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Jessica Scalise's comedy was filmed in Portland and features several local actors

SUBMITTED PHOTOS: SEAN D. BROWN - The families of the brides meet for the first time, with disasterous consequences, in Jessica Scalises comedy Zilla and Zoe. The film will be featured in a special screening on Oct. 31 at the Portland Film Festival. It features local actors Julie Elizabeth Knell, Sam Kamerman and Tyler Miller.

Jessica Scalise's film "Zilla and Zoe" has hit the film festival circuit and will be featured as the opening-night narrative film of the Portland Film Festival.

The special screening is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 31 at the Laurelhurst Theater, 2735 E. Burnside St. in Portland.

Scalise both wrote and directed the comedy, which was filmed in Portland and counts local actors Julie Elizabeth Knell, Tyler Miller and Sam Kamerman among the cast. It is a heartwarming and quirky comedy that explores family and the importance of accepting one another for who we really area.

The whole bridal party ends up in jail in one of their lower moments in this scene from Zilla and Zoe.

The screenplay was a quarterfinalist in Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Screenwriting Contest, one of the top screenwriting contests in the world. Zoetrope looks for screenplays "with the best story and execution — regardless of genre or budget requirements."

In a July 2015 interview with The Review and Tidings, Knell said "Zilla and Zoe" is similar in style and humor to "Little Miss Sunshine," the 2006 story of a dysfunctional family and their road trip to a beauty contest. It starred Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin.

But this time, the star isn't interested in beauty contests. In "Zilla and Zoe," 10-year-old Zoe is obsessed with making horror films. A deadline for a big horror contest is coming up, and she is determined to win. But when her father, concerned about her increasingly gory activities, orders her to stop making horror films and shoot her sister's wedding week instead, Zoe has no other choice. To win the contest of her dreams, she will have to turn her sister's wedding into a horror film.

Lake Oswego actors Julie Elizabeth Knell, left, and Sam Kamerman share a sweet moment on the set of 'Zilla and Zoe.'

Knell plays Cora, an East Coast blueblood from a wealthy family. She is a loud, brassy, bossy socialite and has a genuinely warm, loving heart. Kamerman plays Zilla; Miller plays one of Knell's sons.

"We played at the Seattle Local Sightings Film Festival on Sept. 22 and were delighted to win the Audience Choice Award for Best Film," said Scalise. "As part of the award, the film will be screening in Seattle again, at the Brewery Taphouse screening room. The exact date and time have not been announced yet ... stay tuned!"

"Zilla and Zoe" is also an official selection of the High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, N.Y., which will take place in November. The High Falls Film Festival celebrates the artistry and innovation of women in film — behind the camera, in leading roles on the screen and at the heart of storylines. The film festival is inspired by Rochester's legacy as the birthplace of film and the women's rights movement.

The Portland Film Festival runs Oct. 30-Nov. 5, with most events taking place at the Laurelhurst Theater. During the festival, more than 150 films from all around the world will be screened, 89 of which were directed by women. Viewers can watch a Portland-made film every day of the festival. And as a way to acknowledge November as National American Indian Heritage Month, a film will be shown each day that highlights current indigenous voices.

Tickets are $10 per film; panels and workshops are $15, unless indicated otherwise. A VIP pass, which allows access to all films, panels and workshops, is available for $299; senior passes are $169, student passes are $99 and industry passes are $199. Purchase tickets and view the complete schedule online at pdxff.com.

To learn more about Jessica Scalise's work, visit scalisepics.com.

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