For 3 days, Port Townsend is Sundance by the sea

  • By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
  • Friday, September 12, 2014 3:39pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

PORT TOWNSEND — It’s showtime.

For three days, the artsy seaside town lined with Victorian buildings is a full-fledged film fest.

About 80 movies will be shown at the Port Townsend Film Festival, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 19 to 21.

The public is invited to spend the day or three at this block party with more than 60 directors, writers and others in the industry. It all takes place at seven venues in the Historic Downtown area of the town on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

“Here you just walk a few blocks to the next theater,” festival spokeswoman Jan Halliday said. “All movies are running simultaneously. We show each film twice during the festival. We space it so people can get to the ones that are really hot.”

A $35 regular pass gets entrance into one film. Otherwise, standby tickets are $12. The theaters range from 45 to 300 seats.

A 6-pack pass of movie screenings is $100. The full-on, all-you-can-watch pass is $185, and includes opening night dinner on Taylor Street.

Movies are free at two venues: Taylor Street Outdoor Theatre and The Peter Simpson Free Cinema at The American Legion Hall.

Bring a chair or plop down on a hay bale when Taylor Street becomes an outdoor free theater, a tradition since the film fest started in 2000.

“There’s a free movie on the street every night,” Halliday said. “It is usually kind of nippy. Expect to wear gloves and hats and down jackets.”

Screenings start Friday morning. Grand opening ceremonies that afternoon include the filmmakers arriving in classic cars and a performance by Marilyn Monroes from The Lawn Chair Rhythm Planet Drill.

The festival was launched in 2000 by four film buff friends — Rocky Friedman, Linda Yakush, Jim Westfall and Jim Ewing — who annually went to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. They wanted to create a festival closer to home with one caveat: It should have something for everyone.

The event draws film historians, critics, screenwriters, producers, directors and industry specialists.

Special past guests include Elliott Gould, Tony Curtis, Dyan Cannon, Debra Winger, Karen Allen and Bruce Dern.

This year’s special guests are partners John Sayles and Maggie Renzi, whose writing, producing and directing credits include “Lone Star,” “Honeydipper,” “Passion Fish,” “The Brother From Another Planet,” “Matewan,” “Eight Men Out,” “Silver City” and “The Secret Of Roan Inish.”

“Honeydipper” and “Lone Star” are among the movies on the marque.

“You can meet the filmmakers,” Halliday said. “Sit and drink coffee and listen to them talk. Their stories are so rich.”

Ever wondered, “What the heck does a producer do?” You can find out in a seminar by that title led by Renzi at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The festival is a boost for merchants.

“This shop has been a long-term supporter of the festival,” said Holly Stone Cabe of consignment boutique April Fool &Penny Too. “We have a lot of really fun vintage magazines with movie stars and books about the movies. A lot of Marilyn Monroe magazines and photos, and Mae West, Natalie Wood and Robert Redford floating around here.”

Like most other locals, she partakes in the fun.

“I get in as many films as possible,” Cabe said. “It’s just a great festival with quality films that stay with you a long time.”

It’s a community effort. More than 300 volunteers donate everything from time to guest bedrooms. Many showbiz visitors stay in homes, not hotels.

Halliday has heard attendance could be as high as 5,000, but she doesn’t expect it to feel crowded.

“You can get into most films,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for 15 years so we figured out how to make it work.”

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

If you go

The 15th Annual Film Festival is Sept. 19 to 21 in Port Townsend. For more information, go to For a full list of the films, go to


The Rose Theatre, 235 Taylor St. (158 seats)

The Rosebud Cinema, 235 Taylor St. (78 seats)

Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St. (300 seats)

The Peter Simpson Free Cinema, The American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St. (100 seats)

Key City Public Theatre, 419 Washington Street (66 seats)

The Starlight Room, 237 Taylor St. (45 Seats)

Taylor Street Outdoor Theatre. Bring your own seat or sit on a hay bale.

Free outdoor movies at Taylor Street Outdoor Theatre

“The Secret of Roan Inish,” director John Sayles, 7:30 p.m. Friday

“The Black Stallion,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday

“Annie Hall,” 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Film begins at dusk. Dress warm. Come early to sit on hay bales or bring your own chair.

Free events

The Rose Theatre, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, film clips and awards, followed by 9 p.m. screenings of the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary.

Marine Park Community Center, 607 Water St., 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Have a free cup of coffee and listen to filmmakers share stories about their work.

Meet the directors

Other movies whose directors will be attending include:

“Lone Star,” director John Sayles, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Northwest Maritime Center

“Honeydipper,” director John Sayles, 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Northwest Maritime Center

“Angel Azulstar,” director Marcy Cravat, 12:15 p.m. Friday, Rosebud Theatre, and 6 p.m. Sunday, Key City Public Theatre

“Bipolarized,” director Rita Kotzia, 12:15 p.m. Friday, Peter Simpson Free Cinema, and 3 p.m. Sunday, The Starlight Room

“Advanced Styles,” director Lina Plioplyte, noon Saturday, Rose Theatre, and 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Northwest Maritime Center. Documentary about seven unique New Yorkers ages 62 to 95 whose eclectic personal style and spirit have guided their approach to aging.

“Return of the River,” by local filmmakers John Gussman and Jessica Plumb, 6:30 p.m. Friday, Rose Theatre and 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Peter Simpson Free Cinema. The movie highlights the dedication of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, local landowners and visionary community action.

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