Five Films to See at PIFF

The Portland International Film Festival is the perfect time to take a chance and see films you normally wouldn’t. But if you want sure bets, here are five that are racking up accolades. Feb 6–22

By Peter Holmstrom February 6, 2014

Returning for its 37 year, the Portland International Film Festival just continues to grow—this time expanding to include OMSI’s newly renovated Empirical Theatre in its roster of almost every small theater in town. From full-length features to documentary shorts, this year’s lineup includes more than 125 films and special events, including an opening night party tonight.

Given that looking through the program is like taking a speed flight around the world, you’re going to want some time to dive in. A festival like this is a great time to take a risk and see films you normally wouldn’t see. Know anything about Bangladeshi or Georgian film? Us neither, so we want to see it. See here for a full schedule.

But if sure bets are what you want, here are five films that are wracking up buzz, awards, and nominations around the world

Opening Night: The Wind Rises (Japan, 2013)
Feb 6 at 6:30pm, Cinema 21; Feb 6 at 6:45pm, OMSI

From acclaimed Japanese writer/director Hayao Miyazaki comes The Wind Rises, an adaptation of his own manga comic story of the young airplane designer Kaze Tachinu. In this unique blend of history and fantasy, the film touches upon some key moments of early 20th century Japanese history, while telling a gripping tale of love, inventions, and dreams. Miyazaki’s visual brilliance has already won the film a Best Animated Feature nomination at the Academy Awards.

Opening Night Party
Feb 6 after
The Wind Rises, OMSI

Ernest & Celestine (France, 2013)
Feb 7 at 6:00pm, Whitsell Auditorium; Feb 11 at 6:00pm, Fox Tower Theatre

In a subterranean world where hardworking mice live in constant fear of being eaten by bears, one young mouse dreams of a life beyond the barren walls of the orphanage where she lives—the life of an artist instead of the rodent profession of dentistry. One day, while venturing above ground in search of bear cubs’ teeth, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a bear named Ernest. It isn’t long before their friendship is put to the test by their respective bear-hating and mice-eating cultures. Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, this film brings to life the nostalgic storybooks of our youth.

Omar (Palestine, 2013)
Feb 9 at 8 pm, Whitsell Auditorium; Feb 13 at 6 pm, Cinemagic

Director of the 2005 Golden Globe Winning film Paradise Now, Hany Abu-Assad returns to form with a new drama about a young Palestinian freedom fighter in Omar. A baker by day and Palestinian freedom fighter by night, Omar becomes an unwilling informant for the Israeli military after being tricked into an admission of guilt by association. Omar’s life begins to spiral out of control as he must choose between his cause and his life in this action packed Academy Awards–nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Missing Picture (Cambodia, 2013)
Feb 7 at 6 pm; Feb 15 at 6 pm, World Trade Center Theater

How best to capture a memory that has been erased from the public eye? Director Rithy Panh, who is the only member of his family to survive the genocidal terror of Cambodian’s Khmer Rouge, uses claymation. Hand-carved and hand-painted figures stand in for Panh’s parents, friends, community, and country, as they try to survive one of the darkest times in history. The film won Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section last year and is up for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhass (France/Germany, 2013)
Feb 8 at 3:30 pm, Cinema 21; Feb 10 at 8:30 pm, Cinemagic

When 16th Century horse dealer Michael Kohlhaas runs afoul of a malevolent local baron, he raises an army to fight against the oppressive ruler and win back the rights of the common man. But when the local baron makes a plea for peace, the question of how Kohlhaas’s rebellion will proceed is destined to have implications on the whole of European history. An adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s 1808 novella, which is a classic display of German-Romanticism, examines the decline of feudalism and the rise of modernity in 16th century Europe.


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