AT A RECENT Mercury editorial meeting, everybody thought it was pretty hilarious that Sleepless in Seattle was screening at the Portland Women's Film Festival (POW Fest). And it does sound like a punchline—the ultimate chick flick screening at a film festival that's all about the ladies. Maybe we'll synchronize our menstrual cycles, too, and maybe someone can finally teach me how to French braid.
But such a reaction reveals a fundamental ignorance as to what POW Fest is all about: Sure, Sleepless in Seattle is a girly romcom, directed by an acknowledged master of the genre, Nora Ephron. It's screening as part of the fest's newly added "classic cinema" series, which also includes the 1982 slacker classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High—and that film's director, Amy Heckerling, who also directed Clueless (!), is this year's guest of honor; she'll be doing a Q&A after Friday's screening of Fast Times.
The point is, POW doesn't limit itself to films about women, though many of its entries are—rather, its programming supports women directors. Period. (NO PUN INTENDED.) So this year, Ephron and Heckerling's films share a festival bill with My Best Day, the great new film from director Erin Greenwell, which effortlessly takes on a range of themes in its brief runtime: relationship ennui, the thrills of motorcycle ownership, gay identity in small towns, and plenty more, all in one efficient, tightly written package. Or there's the documentary Married in Spandex, a must watch for hipsters, lesbians, and the considerable portion of the Venn diagram where those categories overlap (also known as "North Portland"). The doc follows a lesbian couple from Philadelphia who decide to get married in Iowa—they enlist Leslie Hall (of Leslie & the LY's fame) to officiate, commission custom-made gold spandex wedding outfits, and invite a handful of friends and family to their campy, interpretive dance-heavy ceremony. The collision of worlds is both awkward and sweet—from the couple's lesbian friends who don't believe in marriage at all to family members who are tolerant but completely confused.
The fest also features short films about zombies, abortion, and running away to join the circus, as well as docs about female soldiers, professional mountain biking, and the gender transition of a deaf transsexual man. The range of women-made films on display this year should be celebrated with your dollars and your attention—even when it does feature Meg Ryan.
For more info and showtimes, see powfest.com.