The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs
The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs

The 44th Portland International Film Festival (PIFF 44) taking place March 5 – 14, 2021, announced the first wave of films and special events. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, PIFF 44 will be held as a hybrid event with a combination of virtual and drive-in screenings.

Cinematic stories from the Pacific Northwest, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East dominate this year’s lineup of 93 total feature and short films from over 34 countries.

The Northwest Film Center’s second annual Cinema Unbound Awards will kick off the festival, celebrating artists and leaders who are transforming cinematic storytelling, and throughout the festival, the Cinema Unbound Drive-In at Zidell Yards will showcase independent features and 5 new Northwest shorts exploring what the future can be.

“Cinema Unbound continues to be the driving force of our festival, drive-in, and awards. This is especially true this year as PIFF and Cinema Unbound Awards go global, allowing audiences the world over to experience film, animation, performance, audio stories, and undefinable mash-ups that take cinema to new heights.” says Amy Dotson, the Director of the Northwest Film Center, and Curator of Film & New Media at the Portland Art Museum. “PIFF exists in the midst of art and cinema, and we’re thrilled to bring together artists and innovators who have created—and curated—new ways of seeing that can’t be found elsewhere.”

Other PIFF highlights include the Future/future Competition spotlighting boundary-pushing new cinema from emerging filmmakers around the globe; Spectral Transmissions: Ghosts of Futures Past, a multimedia event in the style of a 1930s/1940s radio show; and Where There’s Smoke, an immersive cinematic exploration of memory and loss from writer/director Lance Weiler. This year a special Cinema//Care Program, guest programmed by Sundance Film Festival’s Gina Duncan, will examine how independent filmmaking and festival support can help sustain a culture of care and community.

The full PIFF 44 lineup will be announced February 14, 2021.

The Cinema Unbound Awards Experience

Thursday, March 4

A virtual and drive-In experience celebrating artists and leaders trying new things, thinking bigger, and pushing forward to transform cinematic storytelling – and the world. Honorees for the first Cinema Unbound Awards last year included Todd Haynes, John Cameron Mitchell, Julia Goldman, Michel Reilhac, Rose Bond, Rajendra Roy and Amanda Needham. This year’s honorees will be announced on February 7, 2021.

PIFF Opening Night

Friday, March 5

Opening Night will feature:

  • Spectral Transmissions: Ghosts of Futures Past(Virtual, Audio-visual Special Event)
  • Minari (Cinema Unbound Drive-In)
  • The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs (Virtual Feature Film)
  • Entre Tu Y Milagros (Virtual Short Film)
  • I Like Tomorrow(Virtual Short Film)
  • See Me (Virtual Short Film)

Virtual PIFF

March 5–14

With 78 films from 34 countries, media art stories, and programs over a 10 day period, this year’s offerings can be seen in Portland and throughout the U.S. The robust online watching portal allows for a true cinema-like experience and can be seen on a number of devices, including Apple TV and Roku Over The Top (OTT) devices.

Virtual offerings include:

  • Over 40 films, cinematic stories, and art from black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).
  • Over 40 films, cinematic stories, and art from female and female identifying voices.
  • 30 shorts: 9 Northwest shorts, 8 US shorts, and 13 International shorts
  • 45 features: 8 NW films, 20 US films, and 17 International films

Cinema Unbound Drive-In: The Future is NOW

March 5-14

Featuring 10 popular independent features and 5 new Northwest shorts exploring what the future can be, the Cinema Unbound Drive-In at Zidell Yards allows guests to safely gather and experience the power that truly radical and entertaining cinematic storytelling can bring.

Future/future Competition

The PIFF Future/future competition highlights boundary-pushing new cinema from emerging filmmakers and represents some of the most exciting new voices in global cinema. A mix of U.S. and international first and second-time feature filmmakers, the competition films include:

  • American Thief
  • Everything in the End
  • Identifying Features
  • A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff
  • A Machine to Live In
  • A Rifle and A Bag
  • A Son
  • Sugar Daddy

Special Events

Spectral Transmissions: Ghosts of Futures Past
An audio and video/multimedia event created in the style of 1930s/1940s radio show that includes folk tales, memories, and personal accounts of hauntings from the supernatural to the political.

Lance Weiler’s Where There’s Smoke.
Inspired by true events in writer/director Lance Weiler’s life, this cinematic exploration mixes live documentary, immersive theatre, and elements of an escape room to create an experience that explores memory and loss. Set within the aftermath of a blaze, participants race to determine the cause of a tragic fire by sifting through the charred remains.

Cinema//Care Program

Guest programmed by Sundance Film Festival’s Gina Duncan, this program reinforces a commitment to care and community, and how through the programming of independent films at art houses, festivals, we can create and sustain a culture of care right where we live. Featuring four recent independent films that reflect this value both in how the film was made and within the story itself, the program will also include a discussion with acclaimed filmmakers Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), Andrew Ahn(Driveways), Loria Limbal (Through the Night)and Crystal Kayiza

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