Thursday, September 24, 2009


It's happening. Without Peter Simpson, but it is happening. PTFF has turned 10!
Last night, the volunteers were treated to a screening of "A Deal Is a Deal" at the Uptown. But first, a lot of gratitude was shared. Highlight was asking those who were volunteering for the first time this year, followed by the countdown (countup?) to those who'd volunteered for the first PTFF 10 years ago. Almost as many in that group as in the newbies. Very cool. And Pete Gillis read us a poem written for Peter after his death this past April.
Tonight – the first time the Festival started on Thursday – "Kisses" preceded by a short, "Tootie Pie", showed at both the Rose and the Rosebud. I'm happy to say I made it into the Rose, because that's where the 35 mm print was; the folks over in the 'Bud had to see it digital, and I'm one of those who will go way out of the way to see real film.
Is it only happenstance that both these features are from Ireland, and that both have a lot – a fookin' bloody lot – of swearing? I can only take this to mean I now have permission (not that I really needed any – to go round cursing the rest of the weekend? "Fookin' bastard, I'll cut yer bloody bollocks off!" and the like. Yes!
Swearmouthing aside, I liked both these a lot. "Deal" is very, very funny – a far-out plot with a familiar old story, a surprise ending, great acting, good pacing. And there's one shot in particular in there that I have never, ever seen before, and it is brilliant and fookin' hilarious. You know, the one from under the covers? Brilliant.
The two tonight had a very interesting resonance together. There are obvious similarities – both about kids, both ending in the middle of trouble – but the key moments in each (the blood-sister scene in "Tootie Pie" and each kiss in "Kisses") had tinkling music-box sounds under them. Interesting.
Then, after taking FrendL (the fabulous and occasionally ferocious) for a quick jaunt over to the Galatea fountain (you know, the one at the bottom of the long stairs at the top of Taylor Street downtown) it was down to the new Maritime Center for its first public event since opening for Wooden Boat Fest 2 weeks ago. Good party!
A bit more thanks, recognition, from the folks who have given their all this year especially, and many past years, for the Fest. Then Cloris Leachman, our special guest this year was introduced.
She'd already been cheering and toasting any and everyone mentioned in the preceding speeches. She got on the mic and said she was already having a wonderful time here in PT, that she'd had lunch this afternoon at T's, was that right? Some cheers of affirmation. Then Ms. Leachman asked where one could get a really good Margarita around here.
"Water Street" someone called out, but they were drowned out by a chorus for "Sirens" and Ms. L. said, "I'll see you later then," and left the mini-stage. Ha! But of course, she didn't leave, and led the dancers out on the floor when the band began to play. The lovely Lauren Kohn, singer extraordinaire, fronted the Bruces (Cowan & Cannavaro) and friends. Towards the end of the evening, they serenaded us with one of my very favorites, "Bye Bye Blackbird". Dang, that girl can sing!
After getting a glass of pinot gris and a little plate of Mt. Townsend Creamery cheeses (Cirrus and Seastack, mmmmm) I suddenly recognized someone. Oh, it's Ellen from "Eating Alaska", one of the docs I screened! Had to say hi, and then realized I was even wearing an EA button I'd donated $5 for at the hospitality center a coupla hours before. She immediately introduced her partner Spencer who of course I also recognized from her film.
We talked a good long time, film and photography and docs and food and oh my. Really good folks.
Tore myself away to get another glass, saw another couple I didn't recogize and since they were also under 50 (like, way under 50?) I took a chance and asked if they might be filmmakers? Mark Hug and May Charters with "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" who had just arrived in town, dropped their bags, and run over to the catch some of the party. Another good bit of talk there. And best question of the night from Mark, something like, "So do you think a documentary has to start with a really good question?" Hmmm. That's a good one.
Ellen had just been telling me that many docs these days are advocating for something, and how many in her audiences just don't get it if the film doesn't answer the questions it poses. She and I agreed black and while just isn't what we want. And a few days ago, Terry Tenneson (PTFF's director this year) was saying something similar, how documentaries used to be just non-fiction basically.
I intro'd Brad Mace to M & M, which was just right as it turns out Brad had really wanted to give the intoduction to their film, as he liked it a lot and wanted to congratulate them. Since they're only here for one day – off to Calgary for another festival, and a homecoming for Mark at that – that was some serendipity. And I kept trying to stop talking long enough for these two to get away from the wine bar where we were standing (note: not necessarily for purposes of refills) and over to the food tables. But first we had to talk about names for a bit.
Once there, I saw another young man I'd never seen before, and yep, another filmmaker: Quinn Costello, editor for "Mustang – Journey of Transformation". Spoke a moment, then intro'd him to Mark & May, and again, small world, the two men both grew up in northern Idaho (or was it southern Canada for Mark, oh well). I asked them my fave party question, "What was your first concert?" Another odd bingo, as Mark's included Whitesmake and Warrant, and one of Quinn's friends saw that lineup, but with Weird Al Yankovic opening. God, it's good to be old sometimes, though must admit my first was Paul Revere & the Raiders. But my second was The Cream.
Whoa! Look at the time! Girl, past bedtime for first night of the festival, especially given the additional day this year!
But I can't stop till I rave about the incredible "trailer" that shows before each screening as always. But this year's, made by the amazing Jane Champion (with a little help from her friends, like... Michael) which featured many filmmakers from over the years, many locals, and a 10 years-younger Rocky Friedman holding a basketball for some unknown-to-me reason. But then all the images come together to form a portrait of Peter Simpson, who becomes a star on the screen in the Max Grover poster image as the ferry comes in to the dock. Beautiful, perfect, better than all the words we could ever say.
And to say what a great moment for me tonight as I got to the Rose and walked round to Washington Street where the Q line wound up the hill. I knew so many people in line! And they all called out to me!! And so I had to just exclaim, "God, I love the Film Festival!!!"
And I love Port Townsend.
All for now, more later? Kino love to all y'all.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I just got word that TRUST ISSUES, my short made 2 weeks ago for the Film 2880 – the local annual 48 hour film contest – will be shown Saturday night at the historic Rose Theatre during the PTFF!

