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Her Aim is True

A duo of rock docs features the story of trailblazing photographer Jini Dellaccio

Jini Dellaccio blazed trails, not just for women in rock photography, but for the art itself. Photo credit: Broadway Center

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Saturday, the Rialto will host a double feature of two Tacoma-centric music documentaries. In Strictly Sacred: The Story of Girl Trouble, you'll see - among many other things in a wildly kinetic time capsule of ‘80s Tacoma rock - Bon Von Wheelie, drummer for Girl Trouble. In the film, she touches a bit on the struggles of being a female drummer in the mostly male-dominated rock scene. But, many years before Von Wheelie sat at a drum kit, there was Jini Dellaccio, the subject of the first film in the double feature: Her Aim is True.

Her Aim is True is essentially a documentation of documentation, telling the story of Dellaccio's unexpected career as a rock and roll photographer spanning the decade of the ‘60s in the Pacific Northwest. She captured iconic images of not only local legends like The Sonics and The Wailers, but touring acts like The Who, as well as traveling to California to get one of the most indelible ever photos of Neil Young. Being a prominent female rock photographer in the time was unusual enough, let alone the fact that Dellaccio was in her ‘40s by the time she set out on this path.

"When you think of people she captured in front of her camera, all of these people coming through Seattle in this post-Beatlemania, The Who smashing their guitars, it's really extraordinary," says director Karen Whitehead. "It was amazing to hear of this woman in photography, in rock and roll photography, that I had never heard of, and to see what she achieved in those early years - probably a decade ahead of the one woman you think of when you think of rock and roll photography: Annie Leibovitz. But besides that, I felt that Jini made an interesting portrait of a woman who always did her own thing and was so open. I think that's an inspiring story that's relevant today."

The film features extensive interviews with not only musicians who she photographed in the ‘60s and photographers who were influenced by her work, but also tons of footage of Dellaccio herself, who was in her ‘90s when filming began for the documentary. (Thankfully, Jini was able to see the finished film when it premiered in 2013, before she passed the next year at the age of 97.) What strikes one most when seeing interviews with Dellaccio is how lively she seemed, and how genuinely passionate she remained about all aspects of photography.

"I am genuinely - as I was when I first met her - completely inspired by her passion for her art, and I hope that I'm still making documentaries when I'm in my eighties and nineties," says Whitehead. "It's exciting if you can, like she did, keep reinventing yourself. That's what I love about Jini's story. As someone said, she may be the only person who's ever read the manual for Photoshop. She took every development in the field seriously, and was excited about it."

For this event, the Broadway Center will be offering a pay-it-forward program, encouraging ticket-buyers to purchase an extra ticket for students who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend the screening. With a filmmaker Q&A following the screening, this is an invaluable event to expose a new generation to some innovators of artistic expression.

Rialto Theater, Saturday, Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m., $15, 310 S. 9th St., Tacoma, 253.591.5894

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