The Northwest Film & Video Festival opens today with a little-bit-of-everything program of shorts at Whitsell Auditorium and an after-party at Cravedog Studios (412 NW Couch, Suite 203) at 9pm.

Here’s the festival trailer, which on the one hand is not very informative, but on the other hand is an endearing short in itself. Respect the owl!

I wrote a little preview for this nine-day inundation of regional film, but I couldn’t squeeze in everything. Things got lost, but I share my over-word-count hit and miss picks after the jump. Or, skip my editorial and go straight for the information overload.

Of the films I've seen (which is most of them), the screening not to be missed is Tuesday’s double-feature of To Pay My Way with Stories and The Final Inch (that's Nov 10 at 7:30 pm). Fellow intern Ali Reingold was charmed by the former (me too), and I was amazed by the latter: A 38-minute documentary about stomping out the last embers of polio in India. Portland filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsy picks up the exceptionality of everything she touches—the place-based challenges of disease control, the motivations of the volunteers vaccinating children, and the complicated interactions between volunteers and families. The product is discussion-provoking and every bit deserving of its 2008 Oscar nomination.

This Saturday (Now 7) at 4 pm, Warren Etheredge, known around Seattle as “The Film Guy” (really) leads “What’s Wrong With This Picture,” a discussion of films that didn’t make it in the festival. He'll provide constructive criticism for the directors, some of whom will be in attendance. (They’ll be the ones in the back, pretending not to take it personally.) Free admission.

Su-An Ng's animated short Nature on Its Course is candy for the eyes and ears. See what I mean in the trailer. It screens with the "Shorts II" program this Saturday (Nov 7) and next Thursday (Nov 12), both at 7 pm.

The night of the festival that’s good, if you’re into that sort of thing, is Monday's screening of bare-bones documentaries American Collectors and The Golden Age of Junk (Nov 9 at 6 pm). In American Collectors, filmmakers Terri Krantz and Bob Ridgley interview the object-obsessed, including hoarders of vintage handbags, KISS memorabilia, and quarter-machine widgets. It's an interesting display, even though Krantz and Ridgley never quite break through the seal with this group of people that seems, for the most part, tangibly uncomfortable in their own skin. In The Golden Age of Junk, scrappy, relocated Portland artist Adam Dowis combs through piles of house-gutted trash in post-Katrina New Orleans, scavenging for materials to make unique art lamps. It’s listed as a documentary, but in fact it's a time capsule, preserving a slice of life under never-to-be-repeated circumstances.

The screening you don't want to be sober for is Thursday’s bill of Nathan and Nordrich and Salmon Poet (Nov 12 at 8:45 pm). The first is a kind of down-in the dumps animated short, colored in aquas, oranges, and teals. The second, Salmon Poet, is crazy in the most common sense of the word—crazy like the crazy guy on the street. Crazy like the lady on the bus. That isn’t to say it’s all nonsense (after all, the wisdom of the lyrical “fool” is well documented, and featured Northwest poet Walt Curtis is just that kind of “fool”), but the onus is on the viewer to translate. This requires navigating upstream through choppy narrative, overexposed film, and a shaky camera, which is all just much easier with a healthy buzz.

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.