Know Before You Go
POW Film Fest in 2020 may be altered, postponed or canceled. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the POW Film Fest website.
If the future is female, then Portland’s POW Film Fest is ahead of its time. Recognized as one of the nation’s top women’s film festivals, POW showcases films by women and non-binary directors.
History of POW Film Fest
Hosted for the first time in 2003, POW Film Fest was created to bring visibility to films directed by women and non-binary directors.
“A lot of people have this preconceived notion that it’s going to be a bunch of romantic comedies, and it’s not,” says POW Film Fest Executive Director Tara Johnson-Medinger. “We have a variety of topics, themes and ages of women producing the films.”
A film producer herself, Johnson-Medinger was aware of women’s lack of representation in filmmaking when she rebooted the festival in 2008. (The festival went on a hiatus after its 2003 launch.) In an industry where just 7% of directors are female, the festival seems more necessary than ever. “Our mission is to provide space where women can thrive as media makers,” she says.
About POW Film Fest
POW Film Fest invites attendees to experience cinema crafted by seasoned and up-and-coming filmmakers alike. “It’s a fun night out with friends and [it] can open your eyes to other cultures,” Johnson-Medinger says. “There’s a lot of buzz and people wanting to hang out and have conversations after each film.”
To learn more about some of the directors and films featured at the festival, take a look at POW’s The Directors zine. Published in 2019, this publication (which feels more like a small book than a zine) features eye-catching portraits and profiles of 92 women and non-binary directors from the Portland area. In addition to celebrating their work, the zine dispels the notion of there being no women or non-binary directors for hire in Oregon. Copies of the zine can be purchased online on POW’s website).
The festival “is for anyone interested in engaging with really good stories and supporting the next generation of women leaders and directors,” says Johnson-Medinger. (And yes, this includes men, who are encouraged to attend!)
Education Efforts by POW Film Fest
Along with hosting its annual film festival, POW hosts a workshop series called POWGirls, focused on teaching girls and non-binary kids ages 15–19 skills in video production, cinematography and other aspects of filmmaking. As part of the festival’s educational efforts, these workshops provide participants with strong instruction and support in their filmmaking endeavors. To learn more about dates and availability of upcoming workshops, visit the POWGirls website.
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