Portland Doesn't Know What It's Been Missing, Says the San Francisco Chronicle

Cinema 21 is getting San Francisco's best film curator.

One of the best movie programmers in the country is relocating from San Francisco to Portland.

Elliot Lavine is an encyclopedia of old movie knowledge and "easily one of the most liked people in the Bay Area film community," according to the SF Gate.

"Lavine is to movies what a feng shui master is to furniture," gushed the SF Chronicle.

Now, Lavine is moving to Portland.

Related: I'm a Californian, and I'm here to stay.

Starting next February at Cinema 21—just in time for the historic theater's 90th birthday—Portlanders can see Lavine's legendary film noir programming in a series called "I Wake Up Dreaming." But first, he'll show the fest at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco this August.

A former filmmaker himself, film noir is Lavine's specialty. For this festival, he dug deep, pairing shocking grind-house film with well-respected studio features like Phantom Lady.

This will be the first time one of Lavine's festivals screens outside the Bay Area, where he found his calling as a movie programmer for the iconic Roxie Theater in 1990. He was 42 then, and he's been a freelance curator for multiple San Francisco theaters ever since.

Lavine, now 69 years old, is a rare gem in a niche field. Almost everywhere but Portland, repertory cinemas are quickly disappearing. In the Chronicle piece bemoaning Lavine's exit, the author wistfully recalls the halycon days of the '70s, when major cities used to have half a dozen theaters.

photo from iwakeupdreaming.com photo from iwakeupdreaming.com

Portland, of course, is still home to a wealth of indie movie theaters. The Mission screens Timbers games and popular sing a-long nights for films like Dirty Dancing and Purple Rain. Hollywood Theatre's curator Dan Halsted oversees a packed calendar of events like Hecklevision, screenings from his unparalleled Kung-Fu collection and a series of 70-mm screenings in honor of the Hollywood's 90th birthday this year. Even Quentin Tarantino took notice. The director visited Hollywood Theatre last December for two sold-out screenings of The Hateful Eight.

Related: Quentin Tarantino landed at PDX and went straight to this Portland landmark.

SF Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle is nonetheless confident Lavine will be a game-changer in Portland. "They don't yet know what they've been missing," he writes in a heartfelt farewell to Lavine. "San Francisco's loss is its gain."

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