Port Townsend Film Festival rolls out the red carpet with many movies, actor Bruce Dern, country singer Chely Wright **WITH PHOTO GALLERY**
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Kelly McNees, portraying Marilyn Monroe, is escorted down the Haller Fountain steps as part of opening ceremonies for the 2012 Port Townsend Film Festival.
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Port Townsend Film Festival special guest Bruce Dern addresses the crowd Friday as festival Executive Director Janette Force looks on. Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News.
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Ted Krysinski holds the stabilizing rope as a portable screen inflates in preparation for the Port Townsend Film Festival’s free films. Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News.
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Actor Bruce Dern signs autographs in the Port Townsend High School Library on Friday. Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News.
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David Natali, left, and Freeman Luoma, right, carry Angela Amos up the Haller Fountain steps during the opening ceremonies of the festival Friday. Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News.
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Port Townsend Film Festival special guests Chely Wright, left, and Bruce Dern meet the crowd in downtown Port Townsend. Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News.
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Filmmakers Alison Hiatt, left, and Chris Jones wave to the crowd during opening ceremonies Friday. Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

Film screenings
PORT TOWNSEND — Film lovers have one more day to go to the movies at the Port Townsend Film Festival.
Twenty-one films will be screened beginning at 9 a.m. today, the final day of the three-day festival.
Films will be shown at four venues for pass-holders and those who get rush tickets, as well as at the Peter Simpson Free Cinema at the American Legion Hall, while “Tootsie,” a free outdoor film on Taylor Street, will start at 7:30 p.m.
In “Tootsie,” Dustin Hoffman portrays Michael Dorsey, an out-of-work actor, who dresses as a woman to get a role in a soap opera.
Tonight, in honor of the film, everyone is invited to the “Dress for Success” ball on Taylor Street while donning duds they might wear to get a job.
From 11 a.m to 4 p.m. today will be interviews with filmmakers at The Undertown Coffee and Wine Bar on Taylor Street.
The schedule is:
■ 11 a.m. — Chris Cresci and Sam Price-Waldman of “Among Giants.”
■ 11:30 a.m. — Three key people from “Day in Our Bay.”
■ Noon — Susan Morgan Cooper, director of “Mulberry Child.”
■ 12:30 p.m. — Shanna Sletten, producer of “TXT.”
■ 1 p.m. — Alison Hiatt, director of “It's a Ring Thing.”
■ 1:30 p.m. — Tristan Stoch from “Compassion Connects.”
■ 2 p.m. — Andrews Burke and Kathy Fitzgerald from “Otter 501.”
■ 2:30 p.m. — Pam Roberts, director of “The Kawamotos of Lake Leland.”
■ 3 p.m. — Windy Borman, director of “The Eyes of Thailand.”
■ 3:30 p.m. — Co-directors of “Go Ganges.”
Chess can be played on an oversized board on Taylor Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
At 1 p.m. will be a filmmaker panel at the Upstage Restaurant, 923 Washington St.
Passes can be picked up and information and merchandise found at the hospitality center at the Cotton Building at 607 Water St. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and information kiosks will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both downtown and uptown.
Venues are the Uptown Theatre, 1120 Lawrence St.; the Maritime Center Theatre at the Northwest Maritime Center at 431 Water St.; the Peter Simpson Free Cinema at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St.; the Taylor Street Outdoor Cinema; and the Rose Theatre and Rosebud Cinema, 235 Taylor St.
Several types of passes were available, ranging in price from $35 to $1,250.
Rush tickets also will be offered for $10 when a venue doesn't fill with pass holders.
For more information, visit www.ptfilmfest.com.
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — The red-carpet arrival of filmmakers and veteran actor Bruce Dern, cheered on by several hundred festival attendees and local residents, kicked off the 13th annual Port Townsend Film Festival for a long weekend of films and activities.

“There is something going on in this town that isn't happening anywhere else,” said Dern, the festival's special guest, as he addressed the crowd before cutting the ribbon of film to open the festival Friday.

“I've been looking for a town like this all my life.”

An estimated 2,100 attendees converged on the downtown area for fun and movies, watching 76 films running from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and today.

Also included were several special events, beginning with a salmon barbecue Friday afternoon, extending to an awards show Saturday night and continuing with filmmaker interviews and other events today.

