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International Films Hit Portland

Diverse lineup promises another great run

Darleen Ortega | 2/5/2014, 11:04 a.m.
It's time for one of Portland’s highlights of the year: The Portland International Film Festival. For the last 37 years, ...
Gugu Mbatha Raw stars in the critically-acclaimed feature Belle, one of the first attractions presented during the Portland International Film Festival, scheduled for screening on opening night on Thursday, Feb. 6. The festival runs through Feb. 22.

The fascinating story of "Mary Queen of Scots" is almost too complex for film treatment. Crowned as an infant in Scotland, she was embroiled in baffling political turmoil literally from birth, spent much of her childhood in France, and had a claim to the royal title in three countries over the course of her doomed life. This Swiss-French co-production doesn't give you much background, so it wouldn't hurt to look up the outlines of the story before you watch. In some ways, though, the confusion is the point; the vantage of the film here is Mary's, and she had a baffling sort of existence, buffeted by religious and political rivalries that left her no good options. The young actress who plays her here, Camille Rutherford, captures the sense of a smart and lovely woman who actually was ahead of her time in some ways, but whose choices were always poisoned by forces beyond her control. (Plays Sunday, Feb. 9 and Saturday, Feb. 15.)

"The Wishful Thinkers" follows an aspiring young Spanish filmmaker as he sets out to make a film but doesn't yet have anything to say, so we get to watch him get drunk, go on dates, have pointless conversations with his friends, and wander the lovely city of Madrid. The movie may appeal to you if you want to meander through Spanish youth culture, and the camera work in this black-and-white film is at times quite lovely. (Plays Wednesday, Feb 12 and Sunday, Feb. 16.)

Don’t miss PIFF: It’s your opportunity to see films from all over the world, with audience members from all over the world. It almost doesn't matter what you see – the Portland International Film Festival is ready to surprise you with a variety of tastes and cultures. I love hearing Spanish, Japanese, French, Russian, Mandarin, and all manner of other languages being spoken, both onscreen and in the audience, in this great movie town, as folks come out to see their cultures reflected on-screen.

Darleen Ortega is a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals and the first woman of color to serve in that capacity.

Darleen Ortega is a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals and the first woman of color to serve in that capacity.

Darleen Ortega is a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals and the first woman of color to serve in that capacity. Her movie review column Opinionated Judge appears regularly in The Portland Observer. You can find her movie blog at opinionatedjudge.blogspot.com.