Usually one has to make the judges' cut to advance to the top 10 shorts, but this year though more filmmakers and filmmaking teams signed up, only 6 finished and submitted. So I'm a finalist by default – and I'm 4 slots closer to winning the prize of Final Cut Studio 2!

Even if I don't win that, or win the Audience Choice vote, and even if my film is the first shown (meaning it came in last place) I am thrilled for 2 reasons: 1) I finished a little movie (and in 48 hours) and 2) I get to see it on the big screen at my favorite movie theatre with people I know and love in the house. Yes!

Otherwise, gearing up. Got my blue pass 'round my neck, getting my EKPHRASTIKINO/POEMS INSPIRED BY FILMS chapbooks ready for display and sale at the merch table ("ten dollars – or fifteen and I'll give five to the PTFF!") and doing some last minute "training" by doing a double feature of the films leaving the Rose today, THE LAST MISTRESS and TRAITOR.

Well, it's cool and cloudy and windy today and yesterday too. Does this mean another year of wild northwestern weather for the weekend? Last year was the first ever PTFF with "bad" weather, but the shows all went on – except for the outdoor free movies. Folks would no doubt sit in at least a mild rain, but wind gusts and giant inflatable screens just will not mix.

Soon the volunteers will be filling up the Uptown Theatre tonight for a just reward – a screening of one of the big festival films, just for them. I didn't volunteer this year as I did last – I was window-dresser (for the Oscar Night Gala) and sundry proofreader/writer then, and my work in live theater (playwrighting festival winner! lead actor!) kept me busy this year – so I'm not crashing that, much as I might like to!

So everybody better get some sleep tonight; for the hardcore it's a last chance for a little while! Sweet kino dreams.....

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Wow! I'm checking e'mail while chatting up (former PTFF general manager) SHERRY GROVER at the MAX GROVER GALLERY this fine Port Townsend late summer evening – amidst Gallery Walk and the biggest festival of the year, Wooden Boat – and decided to see if there was anything up on the 'site yet about the films and schedule...


My only regret this very moment is that I'm actually one hour past the midpoint of FILM 2880 – a 48 Hour Filmmaking Contest. I got the criteria by e'mail last night (Friday) at 7 pm, and must turn in my finished short film by tomorrow (Sunday) at 7 pm! This year we all got: theme – trust, prop – live animal, line of dialoq – "It's not over till the fat lady sings."

So instead of following my strong desire to start checking out the films, I must away till tomorrow latenight. In the meantime, I went ahead and added a few screenings to my list.


