The massive propane explosions at Atlas Castings & Technology disrupted operations at the Tacoma Film Festival over the weekend.
The Saturday afternoon blasts briefly interrupted power at the Tacoma Art Museum and knocked out projection equipment during the 3 p.m. showing of the documentary “My Left Hand.”
It took about an hour for museum workers to get the equipment functioning properly again so the show could resume, said Grand Cinema Executive Director Philip Cowan, the festival’s organizer.
The museum is one of three festival venues. The other two are the theater of the Tacoma School of the Arts, which was unaffected by the blasts, and the Grand Cinema, the festival’s flagship venue. Cowan said the projector at the Grand suffered what amounted to a momentary hiccup. A program of short films playing there at the time kept on playing.
Equipment problems at the museum also delayed the first show there Sunday, the documentary “I Love What I Do,” for about a half hour, said Mary Holste, Cowan’s second-in-command at the Grand. The audience was “incredibly patient” while waiting for the film, scheduled for 12:45, to begin.
“No one left,” Holste said, and when the picture was finally up and running, people clapped and cheered.
That was a sweet sound to director Mark Ulano and his wife and producer, Patrushkha Mierzwa who had flown in from Maine on Saturday night to attend the screening and were scheduled to fly out Sunday night.
“I consider it a very good omen for the film that it had a little struggle to get shown,” said Ulman, an Oscar-winning sound mixer (for “Titanic”) who made his feature directorial debut with “I Love What I Do.” The Tacoma screening was the film’s world premiere. The audience was “very, very enthusiastic,” said Ulman.
There were a few other minor technical glitches here and there during the weekend, but mostly things ran smoothly, said Cowan. Thursday’s opening-night film, “Let Others Suffer,” was a sellout, as was the suspense thriller, “G.P.S,” shown Saturday night. It was made by a Fircrest production company and shot in the woods of the Key Peninsula.
The Saturday success of “G.P.S.” prompted Cowan to schedule another screening of it Sunday, in the festival’s Best of the Fest 4:30 p.m. time slot.
Another film with a local connection, the documentary short “Spitfire 944,” also drew an enthusiastic response when it was shown Saturday afternoon. The account of the exploits of John Blyth, a Lacey resident who flew unarmed reconnaissance missions over Nazi Germany during World War II, was followed by a roundtable discussion attended by director William Lorton and Blyth himself.
Now in his 80s, Blyth kept a group of 15 people riveted by his reminiscences for an hour.
“I think it’s wonderful that the pilot is here,” said audience member Judy Rucker of Tacoma. Janet Keysser said “Spitfire” put her in mind of Ken Burns’ PBS documentary “The War” and said she too was impressed that Blyth was on hand to talk about the film.
tacoma film festival
When: Continues through Thursday. As of Saturday, 1,000 tickets had been sold, according to Grand Cinema’s Philip Cowan.
Information: For show times and other information call 253-572-6062 or go to tacomafilmfestival.com.
Soren Andersen: 253-597-8742, Ext. 6235