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Before traveling to Portland to watch the entries is this year's 42nd Northwest Filmmakers' Festival, I knew little about contemporary work being made in the Northwest. I was stunned to find that this wide geographical area—so sparsely populated with media makers compared to larger metropolitan centers—is nonetheless filled with so many exceptionally committed and developed independent filmmakers. The thirty-one moving image works that comprise this year's three Festival programs encompass a diverse range of genres and subjects: documentary essays, self-portraits, portraits of others, social critiques, richly detailed fantasies, intricate animations, poignant narratives, and experimental cinematic experiences.
The work of these filmmakers represent as wide a range in age, cultural background, lifestyle, and aesthetic style as can be found in any large or national film festival. Most impressive to me is the level of care and assured craft evident in each one of these pieces. I didn't expect to find so many individuals with such a clear passion for cinematic self-expression, who have undertaken projects demanding enormous amounts of time, energy, money, and stamina to produce.
This year's Festival selection is a strong indication that in the Pacific Northwest free expression and independent spirit are not merely ideals, but ways of life. For the media makers represented in this year's Northwest Filmmakers' Festival, cinema remains an immediate—and very personal—art form.
Steve Anker is the former Dean of the California Institute of the Arts School of Film/Video and formerly served as director of the San Francisco Cinematheque as well as artistic director of the Foundation for Art in Cinema. He holds an MFA in Filmmaking and Film History from Columbia University and taught for many years as professor of film at the San Francisco Art Institute. In his capacity as director of the San Francisco Cinematheque Anker oversaw one of the most respected showcases of experimental film and video in the world, presenting more than 75 programs per year. His publications include catalog essays for “Big As Life, Unknown Territories” and “American Experimental Film,” as well as articles and reviews for Film Quarterly, Cinematograph, Idiolects, the New York Times, the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor and the San Francisco Chronicle.
PAST FESTIVAL JUDGES