During the festival, which runs through Sunday, Oct. 23, there will be screenings of over 400 independent films in Portland theaters.
If you can’t decide which films to watch on the big screen during this year’s festival, KOIN 6 News has selected five standouts on PFF’s packed lineup. Check them out below:
Sheeps Clothing follows the story of a high school principal (Aaron Phifer) who suffers from a traumatic brain injury after a violent attack. The principal soon begins working at a local church, where he befriends the pastor (Nick Heyman) who pressures him into covering up the murder of a church member.
Along with starring in the thriller, Phifer co-wrote it with director Kyle McConaghy. McConaghy not only wants Sheeps Clothing to be a source of entertainment for viewers, but he also wants it to encourage viewers to rethink the motivations behind their advocacy. “The pastor in this church, I’m not judging him, but I think he is maybe using diversity for his own personal gain of the church….” he said. “I think for a lot of people, the motivations are alright. But sometimes, we’re all flawed people and we probably need to analyze why we do the things we do.”
“I’M DOING MY JOB”
Women of color who work as emergency physicians are at the forefront of “I’m Doing My Job”, a documentary filmed for 14 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. The six South-Asian women and one Black woman featured in the film show the reality of being an essential healthcare worker during a crisis. Their experiences are depicted through the lens of comedian, director, screenwriter and co-producer Aneri Shah.
“[Shah] really wants to highlight their strength and vulnerability and kind of just togetherness,” publicist Amanda Hickey said. She also says that despite the serious subject matter of the film, there will be moments of laughter for the audience. “The comedic relief in there is much-needed and it’s very well put in. So you’re laughing, you’re crying, and then you’re like, ‘Wow, I just went through that.’”
“THE MOON AND BACK”
Isabel May stars as high school senior Lydia Gilbert in “The Moon and Back.” Soon after Gilbert’s father passes, she stumbles upon the script that he wrote for his would’ve been science-fiction film “Space Chronicles.” The young woman decides to honor her dad’s memory by turning his screenplay and vision into a reality. Leah Bleich is the director and screenwriter behind this movie inside a movie.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I ended up writing a story about a girl trying to find her voice when, for myself, I was very actively trying to hide my voice as well,” Bleich said. “It ended up being this very personal, very uplifting story with a lot of love in it and a lot of love specifically for her family and I think that that came out of being home and appreciating the people that I had around me.”
In this psychological thriller, a woman (Nadine Malouf) who has been isolated from her family and friends fights back against her husband’s (Ben Samuels) abuse that only worsens throughout quarantine. “HIDE,” partnered with One Love Foundation and endorsed by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, is inspired by one woman’s real-life experience with abuse.
Samuels, who also serves as the director, screenwriter and co-producer, spoke to KOIN 6 about the film and its significance earlier this month.
“I don’t think abuse is just found in our intimate relationships in our homes,” he said. “I think it’s within our social groups. I think it’s within our cultural groups and I think it’s within our political sphere. I would love this film to give people an emotional conversation about those things so that we can all start to understand where our dignity and our worth and our self-respect lies for us and where our boundaries are.”
“BLACK DADDY: THE MOVIE”
“Black Daddy: The Movie” tells stories from the perspective of Black fathers. The film not only challenges the narrative that Black men are inactive fathers, it also explores how Black men, and Black people, are not a monolith. This is the first film by director, screenwriter, producer and composer Damon Jamal Taylor — also known as Dame Drummer. He was inspired to create “Black Daddy: The Movie” after receiving support from the men around him.
“I was going through something in my life, and it was a very dark time,” Taylor said. “Some of the people who helped me through were just other men who were in my circle… I knew that kind of person, that kind of black man, but I’d never seen him on screen. I felt like, as a storyteller, it’s my duty to tell the truth and tell stories as I’ve seen them as an artist.”