(And if I'm very very lucky, my "sacrifice" tonight will lead to my 2880 short making the top ten, meaning I will see my work on the big screen at the ROSE THEATRE Saturday night of the Fest!)

Saturday, October 6, 2007


OK! you found it, my first-ever blog, for the 8th Annual Port Townsend Film Festival!

The posts are in reverse order, of course, with the first one back on "Day 0" or Thursday 27 September. There are some photos of the Fest scattered throughout, but many more appear on the "my diy film life" site at

I've also posted reviews for 4 of the 20 films I saw so far, both on my website (previous sentence) and the bSide website.*



* Access by going to the program 2007 link on the PTFF website, then click on to any film and either see "who added to their schedule" [at right] or click on "reviews". You can then, if you sign up as a user (free & safe site), access various other users' film selections and reviews. Or copy & paste in this link:


Wed 3 Oct 07

I so want to begin writing reviews on what I saw at the Fest. I have a small moleskin journal and a half filled with notes I took during each screening; I've really gotten better and better at this jotting in the dark! And of course 14 films in just over 3 days gave me even more practice.

It's a trick to do this and not take myself out of the moment. Some observers say that's not possible, maybe they're right. But this is something I've tried to learn in all aspects of my life over the years, from that first time in college when I became excruciatingly self-conscious as I watched my reactions not matching my feelings. To live in the moment and yet maintain a witnessing consciousness... is that not the role of the artist? I guess you could run around and live for awhile, then go back into retreat and try to get down something about it. I'm preferring finding ways to be two ways at the same time.

Speaking of retreat...

Il faut que j'aille trouver quelqu'endroit pour retraiter! J'ai besoin de peu de temps par l'océan, ou peut-être des bains minéraux? "Allez à l'ouest!" dit mon coeur. "Allez-là et marcher, pour penser, écrire, dormir... pour être!"

Mais les cabins de La Push ne sont pas available. Merde! Mais je sais que je trouverai quelque place.

Did I really see that many films in French this weekend? I dunno, but I woke thinking in French phrases Tuesday actually, then saw LADY CHATTERLEY at the Rose – really would like to see THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN again if I can muster that before it leaves Thursday – and though hearing Lawrence, and especially his character of the gamekeeper Parkin, in French was odd at first (the only nod to the vernacular so present in the text was that Constance and Clifford "vuvoyer" each other, whereas Connie and Oliver "tutoyer" though maybe there was a subtlety I wouldn't recognized to the French) I got used to it.

And now I can't stop getting French phrases in my head. So now a few of them are out. Will Spanish come back, or do I have to go to Mexico for that?

This may be the last of this little blog, my first attempt. I did it for my friends Sherry and Ellen who couldn't be at the Fest but love it; don't know if they could even find it! But maybe someone else will enjoy this account of one "film lover's block party" of September 2007, when the Port Townsend Film Festival turned eight.

I may in fact get back on here with some notes of Q&A sessions, conversations, observations. Certainly I'll put up links to my reviews! And here's an interesting question I don't know the answer to, yet, from the Rose's weekly contest: "Of all the movies shown at this past weekend's Port Townsend Film Festival, how many would you guess were presented in 35mm film?" This is actually something I wish were included in the program notes, as I so prefer film to digital or tape, and those days that I can see this are numbered I know. I do recall seeing the reel changeovers and edits in a few, hmmmm. I'll let you all know when I find out, and which ones they were!

So thank you Peter and Nancy and Rocky and everyone who founded the Fest and worked the Fest this year and in the past; and to all the filmmakers whether I saw or liked your films or not for bringing us the gift of your observation, your vision, your art; and to all those filmlovers-and-goers who keep this art alive!

"We all live in a yellow love-of-kino...!" Pourquoi pas?

Yours in the love of kino,


Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Tues 2 Oct 07

Another sleep-in day, yes! Rain outside my window.

Sitting on the porch swing, ideas for my own work come rushing, creativity running a bit rampant inside. I want to finish my chapbook, and send copies to the filmmakers that so moved me, a gift back that may have meaning for them.

I can't stop seeing some of the films in my head. THE HORSE in particular, what a perfect and exquisite short film. ORPHAN; MANHATTAN, KANSAS; JELLYFISH; CAGES; FOREVER... these are the strongest right now. I'm sorry I haven't gone to the shorts programs these past 2 or 3 years, as that is where my own interests are for my own filmmaking. Little stories that strike hard and deep and fast.

