Lilly, Sarah Johnston Awa’xe, Producer
Lilly is a surreal, dramatic genre film about a guilt-ridden woman who is haunted by the ghost of her daughter and plunges into madness through the course of a drug-fueled fever dream. The film dissects concepts of parentification, isolation, grief, and resilience through a class-conscious lens. This is the first feature film created by producer Sarah Johnston and writer/director Martin Melnick who live and work in Portland, Oregon.
Outdoor School, Ime Etuk, Director
The film tells the story of Vin Shambry, a Black 12-year-old boy in Portland, Oregon. Homeless, Vin sleeps under a tree in the park with his mother and baby sister, daily palling around with his schoolyard friend, the daughter of a famous shoe designer. Vin’s 6th-grade class embarks on an educational coming-of-age adventure known as Outdoor School. Reluctant to leave his family, Vin goes on the trip, where his worldview is transformed by nature and caring adults. For the first time, he learns what it means to be a kid. He faces the dilemma of sacrificing his only pair of sneakers, his prized Deion Sanders Nikes, to help his team win in tug-of-war. Ultimately, Vin navigates the tension between his family life and the great outdoors while masking his poverty at all costs to protect himself and the people he loves.
Ime is a Portland native who is deeply invested in developing and showcasing local talent. This is his second feature film as a director.
Mai American, Kevin Truong, director
Kevin Truong is a Sundance-supported artist whose work spans photography, journalism and filmmaking. As a filmmaker, he has received fellowships from both the Center for Asian American Media and BAVC Media, and his first feature-length film, Mai American, has received support and funding from the Sundance Institute, MacArthur Foundation, A-Doc, California Film Institute, SFFilm, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Haverford College, and the Portland Events and Film Office. As a journalist, Kevin has written stories for NBC News and Motherboard Tech by VICE and has worked as a producer with Student Reporting Labs at the PBS NewsHour, where he recently helped produce and film a series of short documentaries on misinformation. Mai American is Kevin’s first feature-length documentary film and tells the story of his mother, Tot Mai, a 70-year-old Vietnamese American refugee living in Oregon who writes down the story of her life, which is deeply shaped by the war in Vietnam. As she shares with him what she has written for the first time, they begin separate but parallel journeys confronting the traumas of their past and the emotional divide in their present.
Nora, Anna Campbell, Director
Nora moves back home to suburbia, giving up on her dream of being a musician to focus on her child. But does her dream give up on her?
First-time feature filmmaker and Portland native Anna Campbell brings a joyful, unflinching look at modern motherhood clashing with the artistic notion of having it all. This uniquely structured film with a completely original soundtrack by Noah Harmon (Airborn Toxic Event) uses the emotional bombshell that music provides in a way that appeals to the MTV generation and beyond. Combining intimate independent filmmaking with dramatic flights of fantasy in the form of music videos, Nora takes a unique approach to indie filmmaking. Shot almost entirely in Portland during the pandemic, Nora represents a return home for the filmmaker and the audience, celebrating the big dream and the place called home.