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Quiet on the set

Rainier's independent visions

Ray Wise, pictured here as super-creepy Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks, appears in Land of Leopold. Photo credit: Propaganda Films

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Given our unpredictable spring weather, sometimes the safest entertainment bet is a movie ticket. We're inundated with promos for rabidly anticipated May releases like The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2. Disney's Tomorrowland is right around the corner. But where are the smaller, smarter, more personal movies? An indie's entire budget wouldn't cover the breakfast burrito truck tab on a Marvel release, but such films do, in fact, get made. Unfortunately, most go straight to YouTube or some cobwebby corner of Netflix. Is there any way to see them with an audience and a bucket of cholesterol-saturated popcorn perched on your lap?

The fact that you're even asking such questions means you're a cineaste, a fancy word meaning "movie lover." We can show you the path to salvation. Simply hop in your car, orient yourself toward that tall, snow-capped mountain and drive, because the 9th annual Rainier Independent Film Festival gets underway this weekend. And when it says independent, it means it: they'll be no cigar-chomping studio chief or perspiring toady with a folder full of notes anywhere in this program's construction.

It means you'll be treated to unusual stories like Land of Leopold, the festival's closing-night feature, which follows young Leopold (Chris Pinkalla) as he comes to grips with his violent past. It costars the great character actor Ray Wise, widely known for his charming turn as Old Scratch on the late, lamented TV series Reaper. (He's also costarred on Twin Peaks, How I Met Your Mother and Mad Men.)

You may also want to check out The Shoot, a drama about two rock musicians who attempt to pay off a loan by robbing a fashion shoot in the desert. Their plan, as you may expect, is not the best, and events take a harrowing turn. Short films accepted into the festival include Batman and Jimbo, a comedy about intersecting criminals; Capsized, about a man trapped in an overturned cruise ship; Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution in Syria; and Universal Language, about a first date in Paris.

That's just scratching the surface. We didn't tell you about the opening-night feature, a musical comedy called Booze Boys & Brownies, written and directed by Veronica Mannion. It's about the struggles of a young writer-director-actor and stars Veronica Mannion as, essentially, Veronica Mannion. You want personal? You got personal! Take that, Tony Stark!

RAINIER INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL, May 15 to 17, The Cine-Yurt @ Wellspring, (54922 Kernahan Rd. E) and Mt. Rainier Lions Theater, (27726 SR 706 E), Ashford, $5-$35, 253.370.3520

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