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The funny thing about film festivals is that there never seems to be enough time to talk about the films you’ve just seen. Distribution strategies, yes, industry gossip, most definitely, but the actual creative decisions and approaches involved in making the films themselves – barely! So the Grand Cinema’s mini-festival celebrating Filmmaker‘s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in Tacoma, WA, last month felt like a truly rare treat.

Bringing together 14 of the actors and filmmakers or filmmaking teams on the list, including myself and Katherine Fairfax Wright, my directing partner on Call Me Kuchu, The Grand Cinema scheduled five days of screenings that allowed us to leisurely take in and discuss each other’s works.

It was an idyllic long weekend of films, food, lake-side Frisbee, and far too much popcorn, with more than a hint of all the good bits of summer camp (or Woodcraft camp, for us Brits on the trip). My memories of those few days are already warm and cuddly, so it seems appropriate that throughout the trip my $100 point-&-shoot was stuck on a rosy filter setting.

Julia squared: Julia Pott (director/animator of Belly) and Julia Garner (the lead in Electrick Children) settle in for another session of films – that’s excitement on Ms. Pott’s face, by the way.

Getting ready for the group photo: (Top l-r: Katherine Fairfax Wright (my co-director on Call Me Kuchu), Ian Clark (who brought Searching for Yellow to the festival), Ben Wiessner (story consultant/co-producer at Ornana, creators of (notes on) biology), Lucas Leyva and Jillian Meyer (Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke); Bottom l-r: Julia Pott, Grand Cinema executive director Philip Cowan, Hannah Fidell (The Gathering Squall), Elizabeth Mims (Only the Young), Julia Garner, and Penny Lane (Our Nixon) )

How many filmmakers does it take to come up with a better idea for the group photo? Ian Clark starts talking shooting angles.

Savoring blackberries beside the Puget Sound (and an unexpected warship): Lucas Leyva, Jillian Mayer, Jason Tippet (Only the Young), Elizabeth Mims, Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty), Katherine Fairfax Wright, Will Madden (actor, (notes on) biology) and Ian Clark.

After a healthy karaoke session in what might be Tacoma’s only gay bar, we had to stop for an impromptu foam party at a downtown water fountain. (Clockwise from bottom: Jillian Meyer, Anna Garner, Julia Garner, Danny Madden, Julia Pott, Katherine Fairfax Wright, Ian Clark, Lucas Leyva, Terence Nance)

For those of us lucky enough to stick around until Monday, we had the pleasure of Tacoma’s finest thrift store: Top l-r: Penny Lane, Penny and Elizabeth, Terence Nance, Danny Madden (director with the Ornana collective, (notes on) biology); Bottom l-r: Hannah Fidell, Will Madden, Elizabeth Mims, and myself, taking a moment for Pussy Riot.

Popcorn portraits: Top L-R: Desiree Akhavan (co-director, The Slope), Julia Garner, Lucas Leyva and Jillian Meyer, Hannah Fidell; Middle l-r: Will and Danny Madden of Ornana, Elizabeth Mims, Penny Lane, Patrick Wang (In The Family); Bottom l-r: Ingrid Jungermann (co-director, The Slope), Ben Wiessner, Omar Mullick (co-director, These Birds Walk), and the man who brought us all to Tacoma, Philip Cowan of The Grand Cinema.

Or, to put it another way… The weekend, as illustrated by animator/director Danny Madden of Ornana.

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