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Tag: Tacoma Film Festival


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 »


The Tacoma Film Festival winners, plus the poetic “Valley of Saints”

Gulzar Bhat at Dal Lake in "Valley of Saints." Courtesy image.

And the winners are…(drum roll)…The winners of each category in the Tacoma Film Festival were announced to an almost-full house at the Grand Cinema last night by filmmaker Warren Etheredge. Six of the seven winners will be screened again on Wednesday at the Grand, with a screening of the seventh later today.

Best Feature Documentary was “Lemon,” a powerful, tightly-edited telling of how three-time felon Lemon Anderson clawed his way back out of the ‘hood via spoken word poetry. “Lemon” will screen at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 10.

Best Regional Film was “Brightwood,” a 19-minute coming-of-age story beautifully shot on the San Juan islands. It will screen at 6:15 p.m. today at the Grand.

Best Narrative Feature was “Dead Man’s Burden,” a post-Civil War drama about rough justice with gorgeous wide-landscape cinematography. It screens at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Best Narrative Short was the black-humor-filled “Curfew”; while Best Documentary Short was “Odysseus’ Gambit” about a Cambodian American park chess player and Best Animated Film was the short “Thumb Snatchers from the Moon Cocoon,” a mock-horror flick on a Texas cow ranch. All the winning shorts will screen 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. Read more »


“Out on a Limb” shows Tacoma Film Festival’s strength (fascinating local film) and weakness (sparse audiences, lack of atmosphere)

The 2012 Tacoma Film Festival’s been up and running for three days now, but the first film I got to see was “Out on a Limb” by Northwest director Kevin Heutink. Screened Saturday morning in the cool grayness of Tacoma Art Museum’s lecture room, it wasn’t exactly the epitome of funky festival fun – an audience of ten, a 10-minute delay glitch and a room where the screen light is reflected off the shiny hard floor. Yet the film was a great example of what makes TFF shine: fascinating local stories told skillfully.

Heutink’s story of David Csaky, Seattle’s famous “Squirrelman” who hit national news when he was evicted from the treehouse he’d built for himself on east Lake Union a few years ago, raises more than the obvious issues of how we deal with our homeless population and how they cope with their own situations. Flipping between interviews with reluctantly-impressed neighbors, gawking tourists, sympathetic journalists and Csaky himself, Heutink probes into just why a treehouse touches us so deeply as humans.  From quotes (treehouse guru Pete Nelson’s psychoanalysis of trees as prehistoric security) to unabashedly admiring shots of the house itself to the down-home rawness of the folksy guitar score, Heutink connects the dots between civilization and the human need for nature. Read more »


Two thumbs-up, two thumbs-down for the Tacoma Film Festival’s Grit City Flicks

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

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Two gripping documentaries at Tacoma Film Festival explore the human capacity for good and evil

On the surface, a film about a preacher and a film about soccer would seem to have little in common. But they’re two documentaries in the Tacoma Film Festival that make the same salient point through gripping footage and interviews – the choice every person has between extreme good and extreme evil, and whether to forgive.

“The Redemption of General Butt Naked,” which screened last night and will screen again at 2:55 p.m. tomorrow at The Grand Cinema, is as startling as its title. First, a caveat – yes, you will see plenty of butt-naked men, but seeing as

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Critic’s Picks: Rainier Arts Fest at Ashford, 24-Hour Comics Day in Lakewood, Seattle Mandolin Orchestra in Tacoma and Tacoma Film Fest

Rainier Arts Festival in Ashford

The fifth annual Rainier Arts Festival is on again in Ashford, with live music, art, food and activities for all ages at the foot of Mt. Rainier. Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Free. Whittaker’s Basecamp, 30027 SR 706 E., Ashford. www.rainierarts.com

24-Hour Comics Day

Locals join cartoon artists all over the world in 24-Hour Comics Day, a challenge to create 24 pages of comics in 24 hours. Drop in and see them scribble – or do it yourself. From 10 a.m. Oct. 1. Free. Comic Book Ink, 2510 S. 24th Suites 15A-B, Lakewood. 253-761-4651,

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And the winners of the Fifth Tacoma Film Festival are …

The Tacoma Film Festival announced its category winners at an awards brunch Sunday morning. They are:

Best Feature: “Earthwork” (directed by Chris Ordal)

Best Documentary: “Back to the Garden” (directed by Kevin Tomlinson)

Best Animated Film: “A Complex Villainelle” (directed by Howard Cook, Nathan Billington, Bart Ovaitt, Rebecca Forth and Ryan Porter)

Best Short Film: “Ana’s Playground” (directed by Eric D. Howell), which plays again 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Grand Cinema

Best Regional Film: “Shuffle” (directed by Garrett Bennett), which plays again 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Grand

The festival runs through Thursday, and audience members can vote for their

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Painful local flicks, clever romantic comedies and an awesome silent movie at TFF


Jesse Eisenberg in "some boys don't leave." Courtesy photo.

Today I headed downtown to catch the Tacoma Film Festival’s Grit City Flicks – six Tacoma-made shorts at the Washington State History Museum – and the Comedy shorts at SOTA, most of which screen again tomorrow at 4:15 p.m. at the Grand. The verdict? Painful boredom for the local flicks except for one silent movie, and some quirky takes on romantic comedy.

First, the Grit City Flicks:

“Valuable” (Scott Perry) tells a tiresome tale of a man who wakes up in Point Defiance shrubbery handcuffed to a briefcase and confronting a crazy militiaman. The backwards-looping structure is irritating, the audio distorted and way too loud, the camerawork jerky and the plot nonexistent. Read more »