Portland-themed films abound in Portland Film Festival
This story is part of our ongoing series on the Portland Film Festival. Click here for more coverage.
There will be more than 400 films available to see at this year's Portland Film Festival, covering all kinds of themes and featuring filmmakers from near and far.
Movies were available to stream, and various selections will be shown on screens in the east wing of Lloyd Center mall.
There'll be many made by Oregon filmmakers or dealing with subjects in our state. It's a long list.
Among the many documentaries is a film that will certainly interest comic book lovers. Mike Mignola helped put Dark Horse Comics of Milwaukie — and Portland comic creators — on the national comic book map when he created Hellboy, a blue-collar, dark force-fighting character that later became the star in movies of the same name starring Ron Perlman (directed by Guillermo del Toro) and then David Harbour.
Mignola obviously created other characters, but he became most famous for Hellboy. So, filmmakers Kevin Konrad Hanna and Jim Demonakos went out to learn more about Mignola, an Oakland, California native.
Thus, "Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters" was born. It's available to stream online, and screens at Lloyd Center in the Pacific Rock Crab Theater at 5 p.m. Oct. 22 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23.
The documentary focuses mostly on Mignola, but Dark Horse Comics founder Mike Richardson makes some appearances "as he and Dark Horse Comics are definitely an important part of Mignola's story as they took a chance and bet on him, and that bet has definitely paid off in the long run," Demonakos said.
The film delves into Mignola, who, by popularity, became the inspiration for his own Mignolaverse, a title he doesn't like, apparently. Mignola took great pride in creating Hellboy, the filmmakers said.
"He instilled that character with aspects of his own personality as well as his father's, and so there is a lot of Mike inside of Hellboy, which is something to be proud of," Demonakos said.
Mignola, like many creative types, had issues with the "Hellboy" movies.
"The basic quarrel came down to vision as both Mignola and del Toro have very strong personalities and ideas of what they wanted the movie to be," Hanna said. "In the end, they found a balance, but when all is said and done, there is a very clear distinction between the Hellboy of the movies and the Hellboy of the comics, and that's for the best on both fronts."
It's such an iconic character, and very recognizable.
"We wanted to make this have broad appeal, our goal was really to make sure that someone who watched with little knowledge of Mignola would be interested and captivated by his story," Hanna said. "Even more so, we hope it actually makes people want to check out the comics and explore more of Mignola's work. We told a human story about an artist and his struggles and focused on making that story relatable so that anyone could watch and enjoy."
Said Demonakos: "Mignola's art was also so striking, no matter what he did, it was always different than the norm, but so appealing. As a person, he has always been warm and welcoming, and quite open when it comes to his history and life."
Local films worth watching at this year's Portland Film Festival
Here are some local films to consider watching:
• Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts: The story: Portland resident Dru Holley's documentary explores the often-contradictory role played by the Black soldiers throughout American history, with particular emphasis on the settling of the American West and colonialism abroad — military conflicts abroad and civil rights struggles at home.
• Shattered: How Women Broke the Glass Ceiling In Oregon Politics: The story: Takes you inside the ascent of a new class of women in politics with exclusive interviews and access to the women who made Oregon a national leader on universal preschool, women's health, and set a new course for the next generation.
• Because We're Family: The story: Dysfunctional siblings reunite to witness the cremation of their mother in this 90-minute narrative by Portlanders Angela Teresa Stern and Christine Nyhart. Back under one roof for the holidays, all decency is lost when a feud over her ashes tests the boundaries of family and a Christmas Eve tradition becomes difficult to digest.
• Silent Voices: The story: Donna Hayes lost her grandson to unjust police violence and has yet to see institutional justice. The film is about her grandson and six other true stories about police violence. Written in an emergent and collaborative writing process with surviving family members of others killed by the Portland-metro police and filmed during the COVID-19 era by a volunteer production team.
• Another Story (with Esperanza Spalding): The story: Gystere and Esperanza are going to the center of the earth to confront the intergalactic colonizer in this musical short featuring Spalding, a Portland native and multiple Grammy Awards winner.
• Safe and Seen on 82nd: The story: By Portland filmmaker Dawn Jones Redstone, it's a dance short exploring music and movement as we follow the emotional journey of a pedestrian, a person of Asian descent, unseen by the world around them.
• The Sophomore From Washington: The story: In 1970, the legendary undefeated Iowa State wrestler Dan Gable lost his final collegiate match to a relatively unknown sophomore from the University of Washington, Larry Owings (born in Oregon City, recently living in Woodburn). Gable went on to achieve Olympic gold and build a dynasty as head coach for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Owings faded into obscurity.
• The Jackie Stiles Story: The story: It's the life story, a 94-minute documentary by Brent Huff, of the Missouri collegiate legend and WNBA rookie of the year from the short-lived Portland Fire.
• Live Out Loud: The story: By Melissa Gregory Rue, a Portland Community College instructor, it tells the stories of three people experiencing homelessness in Portland — Sumaiyya, David, John — as they are empowered and begin to heal from childhood trauma by learning to make films in a grant-funded class. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their projects.
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