Now in its seventh year, the Tacoma Film Festival has come to be well known locally for providing South Sound film buffs with a bevy of film treasures every fall, some local, some national, some short, some long - and all artfully fantastic. This year will be no different ... other than it might be better.
On Sept. 8 the Tacoma Film Fest officially announced the lineup for this year's festival. Running Oct. 6-13, and hosted by Tacoma's Grand Cinema, the annual Tacoma Film Festival will offer over a hundred independent films, with a press releases calling it, "the best line-up of films to date."
That's heavy praise, to be sure, but early signs point to it being dead on.
This year's Tacoma Film Festival opens with the ceremonial Opening Night Gala at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 6, at Annie Wright School. In addition to the opening night movie selection of Natural Selection, featuring Saturday Night Live's Rachel Harris, those in attendance will be wooed by appetizers from Jonz Cantering.
It will be just the start.
"I never have a definitive outline for what types of films to choose, or what genres, etc," says Tacoma Film Festival Director Emily Alm. "I just focus on providing a good variety of topics, formats, cultures, and stories so there will be something for everyone.
"This year we had over 380 submissions to consider. Most of them were submitted directly to us, and I curated a handful of them as well," Alm says of the exhaustive efforts that go into creating a film festival the size of the Tacoma Film Fest. "As usual, I organized about 12 volunteer reviewers to watch every submission (each one was watched by at least two people), and ultimately made our final selections in late July. We usually try to choose around 100 films, and this year we are on target with 107 official selections."
For viewers trying to decide how to possibly spread themselves between so many entertaining options, a few selections of this year's Tacoma Film Fest stand out as must-see. Opening night's Natural Selection is an excellent place to start. The featured "Grit City Flicks," playing in a block on two days, Oct. 10-11, looks worthy once again this year. A film with strong Tacoma ties, the Oct. 11 showing of A Perfect Life will no doubt be a hot ticket. And the Oct. 12 showing of The Curse of Duncan Carbunkle, written by Seth Rasmussen and directed by Seth Wessel-Estes, seems sure to raise some intrigued eyebrows.
"I am very excited for our Opening Night Film and Gala. Natural Selection was one of my favorite narrative features that I watched this year, and I think it will be a great way to kick off the festival," says Alm.
"This year I've made a few changes to the overall festival structure, and I think it will really pay off for us and for our audience. I've programmed (Pacific Northwest) films on Monday and Tuesday during the festival, leaving the weekend for films from other parts of the country and the world. I wanted to really give some good support and focus to our local filmmakers, so hopefully programming everything together into its own quasi-festival will help to achieve this," continues Alm. "This is also part of where I think our festival is going: showcasing films and filmmakers from our area, but also bringing in a mix of films that have been big hits at other film festivals that year and some that are lesser-known but equally-impressive."
Festival honors will be handed out Oct. 9 at the Pacific Grill Events Center during the Tacoma Film Fest's Sunday Awards Celebration, highlighting the Best Feature, Best Documentary, Best Short, Best Regional Film, Best Animated and an Audience Choice.
And, as always, the Tacoma Film Fest's closing night, this year Oct. 13, offers one last chance to experience everything the event represents. Director Megan Griffiths, who will be in attendance at the Grand Cinema for a post-film Q&A session, offers up The Off Hours, a film remarkable for both its gritty reality and its inspiration.
The Tacoma Film Festival runs Oct. 6-13. For more information, including exact show times and ticket prices, visit www.tacomafilmfestival.com.
**Look for the official Tacoma Film Festival guide at The Grand Cinema and around town. Once again this year Swarner Communications and the Weekly Volcano produced the official Tacoma Film Festival guide.