CULTURE

Streamers: Portland theaters’ reopening plans, Oscar-nominated shorts, French ski drama

Ready or not, movie theaters are starting to open again in time for the Oscars and summer blockbuster season. Plenty is still streaming, too.

As vaccines continue to make their way into the arms of more and more Oregonians, and the state in general dares to look forward to the resumption of some version of normality, it’s a good time to check in on Portland movie theaters and their plans. It should go without saying that these plans are extremely subject to change: Both Clackamas and Multnomah Counties are moving from Moderate Risk back to a High Risk status on Friday, April 9, which means that maximum allowance at theaters will move from 50% of capacity back to 25%, while Washington County will remain in the Moderate Risk category for the time being. That said, here’s a rundown of announced reopening plans.

Several independent Portland-area theaters have already reopened, including the six-screen Living Room Theaters, Cinemagic, the Moreland, Vancouver’s Kiggins Theatre, and the Liberty Theatre in Camas. Among the titles showing on their big screens are Oscar nominees Nomadland and Minari, as well as more mainstream fare such as the Bob Odenkirk action flick Nobody and the monster mash Godzilla vs. Kong. The venerable Clinton Street Theater is resuming its traditional Saturday night Rocky Horror Picture Show events, although at 9 p.m. instead of midnight due to county restrictions.

One mainstay of Portland’s movie scene, Cinema 21, recently announced plans to open to the public for the first time in over a year on April 23 with a pair of documentaries: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street and The Truffle Hunters. Another, the Hollywood Theatre, has yet to indicate a timeline, although it continues to offer remote programming, including an upcoming remote master class on the films of director Richard Linklater. The Northwest Film Center at the Portland Art Museum remains closed to the public as well, although it is opening experimental filmmaker Sky Hopinka’s poetic debut feature Małni—Towards the Ocean, Towards the Shore virtually on Friday, April 9.

Two chains operate theaters in Portland. Century Cinemas have opened their multiplexes at Eastport Plaza and Cedar Hills Crossing, while the screens at Clackamas Town Center remain dark for the time being. Regal Cinemas is planning a phased reopening. Bridgeport Village will begin on April 23, with the bulk of its Portland screens to follow on May 14. (The Pioneer Place theaters will wait until the following week, May 21.) Obviously, the summer movie season beckons, and these places are understandably eager to welcome paying customers once again. Personally, I don’t plan on setting foot in an indoor theater until, at the very earliest, I’m fully vaccinated, but once it seems safe to do so, I plan on making up for lost time with a vengeance.

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A scene from the Oscar-nominated “Do Not Split”

IN THE MEANTIME, many Portland-area theaters continue to offer expansive selections in their virtual cinemas, and will presumably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. They provide a great way not only to help support exhibitors during this disastrous time, but also to keep abreast of exciting cinema that doesn’t necessarily get showcased on Netflix or Disney+.

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From ashes of the Echo Mountain fire, art

The Lincoln City Cultural Center gathers photography and items culled from the rubble of last fall's wildfire near Otis

Photographer Bruce MacGregor waited out wildfire evacuation warnings near his home in Clackamas County for weeks last fall before it felt safe to head to Otis. There, in the tiny town on Oregon 18, he met survivors of the devastating Labor Day wildfire. He didn’t expect anyone to agree to his request for photos, but their responses were a surprise.

Those photos are part of the new Up from the Ashes exhibit in the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s PJ Chessman Gallery. An opening reception, with a live video tour, is planned for 4 p.m. Friday, April 9. The exhibit will run through May 9.

“It’s a pretty special show,” said Krista Eddy, gallery director. “We are trying to share people’s stories and also show that there is this amazing spark of hope and resilience in people. They’ve struggled and there are good things at the end.”

Bruce MacGregor photographed Larry on Sept. 20, after his Otis home was destroyed in the Echo Mountain fire, then looted. Photo by: Bruce MacGregor
Bruce MacGregor photographed Larry, above, on Sept. 20, after his Otis home was destroyed in the Echo Mountain fire, then looted. Below, on March 16, MacGregor met up with Larry (left) at the same site, where he was waiting for a cement truck to lay a sidewalk to go with his new mobile home. Photos by: Bruce MacGregor
On March 16, Bruce MacGregor met up with Larry in Otis. Larry (left) was waiting for a cement truck and crew to lay a sidewalk to go with his new mobile home. Photo by: Bruce MacGregor

The exhibit includes objects pulled from the rubble following the Echo Mountain Complex Fire, which burned 2,500 acres and destroyed about half of the town’s 1,200 buildings, as well as artwork created by community members, and MacGregor’s photos, which were made before he knew of the planned exhibit, and found a home in it after.

