NW Film Center’s 39th annual festival brings film goers ‘strongest lineup in some time’

The Northwest Film Center is presenting the 39th Portland International Film Festival from February 11 through 27. With dozens of films being screened at eight theaters around town, the festival expects to draw an audience of 38,000 people.

“While people always seem excited about what’s on offer at the festival, I’ve been hearing from fans of the festival that this is the strongest lineup in some time,” said Nick Bruno, the publicity and promotions manager for the Northwest Film Center.

Many of the films this year have garnered a lot of excitement and anticipation, including The Lobster–directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, whose 2009 debut Dogtooth was nominated for an Academy Award–The Pearl Button, April and the Extraordinary World, Evolution, Embrace of the Serpent, and the Arabian Nights trilogy.

Sleeping Giant won Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s the story of Adam, a teenager spending his summer with his parents on Lake Superior. But his life dramatically changes when he befriends two reckless boys and learns a painful secret, forcing him to struggle with betrayal, sexuality and death.

According to Bruno, Above and Below is a remarkable documentary about people living off the grid. Apichatpong Weerasephakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” was a word-of-mouth hit five years ago, so his new film “Cemetery of Splendour” is expected to do the same.

“And anyone who sees Liza the Fox-Fairy or Coz Ov Moni 2 will be glad that they did,” Bruno said. “Both of those films put a smile on my face the entire time I was watching them.”

For filmgoers looking for something edgier, there’s the PIFF After Dark, with viewings on the weekends at Cinema 21 and which, for the first time, will include a short film before each feature.

You can peruse the entire schedule online or pick up a program at the Portland Art Museum. With so many excellent movies from all over the world to choose from, no matter what you see promises to be an enlightening and thought-provoking experience.

“The festival offers perspectives both familiar and unique to the regions that the films come from for Portlanders to chew on,” said Bruno. “As a product of the global community, film can be a powerful teaching tool, one that encourages viewers to constantly be curious about the world in which we live.”