PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT: Preview of coming attractions for Port Townsend Film Festival

PORT TOWNSEND — Close to 100 movies will light up five Port Townsend theaters next weekend, laying out the larger-than-life feast known as the 11th annual Port Townsend Film Festival.

Starting next Friday, Sept. 24, and running through Sunday, Sept. 26, the morning-till-midnight menu boasts brand-new and good, old movies, mixed with question-and-answer sessions with directors, writers and actors.

And the array dazzles as it unspools: world premieres, dramas and comedies, foreign features, documentaries, shorts and free screenings outdoors on Taylor Street and at the new Peter Simpson Free Cinema.

Oh, and there’s a trip back to the 1960s with “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” co-starring Dyan Cannon, just one of the Hollywood luminaries giving talks at the festival.

The schedule, complete with tips on getting around, child care and film festival membership benefits, is available at www.PTFilmFest.com; information also awaits at the festival office, reached at 360-379-1333 or [email protected]

Now let’s look at some titles.

• “The Irate Birdwatcher” spotlights Harvey Manning, the Northwest backpacker and conservationist who fought for Washington’s wilderness.

• “Kaas,” the Dutch word for cheese, is about a beautiful young woman who works in a supermarket and the day she meets her soul mate.

• “The Most Dangerous Man in America” profiles Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, a move that eventually hastened the end of the Vietnam War.

• “My Year Without Sex” is an Australian married-love story.

• “Dive” delves into why American grocery stores dump billions of pounds of edible food.

• “Footsteps in Africa” takes us to Mali’s desert festivals for a collage of Saharan life.

• “For Once in My Life” introduces an assemblage of 28 disabled musicians, and offers a message about music’s nurturing powers.

• “Less” is about Finn Norman (played by Zak Barnett), a young man who gives away his material possessions, makes his home on the streets in San Francisco and pursues a life free of conformity.

The film’s writer-director, Gabriel Diamond, calls Norman “a cross between a monk, hippie, performance artist and traveler.”

To organize a weekend of film ­going, or to find the one film you must see, pick up a program at the Port Townsend Film Festival office, 211 Taylor St., Suite 32A, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays until the start of the festival.

As of noon next Thursday, Sept. 23, the Clam Cannery Hotel’s Hospitality Center at 111 Quincy St. is the place to pick up festival passes.

Those passes aren’t cheap, but they’re the way to guarantee a seat at the movies of your choice.

The festival’s procedures are streamlined this year: With a $35 “one-up,” $85 “four-up” or $185 all-festival pass, you simply go to the theater up to an hour before a screening and obtain a ticket; you then return about 20 minutes before show time to go in.

If a screening is not sold out, rush tickets will become available, for $10 each, 15 minutes before the house lights go down.

Another festival tradition: the free outdoor screenings, all at 7:30 p.m. on the huge screen erected on Taylor Street: “American Graffiti” Friday night; “The Princess Bride” Saturday night; and “Big Night” closes out the festival Sunday evening.

The Port Townsend Film Festival is studded with world premieres, including “Less,” “Kaas” and the locally made “Lucky Dog,” David Cascadden’s short film about volunteering in an animal shelter.

Another local production is “Henner’s Hotshop: Spinning Flame,” in which Chimacum artist Henner Schroder takes moviegoers into his glass-blowing studio.

“It’s our mission to be able to help first-time filmmakers through the process,” said Janette Force, the festival’s executive director.

The quality of local films has been increasing, she added.

Next weekend also presents rare opportunities to dine on the dim sum of cinema: short films, put together in programs.

The “Reviewers’ Passion” program Friday and Sunday features “The Mouse that Roared,” “Man Talk,” “Sister Wife” and others, while “Transitions,” another collection to screen Friday and Saturday, includes “Fumiko Hayashida: The Woman Behind the Symbol,” a 15-minute film about the oldest living survivor of the first group of Japanese Americans incarcerated in camps during World War II. The 98-year-old Hayashida and director Lucy Ostrander plan to be on hand at the screenings.

Then there is the golden-tressed special guest.

Dyan Cannon will be interviewed by film critic Robert Horton following the 6 p.m. screening of 1969’s “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” at the Uptown Theater, corner of Lawrence and Polk streets.

This will be a cultural experience — plus a highly entertaining history course, said Force.

“Bob & Carol . . .” is a portrait of suburban couples stepping into the sexual revolution, much like they slid into the hot tubs at the Esalen Institute.

“It was ground-breaking stuff,” Force said. “People were talking about [the revolution], but this was one of the first times they saw it on screen.”

One more beauty of the film festival: The venues are within minutes of one another on foot.

The Rose Theatre on Taylor Street; the Uptown on Lawrence Street; the Pope Marine on Water Street; the Upstage off Washington Street and the Peter Simpson Free Cinema at the American Legion on the corner of Water and Monroe streets are pedestrian-friendly, especially when you use the festival bus, which picks up people all day Friday through Sunday at the Haines Place Park-and-Ride lot off Sims Way.

There is no need to try to park in downtown Port Townsend.

Finally, the festival program offers one more tip. It’s for that anticipation-filled moment before the house lights dim, and it promotes maximum pleasure for all members of that community inside the movie theater:

Turn off the cell phone. This weekend is about big-, not little-, screen immersion.

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