Back to South Sound Cinema

Tacoma Film Festival

A thrilling and exhausting week of diverse film begins

Barbara Loden's landmark Wanda. Photo credit: Bardene International Films

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

We've been covering the Tacoma Film Festival for a number of years, at this point, and one of the pleasures of doing so has been in charting its steady rise to becoming one of the Pacific Northwest's preeminent annual cinematic events. Since its humble beginnings at the Grand Cinema, 13 years ago, the festival has expanded in both scope and recognition; starting in 2013, TFF has been included every year in MovieMaker Magazine's list of "50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee," and it's easy to see why. This year, frankly, there's too many amazing programs to see at TFF, with expanded short film compilations, a retrospective of Hal Ashby's films, the return of virtual reality films, and the typically high level of narrative and documentary features. Simply put, not only is there something for everyone at this year's TFF, there's frankly too much for everyone, which will make for a thrilling, if exhausting, week for cinephiles.

Speaking with David Dinnell, TFF's new director and programmer, we got the scoop on some of the more worthwhile offerings to catch at this year's festival, which were culled from a selection of more than 1,500 submissions.

"We're having the world premier of I Want More, I Want Less which is this subtle, nuanced portrait of two people living in New York City, in the midst of this gentrification that's happening in Queens and Brooklyn, and the main protagonist is really quite complicated," says Dinnell. "I think that's what we saw, in a number of the submitted works, is that the characters seem to be more drawn-out and nuanced, and not in a ‘this is obviously how you should think about this person' sort of way. It opens up for a more different kind of engagement, perhaps, than conventional approaches to people depicting others. A lot of the short films have an exciting ambiguity to them and I think that's something we're responding to."

Some of the more exciting screenings on offer don't reach for the vanguard of today's filmmaking, but rather look at the past. In addition to the aforementioned retrospective of the great Hal Ashby, Dinnell directs our attention to Barbara Loden's landmark Wanda.

"Wanda got a lot of attention and was rediscovered in more recent years, and we're showing it in a digital 4k restoration," says Dinnell. "It's a really groundbreaking, truly independent film shot in 16mm in 1970, and it's a really complicated feminist work. It's very powerful."

Speaking of the vanguard, Dinnell's particularly thrilled to show some out-of-the-box selections that demonstrate film's continued ability to surprise.

"There's a film called Empty Metal that's screening on Saturday afternoon," says Dinnell. "It's got a really complicated story that I won't do justice to by explaining it; it's just a very exciting approach to storytelling, and it has all the elements for what I could easily imagine becoming a cult movie in a decade's time. Filmmaker Adam Khalil will be here for that. ... For people that are really into animation, we have a program of international animated shorts on Friday night. We also have Miwa Matreyek, who's a really interesting animator, who works with two sources of projected light, both front and rear, and does a live performance interacting with her animation in a kind of silhouette. It's called This World Made Itself, and it's truly a magical experience to see this live, and it's something that this festival hasn't really had before, doing more live cinematic performances."

Again, there are just too damn many options at this year's TFF, running from Oct. 4-11. For those willing to run the gauntlet, we're not sure if there's a medal in your future, but a week's worth of great film is guaranteed.

TACOMA FILM FESTIVAL, Thursday, Oct. 4-Thursday Oct. 11, screenings at the Grand Cinema and other locations, ticket info and more information can be found at

Read next close


LGBTQ benefit show

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search