Now celebrating its 17th year of bring culturally diverse and eminently fascinating films from afar to the City of Destiny, the Tacoma Sister Cities Film Festival takes place April 25-28 at the Blue Mouse Theater in Proctor District. Designed to increase awareness of the Tacoma Sister Cities program, the film festival highlights cultural activities and works to educate the Tacoma community about the linkages to countries and cities around the world.
Featuring 10 international films, documentaries and cultural performances, this year the festival has changed its format for a four-day continuous event kicking off with opening night on Thursday, April 25 celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Tacoma-Kitakyushu Sister City relationship. The festival wraps up on Sunday, April 28 celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Tacoma-Gunsun Sister City relationship.
Port of Tacoma Commissioner Clare Petrich is also chair of the Tacoma Sister Cities’ Stari Grad Croatia Committee. Having been involved in Sister Cities program since its beginning, she is delighted that the film festival is celebrating its 17th year.
“The successful film festival shows how interested Tacomans are in learning about the world and experiencing culture. The film festival includes world cuisines and cultural performances and discussion so it has always been about more than just a movie!”
She is particularly excited that the film “The Flying Friar” will be shown this year (Saturday, April 27, 2 p.m.) and that its subject, Father Zvonko Martich, will be there as well
“Members of our committee met Zvonko Martich, a cultural anthropologist and prior of a Carmelite Monastery, a few Years ago. In October, the Margaret Mead Film Festival in New York showcased a documentary about his work in keeping cultural heritage alive in Croatia, Bosnia and the Croatian diaspora. We are excited to bring that film to Tacoma and also to invite Father Zvonko himself to Tacoma to share his stories with our community,” Petrich said. “And we are showing a second documentary (“Mike the Shipbuilder”) about a local fisherman and boatbuilder, Mike Vlahovich, who now lives in Croatia teaching boatbuilding skills to youth in the town where his father was born. It’s a great story.”
ON THE PLAYBILL
Thursday, April 25: Cultural program starts at 6 p.m., movie starts at 7 p.m. “Her Love Boils Bathwater,” directed by Ryôta Nakano, subtitled drama/comedy, (125 min.), 2016. Committee: Kitakyushu, Japan. A strict, but caring mother has an awakening when she is told she has terminal cancer and has only a few months to live. With her new perspective on life, she hopes to reunite with her estranged husband and bond with their teenage daughter. Info: www.atsui-ai.com
Friday, April 26: Each movie will be followed by 20-30 minutes of cultural activities.
- 5-7:15 p.m. “Black Mexicans” (“La Negrada”), directed by Jorge Pérez Solano, subtitled drama (104 min.), 2018, Sister City: Boca del Rio, Mexico. “Black Mexicans” is the first Mexican feature film about the Afro-Mexican community, filmed entirely with people from different towns around the Costa Chica region in Oaxaca. In Mexico, the afro communities represent only 1 percent of the total population. They have never been recognized as an ethnic group, nation or culture, suffering discrimination as an outcast group. “Black Mexicans” is the first Mexican fiction movie filmed entirely in one of those black communities, with local people, no professional actors.Info: africanfilm.com/BlackMexicans.html
- 7:30-9:40 p.m.“A Translator” presented by Cienfuegos – Cuba committee, 7:30 p.m., directed by Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso, partially-subtitled, drama (107 min), 2018, Sister City: Cienfuegos, Cuba. A Russian literature professor at the University of Havana is ordered to work as a translator for child victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster when they are sent to Cuba for medical treatment. Info: www.filmmovement.com/theatrical/film/un-traductor
Saturday, April 27:Each movie will be followed by 20-30 minutes of cultural activities.
- 11:30 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.“My Perestroika,” presented by Vladivostock – Russia committee, directed by Robin Hessman, subtitled documentary (88 min), 2010, Sister City: Vladivostok, Russia. “My Perestroika”follows five ordinary Russians living in extraordinary times – from their sheltered Soviet childhood, to the collapse of the Soviet Union during their teenage years, to the constantly shifting political landscape of post-Soviet Russia. Together, these childhood classmates paint a complex picture of the dreams and disillusionment of those raised behind the Iron Curtain. Info: http://myperestroika.com
- 2-3:50 p.m.“The Flying Friar” (“Leteći Fratar”), directed by Davor Boric and Ljiljana Sismanovic, subtitled documentary (50 min.), 2018, Sister City: StariGrad, Hvar, Croatia. How does Croatian culture stay alive after years of war? A joyful Carmelite monk, Father Zvonko Martic, dedicates his life to celebrating and preserving traditional Croatian music and costume to bring together long-divided communities. This film reminds us of the true meaning of loving our neighbor – the neighbor who is different from us. Film premiered at the Margaret Mead Festival, New York, October 2018. Also, the additional film “Mike the Shipbuilder” (“Miki Kalafat”). In 2016, Mike Vlahovich left America for his father’s birthplace in SuMartin, Brac. While restoring Dalmatian boats in the local shipyard, Mike reminisces about his past in Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Chesapeake Bay and contemplates his new life in Croatia.
- 4:30-6:30 p.m. “The Last King” (“Birkebeinerne”), directed by Nils Gaup, subtitled drama (99 min.), 2016, Sister City: Aalesund, Norway, presented by Aalesund – Norway committee.In the year 1206, Norway is ravaged by civil war. The king’s illegitimate infant son, Håkon Håkonsson, which half the kingdom wants killed off, is guarded in secrecy by two men. This is a story that changed the course of the country’s history. Info: magnetreleasing.com/thelastking
- 7-8:50 p.m. “Sofia,” directed by Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi, subtitled drama (80 min.), 2018, Sister City: El Jadida, Morocco, presented by El Jadida, Morroco Committee. Sofia, 20, lives with her parents in Casablanca. Suffering from pregnancy denial, she finds herself breaking the law by giving birth to a baby out of wedlock. The hospital gives her 24 hours to provide them with the identification papers belonging to the father of the child before informing the authorities… Info: beforfilms.com/sofia
Sunday, April 28: Each movie will be followed by 20-30 minutes of cultural activities.
- 11 a.m. to 1:35 p.m. “Youth,”directed by Xiaogang Feng, subtitled drama, (135 min.), 2017, Sister City: Fuzhou, China, Presented by Fuzhou – China committee. “Youth”chronicles the lives of a group of idealistic adolescents in a military art troupe in the People’s Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution. They experience love, lust, betrayal, and sufferings in the background of Mao-era songs and dances. The two key characters, Feng Liu and Xiaoping He, also participate in the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979 and become heroes for their act of courage. After the war, they are honorably discharged from the Army but struggle to make ends meet in the Reform-era China while they learn lessons from soul-crashing experiences of love, lust, betrayal, and heartbreak. Info: beforfilms.com/sofia
- 2-3:30 p.m. “My Life as a Zucchini” (“Ma vie de Courgette”), directed by Claude Barras, partially subtitled, comedy/drama, (70 min.), 2016, Sister City: Biot, France. After losing his mother, a young boy is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love. Info: com/films/my-life-as-a-zucchini
- 4-6:18 p.m. “Scandal Makers,” directed by Hyeong-Cheol Kang, subtitled comedy/drama, (108 min.), 2008, Sister City: Gunsan, South Korea. A radio DJ/entertainer in his 30s suddenly learns he may be a grandfather, thanks to a young girl who has a baby son and claims to be his daughter.
For further information and to purchase tickets, go to www.tacomasistercities.org or search Tacoma Sister Cities Film Festival on Facebook.