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Darleen Ortega

Stories by Darleen

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Getting Creative with Films to See Online

Two new independent films worth checking out

Film distributers and theaters get creative about online access to films whose planned theatrical release were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Final Days of PIFF Canceled

Impacts four days of screenings

Online viewing an option after festival canceled

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Scores of International Films to See

The 43rd Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) opens Friday, March 6, and runs through March 15. The festival runs a full week shorter than in prior years, but with more mid-day screenings.

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Exploring Life at the Margins

Theater in Portland this past weekend saw the opening of two terrific co-productions by important American women playwrights exploring questions of identity and life at the margins.

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Far Better Films than the Oscar Nominated

Alternatives to the more white, more male and less original Academy picks

The nihilistic "Joker" and Quentin Tarentino's bit of Hollywood narcissism top the list of this year's Oscar nominees.

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Brisk, Funny ‘Mean Girls’ Tackles Skin Color

Opinionated Judge by Darleen Ortega

What makes teenagers so exasperating to live with, and such fascinating story subjects, is that they reflect back to us what we least like to see in ourselves.

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Humanity Shines in ‘Sweat’

A timely insight into today’s economic woes

As the world of the union workers begins to crumble, we see how easily they can be pitted against each other

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Armory

Local actors front award-winning rock musical

For the uninitiated, "Hedwig" is a gritty, glittery drag-punk musical centered on two characters.

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‘The Two Popes,’ a Compelling Drama

Film approaches questions of faith with nuance and respect.

Those who are not religious may not immediately be drawn to this material, but the filmmakers help you understand why you should care.

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Good Cheer for Miss Bennet’s Christmas

Christmas play at the Armory

Play builds on the old and familiar notes of a Regency romantic comedy, picking up where Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" leaves off.

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Steeped in African Consciousness

Pulitzer prize winning play at the Imago Theater

Play tells the story of Mama Nadi, whose brothel serves soldiers and includes women brutalized by the Congolese war.

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Confronting the Erasure of Women in Juarez

New play bears witness to heartache

Since 1993, the women of Juárez, Mexico have been disappearing and no one has solved the mystery

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Race and Truths Unfold in ‘Redwood’

Play looks at deep questions about race

Dramatic action punctuated with hip-hop dance moves

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Play Inspired by AIDS Chaos

Profile Theatre makes the writers of original plays its focus

This production will keep you laughing and leave you with lots to chew on

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Something for Every Taste

Oregon Shakespeare Festival season near complete

As the long season of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival nears it close, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to offer five more reasons to head to Ashland

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Road Trips of Cultural Connections

Ashland plays brings richness of Latinx experience

One diverse and largely Latin American cast performs two plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this season, offering opportunities for them, and us, to explore the complexity and richness of Latinx experience.

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Black Voices Ring with Clarity, Integrity

It's a play about black people apart from the white gaze; they suffer but the play is not about black suffering. It's about love.

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Diverse Play Explores Jewish Identity

In an age when synagogues face a resurgence of deadly violence, Paula Vogel’s beautiful play about Jewish identity, “Indecent,” grapples with themes of outsiders facing threats to their freedoms and basic human rights.

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Inspiring Homage to a Destroyed Culture, History

I had no idea about the exciting pop rock scene that flourished in Cambodia just before its magic was utterly destroyed during the Khmer Rouge genocide in 1975 to 1979, a topic explored in the marvelous new play, "Cambodian Rock Band," now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

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Native Comedy Packs Hard Hitting Truths

“Between Two Knees” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland is a feat of theater magic so satisfying that, after seeing it three times, I am determined to savor it at least twice more before it closes in October.

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Diverse Films Stand Out

Seeing so many films together functioned as a sort of world tour of cinematic language, style, and culture that set my brain humming.

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Feasting on New Documentaries

I managed to catch 25 films at the Seattle International Film Festival in May and June--my idea of heaven!

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Two Films Not to Miss

“Seahorse” rocked my world. It follows the journey to parenthood taken by Freddie McConnell, who, as a trans man, is one of a limited number of human males who can, like male seahorses, undergo pregnancy.

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Films Speak to Race and the Environment

"Mossville: When Great Trees Fall" tells the story of a once-proud and independent Louisiana community founded by formerly enslaved African Americans whose once-lush farmland has now been decimated by petrochemical and industrial plants.

