During last Sunday’s Academy Awards, Frances McDormand called on Hollywood to financially support women. While the organizers of the annual Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival (POW Film Fest) couldn’t possibly have predicted the timeliness of their event, it’s timely as hell: The fest showcases films directed by women. That, in and of itself, is reason to hand them your dollars. But also: There’s some good stuff here!
POW’s 2018 lineup features two documentaries by Barbara Kopple: 1976’s Harlan County USA is an unforgettable documentary about a coal miners’ strike in Kentucky; while women weren’t working the mines, they were equally involved in the strike’s organizing, and crucial to its community support. As a woman sings on the soundtrack, “Women and children stood right by the men/They’ll never shoot the union out of me.” Badass! Striking a totally different tone is 2015’s Miss Sharon Jones!, about the beloved soul singer’s bout with cancer. If you are a fan (and you should be), you’ll know what happened after filming wrapped, but it doesn’t make the film any less touching or inspiring. Both films screen as a double feature (Sat March 10) and in conjunction with the Hollywood Theatre’s Feminist March series; Kopple will be in attendance.
POW Film Fest also has a couple of shorts programs: “The Matriarch” and “Seeking Comfort” (both screening Sun March 11). “The Matriarch” program exhausted me—from the depressing destitution of Slapper to the devastating tenderness of Preparation, these shorts are a repeated punch to the gut, and will either leave you in awe or a crumbling heap of tears. The “Seeking Comfort” lineup is broader, leaving space for some humor and surprises. Agua Viva and Garfield are both delightful.
I can’t explain in a mere 300 words the importance of supporting women in film, so let me leave you with this reminder: Frances McDormand told you to, and Meryl Streep clapped when she did.The 2018 Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival runs Fri March 9-Sun March 11 at the Billy Webb Elks Lodge, Hollywood Theatre, and NW Documentary. Complete schedule at powfilmfest.com.