February has two great film festivals in Portland – the Portland International Film Festival (Feb. 9 – 25) and the Cascade African Film Festival (Feb. 3 – March 3). Each year, I eagerly await the announcement of the films that will be screening. I read through the program, pick films that I would like to see and check my schedule to see which I can attend.
I never make it to more than two during the month, but despite my horrible theater-going track record, I always have a list of films that I come away with that I hope to stream from the Internet or watch on DVD from the comfort of my own home.
Here are a few of my picks for the PIFF from this year (Tomorrow I will write about the African Film Festival):
Portland International Film Festival
1. Breathing (Austria) - The Austrian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, “Breathing” tells the story of a young man with a mistakenly troubled past whose parole officer finds him a job collecting cadavers. Through events at his job, he begins the search for his birth mother. Sunday, Feb. 12, at Cinemagic, 2021 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, and Tuesday, Feb. 14, at Lake Twin Cinema, 106 North State Street, Lake Oswego.
2. The Life of Fish (Chile) – This one doesn’t play on Valentine’s Day, but it is one of the films that looks most like it will have some romantic undertones. A travel writer is back home in Santiago where he attends a party. The whole night he avoids an old female friend, whose connection to him becomes more clear as the film unfolds. This also is up for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Saturday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m. at Lloyd Mall 6, 2320 Lloyd Center Mall, Portland, and Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6:15 p.m. at Pioneer Place 6, 340 SW Morrison St, Portland.
3. Free Men (France) – This sounds like a breath of fresh air amidst current Middle Eastern tensions. This film tells the story of Muslims at a Paris mosque who sheltered Jews during World War II. Sunday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m. at Lake Twin Cinema, 106 North State Street, Lake Oswego, Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m. at Cinemagic, 2021 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, and Monday, Feb. 20, at 2:30 p.m. at Lloyd Mall 6, 2320 Lloyd Center Mall, Portland.
4. The Front Line (South Korea) – As I am currently working on a project involving the Korean War, this film looks like a good one. Set on a fictitious hill that has passed between the north and south sides during the war, “The Front Line” gives some surprising vignettes of encounters between the two sides. This is South Korea’s Best Foreign Language Film submission for an Oscar this year. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. Whitsell Auditorium in the Portland Art Museum, 1219 Southwest Park Avenue, Portland.
5. Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (Turkey) – I’ve always wanted to visit Turkey, and this film looks like it promises some haunting landscapes as well as the intensity of a cops movie. A caravan travels through Turkey with a confessed killer searching for the place he buried his victim. Yet each time he points out the grave, the searchers come up empty. This is Turkey’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Sunday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at Cinema 21, 616 Northwest 21st Avenue, Portland, and Friday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m. at Cinema 21.