callicott - Cottonfield Blues] Mississippi Joe Callicott - "Frankie And Albert" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Joe-Callicott_Frankie-And-Albert.mp3|titles=Mississippi Joe Callicott - Frankie And Albert]  
The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is upon us again, and we have whittled down their list of 100+ international shorts and full-length films to summarize the most interesting, socially-conscious, and boundary-pushing of the bunch. This year's festival runs from February 7th through the 23rd, beginning with an Opening Night celebration featuring Blancanieves, a silent Spanish reworking of Snow White. Purchase tickets and find out more. Our festival preview begins below with this year's top five picks, followed by the rest in alphabetical order.

Beyond The Hills Directed by Cristian Mungiu (Romania) Based on the novels of Tatiana Niculescu Bran, which are real-life documents of demonic possession, Beyond The Hills is a bleak and stark religious drama set an Orthodox monastery in Moldovia. Though Alina (Cirstina Flutur) heads to the monastery to convince her friend Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) to leave and return to Germany, Alina finds herself sucked more and more into the environment and its callings. Flutur and Stratan both shared the Best Actress Prize at Cannes Film Festival for these performances.          Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 7:30 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 4)
Hannah Arendt Directed by Margarethe von Trotta (Germany) Based on the life of German philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt, Hannah Arendt chronicles her writings for The New Yorker on the 1961 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann covered a scenario that was not black and white but veiled in greys, causing great conflict and protest amongst an American public and the publication's editing staff. Hannah Arendt is a drama about journalism, and the social duty of reporting as one sees as truthful, rather than as it is idealized or pressured to be.          Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8:45 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 5:15 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 4)
Laurence Anyways Directed by Xavier Dolan (Canada) Despite being happy and in love, high school teacher Laurence finally reveals to his girlfriend Fred his long-standing desire to become a woman. Fred agrees to support him on his quest, though once the transformations begin, social complications begin to pressure, ostracize, and place fear into the hearts of the couple. Through it all, Laurence Anyways is a tale of love and the ability to weather storms for it.          Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8 PM (Cinema 21)          Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 7 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 10)
Leviathan Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel (United States) Leviathan presents experimental filmmaking at its finest or its worst, depending on your opinion of macro-view, immersive documentary art. The New York Film Festival describes Leviathan as "a hallucinatory sensory experience quite unlike any other", and the trailer is seems to assert this with views of commercial fishing, as presented with only abstract sounds and imagery.          Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 6 PM (Cinemagic)
Lore Directed by Cate Shortland (Australia) After World War II and the death of Adolf Hitler, five young children are left to fend for themselves when their Nazi SS parents are captured. In an attempt to reach their grandparents in Hamburg, they traverse 500 miles of changing landscapes, meeting unfortunate families along the way and finding a savior in a young Jewish man whose kindness goes against all of their programmed teachings.          Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:30 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 5:45 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 10)

 

The 2012 Seattle International Film Festival begins on May 17th, 2012! In the next few days, we will be providing film previews for our top SIFF picks of the year. Times and dates are subject to change, so please visit siff.net before heading to theatres, or see HERE for all film preview coverage, including film selections from other regions of the world.

 


FOUND MEMORIES
Brazil/Argentina/France Directed by Julia Murat
A youthful photographer decides to open up her eyes and mind to the stories of older individuals in a small Brazilian town, giving new perspectives on life and death. May 22 @ 9:00pm, Harvard Exit May 24 @ 3:30pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown

 

Multicultural Sounds travels the world for contemporary reinventions of cultural staples.  A quick post regarding this compilation from Waxploitation and ZZK Records! According to Diplo, "ZZK is the first label to push the sound of Argentina from the villa (ghettos) to the uptown. ZZK is...