Port Townsend Film Festival returns in person

PORT TOWNSEND – The Port Townsend Film Festival will return in person and online this year.

Passes are on sale now at ptfilmfest.com/index.html for the festival, which runs September 22-25.

After two years of virtual festivals and a few busy outdoor screenings in 2021, patrons will be able to catch screenings of nearly 60 films in five indoor theaters and free outdoor movies daily on Taylor Street.

“It’s a big boost to bring the organization back to hosting an in-person festival after nearly three years of only a few in-person events,” said Danielle McClelland, who took over as chief executive in January after the director of longtime Janette Force. retirement in 2021.

Venues will be the Rose Theater, Rosebud and Starlight Room in the 200 block of Taylor Street and the American Legion Hall and Cotton Building, both on Water Street.

“The entire festival is walkable,” McClelland said.

For those wishing to watch from home, online viewing of much of the festival is available from September 26 through October 2.

Full program information and pass sales can be found at www.ptfilmfest.com.

Having both in-person and virtual options expands the viewing possibilities, McClelland pointed out.

She suggested people consider buying passes in person, which would then give them a discount on virtual passes, and combine the two to allow them to enjoy the festival at a leisurely pace.

In previous years, film festival organizers appreciated the accessibility that virtual screening offered to audiences, McClelland said. But now, “we’re also excited to have an in-person screening,” she said Thursday.

“I think everyone is ready for a party.”

Special guests

Three special guests will take part in the festivals this year.

• John Cooper is the former director of the Sundance Film Festival.

He was involved with the festival for three decades, starting as a programmer and moving up to director of programming before being named director in 2010.

From 2010 to 2020, he oversaw all aspects of the annual Sundance Film Festival, working closely with Sundance founder Robert Redford.

• Jared and Jerusha Hess are an American filmmaking couple known for their work on Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Nacho Libre (2006) and Gentlemen Broncos (2009).

The couple co-wrote all of the films and they were directed by Jared, with Mike White as co-writer on Nacho Libre.

Breaking box office records for an independent film – Napoleon Dynamite’s budget was $400,000 with earnings of over $44 million – was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and won first place at the US Comedy Arts Festival.

Napoleon Dynamite will be screened as a free film on Taylor Street on the last day of the festival, September 25.

The film, about an alienated teenager who decides to help a new friend win class presidency at their small western high school while dealing with a bizarre family life, is about bullying, said McClelland.

“Our honorees this year highlight the incredible rise of independent filmmaking and the impact of film festivals over the past decades,” McClelland said in a press release.

“As PTFF turns a new page in its own history, the organization is thrilled to welcome and celebrate these three incredible people.”

Special events

Visiting filmmakers will be greeted with pomp and pageantry at 4 p.m. on September 23.

They will arrive in the vintage car of their choice, provided by the Rakers Car Club, at the base of the Taylor Street stairs at the Haller Fountain.

The following day, at 4:45 p.m. on September 24, the Seattle-based Dekoboko Taiko will offer a drum performance in conjunction with the documentary film, Finding Her Beat. The event will take place at the American Legion Hall at 209 Monroe St.

Launched in 2017, Dekoboko Taiko was started by Taiko Kai alumni at the University of Washington. Its repertoire ranges from traditional classics (Miyake, Hachijo) to modern classics (Omiyage) and songs composed by its members.

Free movies

A tradition at the Port Townsend Film Festival is free films at 7pm each festival night on Taylor Street.

The public sits on straw bales and benches while looking out over Port Townsend Bay and watching PG films.

Here is the schedule:

• September 22 — A League of Their Own, the original 1992 film featuring two sisters who join the premier women’s baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amid their own growing rivalry.

• September 23 — Goonies, a 1985 film set in Astoria, Oregon, which follows a group of young people as they discover an ancient map and go on an adventure to find the long-lost treasure of a legendary pirate.

• September 24 — Sing, a 2014 animated feature that tells the story of a theater impresario’s attempt to save his theater with a singing contest.

• September 25 — Napoleon Dynamite.

Napoleon Dynamite will also be presented at American Legion Hall at 6:30 p.m. on September 24. After the screening, there will be a discussion about the film.

Films featured include two 2022 American films, Butterfly in the Sky and The Falconer.

Butterfly in the Sky, directed by Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb, premieres at the Rose Theater at 6 p.m. on September 22 and at the American Legion Hall at 9:30 a.m. on September 23. It will not be available for streaming.

It chronicles the PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow and the challenges its creators faced as they came up with a show that encouraged children to read by listening to other children.

Bradford Thomason, co-director, and Ali Clark, co-executive producer, will be present at the festival.

The Falconer, directed by Seanne Winslow and Adam Sjöberg, premieres at 9:30 p.m. September 23 at American Legion Hall and at 3 p.m. September 24 in the Starlight Room above the Rose Theater. It will be streamed online from September 28 to October 2.

Based on real events, the film tells the story of two best friends – Tariq, the son of a poor beekeeper, and Cai, a privileged Westerner – who both work in a run-down zoo in Oman. Their friendship is challenged when Tariq promises to help his sister, Alia, escape an abusive marriage and devises a plan to steal animals from the zoo and sell them on the black market to raise money for the divorce.

Although lockdowns are a thing of the past, COVID-19 remains active in communities and so the film festival requires masks in indoor venues and recommends them for outdoors.

For a full range and more information, see www.ptfilmfest.com.


Managing Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or [email protected].

Special guests Jared and Jarusha Demke Hess. (Brad Slade)

John Cooper.

John Cooper.