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HDFEST focuses on well-defined films

Portland hopes to attract attention by hosting high-def event

A big movie festival, HDFEST, will be held in Portland for the first time, Dec. 6 to 9, at Living Room Theaters, 341 S.W. 10th Ave. “We think it’s a great film city, and feel like it has great audiences,” says Marisa Cohen, HDFEST managing director, who lives in Portland. “We’re hoping to do an annual event here.” Adds Isaac Alexander, festival director: “Living Room Theaters was the first all-digital and only-digital theater in the country. As a result, we feel it is the perfect fit for this year’s high-def screenings.” HDFEST features movies made with high-definition cameras. Many movies are shot with HD cameras, but few of them are screened in their original format. “They can screen the film at any film festival, like any independent film, but they’d have to change the medium,” she says. “It’s an advantage for them to film in HD even with that in mind. They can save money over shooting on 35mm (film), and it will look better.” HDFEST started in 2000, and has been held in New York, Los Angeles, London, Helsinki, Chicago, Paris, Sydney and Seoul. A calendar of events for the Portland festival can be found online at hdfest.com/festival.html. HDFEST includes HD short films, feature narrative films, documentaries, animation, music videos and experimental films. Many will be shown for the first time in North America and on the West Coast. A top feature film this year is “The Presence,” starring Mira Sorvino, Shane West and Justin Kirk. It’ll be the Oregon premiere, shown at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9. Director Tom Provost and some crew members will attend the screening, among other filmmakers. The movie was shot entirely on Mount Hood. Another highlight is “The Beginner,” directed by Ben Coccio, who Moviemaker Magazine named as one of the “upcoming directors to watch.” It’ll be shown on opening night. Another movie, “Not Dead Yet,” was written and produced by Portland-area filmmaker Susan Hess Logeais. “We have some local films we think will have a nice following,” Cohen says. “Hopefully next year we’ll get more local films to screen.” Tickets are $9 for each screening and available through the HDFEST website and Living Room Theaters box office.