The Northwest Film Center is screening Sean and Christof Whiteman’s experimental, shot-in-SE Portland film Childhood Machine March 5 at 7 pm at the Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave. The director brothers will be there in person.
The film is about pursuing the idiosyncratic. In one scene, a child describes the best and worst moments of her life. In another, clouds freeze over poetic narrative both gentle and chiding, half reality, half dreamstate.
So it’s a film that defies description. “It’s bizarre,” admits Sean Whiteman about his sixth film, but one thing is clear: living in SE Portland provided the inspiration for it.
“Southeast is the main character,” says Whiteman, calling it a friendly, beautiful, walkable place conducive to fantasies or recreated childhoods. He says living and filming here is like “rocking leisurely on a front porch” with all the seasonal glory, quirky personality and slices of life that inner SE has to offer.
The plot, such as it is, morphs around a socially-inept inventor who builds a machine that helps others including a woman who challenges the notion of memory, a young man seeking ideal role models John Goodman-style from Roseanne, Season 1, and a middle-aged man who wants to live simply, like a squirrel.
“If you’ve seen anyone filming squirrels or crows near the railroad tracks at Tibbets and 17th in the last two years, it was probably me or my brother,” laughs Whiteman.