Calling all fans of films and flight: it's here! The long-awaited Portland airport annex of the Hollywood Theatre opens its doors on February 23, with its first program of free movies.

The 17-seat cinema, a cozy, state-of-the-art space in the airport’s C concourse—past security, so casual plane-spotters need not apply—kicks things off with an hourlong loop of short films from Pacific Northwest filmmakers, including documentaries, music videos, animations, and short fiction. The program will play on a loop 24/7, with a new run of films coming every quarter.

“Part of the impetus was to showcase Oregon filmmakers,” says Hollywood executive director Doug Whyte. “Going forward, we’ll be commissioning some work.” Filmmakers are also encouraged to submit their work for consideration for future programs through FilmFreeway.

The first 10 shorts to grace the 130-inch Cinemascope screen include a Pink Martini-inspired piece from HouseSpecial, a circus-themed animated love story from Chel White, and a hip-hop video from local rapper Mic Capes. 

The PDX Hollywood has been three years in the making, initially the brainchild of Whyte and former Hollywood staffer Justen Harn, who were inspired after reading an article about a cinema in Hong Kong airport. When the Port of Portland came on board with the donation of a space previously used as a business center, the search for funding got underway. 

After a year of grant writing, Oregon Community Foundation kicked in $125,000, with other funding sources including Oregon Arts Commission, the Oregon Cultural Trust, and Travel Portland. Along the way, the Hollywood picked up an $80,000 sound system (donated by Portland-based Triad) and projector (donated by another local company, Barco), among other high-tech additions. 

The theatre’s brightly lit marquee—a neon flash of color between the airport grays of gates C3 and C5—has been designed by Security Signs, the same firm behind the Northeast Sandy Boulevard theater’s three-year-old marquee. Movie poster cases outside the "microcinema" will have digital displays that reflect the program running within, and also advertise features on show at the Sandy location. 

And, yes, this officially doubles down on PDX’s reputation as the country’s coolest airport. The only other such space in the country is the more open-plan Minneapolis-St Paul’s See 18 Film Concourse Screening Room.

Says Whyte: "It's been about three years since the initial idea, and it's so exciting to stop talking about it and finally let people see and experience it. Everything about the theater, from the beautiful marquee to the amazing projection and sound system, greatly exceeds our original expectations. It's incredibly gratifying to feel so proud of the result after all of our hard work over the years."

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