People who don't live here may not realize it, but Portland, Ore., is a great city for film lovers. Not only do we have several repertory and art house theaters, but numerous film festivals call Portland home, too. Animation, short films, documentaries, experimental pieces, Jewish, gay and lesbian, and good ol' Sundance-style indie films -- they all get their own fests in Portland.

The newest fest to join the lineup is an intriguing one, especially for the Pacific Northwest: the Portland Latin American Film Festival, or PDXLAFF. ("PDX" is what the locals call Portland, after its airport code.) It will run Sept. 20-23, coinciding with National Hispanic Heritage Month, and will include 10 features, two documentaries, and about a dozen shorts. What's more, all of the films are Portland premieres -- which is impressive, considering how many foreign films already play here in the course of a regular year.

PDXLAFF will kick off with Antonia, from Brazil, about four poor young women on the outskirts of Sao Paulo who start a rap group and try to make a living as performers. Think of it as a sort of Brazilian Dreamgirls.

Some of the fest's other highlights include:

- El Benny, a biopic about legendary Cuban musician Benny Moré.

- My Mexican Shiva (Morirse Está en Hebreo), set in a Jewish part of Mexico City and spoken in Spanish, Yiddish, and Hebrew. Have you ever seen a film with that combination of languages?

- The Hands (Las Manos), about an Italian priest in Argentina who has the ability to heal people with his hands.

I think the fest is a terrific step forward. Portland is a liberal, laid-back town, but ethnically diverse? Not particularly. (I mean, it's more diverse than where I used to live -- but I used to live in Utah.) All the film festivals that cater to so many different groups contribute to the flavor of the city, and PDXLAFF looks like another interesting and entertaining addition.

For more information and a complete synopsis of all the films, visit PDXLAFF's website.
categories Cinematical