Lights, Camera, Revolution

Five filmmakers who are reshaping the cinema of the Pacific Northwest.

Film is always dead—until it isn’t.

Prestige TV was supposed to make movies superfluous, but the relevance of “cinematic” shows like Game of Thrones has waned. The pandemic was supposed to doom moviegoing, but reopened theaters has given rise to post-COVID hits both obvious (Spider-Man: No Way Home) and obscure (Drive My Car).

And while streaming has been heralded as the future, Netflix’s woes—the company recently announced it had lost 200,000 subscribers and expects to lose 2 million more in the coming months—suggest otherwise.

While movies and movie theaters aren’t going anywhere, the film industry is still experiencing an age of disruption—and the five filmmakers we chose for this week’s cover stories are thriving in it.

When we set out to profile directors who personify the innovative spirit of Oregon independent cinema, our goal was to seek out artists who, in different ways, are creative revolutionaries.

We spoke to people who are telling stories that many audiences—particularly white ones—have never seen before, including what it’s like to be a Black woman hiking with chronic pain or a Pakistani couple on a date at a McDonald’s.

We also interviewed a Portland expatriate who returned in the summer of 2020 to film a guerrilla-style short, a former carpenter making a feature about motherhood, and a director whose willingness to wear countless cinematic hats led her to take a job as a script supervisor on a video game movie.

Some of these filmmakers currently operate in Portland and some of them don’t. All of them have films in the works that were shot in Oregon, but we decided not to limit ourselves to people who live here.

Why? Because the state’s film industry is a vast, treelike enterprise whose branches extend across the nation and around the world. And all of the directors featured in these pages have one thing in common: They’re helping it grow.

—Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

With Her Documentary “Black Girl in the Woods,” Kisha Jarrett Confronts the Vastness of Nature and Her Own Chronic Pain

Ali Godil Re-Creates His Parents’ Date at a McDonald’s In “American-istan”

Drawing Strength From Heartbreak, Maria Allred Has Found Her Voice

How a Career In Carpentry Helped Lead Dawn Jones Redstone Toward Cinema

Directing Is Just One of Aileen Sheedy’s Many Callings