Left to Right: Kyle Marvin as Kyle, Michael Angelo Covino as Mike in The Climb directed by Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin(Photo by Zach Kuperstein. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.)
Left to Right: Kyle Marvin as Kyle, Michael Angelo Covino as Mike in The Climb directed by Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin (Photo by Zach Kuperstein. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.)

The 43rd Portland International Film Festival (PIFF 43) announced the first wave of titles and special events for the 10-day showcase happening March 6 to 15. Three-film Opening Night program features The Climb, as well as shorts America and The Giverny Document (Single Channel); and First Cow directed by Kelly Reichardt as Closing Weekend centerpiece film.

For the first time, PIFF will embrace the idea of Cinema Unbound. Through this concept, PIFF aims to challenge by whom, for whom, and how cinematic stories are told. 2020 also features renowned visiting curators, esteemed guests, industry leaders, and jury members in attendance—all of whom represent major film festivals, museums, and distribution companies around the globe.

“With over 37,000 attendees, PIFF serves as a catalyst for cultural appreciation, conversation, collaboration, and community-building. By embracing the future of storytelling in all its forms, the Festival brings Portland to the world, and the world to Portland, ” says Amy Dotson, the new Director of the Northwest Film Center, and first-ever curator of Film & New Media at the Portland Art Museum. “Our whole team is so proud to bring audiences, new and old, together to experience film, animation, performance, audio stories, and undefinable mash-ups that take cinema to new heights. How lucky we are to have such a creative feast to share, right here in Portland!”

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

The Eyeslicer Season Two by Dan Schoenbrun and Vanessa McDonnell
United States | 2019
Recently featured in GQ’s Time Capsule for the 2010s, this bonkers-yet-thoughtful 13-episode TV show blends the boldest new American filmmaking into mind-expanding, mixtape-style episodes that feature work from over 70 filmmakers.

Featured in multiple locations throughout the city, including Free First Thursday screenings at both the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center. A binge-worthy IRL event, you can experience Eyeslicer throughout the day. Free admission.

Mobile Projection Unit
A collective of video-mapping artists will present two nights of large-scale video-mapping, transforming the Portland Art Museum into a hypnotic, liquified structure and a glittery-pink living disco ball.

PIFF Opening Night
Three-film Opening Night program features The Climb, as well as shorts America and The Giverny Document (Single Channel). One ticket includes all screenings, which will screen back-to-back at both venues. Attendees are welcome to come to one, or stay for all three!

PIFF 43 Opening Night radically presents varying perspectives on what it means to be alive in this moment, while reflecting on the past that’s shaped us. This multi-perspective Opening Night panorama dives deep into unexpected places, expounding upon notions of race, gender, time, and nowness. Funny, painful, powerful, and electric in equal measure, PIFF 43 Opening Night subverts the notion that any one film is worthy of “Opening Night” attention. Instead, we embrace the interplay between these three storytellers and their collaborators.

America
Directed by Garrett Bradley
United States | 2019 | 29 mins.
A cinematic omnibus rooted in New Orleans, challenging the idea of black cinema as a “wave” or “movement in time,” proposing instead a continuous thread of achievement.

&

The Giverny Document (Single Channel) by Ja’Tovia M. Gary
The Giverny Document (Single Channel) by Ja’Tovia M. Gary

The Giverny Document (Single Channel)
Directed by Ja’Tovia Gary
United States | 2019 | 45 mins.
Filmed on location in Harlem and in Monet’s historic gardens in Giverny, this multi-textured cinematic poem meditates on the bodily integrity and creative virtuosity of black women.

The Climb
Directed by Michael Angelo Covino
United States | 2020 | 94 mins.
This buddy comedy starts with a simple premise—two lifelong pals struggle to bike up a French mountaintop—but what comes next is anyone’s guess. With incredible cinematic reinvention, ambitious long-takes, dramatic time-leaps, and a cappella interludes, the audience is invited along for the ride, no matter where it leads.

Disney Pixar’s Onward
Directed by Dan Scanlon
United States | 2020 | 91 mins.
Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s Onward introduces two teenage elf brothers (voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there. Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new original feature film is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae—the team behind Monsters University. Onward releases in theaters on March 6, 2020.

John Cameron Mitchell presents: Anthem: Homunculus Live Listening Party
A creative, multi-media feast featuring a tangled story of visits to other planets, talking tumors, and song-filled telethons pitched to save the life of the protagonist, Ceann. This game-changing, audio-based story—performed LIVE—is based on Mitchell’s genre-busting podcast by the same name and defies all conventions and expectations, with audiences experiencing a wild, 6.5-hour extravaganza of over 30 songs ranging from indie-rock to dream pop to avant-garde.

  • Featuring the vocal talent of Glenn Close, Cynthia Erivo, Patti LuPone, Denis O’Hare, Mari Moriarty, Alan Mandell, Ben Foster and Shalewa Sharpe.
  • Creator and star John Cameron Mitchell and guests in attendance.

