Portland Film Festival has returned to Rose City

Authentic and artistic films from Portland to around the world

The 2022 Portland Film Festival—running until Sunday, Oct. 23—has returned to Rose City for its 10th year! Film festivals like this have popped up worldwide for almost a century and gathered great films to present to the public. The purpose of these festivals is to allow independent filmmakers to share their films with people seeking great stories—stories that would often go unnoticed due to lack of opportunity to be in the Hollywood limelight.


We see movie theaters in every city that show the exact same movies, with very few exceptions. In some cases, these films are cinematic masterpieces or blockbusters.


Events such as the Portland Film Festival allow independent filmmakers to get their stories shown to a mass of people. However, more importantly, it enables these audiences to enjoy the art of film, in addition to being exposed to educational workshops created to help improve attendees’ own movie-making abilities.


The 13-day Portland Film Festival delivers entertaining and educational opportunities to the public by focusing on the people, ideas, technology, skills and artistry behind filmmaking. The festival was founded in 2013 by Joshua Leake through the help of Jay Cornelius.


Leake said they were just filmmakers who wanted to see more movies from the people around them without the high price tag that often comes with film festivals. Cornelius, through teaching filmmaking, had many connections with people interested in films, people willing to band together to volunteer and help make this festival a reality for Portland. Leake said it was a long and arduous process to reach the position that they’re at now, but they’re pleased to be in their 10th year.


The original 2013 festival ran for six days and screened over 80 films. During its second year, the festival lasted seven days, screening more films and hosting more filmmaking events than any prior Oregon film festival. This year’s 2022 Portland Film Festival will screen over 400 films, with over 300 artists visiting to present them. Leake said that the festival will obviously feature several films created by Portlanders, but they are also expecting filmmakers from all over the country and the world.


There are thousands of film festivals around the globe similar to this one, even a few around Portland, but Leake said he takes much pride in the films featured at the Portland Film Festival. He mentioned a few films that they’ve shown in the past and how rare it is to see tasteful art on a big screen that will stir your emotions in the best way. “[The festival] is a little bit more provocative; our films tend to be a little bit more edgy,” Leake said. “I think people—especially with the pandemic—are looking for more authentic stories than overly cleansed stories.”


Leake also mentioned his excitement for a film titled Addicted to Life, which follows the Belgian female athlete Marieke Vervoort. After dealing with a debilitating illness for over 20 years, the Paralympic champion begins to notice its negative effects on her body. In the documentary,  written, directed and edited by Pola Rapaport, Vervoor lives her life to the fullest before engaging in assisted suicide.


Pola Rapaport is just one of many women featured in this year’s Portland Film Festival. “A lot of times when we see movies in the theater, predominantly like 80, 90% of the directors are white cis men, and our festival is already breaking that barrier: 50% of the directors are women,” Leake said.


The festival is expecting several famous guests this year. A couple of filmmakers coming for the premier of their new film The Latin from Manhattan are Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black) and Jesse Metcalf (John Tucker Must Die). Leake expressed his excitement over guests like these. “Last year, for example, we had a film that had most of the cast—the voiceover cast—of The Simpsons!” he said. “Several years ago, we had Jason Momoa screen his first movie that he made before he was Aquaman, so you never know who you’re going to meet!”


The films are available to all by either attending the festival in person or by streaming the films. Streaming independent films allows more people to join in on the festival’s fun and helps these passionate filmmakers have their work enjoyed by even more people. “That’s something that we recently did, and we’re actually one of the only film festivals in the world that has this technology,” Leake explained. “What I love about it is that we’re able to share some of our Portland directors with the world!” He went on to compliment the city of Portland and shared even more enthusiasm for letting the public in on films that “reflect that Portland vibe.”


“We all have this craziness going down in our life,” Leake said.  “I think being able to empathize and look and see what other people are doing in this crazy world is a great way to self-care.” He also suggested that films can help you look at your own life from new perspectives. “I think it’s cool to hear authentic stories from people that are our neighbors, and there’s no better way to do it than watching it in a movie.”