by Valerie Thompson
This year’s Cinema Unbound Awards had to go virtual, but the talent involved was no less stellar. The event, presented by the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center, honored Steve McQueen (Small Axe), Gus Van Sant (Elephant, My Own Private Idaho) Mollye Asher (Nomadland), Alex Bulkey (Bojack Horesman, Robot Chicken), and Garrett Bradley (Alone, America).
This free event gave audiences throughout the world a chance to experience the area’s commitment to filmmaking on all levels. “We celebrate the evolution and expansion of cinematic storytelling,” said Portland Art Museum Director Brian Ferriso. “In this long moment of challenge and change, it is vital to honor artists who are expanding how, by whom, and for whom art is created. They are key to the future of the Portland Art Museum and the world.” The event also opened the 44th Annual Portland International Film Festival. It began March 5th and runs through March 14th.
Steve McQueen, the Academy Award-winning British filmmaker and artist whose anthology film series Small Axe recently won Best Picture at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, says he is grateful for the support of artists’ creative exploration. “I feel particularly honored to receive this Cinema Unbound Award from Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum at a time in my own creative journey when I have gone back to my true source and inspiration with Small Axe and felt more unbound creatively than I ever have,” says McQueen. “The work NWFC and PAM do in supporting creatives across different mediums in discovering their own artistic identity is vitally important.”
Guillermo del Toro and Chloe Zhao were two of the night’s presenters. Introducing Alex Bulkley, who is producing the director’s upcoming Pinocchio, del Toro had high praise for the Portland based creator. “Normally the role of producer comes with this preconception that the producer has to be tough, has to be rough, has to be brutal. But Alex is nothing but gentle, and thoughtful, and a champion of the arts and a champion of the artist. He is a perfect example of keeping cinema unbound from reality while bound to reality.”
Zhao, a favorite at this year’s Oscars, also held nothing back when presenting an award to Nomadland producer Mollye Asher. “You know, it’s in those darkest times that I think the character of a great producer really shows. And Mollye has shown that over and over and over in the times I’ve worked with her. She has also supported many great filmmakers. And I think the results speak for themselves. Mollye has always said to me, for me, I always start with the filmmaker. And she’s humble, and curious, and hardworking, and talented. And she’s always put her filmmaker first and always been there for them as a producer and as a friend.”
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