What began as a experiment three years ago at the Grand Cinema is now an institution: the 25 New Faces of Independent Film festival.
The weeklong event screens features, shorts and documentaries of 25 up-and-coming filmmakers as named by Filmmaker Magazine.
Grand director Philip Cowan said the magazine staff views independent film from all over the world. “From all of those films, they pull together what they think is the best of the best.”
In its first year, Cowan brought 11 of those “faces” to Tacoma. This year, 20 directors, animators, producers and actors will be in attendance.
This year’s festival presents two “secret screenings” – films that can’t officially appear at the Grand because they’ll premier at a major festival. Cowan can’t talk about the films, both documentaries, but said Sunday’s film will “tug on your heart strings and Monday’s film is essential for anyone whole likes American presidential history.”
Warren Etheredge, film analyst and host of “The High Bar” will host all weekend screenings. Regular Grand ticket prices are in effect.
7:30 p.m. “Only the Young” – A documentary about three youth that Filmmaker Magazine says “in its gentleness, its avoidance of artificial drama, this sweetly melancholic movie feels like something new.” The film is preceded by a short documentary about teens who clean up abandoned pools for skateboarding.
1:30 p.m. Five short films including the winner of Canada’s Academy Award for best short film, an adaptation of a Joyce Carol Oates story and the best short film from the Venice Film Festival.
3:45 p.m. “Call me Kuchu” – This film that debuted at the Berlin Film Festival documents the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community in Uganda.
6 p.m. “Sun Don’t Shine” – A psychological noir.
8:15 p.m. “An Oversimplification of her Beauty” – A film with many layers, at once candid, complex and artistic. This film debuted at Sundance in January.
12:30 p.m. A collection of short films including an animated film, a documentary about elderly aquatic dancers, a series of comedic short films centered on a lesbian couple and a comedy starring former 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell.
2:45 p.m. “Electrick Children” – Rachel, a young teenager from a fundamentalist Mormon community, believes in immaculate conception, while her fundamentally religious family regards her condition as an intolerable transgression.
5:20 p.m. Secret Screening (documentary filmed in Karachi)
2:15 p.m. A repeat of the short film package from Saturday
7 p.m. Secret Screening – (documentary on U.S. history)
6:30 p.m. “In the Family” – See accompanying story.
2:15 p.m. “Oma & Bella” – A documentary on two aging women as they prepare meal after meal while sharing both endearing memories of their past as well as time spent in concentration camps.
6:45 p.m. A repeat of the short film package from Sunday afternoon.
6:45 p.m. “The Swell Season” – A documentary on the romance between the lead characters of the film.
At 35, Patrick Wang says he’s kind of old to be one of Fimmaker Magazine’s “New Faces.” But the Texas-born New Yorker was busy working as an economist when most filmmakers are making experimental films and shorts. And, he was cutting his teeth in theater.
“What people use shorts for I used theater for,” Wang said in a telephone interview last week.
Wang will present his debut feature, “In the Family,” at the Grand Cinema on Tuesday, part of the theater’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film Festival.
The fictional story revolves around a gay couple, Cody and Joey (played by Wang), who live in Tennessee with their precocious 6-year-old son, Chip – Cody’s biological son. When Cody is killed in a car accident, his will reveals that he named his sister as Chip’s guardian. Chip is taken away from Joey. While the law is not on his side, Joey finds a way to reunite with his son.
Wang earned a degree in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and that’s where he developed his love of performance.
“I fell in love with theater when I was at MIT. I found myself on stage first as an actor and then as a director and a producer. Film came a little later.”
Initially, Wang sought producing and financing help for the film, which he wrote, but then his ill father was given two months to live.
“That will put things into a sharp perspective. You play for all the marbles.”
Wang spent $500,000 of his own money on the film. “I had been saving for two decades and I thought it was for retirement.”
Wang completed the film in March 2011 and submitted it to festivals and distributors. It was met with a resounding thud. Screeners rejected it. Some didn’t even bother to watch it, Wang said.
“This time last year was the darkest period for the film. Nobody liked it. They would worry what the other guy thought, what the market would like,” Wang said.
Finally, Wang spent more of his money and rented a theater in New York to show it.
“The world turned right side up again when it got in front of audiences and critics.”
Since then, the film received a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Feature, a rave review from film critic Roger Ebert and has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
25 New Faces of Independent Film
When: Today through Thursday
Where: Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave, Tacoma
Information: 253-593-4474, grandcinema.comcraig.sailor@ thenewstribune.com 253-597-8541