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Sister Cities Festival, 253Film Collective, "Girl Rising," Grand Movie Marathon

A monthly look at film in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

"THE BUTTERFLY": From the 2004 French Film Festival, the sweet, beautifully acted story of the friendship that develops between a lonely, precocious little girl and a crotchety old butterfly collector.

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We begin this month's edition of South Sound Cinema in Tacoma's quaint Proctor District, where since early February the esteemed Blue Mouse Theatre has transformed itself into a veritable Stargate portal to global cinema. The Sister Cities International Film Festival has already flung audiences to Israel, Cuba and Japan, and has more stops in store each Thursday of the festival's run.

The journey continues on March 21 with Cape No. 7, a 2008 Taiwanese fusion of romance, comedy and rock music - What more could you ask? From Asia we fly to Europe on March 28 for another feel-good French flick, 2002's The Butterfly. If your thing is watching grumpy old men have their hearts melted by spunky youngsters, catch Butterfly.

SCIFF ends its trek on a more dramatic note April 4 in sweltering Morocco. In Boiling Dreams, a man leaves his love behind to cross the border illegally - think Casablanca minus the upbeat Hollywood ending. Each film screens at 7 p.m. with a cultural program beforehand; purchase tickets online, or call Blue Mouse at 253.752.9500 or Pacific Northwest Shop at 253.752.2242.

Fortunately, we can take in all of the above and still make time to pop into The Grand Cinema nearby for more coming attractions. The last week of March alone will keep us plenty occupied. For starters, the 253 Film Collective gathers once more at 7 p.m. March 26 for its monthly meeting in the Grand's back lobby.

Surrounded by walls filled with posters of former releases, Rick Walters as MC did well keeping 253 Film's February session moving with speakers touching on topics that included content addition to the Collective website as well as group leadership. Next week's meeting will determine who fills the shoes of executive director, assistant director, treasurer and other currently available positions. But once the evening's politics get settled, you know some serious moviemaking' talk will go down.

Hannibal, Cobra, the Dark Knight, Silver Surfer - through various feats of strength and franchises they all rose. Good for them. But in case you want to see someone else than just guys rising, try this: At 7 p.m. March 27, The Grand will host a free one-time screening of Girl Rising, a documentary about how education (or its lack) affects the lives of young women around the world. Several accomplished actors including Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway lend their voices to the telling of these eye-opening stories. And did I mention the free part? I suggest arriving a little early.

Though starting his new position as The Grand's director of marketing and communications only last December, Zach Powers has seen enough to say, "This has been an interesting and exciting year for us." The excitement continues with the theater's first-ever 24-Hour Movie Marathon. Three screens will run films nonstop from April 20-21, which gives you roughly a month to raise pledges to support the Grand's digital conversion campaign currently underway. As of this writing, the theater has met 40 percent of its $344,000 goal.

For more details, visit www.grandcinema.com, or watch the handy "24 Hour Movie Marathon: Everything You Need to Know" video starring Mr. Powers below.

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