Announcing The Alaska Airlines Ticket Winner!

We’re excited to announce Susanne Domhan as the winner of the Alaska Airlines Audience Award ballot drawing. Susanne won a pair of tickets to anywhere Alaska flies! When we got to congratulate Susanne on the good news and asked where the journey might take her, Susanne said, “This came as a total surprise to us and we’ve only begun to ponder the possibilities. The sky is the limit!.”

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PIFF 35 Alaska Airlines Audience Award Winners

The Portland International Film Festival is just as much about you, the audience, as it is the films, that’s why we love it when you pick the awardees! Without further ado the winners of this year’s festival are: ALMANYA (Germany) directed by Yasemin Samdereli for Best Narrative Feature and FIRST POSITION (United States) directed by Bess Kargman for Best Documentary Feature and the Best New Directors Award. This year’s Short Film Award goes to German filmmaker Max Zähle for RAJU and the Oregon Short Film Award goes to John Waller for TREEVERSE.

Keep reading for a complete list of winners.

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KBOO Interview with Makers Near and Far

The yesterday morning’s The Film Show on KBOO Community Radio was packed full of Film Center related interviews.

First on the show was Linda Goldstein Knowlton, director of the documentary SOMEWHERE BETWEEN, which has been screening at PIFF for a touched and affected audience and has it’s final screening for high school students as part of our Global Classroom program.

somewhere

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN focuses on teenage girls from around the US that have all been adopted from China, and the identity issues they encounter.

The show then turns to Janet McIntyre and Kelley Baker (School of Film Instructor), director and executive producer respectively of FADED: GIRLS + BINGE DRINKING another documentary about young women, this time focusing on binge drinking and the issues surrounding it. The film is screening at the Film Center on March 15, 7 PM as part of our NW Tracking program featuring local filmmakers.

Listen to The Film Show here: http://kboo.fm/node/34064

Adjust Your Tracking #6: Midnight Marauders

Adjust Your Tracking is the podcast produced through the facilities of the Northwest Film Center Newsroom. The show is hosted by Joe von Appen and Erik McClanahan, and is produced by Jessica Lyness and Laurel Degutis. Opinions expressed are that of the hosts, and not necessarily of the Northwest Film Center. In episode 6, Joe and Erik conclude their coverage of the 35th Portland International Film Festival with three segments, starting things off by digging deep in to a topic that’s near and dear to our black little desensitized hearts, cult fandom and midnight movies. In the second act we review and highly recommend you seek out the British genre mashup shocker “Kill List,” which screens this Friday at 11:30 at Cinema 21, as part of PIFF After Dark. We also have a bonus spoiler section of our chat on this film, which can be found here below the regular episode. After you’ve seen it make sure to come back and give that a listen to hear our thoughts on what actually happens in this insane film. In the last segment, Erik interviews Michael Roskam, the writer/director of the Oscar nominated Beglian film, “Bullhead.”

Don’t forget PIFF ends this Sunday, February 26, the encore screening day. Head to the Film Center Web site for all information on the films and how to purchase tickets in advance. New episodes of AYT are released every Thursday, so make sure to come back and check out what Joe and Erik are discussing every week. We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section, or feel free to email adjustyourtracking@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/adjustyourtrack. You can download the podcast by right-clicking the link below and selecting ‘Save Link As…’ Once saved, the show can be played in iTunes or any other mp3 player. Or stream it on the embedded player.

AYT #6

(**Spoilers Below**) Do not listen until you’ve seen “Kill List.” Or if you don’t care and wan’t to know our interpretation of the film, mainly what the ending means, click on the player below. If you agree or disagree with us, please leave a comment.

PIFF Recommendation: “Elena”

A review by Adjust Your Tracking co-host Erik McClanahan, previously published at The Playlist on Indiewire.

There are fewer things in cinema more satisfying than a filmmaker in total control of their story. Sure, we love the visceral thrill of a well-choreographed, impeccably staged action sequence as much as the next red-blooded human being. And there’s the perfect combination of song/score over moving images, blissful moments heightened through all the tools available in the medium. But those rare moments when a film has just begun, and the feeling sets in immediately that you’re in good hands; that no matter what happens in this film, you can trust the filmmaker has thought everything through and knows what he or she is doing.  It’s a good feeling. Comforting even. But it’s rare.

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Adjust Your Tracking #5: The PIFF With An Interview

Adjust Your Tracking is the podcast produced through the facilities of the Northwest Film Center Newsroom. The show is hosted by Joe von Appen and Erik McClanahan, and is produced by Jessica Lyness and Laurel Degutis. Opinions expressed are that of the hosts, and not necessarily of the Northwest Film Center. In episode 5, Joe and Erik continue their coverage of the 35th Portland International Film Festival with two segments. In the second half of the show, Erik speaks on the phone with one of the directors of the excellent baseball documentary Pelotero, playing twice in the following week. Segment 1 sees the hosts recommending several titles that should not be missed at the festival. Don’t forget the PIFF ends February 25. Head to the Film Center Web site for all information on the films and how to purchase tickets in advance.

