Portland Underground Film Festival
Thurs Dec 9 - Sun Dec 12 Clinton Street Theater

The Portland Underground Film Festival is a product of the undeniably twisted mind of Seth Sonstein, owner of the Clinton Street Theater. Sonstein is the former curator of the Sick Puppy Film Festival, a San Francisco film fest that showcased hardcore, underground independent films that you probably wouldn't take your mom to see.

Though popular in San Francisco, Sick Puppy didn't fare well when Sonstein brought it to Portland--so this year, Sonstein has opted to make a fest that's a little more inclusive. "The films we showed for Sick Puppy all involved puke, shit, violence, weird sexual situations... that seemed limiting after a while," says Sonstein. "There were always so many [other] entries that were amazing but didn't fit the fest." Sonstein's purchase of the Clinton Street Theater last year gave him the freedom to explore non-shit-spattered avenues; while nothing in PUFF qualifies as "wholesome," selections range from underground bike videos (featuring the drunken antics of the Zoobombers and Chunk 666), to a documentary about the porn industry, to a film that has muffins causing the extinction of the human race. (Fans of the depraved, diabolical, and disgusting needn't worry--the spirit of Sick Puppy lives on in the form of the "Sickest Shorts" program.)

PUFF features national and international films selected from more than 300 entries. "We didn't have any specific criteria," Sonstein explains. "We just took the best of the best." Sonstein is particularly excited about Saturday's program of shorts from acclaimed Seattle director Armando Munez. "Munez won Best Film and Sickest Film at Sick Puppy last year for 'Killer Crapper,'" Sonstein enthuses. "Which is about a toilet that kills people. He's a genius!" This year, PUFF will be screening Munez's "Mime After Midnight"--about a mime whose invisible weapons cause real carnage.

Other PUFF offerings include post-film Q&As and a panel bringing together three local filmmakers from different economic strata to discuss the state of independent filmmaking in Portland.

For info on the fest's opening night festivities, see My, What A Busy Week! (page 11), and for the Mercury's thoughts on the fest's selections, see Film Shorts (pages 59 & 61.)