Portland, OR

Portland International Film Festival Returns with Both Virtual and Drive-In Viewing Options for the Whole Family

Rose Bak


Image from Portland International Film Festival

Portland International Film Festival starts today but it’s going to be a little different than in past years.

The Portland International Film Festival is scheduled to run from March 5th through March 14th. The Festival is in its 44th year; it was first created back in 1977. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Festival has re-tooled itself to be a combination of virtual and drive-in movie style.

If you’re not familiar with the Portland International Film Festival, it bills itself as “a creative, multi-media feast spotlighting artists both around the corner and across the globe—embracing bold, original, future-forward storytellers making cinema in all its forms”.

Sponsored by the Northwest Film Center, the focus of the Portland International Film Festival is to create a “community celebration of the stories that bind us – whether told by artists in Montana or Morroco.”

In addition to the films themselves, the Portland International Film Festival also includes guest speakers, panel discussions, and workshops. There is also a “Future/future Competition” which awards prizes for exciting new voices in global cinema.

The Festival has a particular focus on diversity and creating platforms for underrepresented perspectives and voices. It aims to create a space for people to come together to learn about and create an appreciation for other cultures, engage in conversation, and build community.

While the event has typically been held at small theater venues around the Portland area, this year that is not possible. COVID restrictions and concerns about health impacts have kept many small theaters shuttered, despite loosening for restrictions on public spaces from Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

Like almost everything in life, the event has moved to an online format. The Portland International Film Festival will allow viewers to stream most of the films in the line-up any time between March 5th and March 14th.

A few select films will also be available as a drive-in screening, which is great news for people who are tired of watching films from their couch.

There are a whopping 93 films available as part of the Festival, ranging from short films to feature-length offerings. A full guide to all available films is available here.

The Portland International Film Festival’s “Cinema Unbound Drive-in” will include a selection of feature first-run films, repertoire films, and features that are appropriate for both children and adults. There will be a short film before each feature film.

The drive-in option will be held at The Zidell Yards, located at 3030 S. Moody Avenue in Portland. People will stay socially distanced in their cars for the film, with audio transmitted through FM radio frequencies in the cars.

The bulk of the movies will be offered “Netflix style” with virtual screenings available from your living room. This format opens up the Portland International Film Festival to a larger audience. Film aficionados from around the world will be able to check out the best in international films via the online format.

Films can be viewed on a variety of streaming devices including Apple TV and Roku.

Virtual offerings include:

· Over 40 films created by members of the black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) community

· Over 40 offering features female-identified voices

· 30 short films, including 9 from local Northwest artists

· 45 feature films, including 8 from Northwest artists

The 44th Annual Portland International Film Festival offers a variety of pricing options. An “all-access” pass with access to both virtual and drive-in films is $350. Drive-in only passes are $250, offering access to one car for each showing, and the “all virtual” pass is $150 for U.S. customers.

If you don’t want to commit to the entire event, single film tickets are also available. They cost $9 for a one-movie virtual ticket and $40-60 for a single drive-in ticket, depending on the size of the car.

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Rose Bak is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. She writes on a variety of topics including local news, homelessness, poverty, relationships, yoga, and aging. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. For more of Rose's work, visit her website at rosebakenterprises.com or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

Portland, OR

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