Filmmaking has a vibrant history in the South Sound, and an even more promising future. The Tacoma Film Festival (TFF), now in its 14th year, is an outlet for local filmmakers to showcase their work, as well as bring in artists from around the world to expand the culture of cinema in the region. Movie-makers and -goers alike endlessly anticipate the annual event and now, finally, the 2019 TFF is finally here.
This year’s independent film festival, hosted by The Grand Cinema in Tacoma, will run from Oct. 3–10, with a myriad of movies, workshops, discussions, and more. The line-up includes 21 feature-length films, 12 virtual reality works, 41 documentary shorts, and an additional 70 fictional shorts. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to see every movie in the lineup, so we’ve curated a list of our top picks of things to see (synopses courtesy Tacoma Film Festival website):
Thursday, Oct. 3
In The Infiltrators, directors Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera present a hybrid cinematic language, combining familiar documentary form and scripted narrative to map an uncharted domain: inside an Obama-era immigration detention system. Based on true events, The Infiltrators is both a suspenseful account of a high-stakes mission and an emotionally charged portrait of visionary youth fighting for their community. The film’s innovative storytelling approach in connection with a crucial public issue exemplifies TFF’s mission to bring thought-provoking works to our community. Matt Martinez (Director of Content, KNKX) will facilitate a discussion with director Alex Rivera after the film, including an audience Q&A. Hear from and connect with local immigrant rights and anti-deportation activists and organizations as they talk about their work in a resource-sharing reception before and after the film. Pantages Theater, 6 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 4
TRACK is back in its fourth installment showcasing music videos from our own backyard and around the world. Join filmmakers, musicians, and movie lovers for this one-of-a-kind chance to see music videos as nature intended, on the big screen, turned up loud. The Blue Mouse Theatre, 9:15 p.m.
Get a sneak preview of The Veldt VR experiences and party with food, refreshments, and beats by DJ Smokey Wonder. King’s Books, 10 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 5
Bring your movie fans of all ages to this collection of short films straight from the New York International Children’s Film Festival. These films bridge the gap between little and big for young audiences growing in experiences and ideas. The first 100 guests will enjoy free doughnuts and Smith Brothers Farms milk. The Blue Mouse Theatre, 10:30 a.m.
Director Melinda Raebyne embeds herself at one of Seattle’s homeless camps, Camp Second Chance challenging public ignorance and humanizing a population that locals would rather neglect. Plays with the short films A Film About Kites and Everywhere Nothing is Hidden. The Blue Mouse Theatre, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 6
This year’s winners of the TFF juried awards and cash prizes will be announced in style at Matriarch Lounge located just a few blocks south of The Grand Cinema. This party is free and open to the public, 21 and over only. Matriarch Lounge, 5 p.m.
A one-of-a-kind expanded cinema performance by artist and filmmaker Zia Anger. Sitting with the audience, projecting her laptop screen, and communicating directly via typing in the Text Edit application, Anger attempts to recount the stories behind her lost and abandoned work – including her first feature film. The Grand Cinema, 7:15 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 7
Seed&Spark is the world’s only crowdfunding and streaming destination, supporting inclusive films and film-related projects. “Crowdfunding to Build Independence” lays out the steps toward a successful crowdfunding campaign, and a career-long action plan to create a flourishing, direct relationship with your audience. You’ll learn to find and activate your audience, structure your campaign and pitch, pick the right goal and incentives, and much more. Because it isn’t just about crowdfunding: It’s about career building. The Grand Cinema, 11 a.m.
From bare-back horse racing to Madonna inspired dance routines, these are just a few of the ways Indigenous people get to work in this extraordinary program. The Grand Cinema, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 8
A Groundhog Day-esque tale goes horribly wrong as two grief-stricken parents, out on a camping trip to mend their marriage, are repeatedly terrorized by a psychopathic sideshow artist and his monstrous assistants. The Grand Cinema, 7:15 p.m.
Horror, fantasy, and comedy short films by Pacific Northwest creators. Programmed by Katy Evans, assistant executive director of engagement and education; and Wade Neal, assistant executive director of operations and festivals. The Grand Cinema, 7:15 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 9
“Growing up can be a little bit scary and weird,” Kayla, Eighth Grade. An collection of short films, exploring social norms and cultural pressures coming at us from all sides. Considered appropriate for ages 13 and up. The Grand Cinema, 7:15 p.m.
You’ve seen the documentary about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, now is your chance to see what it was like for comedian Tim Heidecker as he campaigns for office in this hilarious 100 percent real documentary. It will play with the short film, Bennifer. The Grand Cinema, 9:15 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 10
Donna is 84-years old. She lives alone on the property she’s owned for more than half a century in rural Washington state, with a mobile home and a house that are both cluttered with junk. She exists on a school bus driver’s pension, social security, and Medicare. She’s never had a credit card, never voted, and never flown on an airplane. Quietly stubborn, she is estranged from all surviving members of her family, except for one – her son, the filmmaker – who rarely visits her. When her health begins to fail, she calls on him. Plays with the short film, After the Fire. The Grand Cinema, 5 p.m.
Closing the 2019 Tacoma Film Festival is To The Stars (2019 Sundance Film Festival official selection), a drama that follows, in director Martha Stephens’ words, ”a timid and cloistered teen girl’s coming of age in 1961 Oklahoma as she develops her first authentic friendship with a restless and enigmatic new girl.” The Grand Cinema, 7 p.m.
Our picks only scratch the surface of all the entertaining and enlightening films screening at this year’s festival. To see the full program of everything TFF 2019 has to offer, visit this website. You can buy festival tickets at The Grand Cinema box office. Follow us on Instagram to stay up-to-date with all of our festival happenings. Tag us in your posts too, but please, not during the movie.