Portland cinephiles, prepare for another nine days of cinematic bliss. The Northwest Filmmakers' Festival is back and better than ever for its fortieth celebration of northwest movie magic. 

For the last four decades, the Northwest Film Center has hosted an annual showcase of new work by regional filmmakers. This year’s festival features over forty films created by northwest media artists and handpicked by judge Mike Plante, senior shorts programmer for the illustrious Sundance Film Festival.

Plante recently released his picks for the 2013 judge’s awards: five short films of all subjects and styles, which will be screened several times throughout the festival as part of three shorts programs. One of the winnning shorts, "Deer Father," will also screen in the Opening Night program, which begins at 7 pm at the Whitsell, and will be followed by a party with many of the filmmakers and the band, the Dirty Moogs. Check out this year's winners:

NW Filmmakers' Festival
Multiple venues
November 8–16

  • The Big Northwest Award (Best of the Fest)
    “Lake Beast” – Directed by Vance Reeser of Portland, OR
    This inventive, “fablesque” animation by Portland’s Vance Reeser chronicles a man’s exploration of the bottom of a toxic lake. 
  • The Truth Award
    “Cheryl’s Spin” – Directed by Kathy Witkowsky of Missoula, MT
    This documentary expertly captures the personal voice of a resilient mother wading through a life of domestic abuse with an open mind and cheery resolve.
  • The Why Not Award
    “Deer Father” – Directed by Alex Brinkman of Belgrade, MT
    Anchored by a unique character and a play-it-cool tone, this narrative short explores the question, “What do you do when the deer you just ran over turns out to be your late father?”
  • The Hawkeye Award
    “Charade” – Directed by Salise Hughes of Seattle, WA
    This experimental film creates a new class of media mash-up, using manipulated footage of the 1963 classic mystery “Charade” to explore identity and celebrity in a fun, thought-provoking way.
  • The DIY of All-Time Award
    “Portland Meadows” – Directed by Vanessa Renwick of Portland, OR
    This award goes to Renwick herself “for a career of doing it herself,” as exemplified by her most recent documentary of Portland’s horse race track. We're proud to note that Renwick created "Portland Meadows" on assignment for Portland Monthly's feature on the track's rebranding.

Enter to win a pair of tickets to Friday’s opening night program and party.

Shorted out on shorts? There's still plenty of film left to watch. We particularly recommend these three feature-length films, directed by three outstanding, young, independent filmmakers:

You Make Me Feel So Young
Directed by Zach Weintraub of Olympia, WA
Indie auteur Zach Weintraub (The International Sign for Choking, Bummer Summer) wrote, directed, edited and stars in this black-and-white meditation on the grey area of a deteriorating relationship. Plays Tuesday, November 12 at 7pm at the Whitsell.

Hawaiian Punch
Directed by Nandan Rao of Corvallis, OR
Monday, November 11 at 8:30 PM at the Whitsell.
Celebrated cinematographer Nandan Rao (The Men of Dodge City) returns to the director's chair for his second feature, an unconventional buddy movie about two young Mormon men exploring religion, relationships, and cliff diving while serving a mission in Hawaii. Plays Monday, November 11 at 8:30 pm at the Whitsell.

MMXIII
Directed by Ian Clark of La Grande, OR
This experimental self-portrait incorporates cinema, performance, and visual art in an attempt to make aesthetic experiences out of everyday life and explore the intersection of technology, landscape, and beauty. (Fun fact: Both Ian Clark and Hawaiian Punch's Nandan Rao were named in Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film" last summer.) Plays Monday, November 11 at 7 pm at the Whitsell.

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