“I had become interested in the project and had put out to relatives and friends that if they knew anyone, I would be happy to do some photography, if it would be useful,” MacGregor said. “I got back one request for a GoFundMe site. He was trying to raise money and wanted photography of himself and his wife. That was the first and most poignant.”

In Otis, a town of about 3,500 a few miles in from the coast, MacGregor met Saki and Guy (Eddy has requested last names not be used, out of respect for fire victims’ privacy), the couple who started the GoFundMe site, and their neighbors, including Larry.

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Lillian Pitt: 10,000 Years Through Art

Stage & Studio: Dmae Robert talks with the noted Warm Springs artist about friendships, mentoring, Covid, and the Indigenous traditions that shape her art

Dmae Roberts first met Lillian Pitt when noted writer Cheryl Strayed curated an artists  section of a TEDx talk in 2013 that included Roberts and Pitt. Though she was familiar with Pitt’s work, it was a pleasure for Roberts to finally meet her. In her TEDx talk, Pitt shared the stage with Toma Villa, a young artist she was mentoring.

In her new curated art show Pitt is again sharing space with Villa and other Native American artists, two others she’s also mentored. That is the giving spirit of Lillian Pitt. Her new show Lillian Pitt Solo Show: Ancestors Known and Unknown runs through May 1 at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River.

Lillian Pitt. Photo: Dennis Maxwell

Pitt features her glass art based on petroglyphs for this exhibit. Other artists and artwork she curated for this show include photography by Joe Cantrell (Cherokee Nation) and contemporary paintings by Sara Siestreem (Hanis-Coos Tribe),  large-scale mixed media wood carved masks by Toma Villa (Yakama Nation), found-object sculptures by Debora Lorang (friend of the Columbia Gorge Native Americans), and  aesthetically rich oils on canvas by Analee Fuentes (Mexican Heritage).

COVID-19 safety restrictions are in place at the Center. More info at: https://www.columbiaarts.org/ancestors-known-and-unknown/.

Lillian Pitt with Toma Villa’s works at the Columbia Arts Center in Hood River. Photo: Joe Cantrell

In this podcast, Pitt talks about her early history growing up on the Warm Springs reservation, the effects of COVID-19 on her community, the value of mentorship which she learned from her own mentor, the revered Navaho nation artist RC Gorman, and has passed on to other artists some who are featured in this new show. She also details how she is honoring 10,000 years of Native American peoples on the Columbia Gorge and the importance of Celilo Falls as an historic meeting place for Indigenous communities.

Theme Music by Clark Salisbury

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Hear past shows on the official Stage & Studio website


More about Lillian Pitt:  A Pacific Northwest Native American artist, Pitt was born and raised on the Warm Springs reservation in Oregon and  is a descendent of Wasco, Yakama, and Warm Springs people. Her ancestors lived in and near the Columbia River Gorge for more than 10,000 years. The Columbia River was called, simply, the Big River, or the Nch’i-Wana, by her ancestors. It was the backbone of one of the largest trade networks in all of Native America. Pitt’s works have been exhibited and reviewed regionally, nationally and internationally, and she has been the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions. Her awards include the 2007 Earle A. Chiles Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the 1990 Governor’s Award of the Oregon Arts Commission, which declared that she had made “significant contributions to the growth and development of the cultural life of Oregon.”

Lillian is primarily a sculptor and mixed media artist, and her lifetime of works includes artistic expressions in clay, bronze, wearable art, prints, and most recently, glass. Art by Lillian Pitt can be found in personal collections, art galleries, and museums. Her works are also displayed in numerous public spaces including parks, schools, and cultural institutions. 

Photo Shoot: Six Oregon Poets

Photographer K.B. Dixon focuses on National Poetry Month with portraits of half a dozen leading Oregon writers


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


April marks the 25th Anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was launched in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. It has become one of the largest literary celebrations in the world.

The portraits here of Oregon poets are previously unpublished images from a series I did in 2019 that focused on Oregon writers in general—the unusually gifted people who make up this state’s diverse and dynamic literary culture.   

My hope back then was to call attention to the uniquely rewarding work of these talented people and, as always, to produce a good photograph. I have the same hope today. 

KIM STAFFORD

Oregon’s ninth Poet Laureate, 2018-20; founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College. His newest collection of poems, Singer Come From Afar, will be released April 27, 2021.

