Back to South Sound Cinema

Tacoma Film Festival rides again

Tacoma’s preeminent celebration of movies is more stacked than ever before

Opening night of the 2018 Tacoma Film Festival. Photo credit: Winsome Bye

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

At this point, we shouldn't really be surprised by the continued expansion in both quality and quantity of the Tacoma Film Festival's (TTF) lineup, but honestly: looking at the schedule, we are awestruck to see what the 14th annual TFF has to offer. Tacoma's preeminent celebration of movies, put on by the Grand Cinema, TFF has steadily evolved into a week-long, multimedia explosion of film craft, with something exciting for just about every cinephile. Short film programs, prestige full-length selections from around the globe, virtual reality, music videos, filmmaking panels, far-out genre fare, and ample opportunities to meet with participating filmmakers -- TFF has all this and more.

Daunting, right? Our mantra with these festivals, though, is that it's impossible not to find something rewarding if you just dive in. No, you will never be able to attend everything that TFF has to offer, but you could have a fulfilling experience by blindly throwing a few darts at TFF's program and letting them guide you. Still, we wouldn't be doing our due diligence if we didn't give you some helpful tips on where to start. Grand Cinema marketing manager Tanya Tran told us about some can't-miss events.

"Opening night is a really big deal for us," said Tran. "It's at the Pantages Theater, which is a testament to how much we're growing, and how much we want people to join us. We're really trying to make that event into a bigger community thing, and we'll be having eight local groups that work with anti-deportation and immigrant rights who will be sharing their resources with us, and one of the filmmakers is also going to be there, so it's definitely worth checking out."

That opening film, The Infiltrators, is a tense docudrama that tackles the real story of several undocumented immigrants who intentionally get locked up in a detention center in order to help their fellow detainees get out. It's a thrilling and timely film, and a perfect one to open the festival.

Tran also hipped us to the Bruce Bickford Memorial Micro Symposium, which she advises to buy tickets for in advance. Bickford, the iconic and idiosyncratic animator and filmmaker, passed away in April, and local filmmaker and archivist Isaac Olsen has put together a retrospective of Bickford's work.

"Isaac Olsen is a really fantastic local filmmaker, and Bruce Bickford, who Olsen was friends with, had lived in the SeaTac area for pretty much his whole life," explained Tran. "Bickford was in Los Angeles for his collaboration with Frank Zappa. He made a lot of animations that are really fantastic, and it's a rare opportunity to see it shared in this way."

For a truly one-of-a-kind show, Tran recommended My First Film, which finds filmmaker Zia Anger communicating with the audience by typing through a projected TextEdit document, guiding them through the disastrous circumstances of her debut movie. Part film, part performance, this is an event that is bound to stun.

To the Stars, a 2019 Sundance Film Festival official selection, closes out the festival with an intimate look at queer teenage life in ‘60s Oklahoma. Director Martha Stephens will be in attendance for a post-film Q&A.

But all of these highlights barely scratch the surface of what TFF has to offer -- special jury presentations, the aforementioned virtual reality experiences at the Veldt Studio, and free admission to most events to those with student ID, are just a few more of the amazing elements that the Tacoma Film Festival has incorporated on its way to becoming a rich wellspring cinema.

TACOMA FILM FESTIVAL, Thursday, Oct. 3 through Thursday, Oct. 10, The Grand Cinema and other locations, 253.593.4474, full schedule and tickets at

Read next close

South Sound Cinema

Three Easy Pieces

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search