PDXFilm Daily for March 30: Jodi Darby, Fembots, and more

Local filmmaker Darby recontextualizes history through film, while episodes of "The Bionic Woman" exist in a context all their own

Portland media artist and educator Jodi Darby will be presenting a selection of her video work at the Northwest Film Center on Wednesday, March 30. The event will offer attendees a chance to sample some compelling combinations of cinematic collage, and to perhaps finally answer the burning question: Was ‘Stonewall’ Jackson gay?

A still from Jodi Darby's film "Stonewall."

A still from Jodi Darby’s film “Stonewall.”

The wry, revisionist mockumentary-style “Stonewall” examines that possibility through interviews with contemporary scholars (or at least reasonable facsimiles of them). Taking as her starting point the ironic fact that the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, shares its name with a Confederate Civil War general known for brutality and fortitude, Darby deconstructs centuries of American history. If you never imagined that ‘Stonewall’ Jackson influenced Yoko Ono or British director Derek Jarman, you just might after seeing this.

“Stonewall” was co-directed by Erin Yanke, who also worked with Darby and filmmaker Julie Perini on last year’s feature-length documentary “Arresting Power: Resisting Police Power in Portland, Oregon.” That film was one of the highlights of the 2015 Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival, but much of Darby’s other work attempts a more abstract subversion of history and its iconographies.

The juxtaposition of nuclear test-site footage with idyllic archival films from the 1950s in “100 Suns” feels familiar, but still manages to be effective, largely thanks to the haunting score by guitarist Marisa Anderson. Anderson’s music also animates “Gulf,” which plaintively overlays footage of the 1986 Challenger disaster onto placid tropical sunsets and amusement park innocence. More amusingly, “Man Movie” splices together scenes of masculine action from dozens of (mostly) Hollywood films, creating an ur-narrative of senseless male movement that says a lot, in only a few minutes, about what passes for popular American entertainment.

The program is listed with a running time of 80 minutes, and the shorts mentioned above only come to 45 or so, which means there should be some other surprises in store. Darby will be on hand to introduce the program, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.

 

ALSO TONIGHT:

 

The Hollywood Theatre’s Re-Run Theater series presents a classic two-part episode of “The Bionic Woman.” Well, the episode’s title is classic, at least: “Fembots in Las Vegas.” It’s a follow-up to an episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man” from the previous year (take that, shared Marvel Cinematic Universe!) about—you guessed it—robot-shaped ladies on the loose in Sin City. The first half originally aired on ABC on September 24, 1977, and even if you would have been better off waiting up for the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” hosted by Steve Martin later that evening, it should still be fun to revisit, complete with contemporary ads. (7:30 p.m.)

The high clerics of the Church of Film have unearthed (or should it be unsubmerged?) another long-forgotten cinematic pearl for the next title in their “Folk Supernatural” series. “Toula, the Water Spirit” is a 1974 Nigerien (not to be confused with Nigerian) film in which a drought-stricken village prepares to sacrifice its most beautiful woman to the gods. Her paramour embarks on a quest to find water and spare her life. “Toula” is one of only three features in the forty-year career of director Moustapha Alassane, who died in 2015. (8 p.m., North Star Ballroom, free)

The Joy Cinema and Pub continues Weird Wednesdays with the 1959 Mexican horror film “The Man and the Monster” (originally “El hombre y el monstruo”). It’s about a concert pianist (Enrique Rambal, star of Luis Bunuel’s “The Exterminating Angel”) who sells his soul to the devil and becomes a lycanthropic beast. There’s an intriguing and lengthy trailer for it here. (9:30 p.m., 21 & over)

 

 

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