Joey Pipia, left, and Joseph Bednarik were rivals in the Port Townsend Film Festival’s Ned Ryerson look-alike contest Saturday. Bednarik, co-publisher at Copper Canyon Press, emerged the victor. (Elizabeth Becker)

Joey Pipia, left, and Joseph Bednarik were rivals in the Port Townsend Film Festival’s Ned Ryerson look-alike contest Saturday. Bednarik, co-publisher at Copper Canyon Press, emerged the victor. (Elizabeth Becker)

And the winners are …Port Townsend Film Festival wraps up with awards

PORT TOWNSEND — Joie de vivre — love of life — won the day.

Joseph Bednarik, publisher of poetry and big fan of the goofy man in “Groundhog Day,” was among the big victors at the Port Townsend Film Festival.

There were other winners of the jury prizes and audience choice awards. But first let’s explain Bednarik’s triumph.

At the festival’s outdoor screening of “Groundhog Day” on Saturday night, actor Stephen Tobolowsky, who played insurance salesman Ned Ryerson in the 1993 movie, held a Ned look-alike contest. Seven people entered, and Tobolowsky turned to the audience to pick out the best. Cheering volumes determined that Bednarik embodied Ned to the hilt, and so he won a 2020 Port Townsend Film Festival Patron Pass worth $1,500.

The previous night, Bednarik, copublisher at Copper Canyon Press of Port Townsend, conducted an on-stage interview with Tobolowsky after a screening of his movie, “The Primary Instinct.” At the end of the interview, Bednarik asked the actor for advice about capturing the essence of Ned Ryerson.

“Joie de vivre,” Tobolowsky replied immediately.

The festival weekend wrapped Sunday night with a flock of other awards. The $2,500 PTFF Jury Prize for best narrative feature went to “Colewell,” the story of a small-town postmaster played by Karen Allen; the Jury Prize for best documentary feature, also $2,500, was awarded to “Ernie and Joe,” which follows a pair of police officers as they seek to serve citizens struggling with mental health problems.

The director, Jenifer McShane, has been invited back to Port Townsend for April’s Women and Film weekend, while Port Townsend Film Festival Executive Director Janette Force wants to bring “Ernie and Joe” to the wider community — “to Port Angeles, to Peninsula College,” she said Sunday.

“It’s my hope,” through films such as this, “that we can become more humane and more understanding of one another,” Force added.

The Audience Choice Awards, tallies of viewers’ votes across the three-day, 100-movie festival, were announced Monday morning: “The Silent Revolution,” the true story of West Berlin high school students’ solidarity, and “School of Life,”a lush French movie about a rural couple who adopt a young boy, tied for best narrative feature.

As for best documentary, it was “Stalag Luft III” that won moviegoers’ hearts.

This was director Louise Woehrle’s film about her uncle Charles Woehrle, a bombardier shot down during World War II, captured by the Nazis and imprisoned in a huge camp in Poland. He made it home to Minnesota — lived to be 98 — and recounted the astonishing ways he stayed alive in the camp; much of this is illustrated with re-enactments, historical photographs and animation.

“It’s not a tribute film,” Louise told the audience in the Peter Simpson Free Cinema, aka the Marina Room on Hudson Street, after the early Sunday morning showing.

Instead, “Stalag Luft III” was about the way the prisoners helped one another — while her uncle didn’t sink into self-pity.

“From the get-go, it wasn’t about him … the way he coped was: ‘How can I look out for the other guy?’ ”

Those who buy festival passes — priced at $40, $100, $220, $650 and $1,500 — also become Port Townsend Film Festival members with access to the DVD library at the festival office, 211 Taylor St. Movies from past festivals are available, and in November, those shown at this year’s event will be added.

“We have to get clearances from the filmmakers, and then we make Blu-ray discs,” Force said.

To find out more, get onto the email list and receive notifications about the DVD library and other festival activities, visit PTFilmFest.com or call the office at 360-379-1333.

________

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

Port Townsend Film Festival volunteer Nadine Jonientz rocks her Audrey Hepburn look during the awards party at the Vintage Wine Bar in Port Townsend on Sunday night. In addition to volunteering, she’s been known to see 15 films during the festival. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend Film Festival volunteer Nadine Jonientz rocks her Audrey Hepburn look during the awards party at the Vintage Wine Bar in Port Townsend on Sunday night. In addition to volunteering, she’s been known to see 15 films during the festival. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

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