If you think diversity is just about race, you need to come to Tacoma Community College’s Diversity Film Festival, opening this weekend at the Grand Cinema downtown.
For the fifth year, the college is honoring its commitment to dialogue about diversity with films that cover a range of human experience: black civil rights, girls challenging gender roles, gay men challenging attackers, dwarf actors and elderly synchronized swimmers.
This year, however, the festival also includes student filmmakers from TCC itself and a Skype question-and-answer session with another of the filmmakers.
“One of the driving goals of Tacoma Community College is to engage the community,” says Tina Celentano, one of the members of the TCC committee for equity and diversity that organizes the annual festival. “By being at the Grand we’ve done this. The other goal is to (bring new people) to the Grand. We find every time that many students are unaware that we have this wonderful indie cinema right here in town.”
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This year, the festival is making use of the Grand’s facilities not just to screen films and host an opening gala, but to support something they’ve always wanted: a Q&A with a filmmaker after a screening.
Jason Cohen, whose documentary, “Facing Fear,” tells the story of a young gay man who meets up with the white supremacists who attacked him years earlier, will Skype in from Berkeley after the 2 p.m. screening on April 29.
The other new item this year is a film made by TCC students themselves: “Being Evel,” a four-minute short about a young girl who pushes away the dolls she’s given and instead dons a star-spangled costume to recreate the famous stunts of Robert “Evel” Knievel — on her bicycle.
“We just love film as a medium,” says Celentano. “You get to tell a story, and you have another educational tool. (The festival) has been a wonderful opportunity.”
Here’s the rest of the line-up:
2 p.m. Sunday: “Dancing in Jaffa,” about a dance instructor who brings together segregated Israeli and Palestinian communities through dance. Free opening gala follows.
2 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday: “Selma,” the dramatic story of the 1960s civil rights movement.
2 and 6:30 p.m. April 21: “The Little Tin Man,” about a struggling dwarf actor who refuses to be typecast.
2 and 6:30 p.m. April 23: “Alive Inside,” a recent documentary about how music combats memory and identity loss in those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
2 p.m. April 26: “Captain Abu Raed,” the story of an airport janitor in Jordan who finds a discarded captain’s cap and with it the friendship of the local kids.
2 and 6:30 p.m. April 29: Short Film Series including “Born Sweet” about Cambodian environmental poisoning, “Aquadettes” about a team of elderly synchronized swimmers, “Masterchef” about a boy in the Indian slums who dreams big, “Facing Fear,” “Being Evel” and more.