On the screen, an alien forest is unveiled. The planet has unbreathable air, so characters are dressed in varied astronaut-esque gear. Seemingly toxic dust floats across the screen as the camera follows our protagonists. And yet, there is something oddly familiar about the setting to a Pacific Northwestener’s eye.
The opening night of the 13th annual Tacoma Film Festival on Thursday, October 4, premiered a Washington-made movie, Prospect, which was filmed in our very own Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula. Although the effects and story line made the setting seem otherworldly, co-director Zeek Earl admitted he was worried about tricking the Tacoma crowd into believing they were actually seeing an alien planet.
“You are going to be the hardest audience to convince,” Earl said with a laugh.
Despite the sword ferns and Evergreen trees, the film did seem to transport the audience to another world, captivating the 215 people who came to view it.
After the screening, directors engaged the crowd with a question and answer session. Filmmakers and VIP patrons were then invited to the lower lobby of The Grand Cinema for an after-party to celebrate the beginning of the weeklong festival.
“The value of being at a film festival is that storytelling is such an important part of human nature,” said Wade Neal, assistant executive director of operations and festivals at The Grand Cinema. “We’re so excited to have all of these filmmakers here sharing their stories.”
With films shot as close as our own Tacoma neighborhoods and as far off as Israel, and with everything from animated shorts to feature-length documentaries, this festival certainly has something for everyone. It will be screening more than 200 films in the next week, along with a variety of workshops and other special events, including a virtual reality experience and a forum with promising local filmmakers.
To view the full program and purchase tickets, visit tacomafilmfestival.com