New episodes of AYT are released every Thursday, so make sure to come back and check out what Joe and Erik are discussing every week. We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section, or feel free to email adjustyourtracking@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/adjustyourtrack. You can download the podcast by right-clicking the link below and selecting ‘Save Link As…’ Once saved, the show can be played in iTunes or any other mp3 player. Or stream it on the embedded player.

AYT #5

Jean Gentile

A lyrically rendered portrayal of one man’s lonely search for place,  Jean Gentile embraces the slow descent into hopelessness that greets a Haitian immigrant when he travels to neighboring Dominican Republic in search of something better. Combining the shaky handheld feel of real life with the pristine clarity of film, Laura Amelia Guzman (Cochochi) evokes the somber realism that an educated, multilingual accountant from Haiti must endure when he is reduced to a penniless and shadowy existence in a world that thinks it does not need him.

 

Jean Gentile won the jury award at Thessaloniki, and received a special mention at Horizons (or Orizzonti, the culturally exploratory program at the Venice Film Festival). See it at this year’s PIFF 35 on Sunday February 19 at 5 PM (Cinemagic) and Wednesday February 22 at 6:15 PM (Cinemagic).

PIFF Recommendation: ‘Bullhead’

A review by Adjust Your Tracking co-host Erik McClanahan, previously published at The Playlist on Indiewire.

“No matter what you do or think, one thing is for sure, you’re always fucked. Now, tomorrow, next week or next year, until the end of time, fucked.”

The opening voiceover in “Bullhead,” from Belgian director Michael R. Roskam, expresses, in no uncertain terms, anything other than a deeply pessimistic view of the world. It’s a bold move by Roskam, in his debut feature film, and works twofold: it properly orients the viewer in to the film’s universe and subject matter, the illegal trade in growth-hormone-laced beef in Belgium; and it bluntly contextualizes the mindset of our protagonist, Jacky (Matthias Schoenaerts). Is this bleak outlook justified?

A resounding yes. “Bullhead” works because, similar to some other strong films that made the festival rounds in 2011 – the excellent “Miss Bala” and “Policeman” – it never descends in to didactic grandstanding, instead opting for a more subtle, nuanced approach that respects the intelligence of its audience. Don’t expect to learn too much about this seedy trade (and, honestly, why would you, that’s better suited for a documentary any way), but if you view the film as a character study first and foremost, you’ll be rewarded with a gripping, assuredly constructed piece of melodrama that also dabbles in the ever ubiquitous world of the crime genre.

Actually, come to think of it, melodrama is the wrong word, for it connotes a sensationalized dramatic outline predicated on the notion that the laws of cause and effect do not matter, or at least go unexamined, in the interest of plot and exaggerated emotions over characterization. Whatever generic label you want to throw at “Bullhead,” it’s impossible to say it sacrifices character development for plot and theatricality, or that anything we’re shown in the film is superfluous. On the contrary. Every detail, flashback, character connection and family history matters here. In fact, you could argue that Roskam, who also wrote the script, almost goes too far in connecting all the dots, not unlike the best show currently on television, “Breaking Bad.” So thorough and insistent is he on proving the worth of each scene, and how they all matter later on in the story, that you may find the film to be a bit tiresome and overly-reliant on coincidence.

You will not hear that argument at The Playlist, though. This is a film especially for an audience that hates waste; people who want every minute to count, for each scene to mean something, and add to the bigger picture. Schoenaerts gives the kind of performance that makes stars out of other, more fortunate actors. His portrayal of Jacky, a hulking mass of steroidal tension, is revelatory. We were sure we had this guy figured out from the beginning. He’s just another jockish tough guy who’s used his size and strength to reach a level of success in this criminal milieu, right? Wrong. As each scene comes and goes, another layer is stripped away from Jacky, revealing a deep sadness and tragedy to the character that was always there in his eyes, but protected by pure machismo. Hopefully other smart, film-savvy directors out there discover “Bullhead” and give this guy more work, because Schoenaerts nearly reaches Tom Hardy-in-“Bronson”-level magnificence, even though the two films are very different.

Jacky injects and swallows a freaking medicine cabinet worth of “supplements” in to his body every day, a routine that usually ends with him standing naked in his room flexing and punching at air. He’s trying to prove his worth to himself. In this world, your value is measured by your manhood, and well, Jacky has a lot of issues in that department. When the film suddenly flashes back 20 years, the big piece of this character’s puzzle is exposed, and gracefully explains so much of his behavior and action up to that point. Movies are often far too reductive when they purport the clichéd one big moment in a character’s history that defines them for the rest of their life. Again, not so in the case of “Bullhead.” It’s interesting to think how different, and frustratingly opaque, this film would be without any of the flashbacks. Mostly, it’s that the one big moment in this film would, in fact, absolutely define a man for the rest of his life, and irrevocably change his life forever.

