The Economapocalypse is hitting local arts organizations hard, as state and local funding sources dry up and penny-hoarding audiences opt for Netflix and Pop Secret over dinner and a show. So, are budget woes responsible for this year's shorter, leaner Portland Women's Film Fest (POW)? Actually, no.
"We moved the festival to March to be in Women's History Month, so we lost some planning time, which is why we chose to do a curated festival this year," POW Fest Executive Director Tara Johnson-Medinger explains. "It's a quality-over-quantity approach. Next year we'll be back with a call for entries and submissions from across the world."
This year's three-day festival is missing the diverse shorts programs and all-day activity roster of last year, but a curated festival isn't necessarily a bad thing: Included in the festival's lineup are three Oscar-nominated documentaries, two of which are short films with local connections. The Final Inch, by Portlander Irene Taylor Brodsky, tracks efforts to eradicate polio, while Megan Mylan, the director of Smile Pinki, is originally from Oregon. (Also playing is the Oscar-nominated feature The Betrayal, about a Laotian family that immigrates to America.)
Coming Up Easy, by local filmmaker Rebecca Rodriguez, is a feature-length film about domestic violence and sexual abuse that reinforces why POW needs to exist in the first place. The movie resonates with an impact that outstrips its quality, simply because the subject matter is generally relegated to trashy paperbacks and made-for-TV movies about gymnasts. (That is to say, it's sensationalized and made sordid.) Coming Up Easy is by no means perfect, but it is, for the most part, even-keeled and realistic, and this forthright approach lends the film an unexpected power.
The fest will also feature Ida Lupino's 1953 film The Bigamist, a nod to POW's ongoing support of women filmmakers—Lupino was the second woman to be admitted into the Directors Guild. ALISON HALLETT
Festival passes are $25, and individual show prices vary. For more info, see powfest.com and Movie Times on pg. 41.