The lineup of the 34th NW Film and Video Festival is a true hodge-podge of filmmaking ranging from stories of baseball and nuclear power plants to famous nudes and zombies, from all regions of the Northwest. There's no overarching theme to the collection, just a group of films housed under the fuzzy slogan "Dedicated to the Dedicated." And while I wasn't dedicated enough to watch over 40 films (check out Film Shorts on pg. 44), what I did see was an uneven collection, with the following exceptions.
The gems of the fest: The Shorts I program (playing on Friday, November 9 and Thursday, November 15) is full of shorts about gravediggers, an old man coming out of the closet, and a surprisingly funny take on New Wave French cinema (By Modern Measure). But the two that are not to be missed are by Canadian wunderkind Jamie Travis: Patterns II and Patterns III are visually stunning works of musical, stop-motion magic. The professional standards of Travis' films are, bar-none, the best work you'll see at the NW Film and Video Fest.
Also definitely worth seeing is Seattle-based filmmakers Lainey Bagwell and Lacey Leavitt's Blood on the Flat Track (screening Friday, November 16), which showcases the rise of the Rat City Rollergirls. It's a fast-paced meet-and-greet documentary about Seattle's roller derby league that's sure to get a lot of interest in derby-obsessed Portland.
So while the focus mostly feels obscure at the NW Film and Video Festival, there's some clarity, at least, when it comes to picking out the best bits. For more info, hit nwfilm.org.