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EFFing Portland

What to See (and Why to See It) at Portland's Experimental Film Festival



PORTLAND IS HOME to a handful of great film, art, and music festivals—but there's nothing quite like Experimental Film Festival Portland.

"Our goal is to connect Portland to the greater landscape of experimental practices," says festival co-director Hannah Piper Burns, "and make Portland a destination for visiting makers."

For those taking part, EFF feels like an artsy and daring international summer camp—one with way too much booze, a ton of fucked-up film and contemporary art, and an overwhelming sense of camaraderie. It's a perfect storm of high-quality content, A-plus community, and accessibility. And where events like PICA's Time-Based Art Festival can be hit or miss for the non-art nerd, and where Disjecta's Portland Biennial sprawls over months and miles, EFF is digestible and accessible—and a consistently good time.

Sound like fun? Good. Here are our picks for the fest's day-by-day highlights.

Wednesday, May 28—Things kick off with "The Parade," a high-energy screening of shorts at the Hollywood Theatre. The program opens with '60s-era live-action Batman being eaten by a rubber shark and ends with a fashionable Brazilian woman tossing oversized letters into a landfill, then hacking up pieces of old carnival attractions. Other highlights include, but are not limited to: falling soccer players framed as sniper victims, intimate conversations conducted in online gaming environments, and a naked fat guy holding a limp teddy bear. Then there's an afterparty, where you can try to make sense of everything you just saw!

"The Parade" at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy, 7 pm, $7; afterparty at Alhambra Theatre, 4811 SE Hawthorne, free

Thursday, May 29—Thursday is about unveiling the festival's art installations and performances, as well as debuting the bracket-style EFFPortland Throwdown competition—in which coaches (curators) select fighters (artists and filmmakers), who will be be judged by visiting artists in a head-to-head battle of moving pictures. Look out for performances by the likes of installation and audiovisual duo Future Death Toll, installed film experiments by local artists Stephen Slappe and Jodie Cavalier (as well as a cast of visiting contributors selected by Burns), and music from William Ingrid and Consumer.

Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate, 6 pm, free

Friday, May 30—EFF camps out at Clinton Street Theater. Show up for the hour-long "Tilt-a-Whirl"—a showcase of "rando" films that are gleefully uncategorizable—then stay for the local showcase, not to mention the desperate hookup attempts that'll ensue after the sexy-stuff screening "The Sideshow." I'm most enthused for the local showcase: Lori Damiano's inventive animated story of a growing woman's quest for enlightenment is tempered by Quathi Hart's Charlie Foxtrot, a piece that peels the scabs off of women's experiences in the US military. On the lighter side, cupcakes are excreted from a horse's tummy in Dylan Jones' Worst Existence. And back to the sads: In John Summerson's Road Trip, we see what happens when a hypothetical game of "What if I were killed tomorrow by a Greyhound bus?" is answered in gruesome detail.

Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton, "Tilt-a-Whirl" at 6 pm; "The Rose Show: A Local Showcase" and the First Annual EFFPortland Throwdown Semifinal Round at 7:30 pm; "The Sideshow" at 10 pm, individual tickets are $7, two for $12, three for $15 (just like hits of acid in the parking lot of a Phish show!)

Saturday, May 31—Barring tonight's afterparty at the Lovecraft, Saturday also revolves around the Clinton. While the afternoon starts with the family-friendly "Must Be This High to Ride" showcase, and the evening boasts the "Fireworks: Best of 2014" program, it was in the afternoon's programs, "House of Mirrors" and "The Carnie's Picks," where I found my favorites. "House of Mirrors" is a must-go, as it includes Charles Gibson's The Meteor (a fucking great series of monologues about getting superpowers after a meteor takes out Kansas), Derek Howard's Doctor Korbes (which is shot through a peephole in an apartment building, and chronicles the everyday life of an eccentric old man who courts hookers, dodges visitors, and loses his shit at his neighbors), and Indian filmmaker Nishant Sharma's Phansa Pani, which occurs in a flooding bathroom—it's genius in its capacity for magical catharsis.

Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton, "Must Be This High to Ride" at 1 pm; "House of Mirrors" at 3 pm; "The Carnie's Picks" at 5 pm; "Fireworks: Best of 2014" and EFFPortland Throwdown Final Round at 7:30 pm, single tickets $7, two for $12, three for $15, four for $18; afterparty at the Lovecraft, 421 SE Grand, free

Sunday, June 1—EFF wraps up with a series of guest-curated programs: Cinema Project will show a program of German work (1:30 pm), followed at 3:30 pm by a collection of "films made by natural processes" (curated by Julie Perini and Caryn Cline), after which "Black Radical Imagination," an Afrofuturist presentation by Amir George and Erin Christovale, will mark the final screening of the fest at 5:30 pm. After the screenings, EFFPortland Throwdown winners will be announced at Disjecta, and everyone will pass a candle and share a memory.

Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton, $7-8; Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate, 6 pm, free

DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this story stated that Jodie Cavalier curated the installed film experiments at Disjecta. The actual curator is EFF co-director Hannah Piper Burns.


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