Throughout its 13 years, the annual 253 Short Film Party brings local film makers and lovers together for a night of homegrown entertainment. This years was no different, as each pew in the Urban Grace Church was filled with jubilant audience members. Organized by the Grand Cinema, the filmmakers who sign up to present are always faced with the same challenge: create a short film in just 72 hours that is no longer than 253 seconds. However, every year has different criteria for all films to follow.

This year, all 31 short films entered were required to feature “back to square one” in their dialogue, a white dress in their set, a scene from a well known movie, and fake news. The delight is seeing the variety of ways these criteria are adapted into each film, always in very unique interpretations. At the end of the show — which usually lasts about three hours — audience members submitted their ballot voting on their favorite film, waiting for the winner of the $500 Audience Choice Award to be announced. As the votes are being counted, alternative awards decided by judges were given to different films that were particularly notable in their own right.

The award for “upcoming filmer” was given to Penny Archer and R.T Quinn, creators of a well-received short film titled “Ghosts of Point Defiance” that portrayed a “Blair Witch Project” esque production about a ghost in a white dress who haunted Point Defiance Park. The next award was given to “The Scoop,” created by Bryant and Danny Hankins, for the “best fake news,” in which the film’s new reporter announced that the I-5 construction was close to completion, getting an array of chuckles and groans from the audience. “The Wedding Ring” was the recipient of the award given to the film that judges believed best incorporated the white dress criteria, as the possessed white dress that birthed out of the television screen, made winners out of Tommy and Juli Storslee, Ryen Glynn and Octavius Copiack.

After the judge’s awards were finished being announced, the votes for the best out of all 31 short films were done being counted. The audience voted “Virus” as the winner, an overwhelmingly impressive animation created by Andrea Trenbeath that was set to a captivating soundtrack and kept the audience intrigued as the animated figures constantly shifted from theme to theme, blending together to tell a moving story. Although “Virus” was the only animated film of all submissions, it wasn’t a huge surprise as the cheers upon the film’s showing was one of the loudest of the night.

Despite not everyone winning an award, the night was about much more than who had the best film. The general energy throughout the audience was one of pride and admiration for both the films screened, as well as the local community that fostered each film. In many of the scenes, recognizable Tacoma settings were featured as the backdrop, giving a sense of appreciation for the area we live in. While everybody has a connection with the city in a different and personal way, these scenes provided a sense of unity amongst the crowd that formed a special community experience.

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