The 43rd Portland International Film Festival (PIFF 43) announced the lineup featuring 10 days of films, talks, workshops, performances, and special events throughout Portland from March 6 to 15, 2020. The program showcases over 120 films from 40 countries, with sneak previews of upcoming releases including Sony Pictures Classics’ The Climb, Disney/Pixar’s Onward, Searchlight’s David Copperfield, Oscilloscope’s Clementine, and A24’s First Cow.
“PIFF 43 is more than a gathering of film lovers and makers. Rather, PIFF asks audiences to take risks and be open to new ways of creative expression, and it shines a spotlight on artists who are bold enough to interrupt the status quo,” says Northwest Film Center Director Amy Dotson. “With the recent merging of the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival with PIFF, we’re in a unique position now to ensure that the incredible work of Northwest artists is shared with the wider world, as well as introduce global artists and perspectives that might not otherwise be heard in the Northwest.”
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. In addition to programming and events, this year’s edition features renowned visiting curators, esteemed guest artists and innovators, industry leaders, and jury members in attendance—all of whom represent major film festivals, museums, and distribution companies around the globe.
“The Portland International Film Festival has been the marquee Northwest Film Center event for 43 years,” said Portland Art Museum Director Brian Ferriso. “PIFF and year-round Film Center programs are central to the Museum’s mission to engage diverse communities through art and film of enduring quality. This evolution of PIFF is a celebration of storytelling, and reinforces the many ways that art and film connect us to each other and the world around us.”
PIFF 43 Opening Night presents a radical, multi-perspective panorama that 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 four storytellers and their collaborators.
This Opening Night program features the work of Northwest filmmakers: Michael Angelo Covino’s The Climb at Cinema 21 and Lara Jean Gallagher’s Clementine at the Whitsell Auditorium. Shorts America and The Giverny Document (Single Channel) will screen back-to-back at both venues.
PIFF 43 OPENING NIGHT SELECTIONS
Directed by Garrett Bradley
United States | 2019 | 29 mins.
A Field of Vision release
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)
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.
PROGRAM 2 – CINEMA 21:
Directed by Michael Angelo Covino
United States | 2020 | 94 mins.
A Sony Pictures Classics release
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.
PROGRAM 2 – WHITSELL AUDITORIUM:
Directed by Lara Jean Gallagher
Oregon | 2019 | 94 mins.
An Oscilloscope Films release
In this debut narrative feature by Oregon filmmaker Lara Jean Gallagher, two young women, each hiding something, forge a close relationship within the confines of a tranquil lake setting.
PIFF 43 CLOSING WEEKEND | CENTERPIECE FILM
Directed by Kelly Reichardt
United States | 2020 | 121 mins.
An A24 release
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.
FUTURE/FUTURE FILM COMPETITION
Highlighting boundary-pushing new cinema from emerging filmmakers, PIFF’s first-ever Future/future competition represents some of the most exciting new voices in global cinema.
Anne at 13,000 ft.
Directed by Kazik Radwanski
Canada | 2019 | 75 mins.
A Cinema Guild release
Toronto-based filmmaker Kazik Radwanski’s stunning sophomore feature revolves around the soon-to-be-30 Anne (Deragh Campbell in one of the year’s finest, nerviest performances), who struggles with personal connection until she unexpectedly takes up skydiving.
Directed by Roland Dahwen
Oregon | 2020 | 110 mins.
Shot on 16mm film in long, thoughtful takes, Roland Dahwen’s debut feature, tells the story of an immigrant family in Oregon whose life is disrupted when it’s revealed that the father has a second family. World Premiere.
Directed by Valentyn Vasyanovych
Ukraine | 2019 | 106 mins.
One of the year’s most devastatingly beautiful and confidently made films, Atlantis follows PTSD-afflicted ex-soldier Sergiy (Andriy Rymaruk) as he takes on a macabre new job in Eastern Ukraine’s heavily contested Donbas region. US Premiere.
Directed by Maya Da-Rin
Brazil/France/Germany | 2019 | 98 mins.
Documentarian Maya Da-Rin turns to fiction with The Fever—the story of Justino (Regis Myrupu), a member of the indigenous Desana people and itinerant security worker in Brazil’s northwest, who comes down with a mysterious illness and begins seeing strange creatures in the woods near his home.
Directed by Shengze Zhu
US/Hong Kong | 2019 | 124 mins.
A perceptive, eye-opening journey into Chinese livestreaming culture, Present.Perfect. is a collage film following a group of “anchors” sharing their entire lives online—sometimes charming, sometimes banal, sometimes disturbing, but always fascinating.
The World Is Bright
Directed by Ying Wang
British Columbia | 2019 | 110 mins.
Made over the course of ten years, Ying Wang’s premiere feature tells the tragic and mysterious story of the Deng family, who receive the sudden news that their son, Shi-Ming, who had immigrated to British Columbia, has committed suicide and been buried on Canadian soil, but with very little information beyond that. US Premiere.
The World Is Full of Secrets
Directed by Graham Swon
US | 2019 | 98 mins.
