Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed

Bestselling author Cheryl Strayed to speak at Port Townsend Film Festival

Nonprofit also hosting Chimacum growers at salon tonight

PORT TOWNSEND — Cheryl Strayed, author of the No. 1 bestseller “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” is returning to the North Olympic Peninsula.

She’ll join featured guests at the Sept. 19-22 Port Townsend Film Festival, festival Executive Director Janette Force said Monday.

Strayed will talk about how cinema — one movie in particular — has affected and influenced her. She’s part of “Formative Films,” one of the festival’s public events offering insights into the creative process.

Strayed has chosen “an obscure Canadian film,” Force said, that the festival is looking to license for screening.

The Port Townsend Film Festival, which presents some 100 movies in eight venues every September, marks its 20th anniversary this year.

Writers who have partaken in the “Formative Films” event include poet Billy Collins, novelist Tom Robbins and “The Boys in the Boat” author Daniel James Brown.

When Strayed came to Port Townsend earlier this decade, she’d only recently become a huge star. A Centrum Writers’ Conference faculty member at Fort Worden State Park, she drew a horde of adoring fans to her public reading in 2012, and has since become even more famous, with her “Dear Sugar” advice podcast and her other books, “Torch,” “Brave Enough” and “Tiny Beautiful Things.” That last one, inspired by her “Dear Sugar” role, is now a play running through June 29 at the Seattle Rep.

“Wild” was made into a 2014 movie starring Reese Witherspoon; Force said she wasn’t sure whether that film would be shown during the Port Townsend festival.

“We are looking at a program called ‘From Page to Screen,’ ” she added, “and doing a program for screenwriters. We have so many writers in town whose projects are being optioned” for movies.

First Tuesday Film Salon

The nonprofit film festival hosts other cinematic activities through the year, including the First Tuesday Film Salon at the Rose Theatre, 235 Taylor St.

Tonight, local farmers John Bellows of SpringRain Farm and Orchards and Crystie and Keith Kisler of Finnriver Farm & Cidery will join the salon discussion after the Rose’s 7:30 p.m. screening of “The Biggest Little Farm.”

These growers, all in Chimacum, will compare and contrast their experiences with those of filmmakers John Chester and his wife Molly, who confront much joy and suffering as they establish a farm in Moorpark, Calif. Their movie, a documentary, is enjoying critical acclaim as well as a strong response at the box office.

Meanwhile, up at the Port Townsend Film Festival office above Taylor Street, Force and fest programmer Jane Julian are huddling over which movies to put on the bill this September. Julian brings an armload of selections from the Sundance, South by Southwest and HotDocs festivals, while Force is on the lookout for little-known movies and filmmakers.

Force couldn’t say when she’ll announce the Port Townsend festival’s main special guest. Last year, actor and activist Danny Glover was the one; previous special guests have included Tony Curtis in 2000, Bruce Dern in 2012 and documentarian Morgan Neville in 2017.

These days, Force said, she’s drawn to people who aren’t necessarily famous but who have an important social message to communicate.

For information and passes to the festival, see or call 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.

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