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Darleen Ortega

Stories by Darleen

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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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Rare Film to Embrace Black Experience

A review of the movie 'Moonlight'

"Moonlight" is the kind of art that makes you ache what you have been missing.

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Disney film ‘Queen of Katwe’ Inspires

This is a rare opportunity to see an African story filmed in Africa, by a director who lives there.

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Art as Social Justice

A cheer for Ashland plays and racial progress

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's outdoor Elizabethan stage features plays this summer and fall that are all are worth seeing.

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Tender Love Story Resonates

Practice and perfection in the art of two people loving each other

The documentary offers a tender examination of the last 15 months of a 76-year marriage.

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A Riveting Take on Abortion Divide

Ashland play ‘Roe’ accords dignity to complex points of view

"Roe" is a beautifully directed play by Bill Rauch and features a wise and stunning cast. It's playing in Ashland through the end of October.

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Tried and Convicted by Mistake

Documentary sparks conversation on how badly things can go wrong

When the criminal justice system makes mistakes, why are we as a culture not more curious about what went wrong?

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Between Vietnam and America

Artists outside dominant culture find their voices

Based on the experiences of playwright Qui Nyugen's parents, who immigrated to the U.S. as refugees in the mid-1970s, the play moves back and forth in time between Vietnam and their early years in the U.S.

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Documentaries Worth Watching

Scoping out the best at Full Frame

A terrific slate of films, all worth seeing

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Diversity of Talent Unsurpassed

A new season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

For the first time in its history, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival acting company features a majority of actors of color.

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My Counterpoint to the Oscars Snub

Films with rich insight to the human condition

With a bit of Oscar commentary, I offer this list of the 10 best films of 2015

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Films to See at Portland International Film Festival

Last week before curtain call

Jump in and see what you can before it's over!

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Strong Start for Portland International Film Festival

My favorites so far

The Portland International Film Festival is off to a great start.

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Films Feast on World Diversity, Languages

Portland International Film Festival begins

Every year at this time, I am reminded of the range of stories I mostly don't get to see depicted in local theaters, because for a brief month in Portland, I get to broaden my palate. There really is a whole world out there beyond what Hollywood gives us -- and there is no better time to partake of that world than February in Portland when the Northwest Film Center gives us its Portland International Film Festival.

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Harrowing film ‘The Revenant’ broadens truths

Director portrays First Nations people with dignity

The critical reaction to the work of Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu chronically illustrates how dominant culture bias affects what stories are told and valued on film.

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Gritty ‘Tangerine’ on My ‘Best of 2015’ List

Made on a tiny budget of $100,000, "Tangerine" is the quintessentially Hollywood picture.

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Transitioning into Lili

Film tackles gender identity with wisdom, empathy

Learn why Judge Ortega simply loved "The Danish Girl."

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Compelling Focus on Police Tactics

‘Peace Officer’ Documentary screens in Portland

No matter where you think you stand on these issues, "Peace Officer" deserves attention and at least one viewing.

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Feeling the Punch

Working class upheaval on the Ashland stage

It often takes a generation or more before we can grapple very honestly with our most complicated stories, especially if they involve people at the margins, or people who aren't in a position to control the dominant narrative.

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Summer Season Highlights

If you haven't gotten a chance to head down to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this summer, Judge Ortega points out what you shouldn't miss on your next trip down.

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The Genius Who Powered the Beach Boys

‘Love and Mercy’ shows singer’s darker side

What I loved best about "Love and Mercy," the new film about Brian Wilson, the man whose genius powered the Beach Boys, is that it felt true -- deeply, complexly true, whether or not it is factually accurate -- yet also left me convinced that I don't and can't know the whole story of Brian Wilson's life.

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Unshackling an Imprisoned Soul

‘Marie’s Story’ resonates for its victory over crushing defeats

The film is based on the true story of Marie Heurtin, born five years after Helen Keller in Vertou, France.

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Wrapped Up in Humanity

Oregon Shakespeare Festival works stir heart and soul

Love. Loss. Longing. Hope. Treachery. Resilience. All are the stuff of human existence -- and also the stuff of theater.

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Journey into Humanity

‘Salt of the Earth’ brings lens to farthest reaches of the globe

For most of the last 40 years, acclaimed photographer Sebastião Salgado has been traveling the globe and focusing his practiced photographer's eye primarily on the experiences of people at the margins -- the poor, the dispossessed, refugees, the starving, the homeless.

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A Sharp Focus to Controversy

Some new documentaries worth waiting for

The last 11 docs that I saw at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, N.C., this month represent a range of quality, too. None are in theaters or online yet, but several are worth watching for.

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Riveting Conflicts to Uncomfortable Truths

Full Frame brings out best in documentaries

The Opinionated Judge takes on the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

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Something for Everyone

Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s diverse new season

There's something for everyone at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, year in and year out. It's always worth a trip down to Ashland, for the high quality of the productions, and also because the plays themselves are so thoughtfully selected, produced, and cast to bring a variety of voices and cultures to the stage.

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Living a Life That Matters

Legendary trumpeter shows the way in ‘Keep on Keepin’ On’

The heralded film “Whiplash” depicts—realistically, I expect—a world of hungry aspiring jazz musicians.

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Living a Life That Matters

Legendary trumpeter shows the way in ‘Keep on Keepin’ On’

The heralded film “Whiplash” depicts—realistically, I expect—a world of hungry aspiring jazz musicians who are easy prey for a brutal, sadistic conductor who deliberately pits them against each other, feeds and then assaults their fragile egos, and continually moves success just beyond their reach.

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A Vampire to Capture You

Surrender to a mood of appreciation

Something about the idea of a class of immortal beings, lurking in the shadows and choosing victims among the living because they must, persists in our collective imagination, fascinating terrain for exploring our own shadow regions.

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Window into Oppression

Human spirit refuses to be crushed in ‘Timbuktu’

Gorgeous, poetic, pointed, and profound, this story of a small African community's experience of jihad manages to tell a political story without polemics, to portray with depth and insight how its victims actually experience religious extremism, and, at the same time, to unforgettably illustrate how the human spirit resists attempts to crush it.

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