For this year's programming, curator David Walker has teamed up with film writer and scholar Ariella Tai, a recent Queens transplant. Tai spoke with AP Film Studies about the festival, the gentrification of Portland and the state of black women in cinema.
AP Film Studies: With Selma getting the shaft, it seems like this festival is pretty well timed.
Ariella Tai: I've been planning this for a long time. But every time the awards come around, something happens. Last year, Lupita Nyong'o won (for 12 Years a Slave), and it was amazing. This time it was awful that Selma didn't get [recognized].
The fact that Ava DuVernay wasn't nominated was a shock.
I think the fact that we're still at this point is depressing. When I first saw Selma, people were like, "I've never seen a movie by a black woman before." The fact that people have been making movies like this for so long, and people can go their entire lives without seeing a movie by a black woman with the frequency with which we watch movies, it makes me sad. It's a failure of education.
How did you approach programming this series?
I tried to choose the most iconic films. If you're looking at black women cinema that you want to talk about, Eve's Bayou was the first film to be backed by a major studio—stuff like that. They're films that really [show] the contribution black women have made to cinematic history.
What do you want people to take away from the festival?
I want there to be a revelation. I want people to be able to understand and meditate on black women narratives when they're actually formed by black women. Especially in this political moment. I think it's important for everyone. And they're not just about politics. They're also funny and educating.
You hail from Queens. Was moving to Portland jarring?
It's definitely a culture shock. Queens is the most diverse place in the world. It's the biggest density of people of different nationalities living in the same space. But I don't necessarily think that Portland is an anomaly. What's happening in Portland with gentrification, it's a lot more common than [people think]. It's definitely not unique.
- Hayao Miyazakiâs animated masterpiece Princess Mononoke towers above nearly every other high-fantasy adventure in cinematic history. 5th Avenue Cinema. 5:30 and 9 pm Friday-Saturday and 3 pm Sunday, Feb. 6-8.
- Never mind Team Jacob. My heart is forever on Team Scott Howard, the baller howler from Teen Wolf. Kiggins Theatre. Opens Friday, Feb. 6.
- The Care Bears Movie manages to be the most racially diverse group of cuddle monsters ever, representing the entire spectrum. Maybe PIFF should book it next year. Hollywood Theatre. Feb. 7-8.
- Fifty years on, Dr. Strangelove hasnât lost its edge or its biting humor. Academy Theater. Feb. 6-12.
- With The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson proved he could just as easily haunt your nightmares as he could make you smile. Laurelhurst Theater. Feb. 6-12.
- Celebrate Chinese New Year with Dreadnaught, featuring an ass-beating during a lion dance. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, Feb. 10.