Portland International Film Festival

“Wandering Shadows”
(Colombia, 2005) 89 min.

Two outsiders – one an amputee, the other untrusting and burdened his secrets – meet while trying to scratch out a meager existence in a harsh, urban setting. The former sells origami on the street while the latter carries passengers in a chair strapped to his back. A more accurate translation of the title would be “The Wanderer’s Shadow” rather than “Wandering Shadows,” which conjured expectations of rich cinematography. On the contrary, the imagery of this potentially striking fable was marred not only by its dull video stock worsened by an extremely hazy digital transfer but also by a persistent mediocrity in the conception of its imagery. Taking into account that this is director Ciro

Alfonso Guerra’s first feature and that there was little in the budget, one would still hope for more visual inspiration to fully execute such a bizarre and compelling story as this.


“Short Cuts IV: Parallax Views”

This eclectic program of short films gave open minded viewers a change of pace from the narrative conventions of the rest of the festival and the entire film world. The term “avant-garde” connotes complexity and difficulty, but these films allow one to simply appreciate elements such as light, color, shape and texture, akin to looking at the patterns in a stone or the outline of tree branches against the sky. We haven’t forgotten how to do that, have we? It’s fascinating to see how various filmmakers combination of these simple rudiments – and the way the camera captures them – yield limitless creative possibilities.

One of the most memorable shorts in this program was Rebecca Meyers’ “Things We Want to See,” which juxtaposed footage of natural scenes in the Alaskan region with an audio recording of New Year’s Eve revelry. Both seemed to capture experiences from decades past, never again to be found. Tomonari Nishikawa’s “Market Street” was an exhilarating spectacle of still images that capture the rhythm and light of that area of San Francisco. “Los Caudales” by Timoleon Wilkins, possibly the outstanding film of the night, paid homage to Stan Brakhage by taking the viewer on a corporeal journey, along the way showing us new ways of seeing flowing water and wind through many layers of metaphor and abstraction. “Noel” by Hope Tucker is a tribute to the composer of a familiar holiday tune that evokes its 1962 missile crisis context as a plea for peace.

Jettisoning all standard biographical techniques, Tucker has presented a set of associations with the subject and its context – the kind that habitually shape our memories of persons and things departed.


Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave.
6 p.m. “KZ” (Great Britain)

In this documentary, young visitors and residents of the Austrian town of
Mauthausen gradually come to terms with what the place was: the site of a Nazi
concentration camp.

8:30 p.m. “President’s Last Bang” (South Korea)

Im’s film walks the tightrope between slick, stylized comedy and its
assassination subject matter with great subtlety.


Broadway Metroplex, S.W. Broadway and Main Street
6 p.m. “Favela Rising” (Brazil/US)
A hopeful, constructive follow-up to “City of God,” this documentary shows how a
blend of reggae, soul and hip-hop fuelled a movement for social change in a Rio
slum gripped by poverty and violence.

6:30 p.m. “Mongolian Ping Pong” (China)
A boy in the vast Mongolian steppes finds an almost weightless white sphere
floating in a stream and sets off on a long journey to discover the origin and
purpose of the mysterious object.

8:30 p.m. “Kissed by Winter” (Norway)
A successful doctor’s life in the Norwegian countryside is changed when she must
tell the parents of a young immigrant he’s been found dead in the snow.

9:00 p.m. “Factotum” (Norway/U.S.)
An adaptation of one of Charles Bukowski’s best novels, chronicling his life as
a young, drunken deadbeat.


Guild Theatre, 829 S.W. Ninth Ave.

6:30 p.m. “Iraq in Fragments” (U.S.)
Beautiful images accompany portraits of ordinary Iraqi citizens telling their concerns and experiences as their society teeters on the brink of collapse.

9 p.m. “Short Cuts II: International Ties”
Nine films, 109 minutes, something for everyone.