Presented by Luminary.

The Armory Presents: Off-Center Stage
Off-Center Stage is a series of late-night programming that will feature unconventional performances from musicians, visual artists, comedians, dance, and open-format shows for the 21-and-over crowd. Each show will take place on the stages and other communal spaces in the historic surroundings of The Armory.

PERFORMANCES AND PRESENTATIONS

  • Reese Bowes — light/sound design and video projections
  • Auvie Sinclair — instrumental hip hop producer/beatmaker
  • Just Pretend — live band featuring Darian Patrick, band member for Hedwig & The Angry Inch and In The Heights.
  • Disco Montana — live band fusing elements of pop, disco, country and folk

The Cinema Unbound Awards

The Cinema Unbound Awards celebrates artists who are trying new things, thinking bigger, and pushing forward to transform filmmaking—and the world. We’ve assembled a small-but-mighty band of internationally renowned artists, creatives, and curators working against traditional constraints of cinema.

Honoring:

Astonishing Auteur TODD HAYNES (Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning writer and director; Carol, Far from Heaven, Mildred Pierce)

Creative Powerhouse JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL (Tony Award-winning writer, director, and actor; Hedwig & The Angry Inch, Anthem: Homunculus, Hulu’s Shrill)

Documentary Doyenne JULIE GOLDMAN (Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning producer of over 50 feature documentaries, including Life, Animated, Buck, Weiner)

Immersive Maestro MICHEL REILHAC (Filmmaker, Experiential Artist and Head of VR, Venice Biennale)

Animation Arts Wizard ROSE BOND (Internationally-recognized, large-scale, site-specific animations)

Curatorial Mastermind RAJENDRA ROY (The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, MoMA)

Costume Designer Extraordinaire AMANDA NEEDHAM (Emmy-winning costume designer; Portlandia, Shrill

PIFF 43 Closing Weekend centerpiece film First Cow
Directed by Kelly Reichardt
United States | 2020 | 121 mins
Returning to the Oregon wilderness for her seventh feature, Kelly Reichardt continues her examination of the American expansionist myth via the Western genre. John Magaro stars as a loner cook who teams up with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) to create a new business—one that is dependent on a wealthy landowner’s prize milk cow, but without his knowledge. First Cow will open in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, March 20.

The Personal History of David Copperfield
Directed by Armando Iannucci
United States | 2020 | 119 mins
The Personal History of David Copperfield re-imagines Charles Dickens’ classic ode to grit and perseverance through the comedic lens of its award-winning filmmakers—giving the Dickensian tale new life for a cosmopolitan age with a diverse ensemble cast of stage and screen actors from across the world. Emmy® winners and Oscar® nominees Armando Iannucci (In the Loop, The Death of Stalin, HBO’s Veep) and Simon Blackwell (In the Loop, HBO’s Succession) lend their wry yet heart-filled storytelling style to revisiting Dickens’ iconic hero on his quirky journey from impoverished orphan to burgeoning writer in Victorian England.

Berio’s Sinfonia by Rose Bond | IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OREGON SYMPHONY
Animator and Cinema Unbound Award honoree Rose Bond presents a program of eye-popping experiential animation set to and illustrating Luciano Bario’s monumental musical-cultural portrait of New York in the late 1960s. An incredible visual and sound experience for cinema-goers, animators, experiential designers, and music lovers alike.

PANELS AND WORKSHOPS

Over the course of the two weekends, PIFF will host eight panels, three workshops, and one special un-conference. PIFF will also host multi-day happy hour networking events with industry professionals to provide assistance and services to independent filmmakers. Date, Time and Location TBA.

Docs on the Rise — Cinema Unbound Award honoree Julie Goldman and Academy Award nominee and Portland documentary filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky discuss opportunities for expanded creativity in emerging marketplaces.

The Sustainability and Ethics Un-Conference — A participatory town hall about fostering an inclusive and ethically conscious media-making community, with breakout sessions on topics such as power dynamics on-set, setting contractual boundaries, and practicing empathy in production.

Beyond Cancel Culture — Cinema Unbound Award honoree Rajendra Roy and curatorial colleagues discuss approaches to critically engaging with problematic narratives.

Interactive Media Performance by Reese Bowes
An evening of multi-format audio and visual experiences courtesy of guest curator Reese Bowes. who will also present two short film works by Portland based filmmakers: Remembrance, by Sabina Haque, and Spooky Girls, by The Hand and The Shadow production company.

Why I Love and Fear VR
Presented by Guest Curator, Cinema Unbound Award honoree, and Head of Venice Biennale XR Michel Reilhac

Guest curator Gina Duncan (BAMcinématek) presents:
Prince’s Purple Rain (1984)

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