2016 Portland Film Festival

| August 26, 2016

The 2016 Portland Film Festival will screen 54 narrative and documentary feature films and 89 short films selected from over 3,800+ submissions.

The fourth annual Portland Film Festival will take place August 29 – September 5, 2016, at Portland’s iconic Laurelhurst Theater, and will include over 20 educational panels & forums, 12 archival presentations and many parties, events, and industry networking opportunities throughout the week.

The festival will present two opening and closing night films (a documentary and a narrative film on each night) and feature films in the following sections: Narrative Competition Feature, Documentary Competition Feature, Narrative Spotlight, Stranger Than Fiction, Tribute: Visionaries, and Milestones.

“This year’s screenings, panels, and programs are an exciting cross-section of icons of classic cinema, engaging new filmmakers, and the best of modern indie film.  We’re truly proud to bring this year’s eclectic program to local audiences.  We’re also thrilled that, for the first time, all of our films will screen at Portland’s historic Laurelhurst Theatre. This year’s festival will be a not-to-be-missed event,” said Josh Leake, Portland Film Festival Founder and Executive Director.

Established in 2013, the Portland Film Festival is one of Oregon’s largest film festivals, and was named “one of the coolest film festivals in the world,” by MovieMaker Magazine. This year, the festival has programmed a near equal balance of films from men and women, furthering the festival’s commitment to supporting diverse voices and visions.  New this year, the festival has created a section to screen classic films from the 70’s and 80’s, and will also be honoring two iconic writers, Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke) and William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run).

This year’s festival highlights include:

Tribute: Visionaries Section. Engaging screenings and Q&A’s with iconic filmmakers. This year’s focus is on master screenwriters Chuck Palahniuk, with a screening of Choke, and William F. Nolan, with a screening of his classic sci-fi film Logan’s Run.

Milestones Section. Celebrating classic films from the 70’s and 80’s.  This inaugural year includes screenings of Aliens, Blue Velvet, Stand By Me, Short Circuit, The Man Who Fell To Earth, and more.

One of the largest educational platforms for a film festival anywhere. Lead by award-winning professionals in their fields, this year’s festival will offer over 50 educational workshops, classes, panels and networking events for actors, screenwriters, and filmmakers. Panelists will include screenwriter Leslie Dixon (Hairspray, Mrs. Doubtfire) and James Shapiro (Alamo DraftHouse Films).

Screenplay Competition. One screenplay winner will be announced, and will win a production grant, cash, and services worth over $20K.

Opening Night Film (Documentary): Wizard Mode / U.S. (Directors: Nathan Drillot & Jeff Lee Petry). In the game of pinball, there is no bigger accomplishment than flipping your machine into ‘wizard mode’. And of all the pinball players in the world, there’s nobody more dedicated to unlocking ‘wizard mode’ than Robert Emilio Gagno, who also happens to be an autistic savant whose parents just want him to get a job.

Opening Night Film (Narrative): Middle Man / U.S. (Director: Ned Crowley): A straight-laced, old-school accountant has a dream: to become a famous stand-up comedian. The problem is, he’s just not very funny. Cast: Jim O’Heir (Parks & Rec), Andrew J. West (The Walking Dead).

Closing Night Film (Documentary): Ovarian Psycos / U.S. (Directors: Joanna Sokolowski & Kate Trumbull-LaValle): The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade, an East Los Angeles collective of bike-powered activists, supports young women of color by integrating feminist ideals with indigena understanding and an urban/hood mentality.

Closing Night Film (Narrative): Girl Flu / U.S. (Director: Dorie Barton): A sweet, funny story that follows a 12-year-old girl as she navigates her transition to womanhood via her first period. Cast: Jade Pettyjohn, Katee Sackhoff, Heather Matarazzo, Jeremy Sisto.

Official Competition Titles: A jury comprised of industry professionals and acclaimed filmmakers will present awards to films in both the Documentary Feature and Narrative Feature competition categories. There will also be an Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature, Best Narrative Feature, and Best Short Film.

Narrative Competition Features: Nine films showcasing fresh voices telling new stories with imagination and style.

Dark Harvest / U.S. (Director: James Hutson): Two friends run a successful marijuana grow operation, until a murder investigation and a shady narcotics officer threaten to derail their plans. Cast: James Hutson, Cheech Marin, A.C. Peterson.

Gozo / United Kingdom (Director: Miranda Bowen): Hoping to put their troubled past behind them, a young couple emigrates to an idyllic Mediterranean island where the living is easy, until one of them begins to hear strange noises. Cast: Joseph Kennedy, Ophelia Lovibond, Daniel Lapaine.

June Falling Down / U.S. (Director: Rebecca Weaver): After wandering aimlessly for a year following her father’s death, a young woman returns to her small Wisconsin hometown for the wedding of her best friend. Cast: Rebecca Weaver, Nick Hoover, Claire Morkin, Joanna Becker.

Panopticon / U.S. (Director: Aaron Keene): With a sun allergy that keeps him inside all day, a lonely man begins hacking into webcams as a way to take part in the lives of others. Cast: Guilherme Scarabelot, Sylvia Sakellaridis.

