Arts & Events

Tacoma Film Festival returns for ninth year

Any cinephile within the greater Tacoma area no doubt regards October as a special time of year for the community.

While October can hold different importance for different people, this past month from Oct. 9 to Oct. 16 we saw what has essentially become a staple of the moviegoer community make its triumphant return.

This year marked the ninth annual Tacoma Film Festival, and it’s safe to say it was met with the level of acclaim and merit such an event deserves.

Over the course of one week, ticket holders were treated to over 20 feature films of varying lengths and countless short films and documentaries along with workshops devoted to studying aspects of film and cinematography.

Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of this year’s Tacoma Film Festival has to be the arrival of renowned film critic and historian Leonard Maltin.

Maltin’s presence this year helps establish the near decade-old festival’s importance all the more. Among the many films this year’s attendees saw, there was coverage of every theme from estranged family relationships, to man’s relationship with nature, to even musicals about supposed celebrity murderers.

When looking at all the movies, short films, documentaries and events the Tacoma Film Festival has to offer, the potential impact it has on the Tacoma community could be  staggering.

Perhaps the best possible example of how the festival has been able to access the community lies in the venues it has chosen to show these movies in, particularly the University of Washington-Tacoma.

2014 marks the fifth year of the UW Tacoma hosting the event, and if this year’s lineup of vastly different films is anything to go by, it’s safe to say that the students of the school have had a unique and valuable opportunity.

Tuesday, Oct. 14 offered such an opportunity to students of UW Tacoma and local moviegoers, as it premiered two unique pieces that covered similar subjects.

Among the many films shown at the University, moviegoers had the chance to see the short film Yearbook by director Bernardo Britto and The Immortalists, a documentary by directors David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg. Yearbook brought its audience into a clandestine animated world in which one man was tasked with compiling the definitive history of human existence before the Earth’s untimely destruction at alien hands.

The man is never named, nor does he end up needing to be as we start to learn more and more about him by what he designates as worth recording and the mounting guilt and anxiety he feels as his work continues.

Yearbook, in the end, delivers a compelling story through little action and a focus upon the moral grey area in asking the question, “Who is really worth saving?”

This question segues effortlessly to the next feature shown to audiences that night. The Immortalists is a documentary revolving around two very different scientists who share one goal: to cure humans of aging.

The documentary (perhaps to its overall benefit) chooses to avoid for the most part the argument of whether or not human beings should be without the limits of aging, but instead asking who should remain young forever.

The Immortalists ultimately does this by focusing on two current champions of anti-aging research: Professors Aubrey de Grey and Bill Andrews. Through the course of the film, we learn the two men’s motivations for their research, the struggles they’ve overcome from both the scientific community and their own personal lives and their ultimate plans to stop aging forever.

“I wanted to be a scientist, to be able to do things with my life that would benefit humanity,” De Grey said.

The film spends equal time distinguishing between both Andrews and De Grey as it does outlining the reasons behind their research and ultimately manages to present the viewer two very different lives, which no matter how you feel about the argument, is an impressive accomplishment.

Tacoma Film Festival’s ultimate importance lies in what it can give back to the community that has supported it for now nearly a decade. The festival allows students, local families and even the occasional visiting cinephile, the chance to be exposed to new ways of thinking.

It’s safe to say that by 2015, October will be an important month for many more people.