Reel Deals: The Last Film Festivals of 2014

Photo © Marquee Seattle

Web Extra By Heather Larson 

Whether or not you got a chance to attend any of the celebrations of film highlighted in earlier articles in this series, here are more Northwest film festival suggestions for the last half of 2014. These events give you a chance to meet the filmmakers and enjoy an event unlike any other. Most of these film festivals will take you to cities and towns with a population of less than 300,000, making your experience even more intimate. Here’s a sampling of the Northwest’s salute to the big screen.

Tumbleweed Film Festival (TWFF)

July 31-August 2, Oroville, WA (Okanogan County),

Step into the Wild West at Tumbleweed, founded five years ago by Seattle filmmakers Maureen Fine and Geoff Kline. Enjoy international works at four different venues over the course of three evenings. One venue solely focuses on family-friendly films if you want to bring the kids along.

“This festival recognizes that making a great film doesn’t require a big budget and that there’s considerable cinematic talent throughout the world, yet to be discovered,” says Fine.

Because the festival venues are wineries, breweries and other local establishments,  moviegoers sample screenings as well as locally grown foods and hand-crafted libations.


Port Townsend Film Festival

September 19-21, Port Townsend, WA,

Begun as a vision of four local film buffs in 1999, the fest has blossomed into a three-day event with venues located throughout the city, including the Rose Theatre and even an outdoor screen on Taylor Street.

“The whole town becomes the festival,” says Janette Force, executive director.

Force promises a mix of documentaries and narratives, with a tendency toward international films. Expect to see works not usually in general distribution.

Check the website after June 25 to see who this year’s honored guest will be. Previous celebrities have included Bruce Dern, Tony Curtis, Jane Powell and Buck Henry.


Tri-Cities International Fantastic Film Festival (TCIF3)

September 26-27, October 3-5, Richland, WA,

TCIF3’s goal is to spotlight those independent films with limited budgets that reveal unlimited imagination. Director Nat Saenz favors science fiction, horror, animation and documentary shorts and features. Many have won awards at other international festivals and some have garnered Oscar nominations.

Saenz says, “If you have a short attention span, you’ve found the perfect event. Most films run for less than 20 minutes.”


Bend Film Festival

October 9-12, Bend, OR,

Voted one of Moviemaker Magazine’s “20 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” for two years in a row, organizers fill attendee’s days from dawn until dusk. “Besides marathon film watching, you may have serendipitous encounters with filmmakers, making the weekend inspiring, affecting and infectious,” says Todd Looby, festival director.

In its 11th year, Bend holds showings in six indoor venues including the Oxford Hotel and McMenamins Old St. Francis School Home. Thirty viewers screen and select shorts, student shorts, narratives and documentaries.


Tacoma Film Festival

October 9-16, Tacoma, WA,

Celebrating their ninth year, the Tacoma Film Festival showcases the best regional and local films plus screens exciting selections from all over the world. Genres and subjects run all over the map.

“We show films and great shorts we think deserve to be seen and shared,” says Zach Powers, director of marketing and communications for the festival and for the Grand Cinema in Tacoma.


Gig Harbor Film Festival (GHFF)

October 16-20, Gig Harbor, WA,

Executive director and co-founder Marty Thacker says this seven-year-old festival “features independent films that promote understanding, tolerance and global awareness.” The mission strives to enrich the cultural vitality of the community through the art of film.

Here you’ll see independents, animated, shorts, documentaries, full features and foreign movies. All films are slated to be screened at the 10-screen Galaxy Theatre.

“Attendees are invited to meet the film’s directors and gain behind-the-scenes information from them,” says Thacker.


Anchorage International Film Festival (AIFF)

December 6-16, Anchorage, AK,

Festival founder and board president Tony Sheppard promises you’ll see films worth freezing for. What better way to spend some cold, frosty nights than watching independent features, large studio films, documentaries, shorts and animated films from around the world. Founded in 2001 the AIFF remains the only multi-genre international film event in Alaska.

Sheppard says they’ve premiered foreign Academy Award winners, Alaskan-made films and tons of American independents. At the darkest time of the year in Anchorage, you can view movies on a giant ice and snow screen outdoors or watch vibrant visions on the silver screen at the Bear Tooth Theater while wining and dining.