#1. Salem

Salem Film Festival

Plenty of local talent helped inspire the Salem Film Festival in Salem, OR, but geography played a role as well. Located between the two culturally conscious cities of Portland and Eugene, Salem knew it needed something of its own to offer a crowd.

The Salem Film Festival began in 2006, which has since grown to include filmmakers from around the country, as well as honorees that include Salem native and Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder. That first year hosted 17 filmmakers and their products from around the United States, plus a few foreign imports.

Over three days 3,400 people saw movies in three different venues. By 2007, five venues screened 52 films and attendance had grown to almost 3,700. Not bad for an all-volunteer operation, and a big sign Salem is more than ready to be put on the film festival map. In addition to the screenings, the festival produces a series of panel discussions with subjects ranging from documentaries to independent film production. The filmmakers in attendance also participate in question-and-answer sessions after their movies are screened.

If you’re looking to grab a bite before or after the festival, check out the food in Salem, OR.

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