I want to write these folks and thank them!

Called Michael Knowles's publicist to ask about his lecture in Port Angeles and ask if she's gotten copies of the interview I did with Michael. Will send to her pronto. Told her a bit about his screening, and meeting Melissa, and cigars in the wine & beer garden tent. ("I bet there was an entourage," she said, and there kinda was.)

Maybe I'll go see Knowles in Port Angeles and go on out to La Push, or at least Sol Duc. I must ground while I fly, and hot springs and ocean sound just right for this. Lose some of the external stimulus, I've got plenty inside for now.

I thought this would be my time, finally, after being on the run since February, to relax and retreat, and catch up on some necessary work. Well, it will because I won't have as many events and deadlines. But I want to rebuild my own film FORSAKEN OR ONLY ALONE in Final Cut Express (maxed out iMovie!) and on to other waiting projects EL POSTRE SAGRADO; APPLE, BALL... DOG.

We'll see what possibilities the morrow brings.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Mon 1 Oct 07

"There's got to be a morning after..."

Yes, there does indeed. And first, a long night's sleep, thank G.

So I'm still flyin' high from the incredible weekend of films, 14 in all for me – could've been 15 if I'd just gotten in Saturday morning for AUGUST THE 1ST but even the most devoted must get 3 or 4 hours in there.

The images and stories are swirling and whirling inside, and the feelings welling and swelling around.

Sometime after noon I gather my wits and stuff once again, pared down now to different daily essentials, and go on into town. At Sweet Laurette's I finally sit down with my "morning" bowl of cappuccino and that whole wheat cinnamon roll, but first chat up some folks I've never met about the festival.

First are a couple, Danny & Candy, from Edmonds, here in their rec-vee for the weekend and totally surprised to find the Festival going on. But they had 6 grandchildren with them, so couldn't go to any of the films or events. But they looked over the program and saw all the hustling bustling filmgoers, and are already planning for next year – without grandchildren!

Next is Suzanne, with her mother who lives here and a friend visiting from Palm Springs. Michael Knowles was staying in one of her friend's "hideaways" here in PT, and she got to meet him and John Ramos. Suzanne had good friends who helped found the Palm Springs Film Festival, but told me they left it when that fest became too focused on the money and prestige factors.

I told her that was exactly what Michael had told me was PTFF's asset: "Film festivals began for the sake of independent films or films that wouldn't normally get distribution, but were worthy to be seen by audiences..... I find there's way too many film festivals who have lost that focus, too many that are very focused on the business part of it. And that's tough, because when money influences the decisions, then they just forget about what are the best films, or what films need to be shown to audiences.
"I see the Port Townsend Film Festival becoming one of the premier festivals, because it's run so well, by people with real integrity, and because of the quality of films that they're picking."

Go down to the Baker Block Building to see how Peter & Nancy et al are doing. FrendL & I take the "evelator" to the 3rd floor as usual, to save her little legs, and meet Nancy just leaving, so we ride back down together and I walk her to her car. I can see her back is troubling her, even without wearing heels. And the parking permits for the Film Fest on her dashboard are obscured by not one but two tickets for parking in the "Reserved for PTFF" spot!

Glad to hear she is off for 2 days, at least, to lie down and maybe even read a little. Tell her I'll come by the office again and see what I can do for the office then. I remember the lovely chaos of last year there! And as someone who didn't work during the fest, just the delightful work of seeing the films, I have a little energy that the volunteers who worked so hard all weekend probably do not.

Do report to her the glowing reports I've heard so far. In particular tell her Sherry G got a visit from the Bainbridge crowd (Cynthia Sears & Frank Buxton, John & Barb Ellis, Little & Lewis) who raved up the infrastructure of the Festival. This is high praise from experienced and sophisticated festivalgoers.

As for me, this may have been my best PTFF yet, and I don't say that – to myself or other – every year. Maybe I just chose great films that had meaning for me, that touched me deeply. Maybe I feel even more at home here. And just maybe it was just the best so far!

I cannot believe my good fortune to partake in all this. There's no place like Port Townsend, there's nothing like cinema, there's no place like home – and this is indeed my home.