EXPERIMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL PORTLAND—EFFPortland—is entering its second year with over 100 films and videos, along with an entire week of screenings, lectures, workshops, installations, performances, parties, and exhibitions.
Festival co-directors Hannah Piper Burns and Ben Popp say that if you're going to eat an elephant, you've gotta do it piece by piece. EFFPortland is that elephant, and you want to eat it, but there's just so much: Even before the official opening screening on Wednesday, May 22, pre-fest events like the Seattle Experimental Animation Team's "Bloodbath and Beyond" (Mon May 20, Valentine's, 232 SW Ankeny, 8 pm) show how large a young festival can become in a creative ecosystem that's hungry for experimental media.
So, like I said, we're dealing with an elephant. Here's how your meat cuts up:
BOOBS: There will be boobs! And peeners and stuff! At "Volatile (The NSFW Screening)" in particular (Fri May 24, Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th, 10:30 pm).
CREEPERS: Where there are boobs, there are creepers. In Stefan Nadelman's Wild Bichons, which screens as part of "Covalent Bonds (The Local Screening)" (Fri May 24, Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton, 8 pm), the makeup alone was enough to creep me out in an "Aphex Twin channeling Heath Ledger's Joker channeling a vaudeville drifter" sort of way. And then there's the fact the protagonist is gleefully devoured by a pack of cute little white dogs.
FUN SMART-PEOPLE SHIT: A wide range of people call themselves experimental filmmakers. Like the guy who films firecrackers exploding in bananas, which is good times until he tells you it's about banana farms in such-and-such terrible place and yada yada yada. That is bummer smart-people shit. At EFFPortland, expect fun smart-people shit. Like Kiel Fletcher's 1984 (screening as part of "Covalent Bonds," Fri May 24, Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton, 8 pm), featuring a Mountain Dew-addled voiceover summary of the George Orwell classic—coupled with a hilarious associative clip show that mis-illustrates the book while functioning as literary criticism.
STUFF THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE TRIPPING: I've never felt like I was tripping while not actually tripping so much as when I watched the screener for the Karl Lind-curated "The B Side" (Sun May 26, Clinton Street Theater, 3 pm). It's a program of shorts, but it lulls you in with the commercial side of experimental film—music videos and pretty stop-motion animation—before launching into head-fuck territory. Like Shalo P's The Heart, which is like tapping into hell's shared wifi connection: a video collage of kung fu movies and art films, broken videogame environments, and swirling masses of tortured souls make the bed for chaos and transcendence. Peter Burr's Alone with the Moon is a hypnotic black-and-white pointillist animation of the op-art variety, while Shana Moulton's A Unique Boutique features a catwalk of disembodied clothing and a series of goofy, pseudo-mystical find-yourself sequences.
FOR THE CHILDREN (AND YOUR INEVITABLE HANGOVER): If you don't want to give your children hallucinations, there's a screening for that! "Nucleon" (Sat May 25, Studio Two, 810 SE Belmont, 1 pm) is a kid-safe program designed to appeal to adult chaperones. The program centers around the awe inspiring and the inquisitive: Wladymir Lima's Borboletas Delicadas (Delicate Butterflies) finds a narrative space between fairy tale and metaphysical conspiracy, explicating the magical voids thought to exist within the hollow bones of butterflies. "Nucleon" will be followed by a hangover-friendly program called "Viscosity" (3 pm), described by festival organizers as a bit more contemplative and dark than the rest of the fest, and you can stick around for the EFF alumni screening "Resonance Structure" and the best-of program, "Noble Gases" (7 pm).
JODIE MACK: Considering that Jodie Mack—known for her wildly imaginative stop-motion paper animations—is a featured fest contributor, it'd be a shame not to at least mention her film/live performance, "Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project," (Thurs May 23, Studio Two, 7 pm), a rock opera that re-imagines Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon to tell the story of Mack's mother's ailing poster business. (Mack will also lead a lecture and workshop at Portland State University on Thursday, May 23, at 10 am, if learning is your thing.)
For more info and a complete schedule, see effportland.com.