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Grand Cinema gets the TFF party started early

A hard-luck logger attempts to capture big-foot in the clay-animated short "Otis V. Monster" that will screen Friday night at The Grand Cinema.

No one likes it when a party has to end. Cinegeek that I am, every year when the Tacoma Film Festival wraps I want it to start all over again, not only to replay the movies I did see, but to catch what I missed the first time.

In a way the Tacoma Film Festival party never stops at The Grand Cinema. As TFF's founder and continuing planner, the theater's staff and volunteers work throughout the year on each new festival. And in 2011 they've figured out a way to share even more of the festival with us.

TFF doesn't officially commence until Oct. 6, but who says we can't have fun now? Not the Grand; its first-ever Tacoma Film Festival Sneak Peek happens at the theater this Friday, July 15. Let's pre-party!

A cinematic soiree at the peak of summer sounds perfect. The idea germinated last winter, in a place that revels in ideas of revelry: Las Vegas, host to the International Film Festival Summit. TFF Director Emily Alm met with other festival organizers and came up with unique ways to promote her event.

"(The Sneak Peek) was sort of a brainchild that I had," Alm says. "This is just a way to get people excited ... and keep (the festival) in their heads."

In a few months TFF celebrates its sixth birthday - young, yet still enough years to look back and reflect upon. For this reason the Grand's TFF Sneak Peek will screen three Northwest films from TFF's ever-widening winner's circle: Full Disclosure (Best Short 2007), Otis V. Monster (2009's Best Regional Film by Patrick Neary) and another Best Regional from last year, Shuffle.

But the night isn't called "Sneak Peek" for nothing. A fourth film, already scheduled for the festival this fall, will play as well, but its identity will be kept secret until Friday.

A good fest fosters both individual films and the communal spirit that watching those films creates. This weekend, feel free to shake hands with folks from groups like Washington Filmworks and SIFF, and peek inside our local movie industry.

Tacoma Film Festival Sneak Peek

Friday, July 15, 6:30-9 p.m., $10-$15
The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett, Tacoma

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