French-American director PENNY ALLEN’s first feature Property, made in Portland, Oregon, was a prize-winner at the first Sundance festival in 1978. Mala Noche author Walt Curtis played a community organizer in the film, and the young Gus Van Sant recorded sound and discovered Walt’s book, which he later adapted for his own first feature.
In 1981, Penny Allen finished her second feature Paydirt, the story of wine growers who grow marijuana to finance their vineyard. In 2008, she finished The Soldier’s Tale, a prize-winner at the 2009 festival Visions du Réel in Nyon. In 2013 came Late for My Mother’s Funeral, a feature about a family adrift after the death of their mother, an Algerian smuggler. And also The Didier Connection, a documentary short about a little French boy arriving in Portland.
Allen is also a writer (A Geography of Saints, Metaphors for Change), author of photo strips (War is Hell, La Guerre c’est l’enfer), and she worked on environmental issues from 1987 to 2002. Earlier, she was a social worker, a university instructor, a journalist, and a community organizer in land-use planning.