Port Townsend Film Festival returns in person

Nearly 60 films, special guest visits planned

The Dekoboko Taiko drumming group will perform Sept. 24.

The Dekoboko Taiko drumming group will perform Sept. 24.

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Film Festival will be back in person as well as online this year.

Passes are on sale now at ptfilmfest.com/index.html for the festival set from Sept. 22 through Sept. 25.

After two years of virtual festivals and a few well-attended outdoor screenings in 2021, patrons will be able to attend screenings of nearly 60 films at five indoor venues and daily free outdoor movies on Taylor Street.

“It’s a big lift in getting the organization back to doing an in-person festival after nearly three years of only a few in-person events,” said Danielle McClelland, who took over as executive director in January after long-time director Janette Force retired in 2021.

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

“The whole festival is walkable,” McClelland said.

For those who want to watch from home, online viewing of much of the festival is available Sept. 26 through Oct. 2.

Full program information and pass sales are available at www.ptfilmfest.com.

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

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

During prior years, film festival organizers enjoyed the accessibility that virtual screening gave the audience, McClelland said. But now, “we also are thrilled to have in-person screening,” she said Thursday.

“I think everybody’s ready for a party.”

Special guests

Three special guests will participate in the festivals this year.

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

He has been involved in the festival for three decades, beginning as a programmer and moving to the positron of 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 a husband-and-wife American filmmakers best known for their work on Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Nacho Libre (2006) and Gentlemen Broncos (2009).

The couple co-wrote all the films and they were directed by Jared, with Mike White joining 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 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.

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

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

“Our honorees this year highlight the amazing rise of independent film and impact of film festivals in the last few 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 amazing individuals.”

Special events

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

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

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

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

Free movies

A tradition at the Port Townsend Film Festival is free movies at 7 p.m. each night of the festival on Taylor Street.

The audience sits on straw bales and benches while looking out on Port Townsend Bay and watching PG movies.

Here is the lineup:

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

• Sept. 23 — Goonies, a 1985 film set in Astoria, Ore., which follows a group of youngsters as they discover an ancient map and set out on an adventure to find a legendary pirate’s long-lost treasure.

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

• Sept. 25 — Napoleon Dynamite.

Napoleon Dynamite also will be shown at the American Legion Hall at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24. After the screening will be a discussion about the film.

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

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

It tells of the PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow and the challenges its creators faced as they offered a show that encouraged children to read by listening to other children.

Bradford Thomason, co-director, and Ali Clark, co-executive producer, will attend the festival.

The Falconer, directed by Seanne Winslow and Adam Sjöberg, will be shown at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at the American Legion Hall and 3 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Starlight Room above the Rose Theatre. It will be streamed online from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2.

Inspired by true events, the film tells two best friends — Tariq, the son of a poor beekeeper, and Cai, a privileged Westerner — who both work at a dilapidated zoo in Oman. Their friendship is challenged when Tariq promises to help his sister, Alia, escape from an abusive marriage and conceives of 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 is requiring masks in indoor venues and recommends them for outdoors.

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


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

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

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

John Cooper.

John Cooper.

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