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Film fest frenzy lights up screens

37th annual PIFF brings world's best cinema to town


by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF PIFF - 'The Wind Rises'The Portland International Film Festival, a local institution for 37 years, has a distinctive Academy Awards feel.

Many of the foreign movies have been nominated for Academy Awards, including “The Wind Rises” for Best Animated Feature Film, which soon will enjoy national distribution by Touchstone Pictures.

Hayao Miyazaki’s nonfiction story tells of Jiro Horikoshi, a character inspired by Italian aeronautical engineer Giovanni Battista Caproni, who dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes. He’s nearsighted and unable to be a pilot, but he joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes an innovative airplane designer, including designing the prototype Zero World War II fighter.

Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibili, has said it’s his final film.

PIFF movies will play all over the city, Feb. 6 through 22. “The Wind Rises” will be shown on opening night at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at Cinema 21, 616 N.W. 21st Ave., and at 6:45 p.m. the same night, at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, 1945 S.E. Water Ave.

Along with Cinema 21 and OMSI, other PIFF venues are: Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave.; World Trade Center, 121 S.W. Salmon St.; Regal Fox Tower, 846 S.W. Park Ave.; Cinemagic, 2021 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.

Put on by the Northwest Film Center, the Portland International Film Festival will feature more than 128 movies screened from scores of countries — feature-length films, documentaries and shorts by masters and emerging talents. A full schedule can be found at nwfilm.org. Prices are $11 for general admission and $10 for Portland Art Museum members, students and seniors; opening night will be $25 and $20 for Portland Art Museum and OMSI members.

The opening night party will be at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at OMSI; the closing night party will be 7 p.m. Feb. 23, at the Portland Art Museum.

The other Academy Awards-nominated films include:

“Ernest and Celestine” — The French-produced film also has been nominated in the Best Animated Feature Film category. It’s about a civilization of hard-working mice who are afraid of bears and tucked away in a network of winding subterranean tunnels — except for Ernest and Celestine. Details: 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, Whitsell; 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, Fox Tower.

“The Missing Picture” — The film explores the widespread tragedy of an erased populace during the 1970s reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It’s been nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Rithy Panh explores his family’s history, as he stands as the only surviving family member from the Pol Pot regime. Details: 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, and 6 p.m. Feb. 15, World Trade Center.

“Omar” — It’s a tense, gripping thriller about betrayal, in the Occupied Territories of Israel, about Palestinian baker Omar, who plays a dangerous game of allegiance with Israelis and Palestinians. Details: 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, Whitsell; 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, Cinemagic.

by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF PIFF - 'That Wasn't Me'“That Wasn’t Me” — It’s a Spanish short about being a soldier and living with your mind. Details: 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and 12:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Whitsell (as part of Short Cuts III: International Ties).

“Do I Have To Take Care Of Everything?” — The Finnish short tells of a family who oversleeps on an important wedding day. Details: 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and 12:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Whitsell (as part of Short Cuts III: International Ties).

by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF PIFF - 'The Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas'Another highlight will be another screening featuring Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen in “Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas,” which explores a fault line between declining feudalism and modernity in 16th century France. Details: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, Cinema 21; 8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, Fox Tower. Last year, PIFF screened “The Hunt” with Mikkelsen, which has been nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Academy Awards.

The Portland International Film Festival also returns the popular PIFF After Dark program, featuring midnight movies like “The Sacrament” and “The Congress.” There’ll also be a significant number of animated movies, including “The Apostle,” “My Mommy Is In America and She Met Buffalo Bill”

and “Cheatin’,” a story of love, jealousy, revenge and murder and the seventh animated film — with 40,000 drawings — by Portland-born animator Bill Plympton.