Thursday, September 24, 2009
PTFF 2009 BEGINS!
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.