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‘Amazing Grace,’ a Fitting Tribute

The film's release all these years later feels, if anything, more impactful; we have the opportunity to watch the young queen of soul singing black gospel music in exactly the setting and with the exact community where such music is meant to be played, and the film conveys something of the music's genuine meaning for her.

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Peele Delivers Again on Scary

"Us" is more disorienting than Peele’s first film, "Get Out." Although I found that film very scary, I identified the fear specifically with racism. "Us" is more subtle.

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Film Fest is Window to World

A few of the Portland International Film Festival films that have finished their festival run are worth watching for in theaters or online.

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Films to Watch or Avoid at PIFF

Now that the Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is in full swing, here is a sampler of films to watch for (or avoid, depending on your perspective).

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Films from All Over the Globe

The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) begins two weeks of screening films from all over the globe this Thursday with its opening night film, "Amateurs," a cross-generational comedy from Sweden.

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A Moving Portrait of Life on the Margins

‘Roma’ is my favorite film of 2018

Unless we prioritize the perspective of those who are relegated to the margins, our understanding of reality is bound to be hopelessly flawed and incomplete.

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Absorbed by the Experience

Plays worth seeing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Live theater productions that offer soulful windows into how humans struggle justify a trip to Ashland

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A fashion icon’s remarkable story

The life and career of André Leon Talley

New documentary ‘The Gospel According to André’ a dramatic profile of a fashion icon who reached for his own expressions of style

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New Films and World Insights

Reviews from the Seattle International Film Festival

A great opportunity to catch a huge variety of films on the big screen from all over the world

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Rare Perspectives on Stage

Oregon Shakespeare Festival makes space for authentic, rarely-heard voices

It is no exaggeration to say that three plays currently on offer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival are making space for authentic, rarely-heard perspectives, and are changing the landscape of the American theater.

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New Documentaries Worth Watching

Reviews from the Full Frame Documentary Festival

In order of my own appreciation, the first three films are especially well worth seeking out.

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Documenting the Human Experience

Best films from Full Frame

I saw 16 premiere feature-length documentaries in four days

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Women of Color direct opening plays at Ashland

Fresh take on two classics at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Two plays directed by women of color offer a fresh take on two classics as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival opens a new season

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‘Get Out” Best Film of 2017

Game changing social thriller the best of the best

Here's my top best films of 2017

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World Cultures Resonate at PIFF

Film festival is a showcase of fresh perspectives

There is still a full week to go in the Portland International Film Festival -- Here's some of what I've seen so far.

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A Lens to the World

Immersed into an array of cultures at PIFF

Two weeks of world cinema will be scattered all over the city as the Portland International Film Festival begins Thursday, Feb. 15 and continues until March 1.

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Northwest Filmmakers Showcase

Festival brings array of short and feature films

An outstanding array of short and feature-length films produced by local artists highlight the 44th Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival, opening Wednesday, Nov. 1 and running through Sunday, Nov. 5.

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An Awakening of What You’ve Been Missing

Plays worth the journey to Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Several shows are still playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that offer opportunities to experience theater in fresh ways.

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Beyond White Culture

Diversity at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Stories of people of color written by people of color now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

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My Top 10 Films of 2016

This year, there’s more overlap with the Oscars

This year my list of the 10 best films out of all of those I saw shares more overlap than usual with the Academy Awards -- perhaps in part because of the pressure on Hollywood to notice the work of artists of color, which tend to dominate my list.

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A sampling of films worth watching at PIFF

The first few days of regular and preview screenings at the Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) have included some films you can still catch as the festival unfolds over the next two weeks.

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Honoring Black History at PIFF

Citywide festival puts focus on world diversity

My favorite time of year is upon us! For the rest of this month, the Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) will pack your local theaters

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Film Depicts Mysticism of Ordinary Life

A review of the film 'Paterson'

There is something so necessary about Jim Jarmusch's new film, "Paterson." In giving us this gentle examination of the life of a poet-laborer and his wife, Jarmusch has demonstrated something that we are always in danger of missing: the mysticism of ordinary life.

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A Hunger for Films about ‘Hidden Figures’

The opinionated judge Darlene Ortega reviews "Hidden Figures."

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A Refusal to Cave and a Right to Assert

New film depicts woman in a fight for her home

'Aquarius' is a canny film that has the power to stay with you for a long time

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Following Where Love Led Them

Movie about historic interracial couple shows a path forward

Loving” is a new dramatization about the couple behind a 1967 Supreme Court decision overturning laws against interracial marriage.

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