Festival History & Archive

2016 POWFest



Wow! What a Magical Weekend!  We screened ~50 films and hosted filmmakers from across the US as well as Canada, Australia and Japan. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who supported POWFest 2016 as filmmakers, volunteers, sponsors and audience members. We cannot do this without you! Check out photos on our Facebook Page!



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A big Thank You to our Guest of Honor Catherine Hardwicke who dedicated so much of her time to the festival. She shared her experience as a Production Designer and Director during our private Director Breakfast, took our POWGirls through an exclusive workshop just for them, shared her tips to being a successful director during a Master Class presentation AND fielded questions from our the POWFest audiences after screenings of three of her films.

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We would also like to give a special thank you to our POWGirls POWer Circle members, who are a HUGE support and making it possible for us to keep nourishing the talent of young women directors!

This year was also special because we branched out to include webseries and music video entries for the first time. We were super excited to host Youtube sensations Lauren Ludwig, director of EX-GIRLFIEND, Laura Black, Susan Sommer and Beth Robbins of AGNES & ESTELLE and Kia Anne Geraths of MOSTLY 1 MINUTE MOVIE REVIEWS as well as two wonderful music videos, YO, YO LA CUCARACHA from Maria Marta Linero and the youth entry GIRLS DON’T CRY WOLF.

The best news? The fun isn’t over!  We have a wonderful program for you every month at our extended festival, POWFest MONTHLY.  Join us on Macch 28th for the super fun 90’s sensation TANK GIRL, directed by Rachel Talalay. Not familiar with this gem of a film?  Check out the review below!

Programming Overview

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Thursday kicked off with local director Dawn Jones Redstone’s SISTA IN THE BROTHERHOOD, POWGirls BUDDING ROMANCE, a fabulous PSA from Juliana Lukasik entitled 5% WTF!?! These were followed by Abigail Disney’s new documentary about gun violence, THE ARMOR OF LIGHT and Luján Loicoco’s LA NIÑA DE TACONES AMARILLOS (THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW HEELS) which was paired with the Canadian short AVILIAQ: ENTWINED from Alethea Arnaquq-Baril.

Friday brought two educational opportunities with a free Filmmaker panel focused on NAVIGATING THE INDUSTRY & CREATING A SUSTAINABLE PLACE FOR WOMEN FILMMAKERS, followed by CROWDFUNDING TO BUILD INDEPENDENCE, presented by the amazing Julie Keck from Seed & Spark. Once the films kicked off it was a roller coaster of emotions as we laughed our way through QUIRKY SHORTS and were brought to tears during DARK TALES.

The wirlwind continued into Saturday, when we screened a fantastic selection of DOCUMENTARY SHORTS, learned THE ART OF THE PITCH, and celebrated women’s talent for AGING GRACEFULLY before introducing our fantastic Guest of Honor Catherine Hardwicke, who shared her new film MISS YOU ALREADY as well as her first film THIRTEEN.

Sunday morning brought us an extremely valuable MASTER’S CLASS WITH CATHERINE HARDWICKE, where we learned tricks of the trade. The class was followed by the film that made her the highest grossing woman director in Hollywood, TWILIGHT, paired with another fantasic POWGirls film, STICKS & STONES. Closing the festival was a pair of SILENT FILMS, accompanied by a live performance of Donna Parker’s original composition, created just for this event!

All in all, it was a remarkable weekend celebrating the POWer of Women!  Thank you so much for being a part of it!

Much love from the POWFest Team!



2015 POWFest

Programming Overview

SH_sisterhood_2_noise (1)POWFest kicked off the 8th Annual festival with a screening of the coming-of-age teen drama THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT by Caryn Waechter, and the short film, THE PUNISHING BUSINESS, by local director, Heather Harlow.
Throughout the four-day festival, POWFest screened 62 films. Over 30 directors and producers represented their films, participated in vibrant Q&A’s and were on hand for the variety of receptions. Films from all over the world were screened including films from: the US, Cyprus, New Zealand, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Japan, India, Korea, UK, Canada and Australia.




The festival also included a special screening of the Academy Award Winning Documentary, CITIZENFOUR by director Laura Poitras and the critically acclaimed comedy OBVIOUS CHILD which played at the Reel Feminism March screening.

Check out the full line-up here!


POWGirls launched its second season with amazing success!

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Check out this great behind-the-scenes video from this year’s camp. We are also gearing up for two POWGirls summer 2015 camps! If you are interested in more information, please contact barb@powfest.com

On behalf of the entire POWFest team, we’d like to thank the filmmakers for submitting their wonderful films and giving us the opportunity to share them with our audience at the historic Hollywood Theatre. We received great press leading up to the festival on radio and  print – visit our press page! Please be sure to “like” our Facebook Page and view our photos from the festival in POWFest 2015.

2014 POWFest

Programming Overview

POWFest kicked off the 7th Annual festival with the local premiere of Britta Sjogren’s film, REDEMPTION TRAIL on Thursday March 6th. Many talented cast and crew including star, LisaGay Hamilton were in attendance at the Opening Night Event. See the full line-up of films and events here!

