Around the World in 17 Days: The 32nd Portland International Film Festival

By Kimberly Gehl:

Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) bannerThe 32nd Portland International Film Festival is officially in full swing and if you haven't checked out any of the films yet, you still have plenty of time to do so because the festival is running through February 21st. This year's festival features 115 films from 42 countries, as well as some intriguing Shorts Programs that feature sets of international, Oregon-made, and experimental shorts. General Admission to every unique, intriguing and well-crafted film is just $9, and only $8 for Portland Art Museum Members and $6 for NW Film Center Members and Children 12 and under.

The festival website advises that you purchase your tickets in advance online but if you arrive early, you can also purchase tickets before the show – if they are still available – at the Festival Ticket Outlet in the lobby of the Portland Art Museum.

So now that all the technicalities are out of the way, I bet the question you really want answered is “Which film(s) should I see?” Being a cinephile myself, every film looks great to me, so I'm not going to tell you which films you should or shouldn't see because it really is a matter of personal preference. Fortunately, there are a plethora of amazing films to please everyone's individual tastes, everything from dramas, to historical/political narratives, to documentaries, to comedies, to nationality-driven narratives, to biographies and memoirs, to portraits of particular people and places, to thrillers, to locally-made films and films with a local focus, to coming-of age tales, to experimental and surrealist films, to “urban fairytales”, and to top if off, a few awesome animated films.

I had the pleasure of making my first PIFF film this year Agnès Varda's The Beaches of Agnès. What really struck me about this film is the eloquence with which Varda stitches together so many different aspects of her life to create a cohesive and fascinating memoir. You will enjoy the film even if you aren't familiar with Varda's films or history because she tells her life story in such a compelling manner; both visually and narratively, it is an autobiographical film like none other.

Varda clearly has an innate talent for vividly recreating her memories, expressing her reflections on the people and “stuff” around her, and associating pieces of her internal spirit with pieces of the external, material world. The unique imagery that Varda uses in the film creates the kind of memories in your mind's eye that will stay with you long after you have left the theater and this film ultimately touches upon the very deepest core of the soul, that part of us which is familiar everyone. If you would like to see this gem on the big screen during the festival, it is playing at the Regal Broadway Cinemas, located at 1000 SW Broadway at Main, on Friday 2/20 at 6:15 PM and Saturday 2/21 at 12:15 PM.

For all other film summaries and show times, visit the PIFF website.

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Kimberly Gehl is an independent filmmaker, devoted cinephile , and die-hard portvangelist. Keep up with her on twitter by following @writeinmovement.

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