Church Of Film

Film Watch Weekly: A Saudi surprise, plus hot and cold running French movies

Plus: Portland's Hollywood Theater gets ready to welcome live audiences, and the Church of Film resumes its live monthly screenings

But first, a couple of re-opening news items: The Hollywood Theatre has announced that it will reopen to the public on July 2, with screenings of the highly anticipated music documentary Summer of Soul. Sounds like a feel-good title to commemorate a feel-good event. And the long-running labor of love known as the Church of Film resumed its monthly screenings this week with a showing of the 1977 Spanish transition narrative Sex Change at the Clinton Street Theater. Both are welcome indicators that things continue to move in the right direction.


The Perfect Candidate is about a doctor named Maryam, who works at a run-down, underfunded rural clinic. She decides to travel abroad to a convention and interview for a position in a larger city, but a screwup by airport security threatens to ruin her plans. In the process of asking a politically connected family friend for help, Maryam accidentally ends up registering to run for a seat on her town council. She then decides to actually do it, undertaking a crash course in electoral campaigning and emerging as a scrappy underdog.

Mila Al Zahrani in The Perfect Candidate

This outline, as well as other plot details, could easily have come from an American movie about a smart, stubborn woman who refuses to let the chauvinistic world around her keep her down. But the fact that The Perfect Candidate is a Saudi Arabian film illustrates exactly how brave and determined Maryam (Mila Al Zahrani) is. The airport security incident is prompted by the fact that all women require the permission of their male “guardian” (usually father) to travel out of the country (Maryam is heading for Dubai). It would be wrong to say that her decision to stand up to the patriarchy is any more courageous than that made by other women in other cultures, but she certainly faces longer odds than most.

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VizArts Monthly: Streaming at home

Venue closures may be the new normal but some local arts organization forge ahead

Putting together arts listings for April 2020 was… challenging. First, it was a challenge to sit down and focus as the awful, endless headlines kept breaking. Then it was a challenge to figure out what to list as events were cancelled and galleries shuttered in observance of social distancing guidelines. How can you see art when you can’t leave the house? When the galleries and museums are closed? Do people who are juggling remote work with childcare, or applying for unemployment, or risking their health as essential workers have the energy or desire to engage with art? 

Personally, I think we all still need art in our lives, maybe even more than usual. It’s okay if what you need right now is to binge on goofy television shows or stay in the bath until the water gets cold, then fill ‘er up again. But when you’ve had enough of that, Portland’s artists, galleries, and museums are ready for you. Our local arts community has shown incredible motivation and creativity in finding ways to make art happen despite the scary, surreal situation we are all in. Take a minute to check out what they’re up to — it might give you a little extra inspiration to face the challenges of the days ahead. 

Gallery hallway hung with many framed pictures including watercolor paintings in a large grid formation, and black and white collage works hung side by side
What Needs to be Said, installation view, image courtesy Disject

Disjecta
Disjecta’s exhibition of work by the thirteen Hallie Ford Fellows, titled What Needs to be Said, has been up since February, and was scheduled to run until April 5. If you were like me and put off visiting the gallery figuring there’d be plenty of time to see the show in March, you’ll be relieved to know that a fantastic video walkthrough of the exhibition is now online, and is accompanied by extensive information and documentation of each artist in the show. The video is just under ten minutes long, and includes close up shots revealing the details and textures of the show’s many paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Disjecta has put in a lot of effort to translate What Needs to be Said for digital viewing, and the results are surprisingly engaging and even beautiful.

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