As an film entity that routinely packages programs by specific demographic (Jewish, Japanese, etc), it's only natural the the NW Film Center hosts an annual Northwest Filmmakers' festival, showing work from Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. In fact the Film Center does this year round, with their Northwest Tracking programming, but only the Filmmakers' fest offers a condensed period of regional specificity.

From a film-going perspective, the Northwest Filmmakers' festival is simply a way to check in with who's making moves in the area, and as such I'd particularly recommend Vancouver, WA's Beth Harrington's Carter Family doc The Winding Stream and Vanessa Renwick's amazing Layover short featuring the Chapman swifts and a Sam Coomes score. However, the emphasis here is also on Filmmakers', and this festival is at least as much about the producing side of the industry as it is the viewing.

From the festival's opening night on Friday, Nov 7 on, there will be independent filmmakers haunting the city to network, and anyone who wants to dig in that front should absolutely be there to click glasses and swap intel, but the festival also offers a few more structured opportunities:

The Northwest Filmmakers' Un-Conference is already underway. Participants gab online in advance of the event to determine which topics will be up for discussion, and as the Film Center puts it, "This is an event where novice filmmakers might meet their next crew and accomplished filmmakers might meet their inspiration." So... you should probably go. (Plus there's snacks!) Miller Gallery, Mark Building, Portland Art Museum, 1119 SW Park, Saturday, November 8, 10 am-4 pm, FREE

—Seattle's Warren Etheredge has earned himself the rarefied title of "film guru," but for our purposes what's most important is his utter lack of bullshit. The annual "What's Wrong with This Picture?" has him going through films that have been rejected from the festival circuit—he'll usually cut them off after the first few minutes—and giving his completely unvarnished, and often hilarious, assessment of why they suck. This is mainly for the benefit of the filmmakers themselves (who voluntarily submit their films to his criticism, BTW), but it can also make for great (albeit sorta cruel) entertainment just to attend—plus, you'll probably learn something. Miller Gallery, Mark Building, Portland Art Museum, 1119 SW Park, Saturday, November 8, 4 pm, FREE

—There are two interesting opportunities this year to workshop specific aspects of filmmaking. First, Irene Taylor Brodsky (Hear and Now) leads "Developing the Doc-Maker's Ear for Story," in which she probes the essential question of "how do you know which ones have the potential to blossom into artistic and critical success?" with two decades of documentary making at her back. (Northwest Film Center School of Film, 934 SW Salmon, Sunday, November 9, 2-4 pm, $15) At the end of the festival, Mark Orton, who's written original scores and musical contributions for films like Nebraska, Boxtrolls, and The Real Dirt on Farmer John, will lead, "Inside the World of Film Composing," a look at how that end of the business works, which should be of interest to ambitious musicians, too. (Northwest Film Center School of Film, 934 SW Salmon, Saturday, November 15, 10 am-3 pm, $45)

Hint: The Northwest Filmmakers Fest features… trees!
  • NF Film Center
  • Hint: The Northwest Filmmakers' Fest features… trees!