TFF Sniff 1: The Story

By weeklyvolcano on October 1, 2009



The 2009 Tacoma Film Festival kicks off tonight. The Rev. Adam McKinney wrote a Weekly Volcano cover story on the festival - an inside look, if you will. Here's an excerpt:

An important step forward in the development of Tacoma came three years ago when Erik Hanberg and Shawn Sylvian formed the Tacoma Film Festival. For the Grand Cinema's managing director and artistic director, respectively, the festival was the end result of their time in service to the Grand - a kind of Hail Mary thrown before they were unfortunately terminated. Their years at the Grand were fruitful, sometimes messy, but often passionate. Under their direction, the Grand created the 72-Hour Film Festival, showcased midnight movies, and hosted classes for the study of film, among other accomplishments. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I had the pleasure of working for them during this period, and though at times it felt chaotic, I consider it to be the best time in my short life. Although Hanberg and Sylvian had to go, the festival lives on as their legacy.

In their absence, their positions were unified into one title, executive director, and Philip Cowan took the helm. In the ensuing years under Cowan's leadership, the Tacoma Film Festival didn't exactly blow up, but like Tacoma's other endeavors, it's grown steadily. What started as some 50 films shown over a week in four venues has evolved into about 130 films in seven venues. Cowan says that attendance has grown by a few hundred people each year, which may not be mind-blowing, but it's these little steps that matter. It may sound grandiose to bring this up, but let's not forget how Sundance started: small crowds meeting in shabby theaters in a tiny Utah town that no one had ever heard of. In just over 30 years, it's become a behemoth.

Read the full story here.