The 34th Portland International Film Festival officially kicked off last night with the Catherine Deneuve/Gérard Depardieu joint Potiche, but the fest starts in earnest this evening, with 10 screenings split between the Broadway Metroplex and the Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. This weekend sees even more films at the Whitsell and the Broadway, and in the coming weeks, there'll be screenings at the Hollywood Theatre, Cinema 21, and Cinemagic. By the time PIFF wraps up on February 26th, 129 films from over 40 countries will have screened in Portland, many for the first (and only) time.
Here at Mercury HQ, we've gotten some shit in the past for our coverage of PIFF—there are lots of loyal fans of the festival, and some feel we haven't given PIFF its due respect. While I can see where they're coming from—'cause, well, we don't automatically hand out respect to anybody—I stand by the Mercury's PIFF coverage, which has consistently been fair, smart, and funny. That goes for this year, too, thanks to a lineup of critics that includes the usual suspects (Marjorie, Alison, Ned, Courtney, Ezra, Steve, et al.), freelancers both old and new (Zac Pennington, Dave Bow, Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts, Jamie S. Rich, Andrew R Tonry, and more), and roughly 14 billion hours of film watchin', review wranglin', and data entry. We've reviewed all the PIFF films we've been able to, and we're going to keep doing so until the festival ends.
So here: I wrote a piece that sums up this year's fest and points out a few new developments, tastefully titled "When Japanese Schoolgirls Attack." If I do say so myself (I DO), it's a good PIFF primer, but the real chunk of the Mercury's PIFF coverage can be found in our Film Shorts section, where we weigh in on a huge number of PIFF films, letting you know which ones are worth your time and money. We'll be constantly updating the Film Shorts section for the next few weeks—there are already several more reviews online than there were in yesterday's print edition of the Mercury, for example—so keep an eye on it. And, of course, there are our Movie Times, which are as comprehensive and reliable as ever, whether you're using 'em to find showtimes for that one PIFF movie from Belgium (REPRESENT, Illegal!) or to plan your expedition(s) to Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.