Port Townsend film fest 'one of the best'
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Director Joanna Higgs, left and Sascha Archer, a 1993 graduate of Port Townsend High School, accept the best documentary short award for "Driving William" at the Port Townsend Film Festival, which ended on Sunday. 

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The 13th annual Port Townsend Film Festival wrapped up Sunday, satisfying a total of estimated 2,100 filmgoers at this year's event.

“It's amazing that each one seems to be better than the last,” said Joey Pipia of Port Townsend, who moderated some of the festival's events.

“I don't know how they do it. “

“This has been one of the best, said Rose Theatre owner Rocky Friedman.

“The patrons loved the movies that were presented.”

Friedman compared this year's special guest, actor Bruce Dern, to veteran actress Eva Marie Saint, who was the guest of honor in 2001.

Like Saint, Friedman said, Dern “seemed genuinely interested in the community and was thoroughly impressed by it.”

Dern, 76, star of such films as “The Great Gatsby” and “Smile,” made several appearances and was given a lifetime achievement award at a ceremony Saturday night in the Legion Hall.

“I've said this a few times but wanted to say it again when all the filmmakers were in the room,” he said after accepting the award.

“There is a vibe in this town that is like that of the original film pioneers, the feeling that Mr. (D.W.) Griffith and others felt when they were first making movies.

“You guys love movies and are giving the opportunities to the young and old people who want to make movies, and I congratulate you for that,” Dern said.

“There isn't a person I've talked to in this town who doesn't have what all the great filmmakers have” — which is to dare to dream, he said.

At the awards ceremony, film festival executive director Janette Force said a gift of filmmaking equipment had been made by Goddard College alumnus Mike Hardee, which will provide the foundation for filmmaking classes due to begin this winter.

“Anyone who wants to learn the art of filmmaking can learn it right here in Port Townsend,” Force said.

Hardee, a former law officer, donated three cameras, lights and wireless microphones, all of professonal quality.

“I had all this equipment that I wasn't using, and I wanted it to be in the hands of people who can do something with it,” Hardee said.

Sascha Archer, a 1993 Port Townsend High School graduate, was honored with the festival's grand jury prize for best documentary short for “Driving William,” which chronicled Archer's role in the art therapy-driven rehabilitation of a South African amputee.

Other award-winners were:

-- “Starbuck,” best narrative feature.

-- “Kinyarwand,” special jury award for capturing the human spirit.

-- “Luminaris,” best narrative short.

-- “Brooklyn Castle,” best documentary feature.

-- “Moonwalk,” best adventure sports film.

-- “All I Can,” “The Love Competition,” “Curfew” and “Bitter Seeds,” recipients of special commendations.

After three days of events, the festival closed Sunday night with a screening of “Tootsie” on a giant inflatable screen on Taylor Street.

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 23. 2012 6:19PM
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