PORT TOWNSEND — One of the most popular venues for the Port Townsend Film Festival is gearing up for the upcoming 17th annual weekend of celebrating films.
The Starlight Room at 235 Taylor St. has a full-service kitchen and bar and can hold just over 40 people.
“We have a few venues, but the Starlight is everyone’s favorite,” said Janette Force, executive director of the Port Townsend Film Festival.
“It’s always the first one to sell out.”
The film festival will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, with the first screenings at the Starlight Room and Cotton Building, and end after 9:30 p.m. Sunday with screenings of the jury prize-winning films.
Dozens of films
During the festival, each of the theaters in downtown Port Townsend will screen more than 42 feature films each day. Movies will range from outdoor films to documentaries, narratives and shorts.
Pass prices range from $15 rush tickets, which are cash only and can be purchased 10 minutes before any film screening that still has seats available, to the $1,500 pass, which comes with guaranteed seating to unlimited films as well as entrance to invitation-only events.
Passes can be purchased at www.ptfilmfest.com.
The Starlight Room debuted during the 2013 Film Festival as the Silverwater theater. It reopened as the Starlight just a week later.
The unique theater is a partnership between Rose Theatre manager Rocky Friedman and Silverwater Cafe owners David and Alison Hero.
“I proposed a partnership and basically said, ‘You do what you do best, the food, and I’ll do what I do best, which is movies and popcorn,’” Friedman said.
“It’s turned out to be far more popular than I imagined. People really like the atmosphere and they like getting a glass of wine with their popcorn.”
The space originally housed a photography studio, but Friedman said he always saw its potential as a theater.
“I coveted that space for nearly 10 years,” Friedman said.
It wasn’t until the Heros bought the second and third floors of the building and agreed to Friedman’s proposed partnership that he was able to make his vision a reality.
“There were blackout curtains on tracks already there,” Friedman said. “It’s unlike any other theater because when you go in, you have this beautiful view of Whidbey Island and when the show starts, we just close the curtains.”
The space was designed with the help of Seattle designer Michelle Bayle.
“She told me, ‘You’re going vintage with the furniture and you’re going to have chandeliers,’” Friedman said. “I just said ‘OK.’”
The chandeliers served to lower the ceiling, creating a more cozy environment, and the addition of velvet curtains helped to both deaden the sound in the room and add wall decoration.
“That combination just makes it the most elegant theater you’d ever want to be in,” Force said.
The space that once served as a darkroom was transformed into a kitchen, so all orders for the Starlight are cooked upstairs in the theater, rather than being brought up from the Silverwater Cafe kitchen downstairs.
Force said the Starlight provides a unique and intimate film experience and will be hosting some highly anticipated films during this year’s festival.
Among them will be “‘Seed: The Untold Story,” an award-winning documentary on the battle between seed keepers and seed companies, which will be screened at 9 p.m. Friday.
Force also recommended the Starlight as a great place to watch Charlie Soap’s “The Cherokee Word for Water” because the small theater will provide a more personal interaction with Soap, the film’s director, as well as one of the film’s stars. That showing will be at 9 a.m. Sunday.
“Made in France,” a documentary on the radicalization of young Muslims in France, will be shown at the Starlight at noon Saturday.
The film’s release was delayed multiple times due to the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015 and attacks in Paris earlier this year.
All these showings are for those 21 and older due to the theater’s full-service bar.
Other venues for the film festival are the Rose Theatre, the Northwest Maritime Center, the Rosebud Cinema, the American Legion Hall, Key City Playhouse and Taylor Street Outdoor Theatre — the latter two free venues.
A full list and schedule of film festival films is available online at www.ptfilmfest.com.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at [email protected].