As we head into the final weekend of the 35th annual Portland International Film Festival there is still plenty to see. Today alone you can catch ten film screenings. Well, eleven if you count the nineteen minute French short I Could Be Your Grandmother that screens before Lebanese documentary Grandma, A Thousand Times, both playing at the World Trade Center Theater tonight at 8:45.
Director Mahmoud Kaabour has made an incredibly sweet documentary about his 85 year-old grandmother who is nearing the end of her richly lived life. Having raised a large family, Teta Fatima Kaabour now lives alone in a small and immaculately clean apartment in Beirut. Yet she is still a hookah smoking matriarch, still a sprightly woman who haggles with street vendors and the butcher, commanding respect within her section of old Beirut. Her husband, once a successful violinist but now long deceased, is the indirect source for much of this film, since director Mahmoud Kaabour not only shares his grandfather’s name but also his looks. Exploiting this resemblance throughout, Mr. Kaabour takes on the role of both grandson and grandfather as he gets ready for his wedding day while coming to terms with the reality of his grandmother’s mortality. In Arabic, with English subtitles.
Showing earlier in the day at PIFF35 is The Island President, a film about the (until very recently) President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed (Nasheed was very recently overthrown by those with political ties to the old, tyrannical regime). Having been tortured, imprisoned, and exiled, Nasheed seems unable to stop his international fight against global warming, which threatens the very existence of the 200 islands that make up the Maldives. Watch the trailer below, and then go see the film tonight at 6:15 at the World Trade Center Theater.