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Port Townsend Fest Wraps with Nod to Winners

Port Townsend Film Festival Wraps with Nod to Winners

Under blue skies that opened up just as the festival began Friday afternoon and remained throughout the weekend, the 5th annual Port Townsend Film Festival wrapped Sunday with the announcement of "best films" at a morning champagne breakfast.

Winner of the best feature-length narrative film was Gate to Heaven (Tor zum Himmel), a German film by producer/director Veit Helmer. Ten years in the making, Gate to Heaven is a love story that takes place in the underground labyrinth of pipes and vents beneath the Frankfurt airport.

Helmer received a $2,500 cash prize, which he dedicated to his mother who accompanied him to Port Townsend for the film's Northwest premier.

Winner of the best feature-length documentary was Home of the Brave, the compelling story of 39-year-old Viola Liuzzo who in 1965 was the only white woman murdered in the American civil rights movement. An official selection at last January's Sundance Film Festival, the film opened in Seattle on Friday. It was written and directed by Paola di Florio who was unable to attend the Port Townsend screenings because of preparations for appearances in Detroit where Liuzzo lived. Di Florio also received a $2,500 cash prize.

Two short films, Three Feet Under: Digging Deep for the Geoduck Clam and Deep Silence (Silencio Profundo), were awarded best in their categories, documentary and narrative under 60 minutes in length, respectively. Each received cash awards of $750. Justin Bookey, producer/director of Three Feet Under, was in the audience to receive his award. Wearing a life-size facsimile geoduck around his neck throughout the weekend, Bookey said he knew there was a reason for his fascination with the Northwest bi-value. Bookey, who once lived in Seattle, now resides in Los Angeles. Deep Silence is a 15-minute film about a couple who set out for Miami from Cuba in a huge inner tube.

Three juries of three movie buffs selected from Port Townsend, Port Angeles, and Bainbridge Island made the choices.

The Port Townsend Film festival, which began in 2000, headlined actress/singer Jane Powell, two of whose films, Two Weeks with Love (1950) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1950), were screened during the three-day fest. Miss Powell was interviewed Saturday night by Robert J. Osborne, host of the cable channel Turner Classic Movies. Her husband, Dick Moore, a child actor who gained fame in the 1930s in the "Our Gang" comedies also presented a retrospective selection of his work. More than 20 other filmmakers attended the festival.

Novelist Tom Robbins curated a new festival feature called "Formative Films," for which he selected two movies he had seen early in life that had a major impact on his life. He chose Tarzan Finds a Son with Johnny Weismuller and Shoot the Piano Player, by the late French film director Francois Truffaut.

The festival recorded its largest attendance in five years with more than 600 passes issued in addition to scores of individual ticket buyers and hundreds attending three free outdoor movies each night of the festival.

Juries' statements:
Best Feature-Length Narrative ­ Gate to Heaven

Gate to Heaven is a film that takes substantial creative risks. It draws us into a tough human story from the underbelly of our first-world life by taking us on a journey which is sweet, playful, imaginative and moving. At every turn this film is surprising, from schmaltz to sorrow and back in a highly original mixture of attitude, technology, dreams and fantasy. We appreciated the surprise, heart, innovation, determination, dreams and impossibilities which were skillfully plunged headlong into each other throughout the piece. Dignity, community and generosity triumph over individual pettiness and greed in this story; values our community always needs and can celebrate every day.


Best Feature-Length Documentary­ Home of the Brave

Home of the Brave is a true crime story, a political thriller, and a look at one woman¹s courage and sacrifice for a cause that continues to resonate today. Viola Liuzzo lost her life fighting for civil rights in Selma, Alabama, yet few Americans have heard her name. After you see this film, you will never forget it.


Best Short Narrative ­ Deep Silence (Silencio Profundo)

Deep Silence is a multilayered story, completed in fifteen minutes. The subtle use of music, sound and cinematography gives us an unsentimental window into the circumstances of the lives of these people which leaves us something solid in the end.


Best Documentary Short ­ Three Feet Under ­ Digging Deep for the Geoduck Clam

This film is a whimsical story about a crustacean unique to the Pacific Northwest. It provides a humorous yet informative look at the Geoduck. There was no agenda aside from introducing us to this critter by people (academic and lay) who love it.


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