Arts and Entertainment

Beyond Kitsap: Chasing wintertime wanderlust all the way to Fort Worden

A scene from Agnes Varda’s 1962 French film “Cleo de 5 a 7.”  - Courtesy photo
A scene from Agnes Varda’s 1962 French film “Cleo de 5 a 7.”
— image credit: Courtesy photo

I’d always thought Port Townsend was just a summer spot.

With miles of sandy beach lining the coast of Fort Warden State Park, the open-air Olympic Music Festival down the road during summertime, jazz at Centrum in July, of course, the end-of-summer movie-lovers’ block party, the Port Townsend Film Festival on a weekend September — it’s always seemed more a fair-weather get away than an escape from winter doldrums.

But this weekend, sitting down to a plate of enchiladas in downtown Port Townsend — after hiking to the ridge at Fort Worden in 20-mile-an-hour wind and light snow, looking out to the San Juan Islands from a perch atop an old, abandoned military bunker — I stood corrected.

With the right pair of eyes, a trip across the Hood Canal, north to Port Townsend can be a great escape. Even in a snow storm.

“Most people would think we’re crazy,” my wife says to me as we were walking down the ridge, back to the van, bundled up against the bitter cold and slightly less than gale force winds.

Considering the fact that after that (and the enchiladas) we had to drive home at an average speed of 25 miles-an-hour through a messy few inches of falling snow, she’s probably right. But even for the not-so-crazy, winter-doldrums-evading Kitsaper, Port Townsend might be the place to be this month.

This month Centrum’s annual Winter Wanderlust speaker series ramps up, featuring vicarious adventures for the more indoorsy-type — like crossing the Gobi Desert by camel, traversing America by horse and wagon or climbing China’s highest mountains — through the stories and photographs of the adventurers who have lived them. There’s a different session each Wednesday now through Feb. 25. See and click “Winter Wanderlust 2009” for more details.

Also starting this month at Fort Worden, Centrum has partnered with the Port Townsend Film Festival for the first time ever to create a new, interactive nine-week-long winter film series on Tuesday nights at the historic Wheeler Theatre, through March 3.

They’re calling it 3-by-3.

They’ve asked three local(ish) film experts — Seattle-based veteran, Emmy Award-winning film and TV actor Tom Skerritt, former collegiate cinematic studies professor and eloquent member of local film panels Kathleen Murphy and the Seattle-based after-school media and tech training program for girls Real Grrls — each to pick three films to be shown over nine consecutive Tuesdays.

Each film is $12 admission, $8 for students, $95 for all nine sessions.

It started this past Tuesday with Real Grrls’ first film — from a filmmaker considered by many to be the only female member of the French New Wave film movement — the 1962 Agnes Varda’s piece “Cléo de 5 a 7.”

Each movie in the series will be followed by a Q&A session with its curator. Real Grrls will match each of their picks with a short film of similar mind to the feature made by their students. Skerritt’s three films will attempt to give a sense of the range of the distinguished veteran’s decades-long career, while Murphy’s three aim to “artfully express the complicated connections between art and life, creativity and experience.”

“When we first talked about doing nine consecutive Tuesdays, programming became something of a puzzle,” PTFF artistic director Peter Simpson said. “How do you grab people’s attention and get it to build and to sustain?”

Provide them an escape.

THE 3-BY-3 WINTER FILM SERIES will be featuring a new film every Tuesday from film specialist curators, now through March 3 at the historic Wheeler Theatre at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. Tickets are $12 for each film, $8 for students, $95 for all nine sessions. See for more information.

Also check out Winter Wanderlust at

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