Puff, Puff, Pass 

Portland Underground Film Festival Returns

Chockablock with scenes from the underground, the Portland Underground Film Festival (PUFF) returns to the Clinton St. Theater for four days of screenings and parties. Needless to say, the underground isn't always a pretty place, but it's usually pretty interesting.

Don't miss opening night with the compelling Random Lunacy: Videos from the Road Less Traveled, a documentary about the travels of a nomadic Dixie jazz-playing family. Led by the charismatic Poppa Neutrino, the family builds several rafts to sail the Mississippi, joins the circus, and plays in a band in Russia. The Neutrinos documented their exploits over the course of 20 years, resulting in a sweet, honest, and inspiring film—by far the standout of the fest.

And on that note: The real stinker of PUFF immediately follows. Palace of Stains is the worst movie I've ever seen—filled with overpowering sound cues, atrocious drag queens, and a butt-load of screaming for screaming's sake. Shot in 24 hours with a motley cast of 56, this POS claims to be akin to the early works of John Waters (um, not quite). Just head to the Aalto Lounge straight away for the opening night party, where your ticket stub will score you a free drink.

If you missed Rural Rock and Roll—a documentary about the Eureka, California, music scene—when it screened in Portland earlier this year, here's your second chance. Friday also brings you Bike Porn, a collection of "the filthiest movies from the Portland Underground." With your hormones ablaze, there are two afterparties to choose from: three Eureka bands are playing at Slabtown, or a mystery bike ride ends at a secret party.

Saturday's PUFF offerings include Jack Hanke's Family Plot, which revolves around a box of memories that enables time travel. Plot is followed by the PUFF Shorts Program, a collection of spotty films that run the gamut from horrible (Bump and Grind) to fairly funny (A Very Sunny Morning). The evening caps off with Black Bridge: 1984 Year of the Banger, a coming-of-age headbangers' story.

PUFF concludes on Sunday with screenings of Returning with Honors, an original 16mm print of Todd E. Freeman's Reynard the Fox, and Don't Eat the Baby. The latter is a documentary about New Orleans' first Mardi Gras after Katrina—an interesting take on life after the hurricane. While a bit overlong, the Mr. Quinton and Miss Pussycat-soundtracked film capably and personally showcases the residents of New Orleans as they unite to put on another Carnival.

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