The Grand Cinema at 25

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

It might be difficult to believe, but The Grand Cinema made its debut as Tacoma’s non-profit home for independent, international and local cinema way back in 1997.

The 25th anniversary celebration will be held on Saturday, April 16 and then the next Free Member Movie Day will be held on April 18, the actual birthday – that’s right, admission is free for all members for all showings on that day.

Membership is not required to see films at The Grand, but you do get a discount – and a free popcorn – and, even better than that, you are helping support local and independent films you are not likely to see anywhere else.

If you want to support The Grand, donations can be made at the box office or online at this link –

Donors will receive a note to fill out with their name and their favorite Grand memory, and these will be shared on our donor wall by the front door through the next month.

Everyone is welcome to attend the party from 2 to 4 p.m. on April 16.

You can expect complimentary birthday cake and cupcakes that day in the recently remodeled downstairs Grand Lounge.

Executive Director Philip Cowan will say a few words, and patrons are invited to share their memories.

A few lucky donors will be randomly selected to receive a special gift on April 18.

The Grand is, to put it mildly, not your usual cineplex.

Besides being able to see movies there, you will find knowledgable and passionate film nerds – and a variety of film-related collectibles from posters to props.

The Grand is premised on a simple philosophy; films should not be just viewed – they should be appreciated, analyzed and, if at all possible, discussed with others.

Many of their films feature a discussion in the downstairs Grand lounge.

Every October The Grand Cinema hosts the Tacoma Film Festival (TFF) –

This years festival is currently accepting submissions (details here: until June 1.

To see the winners and programs of previous years, check out the website here

The Grand has been operating since 1997, but the TFF has been around since 2006.

Thanks to TFF, you can see documentaries, film shorts and local films you can’t see anywhere else. Many of these films are productions that might not get much “buzz” at first, but these crafted films are often recognized on Oscar night.

But you can see them first here.

You won’t see the latest CGI-filled big budget blockbuster at The Grand, but you will see the best of innovative, regional, carefully crafted and international films – many times fresh from the big name film festivals like Cannes or Sundance.

Besides being able to see films that the big theater chains won’t show, The Grand offers the opportunity to see the early films of beginning film-makers or the prototypes of what become popular films.

Like many things, TFF is returning for 2022.

Back in 2019, TFF welcomed more than 100 visiting filmmakers and over 200 featured works from around the world.

You can expect even more this October.

You can buy passes to TFF now, but you can visit The Grand Cinema any time.

Over 25 years The Grand Cinema has become an institution and regular feature for many of us – and it is a place many of us take out-of-town visitors.

If you care about the difference between movies and film, The Grand is the place for you. And if you are a film nerd, you know 606 Fawcett very well.

And while you are there, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Tacoma’s award-winning specialty bakery ( next door.