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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 23, 2009 at 3:40 PM

A friendly feast of film in Port Townsend

This weekend, I’m off for an annual tradition: the Port Townsend Film Festival. I’ve attended the festival, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, every year but the first — and when I heard about that one back in 1999, with Tony Curtis presiding over a screening of “Some Like It Hot,” I thought, so, why wasn’t I there? So every year, in late September, I wait in the ferry line and eagerly anticipate the three-day-fest, where outdoor movies are shown to audiences sitting on hay bales on Taylor St. and old-school movie stars share stories. A few favorite memories:
— Debra Winger, returning to Port Townsend for the first time since filming “An Officer and a Gentleman,” and observing that there’s a lot more traffic now.
— Patricia Neal, warmly sharing her memories of Paul Newman after a screening of their film “Hud.”
— The way that last year’s festival became an impromptu tribute to Newman, with a screening of “The Hustler” and a warmhearted panel of friends and colleagues shared stories of him.
— Eva Marie Saint, saying how much she’d enjoyed watching “All Fall Down” at the festival “with all my new friends.”
— The one year when it rained (2007), with a wildly blustery storm that closed down the outdoor beer garden — but only briefly. It reopened and was a cheering sight in the gray afternoon, with candles flickering in the wind.
— Climbing the stairs above the Taylor Street fountain and looking down to see the incomparable beauty of the young Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” on the big outdoor screen, under a perfectly starry sky.
This year, the special guest is Cloris Leachman, who’ll be interviewed onstage by Robert Osborne after a screening of “The Last Picture Show,” and the skies look likely to be clear. The tenth anniversary will be a little bittersweet, as longtime festival director Peter Simpson won’t be there to see it. But I hear there will be a tribute to him, and I know all of us who’ve so enjoyed the festival for these years will take a moment to remember him. His unpretentious warmth, friendliness and passionate love of cinema will live on, I’m sure, in this festival.

Here’s the historic Rose Theatre, where much of the festival takes place. (Photo credit: Mark Harrison, The Seattle Times)

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