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Spotlight on John Cameron Mitchell, Tony Award-winning writer, director, and actor; Hedwig & The Angry Inch, Anthem: Homunculus, Hulu’s Shrill

One month ago, the world was different. We were different. But even in this new reality, the Northwest Film Center remains committed to championing storytellers who are helpers, artists who dare to try new things, and innovators who find ways to transform and shape the future—in ways big and small.

On the eve of the 43rd Portland International Film Festival just one month ago, we started a new tradition of honoring those who open our eyes to new ways of seeing during times of change—folks who defy expectation and transform the world with their talents and generosity. In this ongoing series, we’ll introduce you this year’s 2020 Cinema Unbound honorees, as well as shine a light on new heroes we’re seeing emerge in real-time.

Because we need them, their ideas, and their future-forward thinking to inspire us now more than ever.

John Cameron Mitchell might just be from another planet.

He’s a multi-talented, multi-headed hydra of an actor having played roles that include getting his start in theatre as the Virgin Mary, playing Huck Finn, nabbing a guest spot on 80s hit MacGyver and acting as the voice of the Dunkaroos Kangaroo in that earworm of a commercial of our childhood.

And of course, he is the indomitable Hedwig, which changed the course of the universe forever.

His forays in directing have explored both dark and joyous places, bringing out wild, raw, otherworldly performances in others. Whatever John touches, he reinvents the form and leaves his distinctive mark on characters and worlds that are both grounded in reality and somewhere out there. With his latest project, Anthem: Homunculus—inspired after a wild night right here in Portland—he turned his creativity to podcasts—and proceeded to turn this realm of true crime and garage comedy -on its head. He is a pioneer, funny as hell, and one gem of a human being. We were honored to have him with us in early March to share his insights and stories—and his Purell!—with all of us who were lucky enough to cross his path.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.