The locally made flicks at the Tacoma Film Festival – which screened yesterday, and are on again at 1:45 p.m. today – are always rather hit-or-miss. This year two out of four were definitely worth the watch, with the other two less thrilling.
One of the better two was Mick Flaaen’s “Paint,” a hyper-local documentary showing how the City of Tacoma’s imaginative policy on graffiti murals has shaped the town both aesthetically and internally. In between interviews with everyone from artists to City administrator Amy McBride, to whom goes the credit for much of the moving and shaking, are still clips of Tacoma’s many graffiti murals, mostly downtown: the giant Mad Hatter, the graffiti garages on Broadway, the Rialto sunburst. Without harping, Flaaen makes the point that despite horrified reactionaries, the murals in fact both brighten the city and give all citizens pride in it, even those who you’d expect to be most disaffected.
Another good watch was “It Came First,” a funny short by Jeff Axtman and Christopher Wood, about a guy whose roommate has the superpower of bringing everything he touches to life – including breakfast. While the acting’s pretty appalling, the jolting camerawork is tongue-in-cheek, and watching the Monty Python-ish egg growl its evil way along a Ruston dock is pretty funny – especially the kicker at the end.
Not so amusing was a documentary by Aiden Haley on The Full Circle Project, following a group of local pro skiers as they alternate groovy stunts on a Chilean volcano with helping rebuild villages devastated by the 2010 earthquake and tsunami. The ski footage is beautiful but repetitive, as is the guitar soundtrack, and the building project and accompanying interviews with inarticulate skiers is about as interesting as watching paint dry.
But it doesn’t come close to the excruciating agony of watching Tacoma artist Teddy Haggarty and his mates drone on for way too long about abstract art, and then attempt to render it in a fuzzy party film shot at The Swiss. Films about artists need a whole lot more than art shots and egocentric artist ramblings; it would have been much more interesting to see Haggarty’s background and figure out why this white-suited, black-hatted guy is such a hero in Tacoma’s art scene.
Grit City Flicks plays again at 1:45 p.m. today at The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett St., Tacoma. The rest of the Tacoma Film Festival continues through Thursday at various downtown venues. Tickets $8.50/$6.50. 253-572-6062, www.tacomafilmfestival.com