Port Townsend: German love story, giant clam place first in Film Festival

PORT TOWNSEND — A movie set in the bowels of a German airport and a documentary set in the sand took first place Sunday as the fifth annual Port Townsend Film Festival awarded its first juried prizes.

“Who knew this clam gets so much love?” asked Justin Bookey, whose documentary, “3′ Under — Digging Deep for the Geoduck Clam,” took first prize for short documentary.

“I grew up digging this thing.”

Bookey, who wore a rubber geoduck around his neck, was one of four filmmakers honored at the awards ceremony and champagne brunch held at Galatea’s Cafe and hosted by Seattle film critic Robert Horton.

With the help of guest actress Jane Powell and TV movie host Robert Osborne, Horton presented the best feature-length narrative to Veit Helmer for his love story about two people who turn the Frankfort, Germany, airport into a “Gate to Heaven.”

“Home of the Brave,” about a woman who died during the civil rights protests, won best full-length documentary, and “Deep Silence” took best short narrative.

Helmer, 36, said he was surprised but happy to receive the prize for “Gate,” which took 10 years to make.

He dedicated the award to his mother, Maria, who attended the brunch.

“I’ve been making films since I was 14,” Helmer said.

“First it was the high telephone bills, then she had to drive me and my crew to locations.”

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