There are approximately 807 film festivals in Portland every year, but there's only one—one—dedicated to women filmmakers, and we haven't seen a full-fledged festival lineup from them since 2003. But the Portland Women's Film Festival is back, and after five years of fundraising, networking, building a fancy website, and making friends with folks like this year's guest of honor, indie film legend Allison Anders, it looks to be a diverse, polished, and broadly appealing affair.
The new and improved POW Fest (no, it's not really an acronym, so don't try) goes down at the Hollywood this weekend, featuring independent work from women across the globe, as well as workshops and panel discussions. Lay any fears of a four-day cinematic interpretation of My Angry Vagina to rest: This festival isn't about who women are, it's about what women make. "We didn't want to make a festival about 'women's issues,'" says fest organizer Tara Johnson-Medinger, "but about the filmmaking process itself. It's really cool to see the diversity [of voices represented]."
Offerings ranging from a doc on mandatory minimum sentencing to a lesbian buddy romp to The Cake Eaters, a Mary Stuart Masterson-directed "small town ensemble drama." There are also several shorts programs, including one called "Don't Bring the Kids," for reasons that are immediately apparent from a list of titles that include Succubus and Size Matters.
One of the festival's aims is to "foster women becoming filmmakers." To that end, Sunday is POW Fest Family Day, which features a showcase of shorts from filmmakers 19 and under, and a performance from the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls band Teeath.
If all goes well this year, Johnson-Medinger hopes the festival will become an indie film-circuit destination. "I want it to grow every year. It has the potential. We're on a roll. Things are looking really positive for years and years to come."
For more info, see Film Shorts on pg. 44, Movie Times on pg. 47, and powfest.com. Admission is $7 per screening, or $100 for a festival pass.