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Celebrated Cinema

Inside the ECFilmZone
Director Eliaichi Kimaro films women working in Chagga hut
Director Eliaichi Kimaro films women working in Chagga hut

Gone are the days of ad hoc screenings at the McDonald Theatre; film shorts and features from eight local and regional festivals, past and future, will stay the weekend at the new Bijou Metro during the Eugene Celebration’s “FilmZone.” 

From sobering biopics to children’s animation, there’s something for everyone. Roll the dice with two “Secret Cinema” offerings or double down on a sure thing with works by Eliaichi Kimaro, Sándor Lau and E.C. (Ed) Schiessl.

Kimaro’s A Lot Like You, winner of the Jason D. Mak Award for Social Justice at Eugene’s DisOrient Film Festival in April, traces her journey as an African-Asian-American, from vague notions of her lineage as a patriotic young American girl to living with her father’s Chagga tribe in Tanzania’s foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Kimaro’s playful delivery of an ethnographic study dovetails with a fervid, confounded introspection. 

Probing the ancestral voice of her father’s upbringing, she finds a connection that soothes her identity while also calling back to her 12 years as a sexual assault counselor. Forced to brace for impact in a confrontation with misogyny, she learns the secrets of her aunts’ “culturally justified” abuse. 

Dismantling issues of gender, race and class, Kimaro paves over her fantasies of yesteryear, building a new and lasting perspective. Questioning the global economic order and her family’s role in it, A Lot Like You also follows Kimaro’s father on a path away from Tanzania to pursue the American dream amid mismanaged crony socialism in the post-colonialist struggle of the Chagga (4:30 and 5:30 pm Aug. 24).

The battle of New Zealand’s native Maori people against neo-colonialism, told in Squeegee Bandit through a phenomenal portrait of a window-washing action man called “Starfish,” is but one of many projects expounded on in “Sándor Lau’s Adventures in Filmmaking.” Bandit is a downright flawless on-screen effigy of a gritty street hustler with an unmatched spirit to love and persevere. 

Lau will also show in digest his backpacking film Sándor’s New Zealand Trail and offer peeks into the forthcoming Sándor’s Oregon Trail, where it’s man versus nature plus history from Kansas to the Willamette Valley. New Zealand Trail and Lau’s new wilderness cooking show will teach you how to bare-hand eels from a river and simmer wild mushrooms in a pinch. All wanderers are in for a treat (2 and 3 pm Aug. 24).

Bijou co-owner Schiessl’s own cinematography shines in the short, Broken Paradise, which won Best in Show at Diva’s OpenLens Festival in January. Schiessl tackles rustic, ethereal imagery with deft precision, painting in bleak elegance a father and daughter’s stunted emotional exchange (12:45 and 1:15 pm Aug. 25). Schiessl also presides over Secret Cinema, playing mature-audience-only films from his private collection (9:30 pm Aug. 23 and Aug. 24).

The domestically not-yet-released kick-off film, Papadopoulos & Sons (check out Gathr.com for info on its preview film series), is a lighthearted, stagelike comedy/drama, something like a Woody Allen twang on The Royal Tenenbaums, but with once prosperous Greek immigrants in London (5 and 7:15 pm Aug. 23).

FilmZone closes on a local note (5 pm Aug. 25) with Katherine Wilson’s Animal House of Blues, a torrent of production trivia from Animal House and the uniquely Eugenean origin story of the Blues Brothers phenomenon.

For the full lineup and schedule, visit eugenecelebration.com/film_festival.html