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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Adorable husband and wife duo The Last Names, consisting of Justin Rice of Bishop Allen and his wife Darbie, have now released Wilderness, a 12-track indie pop record that floats through dual-vocaled harmonies with the peacefulness of a '60s haze. To bring their intimately self-recorded and self-mixed project to life, the couple decided to go one step further, by incorporating a one-of-a-kind hand-woven LP cover. Inspired by German education theorist Friedrich Froebel, who created the concept of "kindergarten" and is credited with laying the foundation for one system of modern education, the 15 x 15 grid which graces the cover of Wilderness offers a pattern-based playground of visual satisfaction to anyone with a latent curiosity and child-like love of play.
Read on as they explain how the album artwork came to fruition, how patterns influence The Last Names' music and vice versa, and more.
"Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul." -- Friedrich Froebel
Time permitting, Portland-based artist Matt Leavitt allows his imagination to run free by tinkering, inventing, and manipulating objects in the pursuit of fine artistic ideas. The fascination of his multi-disciplinary artwork can be found equally in the methodologies spawning them as in the finished products themselves; trial and error, as well as chance events, serve as stepping stones to reaching greater ends -- some predictable, some unpredictable.
Leavitt creates with the mentality of sussing out his wildest artistic fantasies, all the while drawing equally from his knowledge in Civic Engineering and his experiences at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon.
In his experimentation, he has done things many would never consider. He has attempted to make ink from flowers petals; he has thrown melted candle wax onto frozen ponds; he has created sculptures from liquid clay. His interests flow in many directions, and these divergences are present when one looks at his entire body of work. The projects he undertakes are always well-detailed within his mind; every piece of every series falls in line with subtle stylistic rules yet deviates within a larger framework.
United Kingdom/Austria/Netherlands, 2006, 150 minutes, HDcam
Slavoj Zizek is one of the few philosophers I can think of who can so easily slide between schizophrenia and didacticism, two characteristic which basically sum up his new film, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. Unlike his last documentary, simply entitled ‘Zizek!,’ it becomes painfully...