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Streamers: A forgotten feminist filmmaker, and the stellar biography “Mike Nichols: A Life”

Celebrating the French director Nelly Kaplan on the Criterion Channel; a vivid and engaging biography of an American director-of-all-trades

By the time this column posts, it will be April, and another Women’s History Month will have come and gone. But does that mean we should stop spotlighting the contributions made by, for example, women filmmakers? If you think for a moment that was not a rhetorical question, we probably can’t be friends. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to the work of a director whose name and filmography were new to me, but who deserves recognition for at least a couple of movies that captured a spiky, often hilarious feminism at a time when such a thing was rarely expressed, even in the relatively progressive milieu of post-’68 France.

Nelly Kaplan in 1969. Photo: Cythere/Paris Film/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock,
Cythere Films/Paris Film, On/Off Set, “La Fiancee Du Pirate.”

Her name was Nelly Kaplan, and she was born in Buenos Aires. After embarking on the pursuit of an economics degree, she fell in love with cinema and moved to Paris, where she frequented the Cinematheque Francais and became a trusted assistant and mentee of the legendary filmmaker Abel Gance, whose Napoleon had revolutionized the art in 1927 and who was still going fairly strong. After dabbling in short documentaries, Kaplan made her feature directing debut with 1971’s A Very Curious Girl.

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Riverbend Players goes to the dogs

After a quiet year, the Nehalem theater company is back with a fundraising play in which all the characters are canine

When Marilyn Karr first read the script for the upcoming Riverbend Players performance, she could barely finish it. The language was coarse, the males aggressive, and her character, Maggie, found them “disgusting.” 

But then, said Karr, “I thought, it’s just dog language.” Not woof-woof, of course, but the way a dog would talk were he one of us.

In the end, Karr signed on for two roles in the upcoming The Dog Logs. She’ll play Maggie, a golden retriever, and Savoir Faire, a greyhound.

Marilyn Karr, here with her border collie Journey, plays two roles in “The Dog Logs”: Savoir Faire, a single-minded greyhound, and Maddie, a golden retriever, who finds life, especially boy dogs, strange. Photo courtesy: Riverbend Players
Marilyn Karr, here with her border collie, Journey, plays two roles in “The Dog Logs”: Savoir Faire, a single-minded greyhound, and Maddie, a golden retriever who finds life, especially boy dogs, strange. Photo courtesy: Riverbend Players

After a year of mostly quiet, Nehalem-based Riverbend is putting on a live, virtual performance of the play by CJ Johnson in which all of the characters are canine, but with a take on life that is “touching and surprisingly human.” The performance is free, but donations are gladly accepted. All proceeds go toward relieving hunger through local North Coast organizations including the Little Apple Fund, which donates to several other nonprofits around the area.

“A lot of people are really hurting,” said Jeff Slamal, president of the Riverbend Players. “There are people that need to be fed, but some are reluctant to come forth and say, ‘I need help.’ We wanted to make it a local, direct situation where any donations we get go to these organizations and all money is put toward feeding people.”

Through their efforts, the theater group is hoping to draw attention to the fact that the programs exist and are available to anyone, as well as reaching out to the Hispanic community to let them know the same.

Selecting a play wasn’t easy. Virtual performances don’t allow for interaction with the audience or within the cast, and producing a play in which the cast will be live on stage at the North Coast Recreation District, but performing separately, is challenging, said Linda Makohon, producer and director.  

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LitWatch Monthly: It’s National Poetry Month

April marks National Poetry Month – along with eight of the most exciting ways for you to celebrate

A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.” Salman Rushdie

April marks National Poetry Month, a 30-day-long event created in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets to honor poetry writers across the country and spark an increased appreciation for poetry in the United States. This year marks the 25th anniversary of an event that has become one of the largest literary celebrations in the world. 

Poetry has been continually making its way into mainstream media and the world of television commercials and radio ads, particularly so after the spellbinding success of National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda S.C. Gorman’s internationally broadcasted poem recitation during President Joe Biden’s inauguration. It is important to remember that as poetry becomes increasingly popularized, its true preservation will come from our everyday actions. Just as the greatest poetry comes from the minds of ordinary people seeking to “shape the world, and stop it going to sleep,” the greatest advocacy for poetry comes not from commercial conglomerates, but from the dedicated patronage of individuals. 

We should remind ourselves that to keep our favorite bookshops open, we must each choose to purchase their books. To keep our independent presses publishing, we must subscribe to their publications. To keep our poets writing, we must endeavor to show our support for the work they do to further the literary world. 

In honor of National Poetry Month, I have created a list of eight great ways to celebrate, appreciate, and support Oregon poetry this April, in addition to a full calendar of literary events. Enjoy!

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