The 37th Portland International Film Festival runs this year from February 6th to the 22nd. They’re screening 104 feature films and 24 shorts across those two weeks from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Iceland, Nepal, and Taiwan. Check out the official site for tickets and/or more details. My third look at this year’s festival entries include a trio of documentaries from Netherlands and the UK. In addition to their basis in non-fiction though they also share a thematic concern with their focus on people who, for various reasons and with varied results, find themselves far away from civilization. The Galapagos Affair explores a decades old mystery from an island paradise involving Germans, the Swiss Family Robinson, a baroness, and the wisdom of giant land turtles. Maidentrip features a more recent sea-bound adventure as a teenage girl sets out to sail the world alone. And finally, Village at the End of the World visits with a tiny Inuit community in Greenland as they face pressures to disband and fade away. Keep reading for capsule reviews of The Galapagos Affair, Maidentrip, and Village at the End of the World, and follow all of our coverage here.



When I was fourteen years old my greatest accomplishment was installing a homemade (from instructions) cable de-scrambler on my television so I could experience the late-night joys of Cinemax. By contrast, Dutch teenager Laura Dekker set out at fourteen on a solo sailing trip around the globe. Her journey covered 27,000 nautical miles and lasted 519 days, and she currently holds the unofficial record for youngest person to accomplish such a feat. I bet I’ve seen Hardbodies more than she has, though. Maidentrip documents Dekker’s incredibly impressive adventure mostly through footage she took herself while sailing apart from friends, family and strangers alike. We get to watch as this confident and capable young woman deals with inclement weather, impending madness caused by doldrums, and a constantly developing desire for a life other than the one she left behind in Holland. By the time she crosses the equator, dancing alone in a party hat and offering pancakes to Neptune, you’ll find yourself loving her spirit and personality nearly as much as she loves the sea.



We’re all aware of and used to the blockbuster knockoffs from The Asylum. Maybe you were reminded this past week by coming across their 2011 movie Almighty Thor while looking up Marvel’s own Thor: The Dark World. Well, they haven’t taken on documentaries yet, but there are comparably cheap versions of hit nonfiction films to be found around the web. We can’t call them all knockoffs or ripoffs or copycats or anything of that responsive nature, though, because most of the time they are produced earlier and are actually the ones being overshadowed by the new, better-known features. Last week I was going through the latest documentary additions to Netflix Watch Instantly, as I regularly do for my home viewing picks for our sister site Nonfics, and one title stood out to me: Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story. The synopsis told me simply that it was about a teen girl who “dares try to become the youngest person to sail around the globe solo.” That sounded awfully familiar. I’d known about the SXSW audience award winner Maidentrip, which also is about a teen girl who set out to sail around the globe solo. But I didn’t know that film’s subject’s name and thought maybe it was Sunderland. After all, how many teen girls are there who attempt such a dangerous adventure? Apparently at least two, because the girl’s name in Maidentrip, I quickly learned, is Laura Dekker.

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published: 04.17.2014
published: 04.16.2014
published: 04.16.2014
published: 04.16.2014

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