Rain in the Mountains Press Coverage
"Top 10 Must See in Tacoma Film Festival"
October 4, 2007
The Tacoma Film Festival Website
By Philip Cowan

I have heard from a lot of people who want to see many of the films in the 2007 Tacoma Film Festival. These same people can also sound a little overwhelmed. With 72 films on the slate, which ones stand out above the others? I admit that I haven't seen all 72 films so I could be missing a couple that should be on this list, here are my top 10 movies I feel you should most attempt to see in this year's festival. The films are in order of when they are played. Ranking them from best to worst was going to be too tough. Oh, and I know some of them overlap so you can't see them all; you'll still have some tough choices to make!

1. Opening Night brings two movies that aren't to be missed. The one that will have a little more local name recognition is the South 5 combo: a repeat of the original South 5 from the 72-Hour Film Festival in May plus the new sequel, South 5 True Grit. Both are highly entertaining and will be fun for any Tacoma resident. It all revolves around the Seattle vs. Tacoma 'debate' and they put a very funny spin on it. If you miss South 5 on Opening Night, it will also play again on Sunday afternoon at Tacoma Art Museum. Paired with the short 10 minutes of South 5 on Thursday night only is the feature length movie Let Others Suffer. This movie is technically a work in progress for screening purposes but it is ready for your viewing pleasure. It is a comedy from a first time filmmaker who grew up in Spokane and it tells the story of a documentary filmmaker filming a filmmaker making a documentary (think that one through slowly). It is all done in great fun as you see the story evolve. Even better, some of the people in the film knew it was a comedy while others thought it was a true documentary. The post film discussion of these movies should be an added bonus because filmmakers from both South 5 and Let Others Suffer will be in attendance to meet you during the pre-movie reception as well as the post film discussion. Opening Night begins on Thursday the 4th with a reception at A.O.C Gallery (next door to the Grand) at 6:30 with the movies starting about 8:00 p.m.

2. A Lobster Tale- This movie represents probably the most mainstream movie of the festival. I'm told that it in the final stages of obtaining distribution so this is probably the last festival in which it will appear. It stars Colm Meaney and a very funny Graham Greene. It tells the tale of a lobsterman (Meaney) who finds a mysterious sea moss in one of his traps. The moss has the supernatural ability to heal and it upends the town. It is a funny movie that should appeal to people of all ages (I consider it a good family film). It plays at the Grand on Friday at 5:45 p.m.

3. Nice Hat! Five Enigmas in the Life of Cambodia This is a documentary that really fits in as a "Grand Cinema kind of movie". It gives a great history of Cambodia and ties it together through the hats that people wear. I never thought about it before but if you search for a picture of Cambodians, I bet most will be wearing a variety of hats. The movie has some great scenery of Angkor Wat and lots of smiling faces of Cambodians who have been through quite a lot in recent history. The movie is in English as well as French and Khmer with subtitles. It plays at the Grand on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. The filmmakers will be in attendance for post film discussion.

4. Rain in the Mountains This one is filmed in Washington, mostly locally, and has a cast of almost entirely Native Americans. It is a light hearted comedy that tells the story of a man who believes it is his destiny to lead his tribe back to the old ways. Only he doesn't know what the old ways are. I really enjoyed this movie and guarantee its quirky sense of humor will make you smile. One of the actors, a Puyallup tribal member, will be in attendance for discussion following the movie. It plays at 1:15 on Saturday at Tacoma Art Museum.

5. Spitfire 944 I first learned of this short movie when The News Tribune did a story on it earlier this year. That article indicated that they'd be submitting it to our festival so I was anxiously waiting for it to arrive. It tells the story of an American pilot's crash landing in Britain during WWII. The pilot, who now lives in Lacey and will be in attendance at the movie, had never seen the footage of his crash landing until this video caught him viewing it live. His reaction is wonderful to see. The movie played at Sundance earlier this year. It plays with other short films, including an encore from last year's festival favorite Finding Thea, on Saturday at the Grand at 2:15.

6. My Left Hand This is the only one on the list that I haven't actually seen but our screeners found it really interesting so I'm including it on this list. It is the story of a local Microsoft employee as he documents his battle with a rare cancer found in his left hand. As the movie progresses, you don't know what the final outcome will be. There will be a discussion of the film following it. The movie plays at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday at Tacoma Art Museum.

7. Two similarly themed movies share this spot and I think people should try to see at least one of these. Both are very well made and deserve attention. Playing at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday night at the Grand is For the Bible Tells Me So. Winner of the Audience Award for the best documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, the movie takes a look at homosexuality and Biblical scripture by focusing on five families, including former House Majority Lead Dick Gephardt, as they respond to having a gay child. On Sunday at 4:15 p.m., also at the Grand, we host the movie Inlaws and Outlaws. This one is great in the way it weaves together stories from couples, both gay and straight, as they talk about their relationships. It shows that all types of relationships share so much in common and it does it with a great sense of humor. The filmmakers for Inlaws will be in attendance and available for discussion following the movie.

8. Saturday evening at 7:50 at the School of the Arts you have the opportunity to watch a very funny group of eight short films. The movies range from 3 to 18 minutes and you'll have a nice laugh in all of them. Included among them are Moviebonics, where a couple speaks only in famous film quotations; The Last Laugh, where Grandpa casts a suspicious eye on Elmo; Full Disclosure, where the lead character discloses all of his worst attributes on his first dates; and The Frank Anderson, which stars several recognizable actors, where a man's quest for a breast reduction leads to quite unexpected results.

9. Her Best Move This is a great family movie and if you have a young daughter, you should bring her to see this. It tells the story of a 15 year old girl with an amazing talent for soccer. She has to face the challenge of discovering her true self so she can make the best move of her life. This is definitely a "Disney" type movie and any age can enjoy it. It plays at 2:20 p.m. on Sunday at the Grand.

10. Ray Hill's Prison Show This one is 58 minutes long and plays with two other shorter movies at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday the 9th at the Grand. I first heard of the radio show on which the movie is based on an old episode of This American Life on NPR. (I encourage you to listen to that story) It tells the story of Ray Hill, who for 25 years has hosted a radio show that serves convicts and their families whose only source of contact is through this broadcast. Hearing children talk to their imprisoned family members live on the air is amazing. The cool part of this to me is that Ray Hill is making the trip from Texas to appear at the screening and answer questions following the movie. His is a personality not to be missed.

The eleventh movie on my "top ten list" is The Union: The Business Behind Getting High. It plays on Wednesday the 10th at 5:30 p.m. at the Grand. This is a very interesting movie that takes a look at the business of marijuana. It gives a great history, takes head on many misconceptions and is highly entertaining. The movie definitely has a point of view but it does a great job in presenting it. This one is also playing at many other festivals and has won several awards.

I hope this list gives you a few ideas of movies to view during the next week of fascinating films. There are far more to see, including many from local filmmakers, so pick up a guide at the Grand and read more about the entire slate of films. I hope you are able to support the Tacoma Film Festival through your presence at a film the 4th through 11th. You should enjoy it!

As an added bonus list of top films, Exit133 has also posted a list of movies they recommend you see in the festival. Some overlap with my list, some are different. Click here to see their list.

Philip Cowan
Executive Director
The Grand Cinema