A user’s guide to Tacoma Film Festival October 3-10

There will, of course, be zombies, or at least the expectation of zombies amid the gracious retirement living in a place called Laurel Grove.

There will be young people making sense of real life by punching old prejudices in the nose.

There will be pasts that return to haunt, and futures that turn out the light of hope.

And there will be the story, in eight minutes, of science class alums of a turreted high school averting the end of the world.

All that will be ours, easy as 1-2-3, at the eighth annual Tacoma Film Festival running Oct. 3-10.

Based out of The Grand Cinema, Tacoma’s beloved non-profit indie-hub, the festival will show 123 films, some as short as two minutes. It will bring film folk to town, and encourage them to talk story among themselves – and with the fans.

“G.B.F.” screenwriter George Northy, for example, will meet the audience at the opening night reception and screening at Annie Wright School, ($30 gala and film; $11 film only). Tacoma Weekly Managing Editor Matt Nagle discusses the movie with Grand Cinema Senior Projectionist Lisa Fruichantie on Page B4.)

Warren Etheredge will lead “Know the Score,” a free filmmakers’ workshop on soundtracks, open to everybody, at 10 a.m. Oct. 5 in the Grand’s lower lobby.

TFF staff is using Facebook to broadcast the filmmakers’ appearances, and generate buzz. “‘Euphonia’ plays on Friday, Oct. 4 at the Grand Cinema at 4:40 p.m. Filmmakers will be in attendance!” they posted this week.

The festival has been earning respect, celebs and entries, said TFF Director Laura Marshall, who took the job a year ago.

“We are getting about 200 more submissions than the first and second festivals,” she said. “We are generating a much larger filmmaker base, building a reputation in the film community in the Northwest, on the West Coast, nationally, even internationally. This year, we got 100 submissions that are not from the U.S. A lot from Australia.”

“Woody,” a 10-minute animated story, is one of them, and one of 400 shorts submitted.

Marshall answered the great film festival question: Where do all those shorts come from? And why, when we never see them in mainstream movie houses?

“Shorts are a way of honing skills,” Marshall said. “They’re also a way of pitching films to producers. If you’re in the audience and you don’t like one, wait 10 minutes and there’ll be another. Don’t quote me on this, but I think ‘Woody’ might be nominated for an Academy Award.”

We persuaded, and she agreed, to predict. After all, TFF has been a good omen for its shorts. “Woody” has been short listed for an Australian Academy - Cinema Television Arts Award this year. “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” its 2011 best animated film winner, went on to earn the Oscar for best animated short.

Marshall has a few more Aussie favorites.

“The Telegram Man,” a 14-minute drama about Bill Williams, the man who delivered the worst news of all in a farming community during World War II is one. “Antarctica: A Year on the Ice” is another.

“It has a link to Tacoma,” she said.

One of the people featured in the documentary has relatives here, and he has been e-mailing Marshall so she can get them to come to the screening. Though accidental and peripheral, that Northwest connection fits one of the festival’s goals.

“With feature-length films, we focused on the Pacific Northwest, to let that shine through,” Marshall said.

Look for glimpses of Purdy and the Key Peninsula and Dayna Hanson’s mockumentary, “Improvement Club.” Consider the role that pets, including one from Tacoma, play in our lives, even in their after-lives in Amy Finkel’s documentary, “Furever.” Make a break from a Puget Sound nursing home with a senior mother bent on hitchhiking to her daughter’s wedding on the Oregon Coast in Gary Lundgren’s “Redwood Highway.” Catch Macklemore in “The Otherside,” Daniel Torek’s documentary on Seattle hip-hop.

“I hope I’ve programmed it to everyone’s liking,” Marshall said. “Something for everyone."

You want horror? “The Invoking” has it in Seattle. Director Jeremy Berg titled it “Cedar Ridge,” but a distributor picked it up and gave it a creepier name.

Gotta laugh? Join fantasy game players in “Zero Charisma,” Andrew Matthews’ coming-of-age tale about a bunch of people in their 30s.

A festival like this is as much about the conversations as the films, and that’s where the economic impact blooms. The Grand encourages schmoozing, and suggests doing it at sponsors’ establishments, including Maxwell’s Restaurant, Farelli’s Pizza and Savor. Locals, including members of the 253 Film Collective, will likely have haunts of their own. Expect to hear a good deal of movie talk all over town – and feel free to ask to listen, or join, in the discussions. That’s what puts the fizz in a festival.

Tacoma Weekly will partner with Marshall and Zach Powers, director of marketing, to add some of that fizz to the Internet. During TFF’s eight days, look for “Behind the Screens” featurettes daily at www.tacomaweekly.com and tacomafilmfestival.com, and on our Facebook pages. We’ll introduce you to the people who craft this festival, tell the tale of the poster and meet local filmmakers.

Powers will make daily suggestions on “If You Liked.” If you liked “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” for example, he’s betting you’ll enjoy “G.B.F.” A “Kon-Tiki” fan? “Antarctica: A Year on the Ice” may appeal to your inner adventurer.

Powers also has volunteered to give us a daily discussion topic to run as The Weekly’s “4 O’clock Question” on Facebook.


• The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., is the mothership. Look for most of the festival’s showings and events in its theaters and reception spaces.

• Annie Wright School, 827 N. Tacoma Ave., will host the opening night VIP Gala at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 3 with “G.B.F.” showing after the reception.

• Tacoma Community College Auditorium, Building 2. Movies on Oct. 4 are free to students with TCC ID. They are: “Record/Play,” “Woody” and “The Otherside” at 12:30 p.m.; “The Firebird” and “A River Changes Course” at 2:30 p.m.; “Zero Charisma” at 5:45 p.m., and “Full-Time Ministry” and “Bible Quiz” at 7:30 p.m.

• Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St., will show three documentaries Oct. 5. They are: “Against the Grain” at 10:15 a.m., “Harana” at 12:15 p.m., and “Antarctica: A Year on Ice” at 2:30 p.m. MOG members get the Grand Cinema members’ discount.

• Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., will focus on shorts Oct. 6. They are “Today” and the feature “Alive & Well” at 10:45 a.m.; documentary shorts at 12:45 p.m., and drama shorts at 3:45 p.m. TAM members get the Grand Cinema members’ discount.

• University of Puget Sound, Kilworth Memorial Chapel, 3410 N. 18th St., on Oct. 7 will show “Remote Area Medical” at 2 p.m., “Six-Letter Word” and “Stand Clear of Closing Doors” at 4 p.m. and “A River Changes Course” at 6:30 p.m. UPS students get in free with ID.

• University of Washington-Tacoma’s Carwein Auditorium in the Keystone Building at 1900 Commerce St. Movies are free Oct. 8. They are: “Evergreen: The Road to Legalization in WA” at 4:30 p.m. and “DSKNECTD” at 6:30 p.m.


• The $150 VIP Festival Pass gets you into every movie, plus the opening night reception and the closing night festivities. But wait, there’s more: A parking pass for The Grand, and a festival T-shirt come with it.

• The $50 weekend pass is good Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

• Single tickets are $10 for general admission; $8 for seniors and Grand Cinema members; $6 for students and Grand senior members.

• Closing night movie and dinner is $30 general admission, $25 for Grand members.

Advance tickets are for sale at The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave.

For more information, check http://www.TacomaFilmFestival.com or call (253) 593-4474.


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