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Category: film


Tacoma documentary on the MLK Ballet dance company by Mick Flaaen screens next Wednesday at the Washington State History Museum for the Seattle True Independent Film Festival

The Moving Company performs "Funeral" in Mick Flaaen's film "A Funeral Dance." Courtesy image.
The Moving Company performs “Funeral” in Mick Flaaen’s film “A Funeral Dance.” Courtesy image.

Next Wednesday night, two things are combining in the theater of the Washington State History Museum: the Seattle True Independent  Film Festival is making a debut appearance in Tacoma, and T-town filmmaker Mick Flaaen is seeing the final-cut screening of his fascinating 2012 documentary “A Funeral Dance,” capturing the backstage drama at MLK Ballet’s Moving Company as they prepare a new show.

For both festival and filmmaker, it’s a big deal.

“Any time you get into a festival, it’s a big deal,” says Flaaen, who caught STIFF’s attention last year with his short film “Paint” about Tacoma’s graffiti murals. “It’s so competitive now because of digital film. Festivals used to get around a thousand entries; now they’re getting three times that. Sundance got 11,000 entries last year.”

But Flaan is proving he’s got competitive chops. Read more »


Northwest Sinfonietta strikes gold, playing live to Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” in Tacoma’s historic Temple Theater

Saturday night was a first for a lot of Tacoma folks: the first time many had watched a silent movie with live orchestral accompaniment, and the first time the 21-year-old Northwest Sinfonietta had played in the Temple Theater. And although the ensemble had done Charlie Chaplin before, it wasn’t a 2-hour feature film. So the effect was even more impressive as the chamber orchestra struck gold, playing for Chaplin’s 1925 “The Gold Rush” with warmth, delicacy and the kind of precise visual synchronization that made you occasionally forget they were even there.

Of course, playing live music for a film in a historic theater built just one year after the film was made is delightfully appropriate, and watching the orchestra tune up in front of a big screen on that enormous stage flanked by art deco Egyptian pillars of aqua and gold is enough to send shivers down your spine. But the tricky part of accompanying film music as a group is keeping together and keeping up with the images – and the Sinfonietta, under phenomenally precise direction from Christophe Chagnard, did this brilliantly.

Interestingly, the evening began with a peek into just how difficult the task is. Chagnard pulled up scans from his 500-page score on the screen, pointing out the verbal cues (characters standing up, fighting, leaving) and his own extremely highlighted notes on cueing his orchestra. Read more »


Charlie Chaplin takes the Northwest Sinfonietta to “The Gold Rush” in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup this weekend

Charlie Chaplin eating boots in "The Gold Rush." Courtesy image.
Charlie Chaplin eating boots in “The Gold Rush.” Courtesy image.

The Northwest Sinfonietta, whose usual domain is the classical chamber orchestra repertoire, had a brief flirtation with Charlie Chaplin four years ago, playing the score live to his silent films “A Dog’s Life” and “Shoulder Arms.” The affair was a success on all sides, and this weekend the ensemble is giving the silent movie maestro another chance to lead them into silliness and mayhem, playing live to a screening of Chaplin’s famous “The Gold Rush” in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup.

But they’re choosing different venues to do it. For Seattle they’ll stick with Benaroya Hall, but to give the film (and the audience) full capacity they’ll be playing in two historic theaters: Tacoma’s Temple and Puyallup’s Liberty, each built in exactly the same era as the Chaplin film.

By 1925, just one year before the Temple was built, Chaplin had seen great success with “Shoulder Arms” and “The Kid,” as well as dozens of short films. By then, too, the Klondike gold rush was turning from recent memory to romantic history. Chaplin was inspired by books, as well as a stereoscope card collection belonging to Douglas Fairbanks. Moving from elaborate on-location shooting at the Chilkoot Pass, with some 600 extras, to just-as-elaborate studio sets made of wood, burlap, chicken wire, plaster, salt and flour, Chaplin created his story of a Lone Prospector (Chaplin’s famous tramp character) who washes up in the Yukon and has every adventure from dance hall brawls to having to eat boots for sustenance, plus the famous scene of a fight in a cabin teetering on a precipice. Read more »


Ballet, art, music, film and fun all meet at Tacoma City Ballet’s 10th Mid-Winter Masquerade Ball Soirée, Saturday night at the Merlino Building

Masks by Tacoma City Ballet director Erin Ceragioli for the TCB Mid-Winter Masquerade Ball this Saturday. Courtesy photo.
Masks by Tacoma City Ballet director Erin Ceragioli for the TCB Mid-Winter Masquerade Ball this Saturday. Courtesy photo.