A gothic film infused with the contemporary moment, Swon’s debut feature could be described as a horror film without the horror, but rather a creeping feeling of inevitability, vulnerability, and dread in its tale of a teenage sleepover in which young women relate a series of increasingly grisly stories that conjure the brutality of American society as it relates to their personal fears and experiences.
This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection
Directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese
Lesotho/Italy |2020 | 120 mins.
In visual artist Mosese’s contemporary fairy tale, lonely 80-year-old widow Mantoa prepares for death but gains a renewed lease on life when resistance to an infrastructure project that will displace her village (and buried loved ones) looms on the horizon.
PIFF 43 FEATURE FILM HIGHLIGHTS
Highlights from the feature film program are listed below; a full listing of all feature films and shorts programs can be found here.
Frank and Zed
Directed by Jesse Blanchard
Oregon | 2020 | 90 mins.
Featuring an all-puppet cast, Frank and Zed tells the story of a doomed village whose King once made a fateful deal to stop a demon from destroying the village, but now upon the King’s death, a prophecy is seemingly coming true, in which the villagers must brace for an orgy of puppet blood.
It Must Be Heaven
Directed by Elia Suleiman
France/Qatar/German/Canada/Turkey/Palestine | 2019 | 97 mins.
Famed Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman’s latest masterwork poignantly meditates on the idea of being an outsider, both abroad and in one’s own land, with the filmmaker acting as our tour guide on a trip through life’s absurdities—both simple and profound.
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
Directed by Anca Damian
France/Romania/Belgium | 2019 | 92 mins.
A GKids release
This emotional, shape-shifting animated film follows Marona, an extremely cute dog who recounts her life, how she related to the world around her, and the humans she loved.
Directed by Pietro Marcello
Italy/France/Germany | 2019 | 125 mins.
A Kino Lorber release
Luca Martinelli delivers one of the year’s finest performances as the titular Martin Eden, an aspiring young writer increasingly radicalized by turn-of-the-20th-century Italian social conditions.
Directed by Federico Vieroj
Uruguay/Argentina/Germany | 2019 | 97 mins.
Renowned Uruguayan auteur Vieroj’s latest comedy/drama follows Humberto Brause, an enterprising young man who capitalizes on Uruguay’s fraught economic situation in the ‘70s to propel him to fortune—at odds with everything he’s ever believed in.
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up
Directed by Tasha Hubbard
Canada | 2019 | 98 mins.
Cree filmmaker Hubbard’s powerful, urgent documentary follows the case of Colten Boushie, a young Cree man murdered by a white farmer in 2016. Boushie’s family fights for justice in Canada and all the way to the United Nations, in an urgent plea for indigenous rights and respect.
The Personal History of David Copperfield
UK/US | 2020 | 119 mins.
A Searchlight Pictures release
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.
Directed by Justine Triet
France/Belgium | 2019 | 100 mins.
A Music Box Films release
Psychotherapist Sibyl (Virginie Efira) returns to creative writing—her first passion—but lacks creative spark, until a situation with one of her patients, a pregnant young actress, proves too difficult to resist fictionalizing.
Thunderbolt in Mine Eye
Directed by Sarah and Zachary Sherman
Oregon | 2020 | 80 mins.
In this honest coming-of-age tale, from sibling directors Sarah and Zachary Sherman, fourteen-year-old Harper enters high school and sparks a relationship with her older brother’s best friend, but while Harper deals with social blowback, the older Tilly is congratulated, setting up a very modern teenage love story in the current age of Time’s Up and Me Too.
To the Ends of the Earth
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Japan/Uzbekistan/Qatar | 2019 | 120 mins.
A KimStim release
Set in the plains and urban spaces of Uzbekistan, master filmmaker Kurosawa’s latest follows Yoko, a young television host, as she navigates professional and personal hurdles while filming a travelogue of sorts—which provides all sorts of surprises.
PIFF 43 PANELS AND WORKSHOPS
Over the course of the two weekends, PIFF and Swift Creative 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.
PIFF 43 GUEST CURATOR PRESENTATIONS
Purple Rain (1984) – Gina Duncan
Presented by Guest curator Gina Duncan (BAMcinématek)
Prince’s legendary hybrid concert-drama follows the young musician struggling to make it in the pulsating Minneapolis music scene.
Interactive Media Performance – 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 – Michel Reilhac
Presented by Guest Curator, Cinema Unbound Award honoree, and Head of Venice Biennale XR Michel Reilhac.
PIFF 43 SPECIAL EVENT 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, as well as Movie Madness. A binge-worthy IRL event, you can experience Eyeslicer throughout the day. Free admission.
John Cameron Mitchell’s Anthem: Homunculus A Live Listening Party
Experience the audio-theatre of the mind that is John Cameron Mitchell and Bryan Weller’s groundbreaking podcast, Anthem: Homunculus. From the creator of Hedwig & the Angry Inch comes the story of broke, failed artist Ceann Mackay (John Cameron Mitchell) as he launches an app-based “tumor telethon” to crowdfund his survival. This game-changing, audio-based story 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 talents 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. Anthem: Homunculus is available only on Luminary.