44th annual showcase of regional talent in cinema features more women directors and filmmakers.

COURTESY: CLYDE PETERSEN - 'Torrey Pines' is described as a 'queer-punk, stop-motion animated feature' by Seattle-based artist Clyde Petersen. 
The longest running film festival in the Pacific Northwest is back, and hoping to have more of an impact than last year's Northwest Filmmakers Festival.

The fest saw low attendance, as organizers speculate it was because it was held right after the 2016 election and, of course, amid subsequent protests.

"The festival unfortunately started literally two days after the election, so I think there was a lot of dismay in the air as well as protests — so (people) were few and far between making it out," says Ben Popp, filmmaker services manager at Northwest Film Center, the organization hosting the film fest.

But it's returning in its 44th year with a punch, showing 15 features and four short films from Nov. 1-5, mostly at Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave., but other events in the festival are held at other locations as well. Find out more online, including a full schedule of events, at

This year, there are more ladies in the lineup, as in women filmmakers.

"On one hand if the film's good, that's what should trump everything. But at the same time, there's a little subjectivity to that," Popp says. "I think that having that element conscious on the mind ... makes the festival more rich, honestly."

One documentary by Julie Perini, on a sabbatical from a teaching job at Portland State University to pursue filmmaking, tells the true story of Rita "Bo" Brown, a working-class "butch" woman from rural Oregon who became known as "The Gentleman Bank Robber."

COURTESY: NW FILM CENTER - The documentary by Portland-based artist Julie Perini called 'The Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter Rita Bo Brown' tells the story of Brown, who was from rural Oregon.The documentary — titled "The Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter Rita Bo Brown" — tells Brown's story of using her butch-style of dress and "polite way of demanding funds from bank tellers." It screens at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, at Whitsell Auditorium.

COURTESY: BARRI CHASE - Female, Oregon-based director Barri Chase directs 'The Watchman's Canoe,' about a girl of mixed caucasian and indigenous descent who tries to join an all-boys group on an indian reservation. There's also "Torrey Pines," directed by Seattle-based filmmaker Clyde Petersen.

Described as a queer-punk, stop-motion animated feature, it focuses on the life story of a 12-year-old Petersen, whose mother suffered from hallucinations about political conspiracies and family dysfunction.

He ventures on a cross-country road trip that will "forever alter the family as they know it." Details: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at Skype Live Studio, 1211 S.W. Fifth Ave.

For those interested in gentrification in Portland and displacement of the city's black population, there's "Priced Out," a 60-minute documentary and follow-up to Cornelius Swart's 2002 film "NorthEast Passage: The Inner City and the American Dream." It'll show at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, at Whitsell.

In addition to the movies, there will be plenty else to do, Popp says.

There will be live filmmaking happening during a "Party Killer Vs. Kodak" event at 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Whitsell, where the Portland band Party Killer will create live soundtracks to Super 8 films shot for the Northwest Filmmakers Summit — a full-day event featuring industry vendors showcasing the latest filmmaking tech, as well as panel discussions.

COURTESY: JOAN GRATZ - A still from 'Primal Flux' directed by Joan Gratz, which is part of a series at the festival, Northwest Tracking: Trailblazing Women of Independent Animation.""As the city is growing, the industry is growing, and there are more people who have experience. They all want to come here and get involved, and continue working — and that's really the exciting aspect about this time in the film world in Portland," Popp says.

He's aware that people often don't think about Portland as a filmmaking mecca, especially since it isn't near the levels of, say, Hollywood or New York.

"It automatically gets pigeonholed as something that's not worthwhile, and I think that's part of the fight that this fest has been trying to prove for so long," he says. "Like, no, there's really good work being made here and we want you to be able to come out and experience it. A lot of these filmmakers are your neighbors, your friends. This is what's going on in your backyard."

Lyndsey Hewitt
Reporter, Portland Tribune
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