Port Townsend Film Festival brings stars to town this September

Posted 7/7/15

Chris Cooper, as a special guest, and his wife Marianne Leone Cooper, as a formative film guest author, are attending the Port Townsend Film Festival Sept. 25-27, along with previously announced …

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Port Townsend Film Festival brings stars to town this September

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Chris Cooper, as a special guest, and his wife Marianne Leone Cooper, as a formative film guest author, are attending the Port Townsend Film Festival Sept. 25-27, along with previously announced special guest Beau Bridges.

On Friday night, Sept. 25, after a screening of “The Fabulous Baker Boys" is a Q&A with Bridges. Those with paid Director and Mogul passes can attend a Filmmakers’ Reception, held in the Pope Marine Park building after the screening.

The festival hosts Chris Cooper on Saturday night, Sept. 26, with a screening of his film “Adaptation,” followed by a Q&A with Cooper. A smaller reception, open only to those holding Mogul-level passes, is held for Chris and Marianne Leone Cooper afterward in a location to be announced.

Chris Cooper won both an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Adaptation,” with Meryl Streep and Nicolas Cage. He also starred in John Sayles' film, “Lone Star” and was a supporting actor in “American Beauty,” “October Sky,” “The Bourne Identity,” “Seabiscuit” and many more.

"I couldn't have asked for more than 'Lone Star,' which was a great story," Cooper said. "I like good story ... human behavior, the study of human behavior and human interaction."

"Maggie [Renzi] and John [Sayles] told us about this," Marianne said of the Port Townsend Film Festival. "Then we started talking to Janette [Force] who is a force of nature and fabulous. She just sealed the deal," she said. Force is the PT Film Festival director.

"John Sayles gave me my first film job in 1985," Cooper said, adding that he plans to act in Sayles' "To Save the Man," to be filmed mainly at Fort Worden in summer 2016.

Cooper played orchid thief John Laroche in the 2002 film "Adaptation," directed by Spike Jonze.

"'Adaptation' was quite unusual. For most scripts, you get an idea of what direction the writer, the screenwriter intends you to go. This was different, because I couldn't nail down John Laroche's character" before the audition, Cooper said, adding he drove from his home in Massachusetts to New York for the audition.

"I told Spike, 'I cannot give you my definitive idea of John Laroche, because I just see too many possibilities of different ways to play this character.'" He asked Jonze to let him show four or five different ways of showing the character, and "Spike was so encouraged that that's the way we continued to work when we shot the film ... the outcome of that was a real surprise, because I never knew which take Spike chose until the final editing."

Cooper said his influences include Montgomery Clift, James Dean and Marlon Brando. "I would often accompany my mother to the movies," he said of his youth in Kansas City, Missouri, "so I got to see some pretty adult stuff when I was 5, 6 and 7 years old." He recalled "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause," when they first came out. "There was a new kind of acting going on then." He mentioned Jo Van Fleet and Kim Stanley. "I had no idea I was going to be an actor then, but something affected me very strongly."

The Coopers celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary July 8 with a "nice dinner." For Chris' 64th birthday on July 9, they plan to have dinner with author Andre Dubus. "I've seen Andre make Chris cry, he was laughing so hard," Marianne said. "We hang out a lot with writers ... We don't really hang out with too many actors."

Marianne's acclaimed, transformative memoir, “Jesse: A Mother’s Story” speaks to all parents who try to do the best for their children. She and Chris are parents of Jesse Cooper, who was severely affected by cerebral palsy. Marianne chose to screen “My Left Foot” at PTFF, about a brilliant man who is challenged by cerebral palsy. Following the film is a book signing on site, hosted by The Writer’s Workshoppe.

Marianne is also an actress; she played Christopher Moltisanti's mother in the HBO series “The Sopranos,” and recently finished a David O. Russell film with Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lawrence.

Bridges and Cooper discuss their acting careers on the PTFF's Saturday afternoon in the 250-seat American Legion Theatre. With a grant from First Federal and Centrum, the festival purchased soundproofing last year and a gigantic screen to convert the Legion Hall into the festival’s largest theater.

Director and Mogul-level passes include concierge service with guaranteed seating at all films.

To purchase passes, visit ptfilmfest.com or call PTFF at 360-379-1333 with your credit card. The festival accepts checks delivered in person to their office at 211 Taylor St., Ste. 401-A, Port Townsend.

The festival program, listing more than 80 films, is posted at ptfilmfest.com in late July.

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