Those watching the Taylor Street free outdoor movie, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” — the first of three to be shown there over the weekend— jammed the one-block area Friday.

“It's really slow tonight,” said a waiter at a downtown club.

“It's like the whole town is out on the street watching the movie.”

Also on hand opening day — and appearing with Dern downtown — was the other 2013 festival special guest, country singer Chely Wright, the subject of “Wish Me Away,” shown Friday and Saturday. [Wright will be profiled in Monday's editions.]

Opening ceremony

The barbecue, free films and special events are familiar parts of the festival, which this year added a new component: an opening ceremony.

Right before the ribbon-cutting, a troupe of 30 dancers took over the Haller Fountain steps, running up and down the stairs in a buoyant, choreographed routine.

The ceremony included an acrobatic performance by the Nanda Ninja Theatre.

Amy Sousa approached Janette Force, film festival director, with the idea for an opening ceremony and got an enthusiastic response, she said, “although she told us we didn't have a budget.”

The troupe's members — consisting of local actors, wannabe actors and children — have been rehearsing on the steps all week.

During Friday's community dinner, Dern, 76, sat at a table in front of the Palace Theater for more than an hour as people approached him requesting an autograph or a picture.

Dern, who played the villain in many of his 140 filmed performances since 1960, engaged each person in detailed conversation, asking them questions about themselves, Port Townsend or their favorite movies, and chatting amiably until the next fan interrupted.

Along with his public appearances, Dern was scheduled to visit his brother, whom he had not seen in 25 years and who lives nearby.

Talks with students

One film festival tradition is for special guests to visit Port Townsend High School, where they talk about their life and career to an assembled group of students.

Dern arrived about 40 minutes late, as mixed signals resulted in him being driven to Chimacum High School.

Upon his arrival in Port Townsend, he engaged the kids who walked him into the library in easy banter.

“So you're a jumper? How high have you jumped?” he asked a student.

“Have you ever made 5 feet?”

“I've done 4-foot-10-inches,” was the reply.

“That's not bad. How fast can you run?” Dern said.

He took his place in the library in front of about 50 students and immediately launched into a combination of recollections — as well as an admonishment for a student for falling asleep when he was talking.

Become stars

Dern told the students it was within their grasp to become successful actors, even stars, in the movie business.

“You want to gather with other kids in coffeehouses or wherever they hang out and pick their brains,” he said.

“Find out what they know, find out where there is a part in a play, and try out for it, even if it's in a [expletive] garage.

“Try out some scenes, make up your own story, build a relationship and start working,” Dern added.

“If you really want to be an actor, you need to be honest,” he told the students.

“One honest moment calls out another honest moment, and one fake moment calls out another fake moment,” he said.

“Each one of you in this room has one thing that allows you to become a star: You have a heart and a life experience.

“And if you find the ability to be publicly private in front of other people, you can become a star.

“If you can't, get the [expletive] out of my business because you are in the way.”

John Wayne, Hitchcock

Dern told stories, many that he had told several times before: how he killed John Wayne in the movies, what it was like to work with Alfred Hitchcock and how bigger-than-life movie stars don't exist anymore.

Dern said later that he was assembling several of the stories — which he also told after a screening of “Smile” on Saturday night — for inclusion in a one-man show about his career and experiences.

Dern said aspiring actors will encounter resistance, especially from their family.

“You have a chance if you are excited about doing this,” Dern said.

“But when you go home, your parents are going to bang their hand on the table and say, 'Absolutely not. You will be a lawyer, you will work in a department store, you will be a fireman before you will be a [expletive] actor.'”

Dern said the most important part of an actor's job is working with others.

Teamwork

“You need to realize that you are only as good as the people on your team,” he said.

“This film festival has the best teamwork I've seen in the movie business,” he added.

“They not only have it, they get it and really know how to put on a festival.”

While leaving the school, Dern said he hadn't properly prepared for this particular performance,

“I thought I was going to be talking to drama students. I didn't know they were all regular kids,” he said.

“But that's OK. At that age, most of them don't know what they are going to do anyway.”

For more information about the film festival, visit www.ptfilmfest.com.

________

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

Last modified: September 22. 2012 6:46PM
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