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Throughout the four-day festival, POWFest screened 102 films with 40 directors, producers and talent accompanying their films from the US, UK, China, Russia (among others), with Q&As after the films. We hosted many film premieres as well as a director panel, terrific mixers, parties, including our Opening Night Party at VeloCult – a bike shop and bar – and at Magnolia’s Corner, both within walking distance of the Hollywood Theatre.

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The festival concluded with a special retrospective screening with our 2014 Guest of Honor—award-winning animator, Joanna Priestley. In addition to showing her films, Joanna entertained the guests by taking them on a journey through her career with guest moderator, Kate Ertmann of Animation Dynamics.

“That was such a wonderful evening. Thank you so much. I was delighted to receive such a lovely award. Many people have spoken and written to me about how much they enjoyed the show. You and your team did a brilliant job. You were so well organized, relaxed and delightful. I did not know that was possible for a film festival directors/organizers. Extra special new breed of superwomen??”–Joanna Priestley

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On behalf of the entire POWFest team, we’d like to thank the filmmakers for submitting their wonderful films and giving us the opportunity to share them with our audience at the historic Hollywood Theatre. We received great press leading up to the festival on radio, TV and print – visit our press page! Please be sure to “like” our Facebook Page and view our photos from the festival in POWFest 2014.

Special Programs


In partnership with Portland Community Media and with support from the Faerie Godmother Family Fund, POWFest was able to launch POWGirls, a mentorship program for young women filmmakers. Over the course of three days–taking place during the 2014 POWFest–a group of selected girls developed, produced, edited and screened a film during the Youth Shorts program at the 2014 POWFest on Sunday March 9th. Watch the film here!
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The Meet the Directors Mixer was a fun event in which attendees were given a historic tour of the Hollywood Theatre. Magnolia’s Corner hosted our Directors’ Breakfast, exclusive to our attending filmmakers – a chance to meet in person and chat. A mixer followed the Youth Program, with cupcakes, before our Guest of Honor retrospective of Portland animator Joanna Priestley’s work. Our Closing Night Reception followed in the main theater. Our Director’s Panel discussed “Beyond Gender Disparity”, moderated by Portland documentary filmmaker Dawn Smallman. With so much media attention lately drawn to the negative aspects of women in film, we turned the tables and discussed what advantages we have! It was a riveting discussion with incredible insights by everyone on the stage.

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2013 POWFest


With nearly ninety films, more than 3,000 people attended the four-day festival, which also hosted a number of mixers and parties. POWFest hosted two local premieres, Gabby’s Wish by writer/director Hollie Olson and documentary Rock N Roll Mamas by Jackie Weissman. The Guest of Honor and POWFest Pioneer Award winner was Penelope Spheeris, featuring her films Dudes, Suburbia and Decline of Western Civilization III. Two workshops were offered in the upper theater at the Hollywood, screenwriting by Randall Jahnson and audio with Bitterroot Media. Penelope Spheeris is often referred to as a Rock ‘n Roll anthropologist. Her company ROCK ‘N REEL was the first Los Angeles production company specializing in music videos which she produced, directed, and edited. She concluded her music video work with the Grammy nominated, “Bohemian Rhapsody” for Wayne’s World. She has enjoyed two distinct careers in film – one where she does mainstream Hollywood films and the other where she does independent music themed documentaries such as the Decline of Western Civilazation films. See the full line-up of films and events here and photos here!

2012 Special Screening with Barbara Kopple


POWFest hosted a special engagement with Barbara Kopple and philanthropist Ellen Ratner in May 2012. A Force of Nature was screened, a portrait of Ellen Ratner and her work, and a 35mm print of Harlan County USA. Local radio personality Carl Wolfson hosted a rousing Q & A with both Barbara and Ellen. Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award winning filmmaker, a director and producer of narrative films and documentaries. View photos from the event here!

2012 POWFest


As the festival’s fifth year, POWFest expanded to more than 60 films. POWFest co-produced the NW Film Financing Symposium with OMPA on the mornings of Friday and Saturday, rounding the festival with an educational program of which it is proud. This year’s Guest of Honor was Amy Heckerling, featuring her film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In the theme of flashback, Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle was also featured during the festival. Boasting many events, the opening night party was held at @Large Films. Amy Heckerling’s short films received prizes at the NYU Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, the prestigious Bronx Film Festival, and secured her place at the American Film Institute. Her AFI short got her into Universal, where she directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Johnny Dangerously and European Vacation. Heckerling’s other films include the Look Who’s Talking films, Clueless and Vamps. View photos here!

