Wearing their tutus, just to add lightness to the proceedings, are, from left, Port Townsend Film Festival Executive Director Janette Force and popcorn sponsors Holley and Todd Carlson. (Diane Urbani de al Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Wearing their tutus, just to add lightness to the proceedings, are, from left, Port Townsend Film Festival Executive Director Janette Force and popcorn sponsors Holley and Todd Carlson. (Diane Urbani de al Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Virtual film festival names list of winners

Audience Choice voting still open

PORT TOWNSEND — Carry-out popcorn, three tutus, masked movie lovers. They converged during the first weekend of the Port Townsend Virtual Film Festival.

“We can’t do the frivolous, fun things we usually do,” festival Executive Director Janette Force said Saturday afternoon while wearing her tutu on Taylor Street.

The frothy skirt was her way of defying the dreary 2020. Similarly dressed were Holley Carlson, the Coldwell Banker Best Homes agent and festival sponsor, plus her husband, Todd Carlson.

Holley funded free Rose Theatre popcorn for people who purchase passes to the fest, which continues through Sunday.

Information and tickets to streaming films and interviews with directors can be found at PTFilmfest.com.

Rose owner Rocky Friedman pops 95 to 125 bags of corn every Saturday for patrons watching movies at home. During the first Saturday of the festival, demand stayed steady at Friedman’s window from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and he plans to be back at it Saturday.

In addition to the 80 movies presented online, Force and her crew announced winners of the jury prizes over the weekend.

The full list is on the website along with a video of Force calling winners to inform them of their selection.

• The $1,000 Jim Ewing Young Director Award, named for the late Port Townsend lover of cinema, went to Alyssa Bolsey for her documentary “Beyond the Bolex.” Not only was this about an advancement in filmmaking — the Bolex camera — but it’s also Bolsey’s journey of discovery, lit by her curiosity about her family’s past.

• The $2,500 Best Narrative Feature prize belonged to “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain,” David Midell’s story, told in real time, of a Black man who accidentally trips his medical alert alarm.

“It is not an easy film. But it is such an important film,” Force said.

“Mayor,” David Osit’s look at the daily challenges of the Palestinian people, won the $2,500 Best Documentary Feature award, as the jury hailed its “profound message and exquisite technique.”

• Force and Jane Julian, the fest’s programming director, bestowed the Spirit of the Port Townsend Film Festival Award on another documentary that captivated them: “Siempre, Luis,” the story of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s father, Luis Miranda.

John James, a first-time filmmaker, traveled with the Miranda family between their homes in New York City and Puerto Rico, depicting Luis’ relationships with his children and the efforts to stage “Hamilton” on the island in 2019. This movie hopscotches from politics to love to art while “urging us to be a part of the democratic process and embrace our families,” Force said.

Julian and Force are part of the team interviewing filmmakers during the festival as a replacement to the question-and-answer sessions typical at in-person festivals. Peninsula College’s Bruce Hattendorf, KPTZ’s Chris Bricker and the Jefferson County Historical Society’s Shelly Leavens are also on the crew; festival viewers can watch their conversations with film directors before each movie, afterward or in bits and pieces.

Audience Choice Award voting is also underway, with winners to be announced Oct. 6.

Standing outside the darkened Rose Theatre, Holley Carlson reflected on her involvement with this year’s event. Force invited her to sponsor popcorn, then asked her to wear a tutu downtown.

“Janette is hard to say no to, in the most wonderful way,” Carlson said, adding, “I say that with all the love.”

Meantime, Force greeted people on their way to the Rose’s window. Everyone wore masks. But Force appeared to be the only one whose mask wore a lace collar, an intentional move to honor the lateSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Carlson said while it was fun to see people picking up popcorn, she hopes for a different scene one day.

“I hope we can all be together at this time next year,” she said.


Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.

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