Films awarded at the Port Townsend Festival


PORT TOWNSEND – It was a weekend full of emotions and films. The grown men were crying. So is the woman who runs the Port Townsend Film Festival.

“I can’t describe the honor of being here,” said Janette Force, executive director of the festival, Saturday night from the open-air cinema stage in downtown Port Townsend.

She had just been taken by surprise by the film festival’s board of directors and staff, who took the opportunity to honor Force on his 12 years as chef.

Hailing her as “a force of nature, our moral compass”, the president of the board of directors, Nancy McLachlan, presented her with a statuette of Galatea.

This figure, a miniature of the sculpture that stands above the Haller Fountain in Port Townsend, resembles those donated to winners of past festivals.

“Thank you all for believing in me. It means the world, ”Force said, his tears almost obscured by his sunglasses and face mask.

A new executive director will be announced in October, she added – and then it was with the night’s festivities.

Like a few others in the audience, Force had dressed in hot pink for “Legally Blonde,” the movie which aired Saturday on the giant screen on Taylor Street.

The now 20-year-old Reese Witherspoon comedy was the last outdoor film to screen at this year’s festival. The documentary “Lily Topples the World” premiered Friday night and “A League of Their Own” was scheduled for Sunday, but the rainy weather washed it up.

Meanwhile, back on the internet, the Port Townsend Film Festival continues throughout this week with over 80 feature films, documentaries and short films, available to stream via

Single movies can be viewed for $ 15, while a full festival pass, which covers unlimited streaming until Sunday, costs $ 120. Synopses and trailers are available on the website and the festival office can be reached at 360-379-1333 or [email protected]

At 5 pm last Sunday, Force and festival programmer Jane Julian announced the jury prize winners: $ 7,000 in prizes. The half-hour segment, their emotional conversation with the winners, is available to stream for free throughout the festival. In it, Force and Julian make video calls to each recipient, surprising them at home.

The jury prize winners were:

• Best Narrative Feature, $ 2,500, “Give or Take” directed by Paul Riccio;

• Best Feature Documentary, $ 2,500, “Youth v Gov”, directed by Christi Cooper;

• Spirit of the Port Townsend Film Festival, $ 1,000, “Holy Frit”, directed by Justin Monroe;

• Jim Ewing Award for First Time Directors, $ 1,000, Alicia J. Rose for “A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff”;

• The narrative short film “How to Fall in Love in a Pandemic” directed by Michael-David McKernan, part of the festival’s “Jane’s Faves” short film program, and the documentary short “Leylak”, directed by Scott Aharoni, were also awarded by the jury. and Dennis Latos, one of the short films from the “Love Lost and Found” program.

Each of the filmmakers lamented not being able to attend the Port Townsend festival in person. And a few of them choked when Force broke the news of the award to them, before it even mentioned the check involved.

Paul Riccio, director of “Give or Take”, expressed pure shock when he learned that he had won the award for best narrative feature.

“It’s awesome. It’s really exciting,” he began.

“Give or Take” is “the definition of a comedy with heart,” Force told him. It is the story of a son who returns to his hometown to put his late father’s affairs in order. It is also, she added, “a compelling and moving portrayal of a son’s journey.”

“You’ve really had me… It’s been difficult the last few years, not being able to get out,” Riccio said, crying.

The Spirit of the Port Townsend Film Festival award went to “Holy Frit”, a story of two artists and their different perspectives. It was a movie Force and Julian were deeply connected with, they told director Justin Monroe.

“It means so much to us. Thank you, ”Monroe said, her voice hoarse.

Then Force had a little tears in his eyes.

As the festival continues, viewers can vote for their own favorites; Audience Choice Awards for narrative and documentary feature films will be announced shortly after the festival closes on Sunday.


Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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