The Remnant / U.S. (Director: Karmia Chan Olutade): A 16-year-old girl and her little brother seek shelter in an orphanage run by a cold-hearted man in this politically-conscious indie musical. Cast: Kayla Cao, Tenzin Low, Ankhnyam Ragchaa, Sylvia Niu.

River House Inheritance / U.S. (Director: Sandra Lee): A young woman spends her days caring for her bedridden mother, which gets complicated by the arrival of her just-paroled sister. Cast: Emily Seely, Beth Puorro, Willy McGee, Eva Jackson.

She Sings to the Stars / U.S. (Director: Jennifer Corcoran): A Native American grandmother spends her days tending her drought-ravaged corn in the desert Southwest until her estranged grandson arrives and anything becomes possible. Cast: Fanny Loretto, Jesus Mayorga, Larry Cedar.

Some Freaks / U.S. (Director: Ian MacAllister McDonald): A high school student with one eye thinks his life could not be more different than the other kids at his school, until he meets Jill. Cast: Thomas Mann, Lily Mae Harrington, Ely Henry, Marin Ireland.

Those Left Behind / U.S. (Director: Maria Finitzo): 25 years after her brother’s suicide, a woman returns to her childhood home with her 16-year-old son to help her mother recover from surgery, opening up old wounds. Cast: Daphne Zuniga, Jack Griffo, Debra Mooney, Jack Hogan).

Narrative Spotlight: Unique films, marquee names, and highlights of the best of modern film.

6 Love Stories / U.S. (Director: Michael Dunaway): Six locations. Six couples. Six conversations. This ensemble drama explores the many facets of love from six unique perspectives, sometimes finding laughter, sometimes finding tears, but always finding truth. Cast: Ashley Williams, Ross Patridge, Carrie Preston, Matthew Lillard, Stephen Tobolowsky.  

All the Birds Have Flown South / U.S. (Directors: Joshua & Miles Miller): Unsettling psycho-thriller that follows a disturbed man grieving for his mother who begins obsessing over a down-on-her-luck waitress. Cast: Paul Sparks, Joey Lauren Adams, Dallas Roberts.  

Hunter Gatherer / U.S. (Director: Joshua Locy): A 40-something African-American ex-con, fresh out of prison, attempts to put the pieces of his old life back together, but finds that starting over is never simple. Cast: Andre Royo, George Sample III, Kellee Stewart, Ashley Wilkerson.  

Neil Stryker & the Tyrant of Time / U.S. (Director: Rob Taylor): In a madcap future era, the world’s greatest secret agent must race through time to rescue his son from the clutches of his infamous former mentor. Cast: David Ogden Stiers, Rob Taylor, Nic Costa.

On the Farm / U.S. (Director: Rachel Talalay): A powerful, dramatic exploration of a wily psychopath who murdered nearly 50 marginalized women in and around Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and the flawed systems that allowed him to do it. Cast: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Sarah Strange.  

Orphans of Eldorado / Brazil (Director: Guilherme Coelho): A story of love, obsession, and a man who goes insane in the Amazon. Based on the novel by Brazilian author Milton Hatoum. Cast: Milton Aires, Adriano Barroso, Henrique da Paz.

Spaghettiman / U.S. (Director: Mark Potts): After an incident with an old bowl of spaghetti and a malfunctioning microwave, an average man becomes a superhero who can fight crime with the power of spaghetti. Cast: Ben Crutcher, Winston Carter, Brand Rackley.

Tierra Caliente / U.S. (Director: Laura Plancarte): The story of a family from the state of Guerrero, Mexico, caught in the crossfire between the narco and the military. Based on a true story. Cast: Anais Alvarado, Dimitri Andreas, Claudia Coulter.  

Tribute: Visionaries: Screenings and discussions with icons of cinema, celebrating visionary filmmakers and their work. This year we celebrate two iconic screenwriters and two of their most accomplished works.

Choke / U.S. (Director: Clark Gregg), 2008. Includes screening of Fight Club 2 graphic novel trailer. A sex-addicted con man pays for his mother’s hospital bills by playing on the sympathies of those who rescue him from choking to death. Q&A with screenwriter / novelist Chuck Palahniuk.

Logan’s Run / U.S. (Director: Michael Anderson), 1976. An idyllic sci-fi future has one major drawback: life must end at the age of 30. Q&A with screenwriter William F. Nolan

Milestones: A curated selection of classic films and crowd pleasers (many with Oregon connections.)

Aliens / U.S. (Director: James Cameron), 1979: The planet from Alien has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough?

Blue Velvet / U.S. (Director: David Lynch), 1896: The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.

The Fly / U.S. (Director: David Cronenberg), 1986: A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.

The Man Who Fell To Earth / United Kingdom (Director: Nicolas Roeg), 1976: An alien arrives on Earth and quickly sets about creating enough wealth to allow him to return to his own world.

My Own Private Idaho / U.S. (Director: Gus Van Sant), 1991, Shot in Oregon! Two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embark on a journey of self-discovery and find their relationship stumbling along the way.

Stand By Me / U.S. (Director: Rob Reiner), 1986, Shot in Oregon! After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy.

Short Circuit / U.S. (Director: John Badham), 1986, Shot in Oregon! Number 5 of a group of experimental robots in a lab is electrocuted, suddenly becomes intelligent, and escapes.

Complete festival lineup and passes available at: www.portlandfilmfestival.com

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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