Here’s a second look at a few films screening at this year’s Portland International Film Festival. Hope you’ve been able to get out to see one of the 100+ feature length and short subject films they are bringing to the city this month.
’71 (screens tonight at Cinema 21 @ 6pm)
Just as The Tribe didn’t offer viewers any translation of the sign language being spoken onscreen, the difficulty with ’71 is trying to decipher the thick Irish accents of many of the actors. Also like the Ukrainian film, you won’t be lost watching this engrossing look at the “The Troubles” that tore apart Northern Ireland. In it, a squadron from the Territorial Army is brought in to support police efforts to root out the IRA and is immediately driven away from the streets of Belfast by an angry mob. One unlucky soldier gets left behind, and we spend the rest of the film following him on a harrowing quest to get back to his barracks. There’s no deep insight into the Catholic and Protestant divide that was at the center of this rift, just an unflinching look at the violence meted out by both sides and a fine lead performance by rising star Jack O’Connell.
Timbuktu (screens 2/10 at Moreland Theater @ 6pm)
I was excited to see the NW Film Center pay heed to African filmmakers once again for this year’s PIFF and even more so to see a film by Abderrahmane Sissako in the mix. The director doesn’t disappoint with this potent fable that contrasts the brutal regime that inflicted Sharia law on the people of northern Mali and the contented people living outside the cities. And when the two worlds collide in the guise of a farmer who accidentally kills one of his neighbors, the absurdity and terror that swirl around this ongoing conflict are brought to vivid life. It’s sour-tasting medicine, but necessary to swallow if you have even a passing interest in geopolitics.
Nuoc 2030 (screens tonight at World Trade Center @ 6pm, and on 2/13 @ 8:45pm)
As the effects of climate change start to become more extreme and our prospects of survival on this planet more dire, we’re going to start seeing more films like Nuoc 2030. The film takes place in a flooded region of Vietnam where people are forced to compete for resources against huge conglomerates and their fellow survivors, and centers on one couple that is caught in the swirl of these dual forces. It’s billed as science fiction but feels more like a terrifying glimpse of what might come to pass, especially for those poor countries surrounded by water. Even more heartbreaking is the relationship between Sáo and Giang, the couple whose relationship is torn asunder by an ex-lover and the evils of capitalism.