Tacoma Film Festival is a hit

Photo courtesy of: http://www.kinografx.com <br/>Filmmaker Patrick Neary working on his short film “Otis V Monster”
Photo courtesy of: http://www.kinografx.com Filmmaker Patrick Neary working on his short film “Otis V Monster”

The Tacoma Film Festival, which ran from October 1 through 8, recently finished its fourth year screening a variety of independent films. The majority of the films are shown at the Grand Cinema, a smaller, more intimate and old-fashioned venue that blends in with the surrounding brick buildings. The rest of the films are screened at several Tacoma locations, including the Tacoma School of the Arts, Tacoma Art Museum and Blue Mouse Theater.

Philip Cowan, Executive Director of the Grand Cinema and Tacoma Film Festival, shared what he enjoys about his job.

“You come to work at a movie theater every day. That’s kind of hard to beat. And you get to be the one who decides what films Tacoma gets to see. To me it’s a lot of responsibility just to make sure that I’m picking films that people are going to enjoy and not get a chance to see anywhere else.”

It is especially rare to see any of the short films outside of a festival. On October 7, the Grand Cinema screened nine comedy short films. Potential viewers will get another chance to see these short films October 14, at the same venue.

The first was a three-minute “claymation” short titled “Otis V Monster.”

It follows a silent, rugged mountain man named Otis who finds himself low on food and money. In the newspaper, Otis discovers an ad that offers a 34-dollar award to anyone who captures Big Foot, so he sets out to do so. This film contains no dialogue and therefore relies on visual humor and situational comedy to evoke laughter from the audience, and it succeeds.

Next was “Clones Gone Wild,” set in the not-too-distant future in which clones are commonplace, but not necessarily accepted. One of the characters, everyman Ben, decides to get “tested for clones,” and is distraught to find that he is “clone positive.” He seeks advice from his friends, a psychiatrist and an intimidating thug he barely knows on how to deal with his newly discovered clone, Dulce.

“Cost of Living,” takes place in a far different future. Contemporary problems such as global warming, health insurance, social security and the price of gas have all taken their toll in this short film about three strangers who are assigned by the government to live in the same apartment. They share a single bed, are allotted one minute of water per day and will do almost anything to get their hands on a half gallon of Rocky Road ice cream.

“Ten for Grandpa,” follows a narrator who breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience. Have you ever wondered if those exaggerated stories about your grandfather were actually true? This premise tackles concepts like the previously mentioned by featuring a narrator who asks 10 questions about his grandpa.

Australian film, “Missing the Boat,” addresses the hardships associated with finding romance. Only, in this film, everyone wears animal costumes. Taking its musical cues from “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and featuring a clever twist at the end, I recommend this one wholeheartedly.

“Post-it Love,” is a cute romantic tale about two coworkers who court each other in an office building using post-it notes. This is another short that features absolutely no dialogue, but is no less effective because of it. As a matter of fact, it’s quite heartwarming.

British film, “Schizofredric,” was another standout. After an argument with his caring girlfriend, unhygienic procrastinator, Fred, stumbles upon a website that offers “ego enlightenment.” Two men appear at his doorstep and install a vault in his bathroom ceiling. After entering vault, Fred is replaced by a better, more responsible version of himself as he’s forced to watch his life play out under new management.

“Boutonniere,” follows an overbearing mother who “helps” her disinterested daughter get ready for prom. With a hilarious cameo by Zachary Quinto, (“Heroes” and “Star Trek”) and a spectacular twist ending, this one is definitely worth seeing.

The last short film of the evening, “After You,” was shot locally in Tacoma. It’s a story that addresses what’s really important in the event of a break-up. Over the course of a year, nearly three hours of footage was edited down to the final product, which is approximately three minutes in length. Dave Kellman, who directed, shot and edited the film, was kind enough to speak with me after the screening.

“We’re a little group, a collaborative of filmmakers, musicians and actors. We call ourselves the “Cheap Shot Collective” and basically this is our fourth short we’ve done together. We’re hoping to make a feature eventually, but we want to get a couple shorts under our belt so people can see what we’re all about.”

As a Tacoma native, Kellman was delighted to be included in the Tacoma Film Festival.

“This is our hometown; it’s a lot cooler to show a movie here than you know, Portland or somewhere like that. My friends came out and supported the cause. It’s fun to see different faces at each screening.”

Kellman’s short film can be found on Vimeo and more information on the Cheap Shot Collective can also be found online at http://www. cheapshotcollective.com/.

The Tacoma Film Festival offers a more personal experience unlike any you’ll find at your local movie theater. It’s a non-profit event in which everyone involved shares a passion for film. So, for an opportunity to contribute to the world of independent film, attend a festival and allow yourself to be transfixed by the silver screen.