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The Grand Cinema, 'bred out of love' for Tacoma, centers stories about community

The Grand Cinema is a nonprofit movie theater in Tacoma.
Amelia Vaugh
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Courtesy of The Grand
The Grand Cinema is a nonprofit movie theater in Tacoma.

The Grand Cinema is more than a theater — it’s like Tacoma’s living room. It’s where people come together not only to watch and appreciate films, but also to engage in conversation with their neighbors about those films. 

“There are a lot of theaters where movies are played,” said Jamika Scott, a board member for the nonprofit, in a conversation with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick. “But the difference is The Grand is an organization that was bred out of love for the community, and is sustained by the community.”

Scott says that means giving back to the community that props it up, including making fun and educational programs accessible to everyone in Tacoma.

The Grand offers film education for adults, film camps for kids and sensory-friendly screenings on Wednesday mornings, which are designed for parents with infants, autistic individuals and guests with other special sensory needs. 

The nonprofit also sponsors the Tacoma Film Festival each year in October. The festival, according to its website, “centers artists and their stories, honoring the contributions of filmmakers as leaders, and building community from a foundation of diverse perspectives and shared stories.”

Scott says all of these efforts aren’t just about showcasing films. They’re about showcasing the people and the stories that inspire them. 

Jamika Scott, Tacoma filmmaker and Grand Cinema board member.
Credit Courtesy of Jamika Scott
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Jamika Scott, Tacoma filmmaker and Grand Cinema board member.

“Maybe it’s about a community you’ve never heard about,” she said. “Maybe it’s about a community you didn’t even realize existed right here in the city. But it gives you these opportunities to come together and see it.”

What’s more, Scott says, is that The Grand chooses its films, discussions and events with intention to honor the diversity of the people who walk through the doors.

“I think there’s something unique about a place that can be comfortable for so many people, because that’s not true for every single place,” she said. 

Scott says The Grand helped mobilize her passion as a filmmaker. A couple years ago, she knew she really wanted to start creating films. Still, the pull to work “a job that pays the bills” distracted from that goal. 

Then, she attended panels at the Tacoma Film Festival.

“Seeing different filmmakers, different local creatives just kind of talking about their process and just having that realization that people start this journey at different points, and it happens for them at different points,” she said. “Seeing that, and seeing people who are actually doing it and realizing that everybody’s entry point and everybody’s success varies, that really allowed me to see, in a different way, what The Grand was doing.” 

The Grand Cinema after dark during the Tacoma Film Festival 2018.
Credit Winsome Bye / Courtesy of The Grand
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Courtesy of The Grand
The Grand Cinema after dark during the Tacoma Film Festival 2018.

Scott’s community involvement goes beyond her service on The Grand’s board of directors. She’s an activist and founding member of the Tacoma Action Collective, which promotes equity and racial justice in Tacoma and beyond. She’s also a former children’s advocate for YWCA Pierce County. 

Scott has submitted films for The Grand’s annual 253 Short Film Competition, and is currently working on a documentary about motherhood and the matriarchal structure of black families. 

Listen to the full conversation above. 

Editor’s note: Kari Plog is a fellow Grand Cinema board member.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Kari Plog is an award-winning reporter covering the South Sound, including Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties. Before transitioning to public radio in 2018, Kari worked as a print journalist at The News Tribune in Tacoma.