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Destiny City Film Festival

A diverse and intimate group of films make up the festival's fourth year

Wash Up opens the Destiny City Film Festival with the story of an ex-NHL player returning home. Photo credit: Apex Entertainment

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One of Tacoma's best new traditions for its summer months is the arrival of the Destiny City Film Festival. Coming at the end of August, the Destiny City Film Festival (DCFF) helps to usher in the period of the year when we get to enjoy cooler temperatures and, by and large, better movies; we deserve to wear layers, and we deserve to be able to take in films that explore the vast spectrum of humanity. DCFF will be celebrating its fourth year this weekend, and it features a typically intriguing selection of movies that take advantage of film's open-ended variety of themes and styles.

"The quality of submissions grew even more this year over last year," said DCFF executive director Emily Alms. "The advancement in technology and movie-making tools has progressed so that filmmakers can enable even more creative methods to tell their story on screen. I noticed a wider variety of structure styles and cinematography. Plus, there are many more films that center around social media and the role it plays in our everyday lives."

The Blood is at the Doorstep, which made its premier at this year's South by Southwest, seems to be an unmissable film at this year's DCFF. The documentary charts the aftermath of the 2014 shooting of 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton by Officer Christopher Manney. Hamilton, who had long suffered from schizophrenia -- though showed no signs of violent tendencies -- was shot 14 times by Manney. This film explores the blue wall of silence after Hamilton's murder and the eventual systemic changes that occurred after waves of protests pressed the issue.

"I am super excited for people to see The Blood is at the Doorstep," said Alm. "We are proud to be engaging in such an important issue. Plus, Maria Hamilton, the mother of the film's subject, will be here from Milwaukee to engage in a post-show Q&A moderated by professor Angelique Davis from Seattle University."

Opening night of the festival features a couple movies that are a little lighter, though, starting with Wash Up. Like a less cartoonish Eastbound & Down, or a less bombastic Goon (my favorite sports movie), Wash Up is the story of a former NHL player returning to his small hometown after a disappointing tenure in the majors. Clips I've seen paint Wash Up as a gently observational study of the troubles of coming home. Also playing on opening night is Eliza Sherman's Revenge, a black comedy about a woman with supernatural powers getting revenge on her old high school bullies, which looks like some good, goofy mayhem. The film's director will also be in attendance for a Q&A.

A Bad Idea Gone Wrong closes out the festival, with its comic tale of two burglars getting in over their head, and there are many more feature length movies and shorts sprinkled throughout the festival that are well worth your attendance. The event of DCFF that seems most alluring, though, is the screenwriting panel that'll be taking place at Peaks and Pints, Saturday at 2 p.m.

"Since DCFF celebrates cinematic storytelling and hosts a short screenplay competition each year, we wanted to provide another opportunity for local writers to get connected and learn more about their craft," said Alm. "Some colleagues of mine came together and assembled a great panel of screenwriters from the area who will be sharing their experiences in the industry. ... Overall, the goal is to support and sustain storytelling in the Tacoma area."

As usual, with festivals like this, your best bet is to take a chance on something you have no idea about. With just three days of programming at DCFF, it wouldn't be unthinkable for you to catch everything.

Destiny City Film Festival, Friday-Sunday, Aug. 25-27, Blue Mouse Theatre, 2611 N. Proctor St., Tacoma,

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