Guest blog by Jennifer Sowle, 10-year film festival vet.
Every time I enter the State Theatre I feel six years old, when my cousin Kathy and I walked to the “show” and entered the cool darkness of the movie theater. We sat through the newsreel, cartoons, and the main feature—sometimes twice. Our small town had two theaters, both of them ornately appointed. Ushers escorted us to our seats, and the organist provided the sound track for our popcorn and Jujube feast.
Our own State Theatre is such a place. It first opened as the Lyric in 1916 when adults paid a quarter and kids paid a nickel to see the show. The State was destroyed by fire not once, but twice. Both times, it was resuscitated. But when multiplex theaters opened at the local malls in the late ’80s, the State closed its doors for good. Defeated by “progress,” the State sat empty on Front Street, its ghost haunting downtown Traverse City for over a decade. Then came a small group of visionaries with a penchant for a challenge, spearheaded by the founder of the Film Festival, Michael Moore. The State was about to be reborn. In November 2007, the grand opening of the State as a community-based art theater was celebrated by a premiere showing of The Kite Runner. Last year the State Theater was voted by USA Today as the best theater to “see a movie in splendor.” I love that!
I’m highlighting the State Theatre because truly it is the centerpiece around which the film festival has danced and continues to tango. I watched Christine Lahti and Jeff Daniels receive their awards out front, and Madonna and her daughter Lourdes getting out of a limo, walking the red carpet. I even had a selfie taken with one of my favorites, Susan Sarandon. So many talented and creative filmmakers, directors, producers, have allowed us to eavesdrop on their conversations at a morning panel, actors have been seen at our sidewalk sales or dining in a restaurant. We don’t bother them, other than a turned head or a stare and a whisper. (Okay, I probably had a glass of wine and asked Susan for that selfie with me.) I’m not ashamed to admit I have a twelve-year-old inner child who grew up in the days of movie idols, and she wants to see stars! Read More →