2011 POWFest


2011 was a year of firsts. For the first time, POWFest grew into a 5-day format, premiering on Wednesday and concluding on the following Sunday. In tune with the festivals mission, LUNAFest was hosted with its block of shorts, raising funds for local non-profits and the Breast Cancer Fund. The Guest of Honor was Australian Director Gillian Armstrong, and featured her documentary Love, Lust and Lies. Also featured was the local premier of award winning filmmaker Rolla Selbak’s film Three Veils. Gillian Armstrong first garnered attention for her debut feature, My Brilliant Career (1979). At the film’s release, Armstrong held the distinction of being the first woman to direct a feature-length movie in Australia in almost 50 years. Alternating between period pieces and edgy modern works, her films’ often focus on human dramas and stories with a sense of hope and compassion. Her feature credits include Star Struck, Mrs. Soffel, Little Women, Oscar and Lucinda and Charlotte Gray. Armstrong’s films have been nominated for Academy and Golden Globe Awards and received awards from the Australian Film Institute, the Film Critics Circle of Australia, the British Critics Association and the British Academy and festivals around the world. View photos here!

2010 POWFest

Turning back to a non-juried film festival, POWFest 2010 turned the focus back on the filmmakers in the ranks on the heels of Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar win for The Hurt Locker. With the dismal numbers of female directors in large budget films, the attention was turned to those filmmakers in attendance and the forty-four international films on the schedule. To create additional social opportunities for our community and filmmakers, more events were added to the festival line-up. In the Oregonian (Oregonlive.com), Stan Hall said, “The pejorative ‘chick flick’ does not describe the vast majority of POW fare.” One of the featured films was the documentary Playground, by Libby Spears and executive producer George Clooney, about the child sex trade. View photos here!

2009 POW Summer Benefit with Kathryn Bigelow


Held on July 20, 2009, the POW Fest Summer Benefit Series literally started off with a bang, featuring a screening of director Kathryn Bigelow’s critically acclaimed new film, The Hurt Locker. “If The Hurt Locker is not the best action movie of the summer, I’ll blow up my car,” said reviewer A. O. Scott of the N.Y. Times. The evening included an in-depth interview with Ms. Bigelow, moderated by The Oregonian’s Kristi Turnquist, in front of a sold-out audience of 475 people. Benefit attendees enjoyed local food and drinks, as well as a silent auction featuring a wide range of items graciously donated by local businesses. This event launched POWFest as a contender in the film festival circuit, featured in the press and attended by ever increasing audiences. View photos here!

POWFest 2009

After deciding to switch the festival to March in honor of Women’s History Month, organizers opted to forgo the traditional call-for-entries in favor of a curated festival for 2009 to accommodate the earlier date. The showcase featured five films by established women filmmakers: 2009 Academy Award winner Smile Pinki; 2009 Academy Award nominated films The Betrayal and The Final Inch; Coming Up Easy by local award-winning filmmaker Rebecca Rodriguez; and The Bigamist, a 1953 film by Ida Lupino, the second woman ever inducted into the DGA. The 2009 POW Fest received overwhelming praise from the press, the local film community and festival attendees. It was also integral to establishing the Portland chapter of Women in Film (WIF-PDX). Irene Taylor-Brodsky is a documentary producer, director, writer and cinematographer from Portland whose films have shown theatrically, at film festivals and on television worldwide. She’s won an Emmy, Peabody Award, Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, numerous Audience and Jury awards, and is Oscar-nominated. *The Final Inch was nominated for an Academy Award®, three Emmy Awards, and won the International Documentary Association’s Pare Lorentz Award for Outstanding Cinematography. Irene has also produced numerous television documentaries for HBO, A&E, The History Channel, and Fox. Irene’s passion for documentary portraiture began as a still photographer, with her landmark photography book, Buddhas in Disguise. She made her first documentary for UNICEF in 1992, moving on to direct and produce films on topics ranging from polygamy, to bluegrass music, and the fragile state of American healthcare. Irene graduated from NYU and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. View photos here!

POWFest 2008

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After a five-year hiatus, POWFest returned with a reinvigorated format in May 2008 and screened 60 films from 18 countries over four days. Forty of the filmmakers attended, participating in moderated panels. The festival began with a kick-off gala at The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel and included a screenwriting workshop, an all-women vendor marketplace, and performance by the Rock N Roll Camp For Girls band Teeath on family day. There was a closing night awards ceremony as well. The guest of honor and first POWFest Pioneer Award winner was Allison Anders, who met with attending filmmakers and fielded pitches, in addition to screening two of her films: Gas Food Lodging and Border Radio. Guest of Honor – Allison Anders is a Los Angeles-based independent filmmaker with an established body of work that is innovative in its visual and sound style, and marked by ensemble acting and strong women characters. She’s received a MacArthur “genius grant” and a George Foster Peabody Award. She’s premiered films at Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals, and has had international retrospectives held of her work. Her films include Things Behind the Sun, Border Radio, Grace of My Heart, Sugar Town, and she’s directed TV shows such as “Sex In The City”, “Cold Case”, “The L-Word”, “Men In Trees” and “What About Brian”. She is a mother of three and a distinguished professor at University of California Santa Barbara, where she teaches film.