Arts & Entertainment: Seventh annual Tacoma Film Festival opens Oct. 4

The annual Tacoma Film Festival kicks off Oct. 4 with an opening night party to welcome film buffs, actors and filmmakers to this eight-day celebration of independent films from here at home and around the world. Embracing full-length films, shorts and animation from the family-friendly to those for mature audiences, the festival will feature films at seven different venues around Tacoma with home base at The Grand Cinema, which organizes the festival.

The opening night gala Oct. 4 welcomes one and all to eat, drink and talk about movies. Held at Annie Wright School’s Kemper Theater, guests can mingle and dine on foods provided by Maxwell’s Restaurant and Lounge beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall, then move into the theater for the west coast premiere of the comedy/drama “The Taiwan Oyster.” Directed by Mark Jarrett, the film tells the story of two expatriate kindergarten teachers in Taiwan who embark on a quixotic odyssey to bury a fellow countryman. It is the official selection of SXSW and Hamptons film festivals.

Tickets for opening night are $20 for members of The Grand and $25 for non-members. Admission for the movie only is $11. Tickets are available at The Grand box office, by calling (253) 572-6062 or through the festival website.

From there ensues a full week of movies to see and events to attend. “One of the biggest things this year is that more filmmakers will be in attendance than we’ve ever had,” said festival director Emily Alm. Visit the festival website to find out which films will have the filmmaker in attendance for a post-screening discussion.

In addition to film screenings, on Oct. 7 short film guru Warren Etheredge will present a free filmmaker workshop open to everyone. Titled “What Is Wrong With This Picture?” Etheredge will screen the opening minutes of several filmmakers' films and offer honest insight, delivered with his trademark wit and good will. It begins at 10 a.m. in The Grand’s lower lobby and admission is free.

Later that evening is the awards presentation following the 6:30 p.m. screening of “Valley of Saints” at The Grand. Award categories include: Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Narrative, Best Short Documentary, Best Regional Film and Best Animated Film. Films shown throughout the weekend are eligible for the Audience Choice Award, and ballots will be handed out at each screening. The winner of this award will also be announced along with the juried awards.
Films shown Oct. 8 and 9 (or films with a Northwest filmmaker shown over the weekend) are eligible for the Local Audience Choice Award. Ballots will be handed out at each screening. The winner of this award will be announced at the Closing Night film and celebration.

The festival closes Oct. 11 at The Grand with two crowd-pleasing comedies. In “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon,” two nearly middle-aged brothers face off again in their own private Olympiad. Lead actor Mark Kelly will be in attendance for a post-film Q&A session. “Tumbleweed!” is a Kickstarter.com funded, 5-minute live action short that tells the story of a community of tumbleweeds living together in North Texas and the one tumbleweed that, unlike all the others, does not tumble. Stick around after the film to meet filmmaker Jared Varava and enjoy a food provided by The Social Bar & Grill. A cash bar and dessert will be available as well. Tickets to closing night are $15 for members of The Grand and $20 for non-members.
Find out everything that’s going on during the festival, order tickets and download the full program at http://www.tacomafilmfestival.com.

Tacoma native returns with film debut


Writer, director, producer and Tacoma native Linda Palmer returns home to premiere her debut feature-length film “Halloween Party” as an official selection of the Tacoma Film Festival (TFF). [Palmer’s first outing, “The Wedding Video,” screened at the 2007 TFF.] “Halloween Party,” a romantic comedy about a girl searching for love on the most deceptive night of the year, screens Oct. 5 at 5:45 p.m. at Tacoma School of the Arts (1118 Commerce St.). Both Palmer and her fiancé, executive producer Mark Cardone, will be in attendance for the screening, and with many family and friends in the area, a rumored “costume party” for the premiere – much like a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” – is expected.
 Though it’s not technically a musical, the film boasts a soundtrack comprised of 29 original songs – six of them written specifically for the movie. The resulting 16-song soundtrack has attracted a following on Internet radio and YouTube and is available on CDBaby, Amazon and iTunes. As a result of the wildly positive response to the music, the team will be releasing the indie film in Los Angeles for a weeklong run at the iconic Art Theatre of Long Beach in hopes of obtaining a coveted Oscar nomination for “Best Original Song.” Download the soundtrack http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/halloweenpartyoriginalmo.
In addition to the Tacoma premiere, “Halloween Party” will screen as an official selection at the Laughlin International Film Festival on Oct. 12 and 13 and is scheduled for a worldwide release on Amazon for VOD or purchase on Halloween 2012. For more information about the movie, the charities it supports and its music, see  http://www.HalloweenPartyMovie.com.

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