PORT TOWNSEND — With sunset-pinked clouds overhead and a 30- by 16-foot movie screen behind him, a tuxedoed Joey Pipia stood on the stage Friday night, marveling.
“How about the fact that we’re actually here?” he asked the crowd.
The 2021 Port Townsend Film Festival’s first night of outdoor cinema had begun.
The fest, marking its 22nd year, is mostly virtual via PTfilmfest.com. Yet its crew managed to orchestrate three open-air screenings this weekend, all free.
The final one, 1992’s “A League of Their Own” starring Tom Hanks and Madonna, has been slated for 7:30 tonight. A forecast of strong wind and rain could cancel the screening, said development and promotion director KC Upshaw. Notice of cancellation will be posted on the festival’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
Opening night nonetheless felt charmed.
The movie was “Lily Topples the World,” a documentary about a young artist who builds and topples magnificent domino structures. Twenty minutes before show time, about 70 people had arrived on Taylor Street. By the time festival executive director Janette Force stepped up to the stage, that number had doubled. Couples, singles and families were seated in the chairs they’d brought, with pods spaced by wide, cone-marked aisles. A little after dusk, it was 61 degrees with barely a breeze.
“This is beautiful,” said Force, who plans to retire after this festival.
“Keep your masks on if you’re not eating,” she added, “and I will do the same.”
Then Force invited Lily Hevesh, star of the night’s feature, and her father Mark Hevesh, up to greet the crowd.
“I want to thank you on behalf of women and girls,” Force told the now 22-year-old Lily; “you made your own path.”
“Lily Topples the World” follows Hevesh, an American adopted from China, as she pursues her passion for constructing her elaborate, kinetic art. She’s the singular female in the field of domino-toppling, and sits at the summit, having created a YouTube channel with more than 1 billion views worldwide.
The rest of the Port Townsend Film Festival — more than 80 dramas, comedies and documentaries — is now playing online through next Sunday, Oct. 3. Tickets to individual movies, which come with filmmaker interviews, are $15, while a full-festival pass with unlimited viewing is $120. A program guide with movie trailers and synopses can be found at PTfilmfest.com, while the festival office can be reached at 360-379-1333 and [email protected]
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]