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Destiny City Film Festival 2019

DCFF opening night selection All Square wonders if betting on kids’ baseball can be lucrative. Photo credit: Vertical Entertainment

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Boy, Tacoma sure does have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to film festivals, huh? In the fall, as we're ramping up to prestige movie season, we have the Tacoma Film Festival. Then, at the end of winter, in the lead-up to the Academy Awards, the Destiny City Film Festival (DCFF) comes around to shed even more light on the goings on of the film world. Whereas the Tacoma Film Festival is a packed week of a million options a day, the DCFF offers a more concise experience, limiting its programming to one weekend and leaning more heavily on short film packages. For the omnivorous moviegoer, this presents the opportunity to let the DCFF curate a few days of viewing that doesn't quite seem so daunting.

Now entering its sixth year, the DCFF has reached a comfortable stride, assembling a weekend of films that have something for just about everyone's taste: humanist dramedies, socially conscious narratives and documentaries, shorts for the whole family, and even some genre fare for Saturday's DCFF After Dark event. As usual, festivals like this are best experienced by grazing in the hopes of stumbling across something unexpected, not by rigorously planning out what you're going to see. DCFF executive director Emily Nakada-Alm can't play favorites, of course, but she does have some thoughts on what might be particularly good bets for the cinematically curious.

"Our opening and closing night films are sure to entertain; we have plenty of local films on the docket, and we can't wait to see a full theater for our Free Family Shorts," says Nakada-Alm. "Aside from those, I'd recommend two other feature films: The Feeling of Being Watched (a documentary about a journalist's investigation into one of the FBI's largest terrorism probes) and Above the Clouds (from the UK, an uplifting comedy with a heart). All of this year's films share a unique story that should open your mind, entertain you, and connect you with your community."

In addition to Above the Clouds and The Feeling of Being Watched, there are two other feature-length movies screening this year: opening night selection All Square, about a down-on-his-luck bookie who starts taking bets on kids' baseball games; and Aberdeen, a locally produced drama about a young journalist who uncovers the shady side of high school sports. But, beyond just showing movies, every year the DCFF has a panel for those who are either looking to break into the entertainment industry, or already work in the industry and want to network with peers. One of the DCFF's goals, according to Nakada-Alm, is to encourage a healthy community of both film fans and professionals.

"It's a great feeling to finally see everything come together, and to start a fun weekend of sharing stories," says Nakada-Alm. "Often, my favorite memories include seeing people connect with one another because of a film in our lineup, or seeing people gain something personally from attending the festival. Movies are one of the best ways to create collective experiences, and to share stories -- we're just happy to be a part of the process."

This year's DCFF wraps up with two short documentaries: Earthrise, about the taking of one of the most famous photographs of all time; and My Indiana Muse, about an artist devoting his work to an unlikely subject. The after-party will be going down at Peaks and Pints, where the Academy Awards ceremony will be screened, capping off a weekend-long celebration of film at every level.

DESTINY CITY FILM FESTIVAL, Friday-Sunday, Feb. 22-24, Blue Mouse Theatre, 2611 N. Proctor, Tacoma, $7-$70, tickets and full schedule at

CLOSING NIGHT PARTY, Sunday, Feb. 24, Peaks and Pints, 3816 N. 26th St., Tacoma, 253.328.5621,

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