The Jan Collum Ballroom in the historic Merlino Building is perfect for a party: a sweeping balcony, gold Art Deco molding, the exotic whiff of ballet resin in the air. So that’s exactly what Tacoma City Ballet does every six months or so – transform its main rehearsal space into an elegant party scene filled with dance, music, fine art, film and food. On this Saturday, the next soirée has an added bit of fun: a masquerade ball.

Along with work by local photographers like Bill Hinsee, Jessie Felix, Denise Knudson and Scott Nelson, films by Ellington Tynes, poetry by Sandra King and original choreography by TCB’s Erin Ceragioli, Travis Goldman and Joel Myers, there’ll be live music by Touché: Eclectic Quintet, and guests are encouraged to dress up with masks.

Read more »


“Geography Club,” the movie: Former Tacoma novelist Brent Hartinger gets his gay-teen novel filmed, with fall release planned.

brenthartingerbeachBrent Hartinger, a former Tacoma writer who hit big with his gay-empowerment young adult novel “Geography Club” in 2003 is now seeing his award-winning book turned into a movie, with a fall release date planned. Directed by Gary Entin, the film stars Cameron Deane Stewart as the protagonist Russel Middlebrook, with “90210” actor Justin Deeley, Nikki Blonsky (“Hairspray”) and Ally Maki (“Ten Things I Hate About You”) supporting.

“I’m thrilled,” said Hartinger, who moved to Seattle a couple of years ago but who based “Geography Club” on his former hometown Tacoma, where it was initially banned by the University Place school district. “I spent almost a week on the set in Los Angeles last summer, and it was a surreal experience.”

Hartinger, who married his long-term partner Michael Jensen in December, is the author of numerous young adult books, including two more in the Russel Middlebrook series, and a number of plays including a stage adaptation of “Geography Club.” He co-founded the gay teen help center Oasis in 1990. Read more »


Newbery book ultra-short film competition opens for Tacoma Public Library festival

Calling all filmmakers, of any age! The Tacoma Public Library is joining in the annual national 90-second Newbery Film Competition and Festival this year, asking for submissions of films that tell the story of a Newbery medal or honor book in just 90 seconds, with screenings of the best videos on February 23.

Anyone can make a film – adult or child –with the only rule being that it needs to tell the complete story of a Newbery winning or nominated book (not just a trailer) in a ridiculously short 90 seconds or under. Submissions are posted as YouTube videos,

Read more »


Grit City Flicks bring T-town humor, rock and drama to the Tacoma Film Fest

Scene from "Tacoma's Rock-n-Roll Legends" at the Tacoma Film Fest. Courtesy image.

It’s Day Five of the 2012 Tacoma Film Fest, and finally I’ve hit a full house. The Grit City Flicks screened this afternoon at The Grand Cinema, and obviously what Tacomans love to see is films by Tacomans. But as usual the quality of the seven shorts – which screen again 6:30 p.m. Tuesday – varied wildly from must-sees to wish-you-hadn’ts.

Among the best was “Esrever,” a five-minute comedy by Bryan Johnson that’s just as good the second time as it was when it won the Audience Choice Award at the Grand’s 72 Hour Film Competition earlier this year. The concept – a self-infatuated film director who invents a new technique of filming movies backwards in order to play them in reverse – is made funnier by local actors, silly stunt scenes and the like.

Also well-made, “The One” (Jason Daniel) offers a behind-the-scenes version of video game avatars, with funny commentary and a big kick at the end.

“Tacoma’s Rock-n-Roll Legends,” meanwhile, is a 25-minute documentary by Randy Sparks that gives a primer on how the 1950s and ‘60s Tacoma garage rock scene bust out a national music identity and paved the way for 1990s grunge. Read more »


Vicci Martinez, Fab-5, Recess Monkey, Squeak Squawk and Double Shot Theatre among many offerings at Broadway Center’s Fall Free for All later this month

Put it on your calendar now – the 2012 Fall Free for All festival, organized by Tacoma’s Broadway Center for Perfoming Arts September 21-22, is bigger and better than ever, with headline acts like singer-songwriter Vicci Martinez and kindie rockers Recess Monkey. Best of all, it’s still all free.

A teaser for the Broadway Center’s new season and an enticement to get new theater-goers downtown, the Fall Free for All was a success last year, though Sunday saw far fewer crowds and a less festive atmosphere. This year, though, the headline act Vicci Martinez is sure to draw crowds, and

Read more »