Port Townsend Film Festival's Opening Day

The Port Townsend Film Festival (PTFF) began its 11th season bright and early this morning, when I quickly realized that I’m amidst truly dedicated film fans. By 8:00 a.m., the PTFF welcome center was abuzz and people were already headed to early-morning screenings. Most impressively, they were fully awake and even cheerful. It’s a Harry Potter level of enthusiasm—for independent films!

The enthusiasm is warranted. My first screening was Welcome at the Uptown Theatre. It won multiple awards in its native country (France), where it was a critical and box office success. The film focuses on present-day immigration issues and clearly engaged the audience who couldn’t stop discussing it afterward. The film screens again Saturday evening.

After the early-morning screening, I was able to catch another film immediately. One of the biggest advantages of PTFF is the proximity of the theaters. Unlike larger film festivals that require you to schlep across an entire city like a film sherpa, all six PTFF venus are within a 10-minute walk of one another. It’s convenient and creates an intimate, community experience.

Lodging is also available in the downtown area so out-of-town visitors (like me) can simply park and walk. I’m staying at the Clam Cannery Hotel, which opened in August 2009 and combines historic charm (originally built in 1885) with modern, luxurious accommodations. Every suite offers a full kitchen and gorgeous, waterfront views. I watched the grey, gusty weather from my window this morning and was taken by how romantic and bewitching it appeared. Even Port Townsend’s stormy weather seems charming!

There is still plenty of time to make the trip to PTFF. The festival runs through Sunday evening and it only takes two to three hours to reach Port Townsend from Seattle. As an added incentive, the 42nd ticket-holder at every screening receives an honorary “42” pass—signifying that the recipient knows the answers to life, the universe and everything (a pop-culture reference to the classic, cult film A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). It’s quite a deal: attend PTFF, see high-caliber films and possibly learn the meaning of life. Priceless!

For more information, visit ptfilmfest.com.