“IF YOU FILMED IT on VHS, it was just a little bit more intriguing to us,” says Nini Liedman of the 250 movies she and her husband, co-founder Bryan Liedman watched while curating the North Portland Unknown Festival. The Liedmans have a love for experimental, lo-fi, and just plain weird films—and the festival is their brain child. A one-day event at Disjecta, the North Portland Unknown Film Festival already promises things like an entire program that consists of two-minute-long films, aptly named the “Two-Minute Film Fest.”
The concept was inspired by a similar festival the Liedmans worked on in Fargo, North Dakota, at the movie theater where they met. “That was a big, rowdy portion of the Fargo Film Festival we brought with us,” Bryan explains. The first 75 minutes of the program were automatically accepted and the audience acts as jurors. “People have so much fun,” Nini adds. “It gives the audience a chance to interact with the festival in a different way. They’re seeing the other submissions and then they’re choosing what they like.”
Since this is its first year, the North Portland Unknown Film Festival has just three programs—it’s possible to make a day of it and see everything. The festival’s “best in show” film is Matthew Wade’s How the Sky Will Melt, a great example of the fest’s old-media aesthetic: The atmospheric, synth-scored psychedelic feature is shot on Super-8 and deals with isolation and unreality. Bundled in the same program is Ketchup Freeland’s Technicolor Angst, a hilarious digital short about roommate drama that’s scored with shrill, glitchy punk. Seen together, it’s easier to understand why these films are good neighbors. Despite their lack of technological crossover, they’re both odd and intriguing films. North Portland Unknown is here to celebrate the weird.