Big Cities: 12. Portland, Oregon
Portland: The go-to hub for moviemakers who are strongly pro-environment—and anti-sales tax. Though its cost of living is creeping up (currently 7.2 percent above the national average), it’s the price you pay to play in a local industry that generated $150 million in 2016. (And if you’re still poor in means, at least you’ll be rich in artisanal donuts and feminist bookshops.)
Recent Portland titles that contributed to that kitty include a bunch of high-profile indie features: Andrew Haigh’s Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny-starring Lean on Pete; The Competition, featuring Thora Birch and Chris Klein; David Devlin’s Bad Samaritan and Macon Blair’s I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, a Sundance 2017 premiere.
Film programs through Northwest Film Center, Portland State University, The Art Institute of Portland, Pacific Northwest College of Art and others are molding new generations into forward-thinking self-starters. Speaking of molding, America’s foremost indie animation studio, Laika, calls the city home, too.
With neighborhood movie theaters still a thing in Portland—where 70mm classics are regularly screened at the Hollywood Theatre, repertory and foreign programming are still popular at Cinema 21, and the Clinton Street Theater’s weekly Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings are still going strong—this town is a cineaste’s dream. And with the famed Powell’s Books and a thriving downtown cultural district (not to mention the most brewpubs on Earth, scientifically speaking), Portland truly has something for everybody.