Northwest Film Center turns 40!

December 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm Leave a comment

It’s hard to imagine the independent film community in Portland without the Northwest Film Center. In it’s 40 years, the festivals, classes, workshops, screenings, internships, and other services have benefited local filmmakers in immeasurable ways. It’s only now, during this time of retrospection, that some of these stories are starting to come forward and be told.

In 1971, there were very few places a local filmmaker could have their work seen and connect with an audience. In the intervening years, as film festivals have sprung up everywhere and online distribution has allowed more people to create visibility for their work, the NWFC has transitioned into more of a curatorial role, using their respected status to promote local films to an interested and receptive audience.

I recently spoke with Thomas Phillipson, Regional Services Manager at the Film Center, who says that both filmmaking and music exploded in Portland in the 90’s. The digital revolution made filmmaking (or rather, moving image making) so much more accessible and thus ripe for a DIY groundswell. Where Portland’s music attention plateaued to some extent, filmmaking here continues to expand exponentially. New voices are coming into the Northwest and the short subject filmmakers of a few years ago are now making their feature length films. The film community here both fuels and borrows resources and energy from Portland’s great creative burst of the last decade.

The Northwest Film Center’s education programs fill an important role in Portland’s film and television production infrastructure, bridging the gap between amateur and professional, helping to train the next generation of crew for local production at all levels. And the Northwest Film Center fulfills a cultural role as well, helping local film-lovers connect with all kinds of movies, from the classics to experimental works, and bringing the best of international cinema to Portland every year with the venerated Portland International Film Festival.

For more information on the Northwest Film Center, visit

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