A week of entertainment to bring joy to the dark world known as 2020.

Film fans rejoice, the Tacoma Film Festival is still on this year! The 15th annual festival may look a little different but the fact that it is still happening on Nov. 6-13 can be considered a win for Tacoma in light of everything else going on. 

The TFF will be completely virtual this year so, unfortunately, we won’t receive the old movie theater atmosphere typically offered by The Grand Cinema. Due to COVID safety measures, The Grand Cinema is unsure about their reopening procedure and is currently in the process of reaching out with surveys and questionnaires to consider what it would take for people to come back. 

This isn’t going to stop the TFF though. The Tacoma Film Festival will hold screenings via streaming. Tickets are on sale now and will be ranging in price from $10 for a basic, single viewer ticket to $175 for a VIP multiviewer pass that allows you and your friends access to all virtual events this year. 

How the TFF will work is relatively straightforward. Once you buy your ticket, you will receive an email with a link that becomes active one hour before your film or event is scheduled. You’ll be able to watch said film or event on one screen multiple times in a 72-hour window beginning from your ticket time. The link you receive via email will not be shareable once the film starts.

Despite the events that 2020 has brought forth, creators from all over the world have made a total of over 125 films to be featured in the film festival. This includes music videos, feature films, shorts, animations and more. 

Something to highlight this year are there are eight works by Indigenous Peoples and their perspectives on global issues like climate change. These films were created from Canada to the Pacific Northwest all the way to Brazil. 

Another film to look out for is the centerpiece film of the festival, “Since I Been Down,” directed by Gilda Sheppard. Sheppard is a faculty member at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus. The film is based on the community of Hilltop in Tacoma and the drug trade in the ‘90s. 

Other Pacific Northwest based films include:

“Latchkeys” (Tacoma)

Directed by: E.C. Timmer

Description: Young Jenny comes from school to an empty home. Her single father works late, returning long after his daughter. Jenny, with her irrepressible spirit, uses her solitude to offer a gift of connection to her father. 26-year-old Jenny rediscovers the expressiveness of her childhood, offering the same gift of connection to another young girl much like herself.

“Emmett (til de remix)” (Tacoma)

Directed by: Masahiro Sugano

Description: This spoken word film, a collaboration between filmmaker Masahiro Sugano and poet Avery R. Young, pays homage to the Civil Rights Movement in honor of Emmett Till. Filmmaker Sugano skillfully captures Young’s powerful poetry in all its gut-wrenching glory and soul-soothing rawness. Young brings an entire church congregation with him every time he delivers a poem. It’s a Baptist minister style of performance that links the Black Church’s long-standing ties with social movement. 

Poets like Avery R. Young have a way of wielding song and story to help us heal and maybe even lead us to redemption and liberation. This film honors poetry, life and movement building. This is for the poet as much as the people who have come before and who will continue to come after, who speak truth to power and who will always fight on the side of justice, equality and freedom.  

“Yai Nin” (Seattle)

Directed by: Champ Ensminger

Description: Champ Ensminger is a Thai American filmmaker born in Chiang Mai and raised in Spokane. After graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle with a degree in comparative literature and anthropology he moved to New York City where he then worked at the video hosting site Vimeo before moving forward as a freelancer and production assistant at the web agency.

He returned to Chiang Mai in 2013, where he spent time as a volunteer and workshop instructor at Documentary Arts Asia, a nonprofit aimed at bringing agency and exposure to Asia-based media artists. Ensminger recently earned the Emerging Artist Fellowship at the Jacob Burns Film Center and is currently part of the production team at World Famous in Seattle creating content for brands like T-Mobile, Microsoft and Amazon.

Film Description: Ninlawan Pinyo is the matriarch of a Thai American family, who hustled for her fortune by founding a naem (pork sausage) factory in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

Even though 2020 has had many ups and downs, most likely with more to come, the Tacoma Film Festival is sure to bring a dash of positivity in the form of digital art in the midst of a rough year.

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