If Rob Zombie proved with his unnecessary “Halloween” remake that giving the back story and reasons for the creation of a “bad guy” takes the piss out of what makes Michael Myers scary, then Roskam has successfully countered that argument with “Bullhead.” Do not mistake this comparison. We’re not saying Jacky is the next slasher villain ready for his own franchise and a doll adorned on every Hot Topic shelf across the country. It’s more that we love being proven wrong, believe it or not. There are no “rules” to cinema in the end. It’s ok to feel bad for this guy. It wasn’t his fault. This is evidence that giving us the how and why for the creation of a sociopath can actually strengthen a film. In “Bullhead,” having sympathy for the devil is justified.

“Bullhead” screens tonight, Feb 14 at the Whitsell Auditorium at 8:45 p.m.  For more information check out the official PIFF Web site.

 

PIFF Recommendation: ‘Breathing’

Written by Nick Bruno. This review has been re-published from the blog The Rain Falls Down on Portlandtown.

Roman Kolger (Thomas Schubert) has a problem.  He’s been in prison since the age of 14 and now, at age 19, needs to find work in order to gain parole.  He’s not terribly animated, motivated or skilled, so it seems awfully befitting when he falls into a job as an undertaker.  Breathing (Atmen) is a slow-moving, Austrian character piece that hovers warily over its protagonist, rarely offering hope but, patiently, revealing small details and slight grace notes that allow for insight into Roman’s plight.

At first, there is only one thing we know about Roman; he’s alone in this world.  The only advocate he has is a social worker who drives him around town, prepping him for an upcoming parole hearing.  The film is predominantly built upon extended moments of observation that yield small reveals, most of which occur in the spare moments when Roman risks interaction with others.  There is a fleeting encounter with a girl on the train back to his holding cell.  A failed attempt to reach out to a co-worker.  And another involving an older woman…but I don’t want offer up too much, especially since this is a film that hinges so delicately on little details.

Austrian actor-turned-director Karl Markovics understands that explanations aren’t of primary concern to his story.  Instead, he sticks with small events and repeated passages, like the indignities that Roman must endure each night as he returns to prison, to draw in the viewer.  It’s a particularly strong directorial debut for Markovics, who has spent much of his prior career on television and in the theater.  Likewise, Schubert’s turn as Roman, his first film role, has an appropriately affectless feel to it.  He plays Roman as someone who has been abandoned by society; a truth that only deepens as the evidence of his life unfolds.

“Breathing (Atmen)” screens tonight, Feb. 14th at the Lake Twin Cinema at 6 p.m. For more information check out the official PIFF Web site.

PIFF Recommendation: ‘The Fairy’

Written by Nick Bruno. This review has been re-published from the blog The Rain Falls Down on Portlandtown.

Fans of absurdist humor shouldn’t hesitate to rush out to one of the upcoming screenings of The Fairy, the newest comedy from the French acting/directing trio of Dominique AbelFiona Gordon and Bruno Romy (L’icebergRumba).  How to begin talking about this one?  It’s a film powered by it’s own off-kilter logic, beginning with a woman (Gordon) walking into the lobby of a hotel, bluntly declaring herself a fairy and offering the desk clerk (Abel) three wishes.  Odd as that sounds, the truly weird and wonderful thing about that moment (and the majority of what follows) is the wide-eyed acceptance by these characters of everything and anything that the story throws at them.

Take for instance, the romantic underwater dance scene that paves the way for a baby to enter the narrative.  Any other film that might orchestrate as pleasurably surreal a sequence as this would likely have it spring from the dream state of one of its characters.  Not at all the case inThe Fairy.  The scene, which comes off as some kind of hybridized love child of the classic output of Buster Keaton and the Fleischer brothers, is played completely straight, as if there is no distinction between the reality of the hotel and the undersea dance palace where Dom and Fiona boogie the night away.

I’d never seen anything by Abel, Gordon and Romy before catching The Fairy (something I’ve since remedied with a home viewing of L’iceberg).  Their style strikes me as a fresh, revisionist take on farce that regularly slips into extremely amusing displays of whimsy.

There’s really no one to whom I wouldn’t recommend this film, unless there’s someone out there with a grudge against laughter and fun.  It’s entirely fine for older kids, although it certainly isn’t aimed at a children’s audience.  It isn’t often that something with the potential to have such a wide demographic appeal plays the art house circuit (the last example I can think of is A Town Called Panic).  Seriously, don’t miss it, okay?

“The Fairy” screens tonight, Feb. 14th at the Lake Twin Cinema at 8:30 p.m.