Award-winning documentary by Tiffin native to screen at Ritz

PHOTO SUBMITTED Pictured is Tracy Halcomb at her film’s screening at the Sarasota Film Festival.

A Tiffin native will have her documentary film, talking about women’s right to be at the poker table, screened at The Ritz Theatre.

Tracy Halcomb is to have a special film screening of her award-winning documentary, “Cracking Aces: A Woman’s Place at the Table,” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at The Ritz, 30 S. Washington St.

Halcomb is a 1979 graduate of Columbian High School who has more than 24 years of experience teaching communication and video production courses. She is a professor in the communication department at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. Halcomb earned master’s and doctoral degrees at Bowling Green State University.

Halcomb said it is “surreal” in having her film shown at The Ritz.

“I grew up going to see movies at The Ritz — back when it wasn’t historically restored,” Halcomb said. “It was always a great place to go and the balcony was fun to explore in my younger days. It is wonderful to see it in its current grandeur.”

“It was time I actually showed my students I could do what I was trying to teach them to do,” Halcomb said about the film project. “I had more free time once I stepped down after 12 years as chair of the communication department, and this project just fell into my lap while having dinner at a Benihana restaurant in Las Vegas.”

Halcomb said she and fellow professor H. James Gilmore at the University of Michigan-Dearborn — who also directed the film — were in Las Vegas to present at a Broadcast Education Association conference. There, they discovered they were in the room with Linda Johnson, a World Series of Poker bracelet winner who started her poker career in the late 1970s, and Jan Fisher, a player and former poker dealer. With this meeting, “Cracking Aces” began a three-year journey centered around Johnson’s and Fisher’s stories.

The film “Cracking Aces” is about the women making strides in the male-dominated world of high-stakes poker. The female poker players featured in the film reveal the world of professional poker and the hurdles of exploitation and harassment which they must overcome to earn a place at the table.

The film is produced by a woman and features dozens of female poker players.

This one-night event also is a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research and the proceeds are to go to the Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Halcomb said she chose to donate to Alzheimer’s research efforts is due to having lost close family members to the disease.

“Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that just sucks the life out of entire families,” she said.

“Cracking Aces” has been screened at film festivals across the country, including the Sarasota Film Festival, the Silicon Beach Film Festival and the Hobnobben Film Festival. The documentary has been awarded two Telly Awards, and Award of Merit in the 2018 Impact DOCS Awards Competition and an Award of Merit in the 2018 Accolade Global Film Competition. The film also will premiere in Las Vegas at the Silver State Film Festival’s Opening Night Feature Sept. 6.

Also, the film has been selected to be screened at the Laughlin International Film Festival in October and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in Italy in November.

Although this is Halcomb’s first feature-length documentary she has produced, she has been an executive producer on numerous student productions for broadcast on local Jacksonville, Florida, networks and PBS stations since 2005.

Halcomb said she has been granted a sabbatical for this fall to work on research for her next documentary project — which would be her directorial debut. The project is to focus on the all-female flight schools during the 1940s and ’50s. She and Gilmore are also working on another documentary about the future of major league baseball.

Tickets to see the film are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ritztheatre.org.

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