written by Bronte Dod | photo courtesy of Portland International Film Festival
This month, filmmakers from Oregon and around the world will gather in Portland for the city’s annual International Film Festival. While Oregon has no shortage of festivals—Portland alone hosts more than twenty festivals each year—the Portland International Film Festival is the largest, with more than 38,000 people attending the films.
Within the last decade, Oregon’s own film production industry has also been growing thanks to monetary incentives such as cash rebates given to filmmakers and producers who film in Oregon.
Two feature-length documentaries produced by Oregonians will be shown together. Irene Taylor Brodsky’s Open Your Eyes will be screened on Sunday, February 28. The film documents an elderly couple in Nepal who qualify for free surgeries to treat their cataracts. This fall, Taylor Brodsky, who has won numerous awards for her documentary films, spoke to 1859 about her experiences.
The second is 50 Feet From Syria. Directed by Skye Fitzgerald, the film follows an American doctor who travels Syria to aid refugees. The film made the shortlist for an Oscar this year.
On Saturday, February 20, and Monday, February 22, there will be a program devoted to short films produced by Oregonians. For that, Ben Popp, filmmaker services manager, had seventy Oregon-made short film submissions to review. He narrowed the program to eight short films—all running 20 minutes or under.
Being a maker of short experimental films himself, Popp said he was looking for films with “international flavor”—searching for diversity in the shorts, and for themes, images and sounds the audience hadn’t seen before.
In 2013, he was the recipient of the Media Arts Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission.
Three shorts that get Popp’s attention are Sista in the Brotherhood, Dude in the Headlights and Waking the Green Sound: A Dance Film for Trees.
Popp called Waking the Green Sound: A Dance Film for Trees, “a beautiful, dreamlike film.” It was produced, directed and performed by dancers in Wobbly, a Portland dance company made up of disabled dancers.
Dude in the Headlights was directed by a 21-year-old from Salem. The two-minute film gets right to the punch line, advocating for animal rights.
Sista in the Brotherhood, Popp said, was the kind of movie where it reaches through the screen and touches you.
“The curatorial aspect is really important—important for giving people different opportunities to see different things,” Popp said.