The Cinema Unbound Awards is an annual celebration presented by the Northwest Film Center, honoring boundary-breaking multimedia storytellers working at the intersection of art and cinema. We honor artists and nonconformists who are not content to be contained but instead expand the notion of what’s possible. The Cinema Unbound honorees defy expectations and refuse to embrace labels using their creative vision to inspire and push us to look at what is beyond the norm.
The Cinema Unbound Awards represents the Portland Art Museum & Northwest Film Center’s embrace of artistic exploration and commitment to equity and inclusion. Though born out of the tradition of film, the Cinema Unbound Awards expands the reach of cinema as an art form to challenge for whom, by whom, and how stories can be told.
This year’s event:
The 2021 Cinema Unbound Awards, viewable above, reflected the unboundedness of this moment, welcoming our local and global communities through both a Drive-In Experience and a Virtual Experience.
The 2021 Cinema Unbound Awards honorees were Steve McQueen, Garrett Bradley, Gus Van Sant, Mollye Asher, and Alex Bulkley: boundary-breaking multimedia storytellers working at the intersection of art and cinema. The awards were presented on March 4, 2021, kicking off the 44th Annual Portland International Film Festival which ran from March 5 to March 14, 2021.
The Drive-In Cinema Unbound Awards at the Zidell Yards featured live entertainment, food, and drink, and a FREE screening of Minari immediately following the Cinema Unbound Awards presentation. The Virtual Cinema Unbound Awards was available for FREE worldwide.
About the honorees:
Steve McQueen is a British artist and cinematic luminary who is constantly breaking industry molds, pushing the limits of for whom, by whom, and how stories can be told. He paints pictures with pixels, film, and sounds that take over your senses. Each work is experiential, moving, and organic; each experience visceral and imprinted on the brain. He is known for his award-winning features Shame (2011); 12 Years a Slave (2013); Widows (2018); and Small Axe (2020).
Once you see Steve’s work, there’s no unseeing it. It stays with you, provokes you, and moves you completely to the core of your humanity. The deeper you go into his body of work, the more you understand why his art is so vital in this moment in time.
Garrett Bradley is a New York native whose heterodoxical stories blend fact and fiction in a way that seems both timely and timeless. Combining art, portraiture, and insightful documentary filmmaking, she has created a small but mighty body of work that contains intimate glimpses of powerful folks who contain multitudes.
Garrett is the first Black woman to win the Best Director Award in the US Documentary Competition. Her award-winning film Time (2020) and current show at MOMA both look to the past to predict the future and are only the beginning of her radical, new vision for what comes next.
Gus Van Sant
Presented by Gucci
Gus Van Sant is an internationally-admired filmmaker who makes art in all its forms come alive. With roots right here in Portland, Gus is known for his critically-acclaimed feature films Milk (2008); Elephant (2003); Good Will Hunting (1997); My Own Private Idaho (1991); and Drugstore Cowboy (1989). From his incredible paintings and photography, to his recent experimental work with Gucci, and music videos with everyone from Alan Ginsberg, Hanson, Deeelite, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and David Bowie, he is a beloved member of our Portland and global art community like no other.
Mollye Asher is a critically acclaimed producer whose creative vision and can-do spirit brings out the best in the filmmakers and artists she works with. Creating wholly original stories rooted in truth that are representative of communities and voices that might not otherwise be heard, she received the 2020 Producers Award from the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
Her two recent features, Nomadland (2020) and Swallow (2019), showcase the very best of her abilities, featuring powerhouse performances by women who are trying to break free from the confines of societal expectations and become who they are truly meant to be.
Alex Bulkley is an Emmy and Annie award-winning producer and co-founder of ShadowMachine, the acclaimed indie animation studio based in LA and Portland. From his company’s work on the legendary BoJack Horseman to his current work bringing Tuca & Bertie to life, shepherding wild and wooly projects for Adult Swim, and as a producer on Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming epic stop-motion animated Pinocchio for Netflix, Alex’s impact in media and animation knows no bounds.
Thank you to our event partners: