A fish-thrower who falls in love. A palace guard who cant stay awake. An iPhone that takes its owner on an adventure. Yep, were back in the creative world of the Tacoma Film Festival, where imagination lets rip on screens all around town. But the seventh TFF isnt just a chance to see films you (and most other people) havent seen before. Its also a growing catalyst for new film made right here in the Puget Sound area, supporting indie filmmakers with local showcases and workshops, encased in a week of morning-to-night movies.
Our dedication to local filmmakers sets us apart (from other festivals), says festival director Emily Alm. It isnt just words. Like last years, this years festival features two days (Monday and Tuesday) of nearly 30 local films, including two screenings of the Grit City Flicks (short films by Tacoma makers), one of North Sound Shorts and a couple of local features. Some of them, like Good Night Guard (about a Buckingham Palace guard who struggles to stay awake) are repeated during other shorts events like Family Shorts (noon Oct. 6), Documentary Shorts (12:15 p.m. Sunday) and Animated Shorts (12:30 p.m. Sunday). Others, such as Out on a Limb (about David Squirrelman Csakys eviction from his Seattle treehouse) and The Mountain Runners (the 1911-13 Mount Baker marathon story) have their own screenings on those days.
Its a great way for us to further pursue our mission of connecting our community to film, and to support the many local filmmakers who live in and around Tacoma, Alm says.
Or, in some cases, former Tacomans who now make films elsewhere. Linda Palmer is one of those: The L.A.-based filmmaker grew up attending Whitman Elementary, Stewart Middle and Yelm High schools, and says that the Tacoma Film Festival which has seen attendance more than double over the last two years is one of the things that makes the town way more culturally attractive than it used to be.
It feels like a really artsy community, says Palmer, and that encourages more creative people to go to school there, hone their craft there. Palmer, who premiered a film back at the 2007 festival, will be at the premiere of her new romantic comedy, Halloween Party, at 5:45 p.m. at SOTA. Filmed in Long Beach, it takes a voyeurs-eye view of a Halloween party through the multiple cameras that the obsessive host has set up around the house.
There are a lot of antics people say to me, How come I dont get invited to parties like that? Palmer jokes. But theres also a message about not judging people, when a high-maintenance friend brings a homeless guy as a date.
The films soundtrack has achieved quite a following in its own right, Palmer says, and shes hoping folks will come in costume like a Halloween-themed Rocky Horror screening. The home crowd is part of why she chose to premiere the film here.
If you can take a festival where you can pull a crowd, thats great, she says.
A free filmmaking workshop by Warren Etheredge (10 a.m. Sunday) and entrepreneur discussion (8:15 p.m. Tuesday) fill out the offerings for local makers.
The festivals other big goal, says Alm, is supporting underdog indie films that havent broken into the big time yet, many of them with premieres today.
I like bringing things people havent heard of but are definitely worth being shown, she says. Among Alms picks are Francine (4 p.m. today, 2:30 p.m. Sunday) about a woman (Melissa Leo) whos reclaiming her life after prison its really subtle but dramatic, Alm says; Pilgrim Song (6 p.m. today and Oct. 7) about a laid-off music teacher who finds peace hiking; Lemon (3:45 p.m. Saturday), a story of an ex-con-turned-poet that Alm says is a common story told in a fresh way; and the closing film Do-Deca-Pentathlon (6:30 p.m. Oct. 13), a SXSW selection recounting the Olympics-style competition between a pair of brothers.
Of course the films go beyond the local and the unusual: Theres animation, family shorts, drama, comedy, horror and documentary from all corners of the globe.
This years festival also sees around 50 percent of the filmmakers in attendance, plus new items such as a wine tasting alongside the film Boom Varietal; a visit by cartoonist Jen Vaughn, featured in Cartoon College; and the festivals awards announced at a Sunday evening screening.
Passholders will also get a new bonus: access to free food at the hospitality area in The Grand Cinema.
Turns out you dont need an iPhone (or a fish-thrower) to take you on an adventure in Tacoma this week. All you need are a couple of film tickets.