By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
Several institutions and events in the area are making their way out of the surreal economic torpor of the past several years.
Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is back – and, as with many events, conferences and gatherings, parts of the tradition carry on as they did before while some aspects take on a new and not-quite-solid or polished form.
When it comes to film, besides the actions on the screen, a large part of the film experience, especially at a festival, is that shared sense of encountering a film (or more than one) that has not yet reached, and in many cases, is not likely to ever reach, the larger, pop culture entertainment landscape.
We in the Pacific Northwest have an abundance of sources of innovative, explorative, not-for-everyone categories of films. Many with a local connection – either by the film-makers or the topic of the film. From Sasquatch to local history to tribal identities and expressions and, of course, the occasional woodsy horror/slasher film, local film festivals are the places to catch the independent, and often quirky, outlook, attitude and general “vibe” that most of us imbibe and express, often without recognizing it.
You can see films in-person at SIFF theaters and venues throughout Seattle May 11–21, 2023, followed by a week of select films streaming on the SIFF Channel May 22–28. You can look over the SIFF guide and choose films based on genre (as in comedy, action, romance, history, food, war or a few dozen other categories) director(s), country of origin, or, as I often do, just pick something that suits your schedule. Here’s a link to all the Northwest films.
There’s far more to SIFF than the festival of course. If you have children in your life, you might consider the various film camps at SIFF this summer. From late June to mid-August, a variety of film-making camps are available for 9-15 year olds. Details here.
Film festivals beyond Seattle
If your schedule (or tolerance for traffic) doesn’t allow for time in Seattle, the greater Tacoma area has an abundance of film festival opportunities.
To put it mildly, the past few years have been a challenge for organizations as reliant on community involvement and support as film festivals.
One of my favorites, the Destiny City Film Festival (DCFF) is currently on hiatus, as they evaluate the future of the organization and the possibility (or wisdom) of future programming in Tacoma. They usually feature films in late February and early March. What I like best about DCFF is that their focus is on film-creation at least as much as on film appreciation. The mechanics of compelling and memorable storytelling is what DCFF is all about.
Sister Cities Film Festival
If a taste for travel and other cultures dominates your film preferences, you are in luck. The Tacoma Sister Cities (TSC) holds its film festival in mid-November with entries from Tacoma’s sister cities around the world, including Norway, Mexico, Croatia, Korea, Cuba, Morocco, Japan, and Taiwan. These are shown at the historic Blue Mouse theater in Tacoma’s Proctor business district.
Vashon Island Film Festival
If a ferry ride fits your schedule or if you live on Vashon, don’t miss the Vashon Island Film Festival (“VIFF”). It’s an annual event held on Vashon Island every second week of August. Which means that VIFF23 shall be held on August 10-13, 2023. You can see more about VIFF schedules and offerings here.
Tacoma Film Festival
Last and certainly not least is the Tacoma Film Festival (TFF). TFF is still going strong and has developed from a small regional festival in 2006 to become a welcoming, interactive refuge/oasis for regional and international filmmakers, industry professionals, students, fans, critics, and creative entrepreneurs of all kinds. TFF is based at Tacoma’s Grand Cinema and is usually held in early to mid-October. From independent to music documentary or animation, you can find all that, and much more at TFF.They are currently taking film submissions through June 1st.
In short, if you’ve had enough of remakes and indistinguishable sequels and are longing to see films that speak to, and come from, a passion for film and storytelling, you have options beyond the multiplex.