And don’t forget the super-charming pre-security shopping street at Portland International Airport. There no sales tax on anything in Oregon and while at the airport for a meeting last week I rushed through the shops just looking and somehow came away with a whole new wardrobe.
The theater is open to travelers around the clock, showing an hour-long program made up of short films from Oregon filmmakers, including documentaries, music videos, animations, and short fiction.
At the grand opening it was announced that the program would change quarterly. And so it has.
The new program of Oregon-made short films running through the summer includes shorts about beekeepers and slugs; power lifters and circus mice.
Here’s the line-up.
THE MOUSE THAT SOARED, Kyle T. Bell (5:45): A famous flying circus mouse reflects on his humble beginnings in this classic tale of hope and goodness. This six-minute animated short tackles adoption, blended families, and nature vs. nurture. It demonstrates that nothing is more powerful than unconditional love.
A STREET ROOTS STORY, Street Roots (3:07): Learn how Portland’s Street Roots,a nonprofit street newspaper, provides opportunity, hope and community for Marlon and other people living in poverty. As Marlon shares, “Every single person who buys the paper helps humanity grow and grow.”
I DON’T KNOW YOU ANYMORE, Alicia J. Rose (5:02):In this music video for Bob Mould’s “I Don’t Know You Anymore,” the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy offers guidance to Mould on how to promote his new album in the age of iPhones and social media, which sends Mould and his band off on a stealth mission of “hype” at Portland’s own Music Millennium.
MOSSGROVE, Kurtis Hough (5:44):A close examination into the locomotion of Oregon’s banana slugs and mossy landscapes. Made with over 10,000 photographs taken in the Columbia River Gorge.
1850 LBS, Jin Ryu & Pete Gibson (7:04): Jesse Marvin is a 23-year-old powerlifter from Portland, OR, with a heart of gold. He is gunning to lift a total weight of 1850 lbs at an upcoming competition. This film shares his philosophy and determination as he reaches toward his goal.
SUPERHEROES, Mic Crenshaw (4:21): A collaboration between Mic Crenshaw and Dead Prez that highlights the fact that everyday people are heroic. The video features local professional dancers from Portland who are also parents. Each scene has emcees rapping poignant verses as dancers perform with their real-life children. Learn more at miccrenshaw.com
BOTTLE NECK, Joanna Priestley (2:56): A luminous crush of still-life silhouettes, abstract shapes, and complex, interlocking patterns, BOTTLE NECK renovates the commonplace objects of a classical painting in a modern setting.
PIANO PUSH PLAY, Alex Thornburg (3:01):Short docu-style piece about Piano Push Play’s public pianos in Portland, OR.
CPR, Kimberly Warner (6:26): While watching lifeguards perform rescue drills at a neighborhood pool, a woman faces her own need to be saved.
LAY ME DOWN, Isaac King (4:24): The song “Lay Me Down,” by Portland neo-soul band DirtyRevival,focuses on drug addiction and its effects on people and families, as well as how little help society offers to those who are struggling. The video illustrates a prologue to this; as rents skyrocket and wages stagnate, too many Portlanders are living on the brink of collapse.
THE BEE HUNTER, Jotham Porzio (7:36): Driving across Portland with approximately 10,000+ honey bees in her Toyota truck at sunset, Wisteria knows she has done it again. She has successfully captured a swarm of wild homeless honey bees. We ride shotgun in this short documentary as we follow Wisteria on a swarm call, showing us just how unique and personal the process is.
A branch of the city’s historic Hollywood Theatre movie palace, the new Hollywood Theatre at PDX has a bright, 1920s-inspired neon marquee, seating for 17 (but capacity for 49) and a $200,000 state-of-the-art projection and sound system isolated from the roar of the planes and the shaking of the airport building.
The cinema replaces a rarely used post-security service center. Now, instead of sitting at work tables with power outlets, passengers can use this space to watch an hour-long reel of G-rated short films by Oregon filmmakers that will run around the clock and be refreshed quarterly.
The opening program reel includes the premier of an animated film, a music video, a documentary, mini-shorts about Portland by local film students and more than a half-dozen other features.
More airport cinemas
Portland International isn’t the only airport to offer movies to passengers who have a bit of extra time to spend at the airport.
