PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the coolest film festivals in America is underway this week. The Portland Film Festival showcases local creative talent and is a launching pad for Oregon’s growing film and video industry.

“Pretty Broken,” the story of a woman on a quest to find her missing father on Mount Everest, is just one of the many films by Portland filmmakers at the Portland Film Festival.

“We have over 207 films that we’re screening this year, more than half of those were directed by women, and also super excited that 40 of those are from Portland filmmakers,” founder Josh Leake said. 

Portland Film Festival founder Joshua Leake. (KOIN) 

Leake founded the festival after his film, “Emptys,” about people who return bottles for a living, won a film award in New York but couldn’t get a screening in Portland. 

“So I got together with about 100 of my friends, and we started the Portland Film festival,” Leake said. 

Today, the festival shows independent films from all over, in a city where the film industry is growing. It’s a $200 million business in Oregon — just in direct spending — employs 4,000 people and is cementing Portland’s creative reputation.

“You know, if you look at some of the big employers like Nike and Intel, they all use film,” Leake said. “So the films that we’re screening at our festival, a lot of times are made by filmmakers who have a full time job at Intel or have a full time job at Nike.”

Latin films are also being featured in 2018, including “The Chunta,” about men in a Mexican town who dress as women once a year.

Some films become hits, including “Darkest Hour,” which won Gary Oldman an Oscar. Portlanders saw it first at the 2017 festival.

“So if you’d like to find out and see who might win next year’s Oscars, you should come check out the festival,” Leake said. 

The Portland Film Festival runs October 22-28 at the Custom Blocks, a huge performing arts venue in Southeast Portland.

More about the Portland Film Festival