Arts & Culture

Adventure shorts shine with story, cinematography at Tacoma Film Festival

After an opening night that packed two cinemas with the moody teen tragedy “As You Are,” the Tacoma Film Festival continued Friday with a set of afternoon Adventure Shorts (repeating Wednesday) that shone with both heartfelt story and stunning cinematography.

“As You Are,” which opened the festival Thursday night with filmmakers and actors in attendance, is a grunge-era coming-of-age movie that deserves its Sundance accolades. Despite relying too much on jumpy, hand-held Blair-Witch-style camerawork and throbbing dirty bass notes for suspense, the film is well-told. Moments of childhood glee (cliffjumping, cloudwatching) flicker amid the horror of violence that’s inextricably intertwined with the budding realization of love between the impulsive-yet-fragile Mark (a charming Charlie Heaton) and the conflicted Jack (Owen Campbell, marvelously complex). Amandla Stenberg, Scott Cohen and Mary Stuart Masterson are all competent in their fairly one-dimensional supporting roles, and if the incessant weed smoking and police interrogation narrative device wear thin after a while, the message doesn’t.

Even better on Friday afternoon was an adventure shorts package that took the audience from the deep snow of the 28,000-foot Himalayan peak Makalu to 350 feet under a coral reef. Highlights were the intense personal vulnerability of “We Came Home,” detailing an attempted Malaku ascent and the decision to turn back; the light-hearted exploration of “Vixen,” following an intrepid family as they spend 10 years sailing around the world; the gorgeous underwater shots of “Ocean Stories” and the powerful philosophy behind “Phil’s Camino,” the story of a Vashon man who recreated the Camino di Santiago on his forested property, deepening both his ties to this world and his acceptance of what is coming.

Adventure Shorts repeat 4:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at The Grand Cinema, 608 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma. The festival continues through Thursday:

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568, @rose_ponnekanti