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Darleen Ortega

Stories by Darleen

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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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Counterpoint to the Oscars

My top 10 films of 2014

Judge Darleen Ortega eschews the whitest Oscar's in recent history and chooses her own top 10 of year.

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World in Focus

My best to worst favorites at PIFF

Judge Darleen Ortega goes through what's hot and what's not at the 38th Portland International Film Festival.

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Savoring Cultures and Perspectives

International Film Festival an opening to the world

Every February, I travel the world--and so can you, or virtually so, because the Portland International Film Festival offers the most culturally diverse film event of the year, beginning this week.

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Riveting and Inspiring

‘Selma’ wisely depicts struggle for civil rights

What a treat, then, to watch “Selma”—and by a treat, I mean that I was riveted and inspired, and that I wept through most of it. For once, I found an insightful depiction of what working for social justice looks like. And what it looks like is broken bodies, fear, treachery, risk, mistakes, choices between terrible options, and unthinkable sacrifice. And it involves many heroes, not just one.

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Confronting Harsh Realities

Third world drama ‘Metro Manila’ one of the best films of 2014

I saw "Metro Manila" back in February at the Portland International Film Festival and was so blown away by it that I hoped, against hope, that this taut and carefully constructed tale of a Filipino family trying to survive the harsh realities of life in Manila might actually get a U.S. theatrical release, though the commercial prospects for a tale in Tagalog seemed doubtful. My hopes failed to materialize, but the film is now available on Netflix and iTunes and Amazon, and I'm determined that everyone should see it. It's one of the best films I saw in 2014.

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'Gone Girl' Dreadfully Disappoints

Film short on believability and promotes stereotypes

Is this a movie or an endurance test?

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Right Kind of Discomfort

“Dear White People’ takes on privilege, identity and race

When was the last time you saw a film that challenged your assumptions about identity? Or one that depicted anything like the variety and complexity of identity struggles and micro-aggressions experienced by people outside the dominant culture(s)? Or one that managed both to make you feel understood and to make you squirm?

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Misfits and Hidden Gifts

'A Wrinkle in Time' invites self-acceptance and discovery

Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "A Wrinkle in Time," invites audiences to travel through worlds of imagination and meaning.

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‘Calvary’ grasps for a World beyond Fairness

A priest’s faith is tested as life hangs in the balance

Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega on the film 'Calvary', "This film deals with the question of faith in a challenging way, which also involves dealing with the question of fairness."

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Right Kind of Reverence

Biopic on James Brown gets it right

From the sheer energy in the musical performances, to capturing some of the harder parts of the cultural icon, the biopic on James Brown, 'Get On Up' "makes you feel it," says our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega.

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Real Life Drama

Capturing the soul of growing up

"Never has a film so poignantly captured the sweet ache of family life, of parenting, and of the passing of childhood." Our Opinionated Judge reviews the film Richard Linklater film, "Boyhood".

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Family Album

Rock musical brings outsider voices to art and relationships

Our 'Opinionated Judge' reviews Oregon Shakespeare Festival's premier production of "Family Album," a rock musical that tackles the struggles for authentic expression in art and relationships.

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Play about broken relationships and other works highlight Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Our 'Opinionated Judge' takes on the Oregon Shakespeare festival play 'Water By the Spoon' examining the sometimes messy and beautiful connections that make family relationships.

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Emotional Journey

Film ‘Ida’ keeps its focus on a family’s history

Our 'Opinonated Judge' reviews the film 'Ida'

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Finding Vivian Maier

Mindful curiosity to an odd and ordinary life

Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega critiques the film "Finding Vivian Maier''--that probes mysteries about the human experience with a vigorous curiosity that may be deemed obsessive.

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Lorraine Hansberry’s Wisdom

Oregon Shakespeare Festival revives play by African American playwright

Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega reviews Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of the late Lorraine Hansberry play "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window".

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Navigating character, tradition and fate

‘In Bloom’ has teenage friends dealing with the world on their own terms

Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega reviews "In Bloom", a film that sees teenage friends dealing with the world on their own terms.

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The Oscars and My 10 Best Films of 2013

Some wonderful films get the attention they deserve

Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega reflects on her 10 favorite films of 2013 in preparation for this years upcoming Oscars

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Favorites to Watch

It’s the final stretch for Portland International Film Festival

Our 'Opinionated Judge' reviews films from the final stretch of this year's Portland International Film Festival.

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Portland International Film Festival Comes to Life

Screenings get past weather warnings

The Portland International Film Festival trudges on through all kinds of weather -- and I found a decent turnout at the screenings I attended

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International Films Hit Portland

Diverse lineup promises another great run

It's time for one of Portland’s highlights of the year: The Portland International Film Festival. For the last 37 years, the Northwest Film Center has been hosting PIFF and its diverse array of films to screen over two glorious weeks in February. It's such a brilliant opportunity to see films from all over the world, most of which you won't ever see in wide release and many of which may be hard to find after the festival runs its course.