Monday, June 26, 2017 This Week's Paper


// Zach Powers Shares the Festival's Story

Zach Powers grew up thinking he wanted to be a journalist.

The Grand Cinema has brought him to his senses.

“I loved storytelling,” The Grand's director of marketing and communications said in a shared office papered with posters.

Powers believes in the story's power to broaden understanding and strengthen community, and he sees a world of thoughtful films working to that same end.

“Since I was a kid, social justice was the center of my life,” said Powers, 26. “I grew up in Anchorage, which is a lot like Tacoma in terms of industry, diversity and labor. It has a similar culture of how to create art and vibrancy.”

He studied political science and communications at the University of Oregon, then transferred to Pacific Lutheran University. Back in Anchorage, he interned for a year with the Democratic Party, then returned to Washington to earn his Master's degree in public administration at Evergreen State College in Olympia.

“I've written about civics and art in The Weekly Volcano,” he said. “I've managed political campaigns for Jake Fey, Dexter Gordon and Jeannie Darneille. And I make music.”

In the hip hop world he is D.J. Phinisey, with two CDs, Kids in the Back and Kids in the Back II. He's about to release his third album, BUILD. You may have caught him at Hell's Kitchen, Jazzbones, New Frontier Lounge or Nectar Lounge.

Powers has served on the Tacoma Arts Commission for two years, and loves the life, loveliness and collaboration the Mural Project has brought to neighborhoods.

All of that experience, he said, has led him to that cluttered office, where he torments colleague Laura Marshall with his Daniel Day-Lewis impersonations.

“This is the sort of work I always wanted to do,” he said of marketing The Grand and Tacoma Film Festival. “Promoting concerts, working on a campaign, both of those things combine in this job.”

The Grand has earned the city's AMOCAT Arts Award by virtue of the stories it shares with audiences.

Powers cited “Fruitvale Station,” which examined questions of race and justice surrounding the shooting of Oscar Grant by two Bay Area Rapid Transit officers in Oakland. It's a film that creates a platform for community conversations about painful topics, and Tacomans welcome that.

“The level of value and affection people have for The Grand is huge. It is hard to find an institution in town that is more beloved. We bring in the highest level art in the world of our age. We bring those films to Tacoma and make them accessible and affordable.”

Zach Powers' favorite films: “The Way Way Back,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” “As Good As It Gets,” “Persepolis,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Do The Right Thing.”