Heading into this year’s Oscar season, it’s clear that as much ground as women have gained in the film industry in recent years, they still have to campaign hard for the recognition they deserve. This unfortunate truth becomes evident when browsing the 2012 Best Director Academy Award nominees, which include no female filmmakers, despite several strong entrants.
That’s why efforts like the Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival (March 7-10) are so crucial. For the past five years, this annual event (also known as POWFest) has championed female filmmakers of every genre. Each year, in addition to showing dozens of women-directed movies, hosting social mixers and running topical talks, the festival celebrates an industry luminary. Past featured directors include MacArthur genius grant filmmaker Allison Anders, documentarian Irene Taylor-Brodsky, Little Women’s Gillian Armstrong and Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, who helmed The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. This year’s icon, Penelope Spheeris, can speak to being both a cult legend and pop icon, with a resume that ranges from The Decline of Western Civilization to Wayne’s World.
This year’s POWfest will grace the screens of Portland’s Hollywood Theatre with shorts, features and documentaries from as far away as New Zealand and Kenya — promising four days of hard-hitting, fantastic female filmmaking. The documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines is sure to inspire moviegoers, while the short There’s No Shame in AIDS will likely ground them and encourage them to continue exploring life’s struggles through films directed by women.