At the end of 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport opened its “See 18” Screening Room near gate C18 to show short films, documentaries, music videos and art programming by Minnesota filmmakers and shot predominantly in Minnesota.
Elsewhere, Lithuania’s Vilnius Airport promotes its free ‘cinema hall’ showing work by Lithuanian filmmakers and there’s a Cinema Time screening room showing a wide variety of free films at the Vaclav Havel Prague Airport.
Terminal 3 – Transit – Movie Theatre – Interior
Singapore’s Changi Airport has two 24-hour movies theatres (in Terminals 2 and 3) offering free screenings of full-length movies for passengers, with a line-up that currently includes ‘Star Trek Beyond,’ ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses,’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings.’ And there are movie theaters selling tickets to recent films in the public areas of Hong Kong International Airport, South Korea’s Incheon Airport and a few others.
Airports without dedicated film-screening spaces have dabbled with movies events as well.
While the Toronto International Film Festival was underway in 2010, passengers at Toronto Pearson International Airport could watch movie trailers from the festival in a pair of 10×10-foot pop-up screening rooms. Free popcorn was provided each night.
For the past three summers, Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport has hosted an outdoor cinema to show blockbusters on a giant screen set up on a concourse rooftop, with wireless headphones for each moviegoer. The series returns in July with ten screenings.
During 2016, Denver International Airport showed free outdoor movies on the outdoor plaza between the main terminal and the Westin Denver International Airport as part of a “Film on the Fly” series.
No program is set yet for 2017, but the 2016 line-up included “Top Gun”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
And, at San Francisco International Airport, in Interim Boarding Area B, a selection from Laurie O’Brien’s Peephole Cinema features silent film shorts inspired by travel and the writings of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
Back to the Future
While an airport movie theater may seem like a fresh new amenity, the idea is far from brand new.
From the early 1950s into the mid-1970s, there was a ‘regular’ movie theater – the Skyport Cinema – showing first-run films at Pittsburgh International Airport.
And when the new Dallas/Fort Worth International airport opened in January 1974, “all the major airlines moved their operations there from Love,” said Bruce Bleakley, director of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, “That left a big empty terminal with only Southwest flying its 8-10 flights a day.”
In November 1975, a developer turned the terminal lobby into an entertainment center with three movie theaters, skating rinks, and other activities and called it the Llove Entertainment Center, said Bleakley, but the complex was closed by May 1978.
Its perks are plentiful and, like the city, PDX airport is super environmentally-conscious and kind of quirky.
For example, an assembly/repair station and a tool check-out where cyclists can borrow a pedal wrench or air pump encourage biking to the airport. And the recently-replaced but hipster-embraced terminal carpet lives on in everything from coasters and caps to dog leashes and luggage tags made from remnants of the old rug.
Shopping for these and other unique-to-the-region items at PDX is a pleasure, in part because Oregon has no sales tax and the more than 60 stores and restaurants must offer their goods and services at prices no higher than what would be charged at off-airport locations.
And there are plenty of Oregon-based venues where you’ll want to spend your money, including the pre-security branches of Oregon-based Pendleton, Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Powell’s Books, the selection of Portland’s favorite food trucks, and at the post-security outlet of House Spirits Distillery, where the makers of Aviation American gin and a variety of other regionally-themed, small-batch spirits offer samples.
PDX also has a pop-up Farm-to-Table stand offering Oregon produce, wine and cheese; a spa; a barber shop; a great art collection; and an extensive schedule of vendor events and live entertainment that extends through the weekend. And, later this summer, Portland’s non-profit Hollywood Theater will open an 800-square foot in-airport mini-movie theater that will run short films telling Oregon stories.
While spending time inside PDX airport is a delight, you’ll eventually want to head outside and explore.
The MAX light rail line makes the trip to downtown in 38 minutes for $2.50, but renting a car is almost as easy and allows visitors the freedom to explore everything the Portland area has to offer.
On-airport rental car companies are on the ground floor of parking garage P1, across from baggage claim, and the National Car Rental location here has an Emerald Aisle. That means Emerald Club members can bypass the counter, choose their own car and be immediately on their way to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area just 20 miles away, Mount Hood, an easy 60 miles away, or the Oregon beaches, which are less than 100 miles from the airport.
Or you might not want to drive very far: the Cascade Station shopping center, home to restaurants and shops, including an IKEA, is located just outside the airport grounds.