Check out the Northern Express’ oral history of the founding of the Traverse City Film Festival. Featuring first-hand accounts from festival founders and leaders including Michael Moore, John Robert Williams, Doug Stanton, and our executive director Deb Lake, discover just how the festival came to be. Proof that only the very best film festivals are founded over delicious complimentary olives!
Today, everyone can get tickets for the Traverse City Film Festival’s 10th Anniversary filmgoing spectacular!
By now you’ve seen the lineup, you’ve read about all the great movies, you’ve realized there’s no way you can see everything, and you’ve made peace with your schedule. Now, beginning at 11 am at the Main Box Office (201 E. Front, corner of Cass and Front) or by phone (231-242-FILM) — and online at 6 pm — all that’s left is to get your tix and start your TCFF10 adventure!
Today also marks the first chance ANYONE has to get FREE tickets to movies at our newest venue, The Buzz, home to some of the most interesting, intelligent, and inspiring movies of the festival, as well as our look back at some festival favorites from year’s past. The Buzz has five free movie screenings every festival day — film to the people!
And there’s still time to enter your name into our drawing to purchase tickets for Movies on a Boat. Just send one postcard or letter per film to TCFF Movies on a Boat, PO Box 4064, Traverse City MI 49685, or drop off your request at the Main Box Office. Please include the film title, your contact information, and your choice of one or two tickets. One entry per person, per film. Winners will be notified on Wednesday, July 23, so get your entries in now!
Thousands of film festival tickets are waiting to be snatched up today! We have sold many tickets to the Friends of the Film Festival — again setting a new ticket sales record, and we’ll be announcing new screenings in the coming week — but right now, there are still plenty of tickets for great films available! Here are a few of my favorites that I don’t want any of you to miss:
Dinosaur 13 – One of the best documentaries of the year — by far. It tells a story that will make your blood boil and your hair curl. Don’t miss it!
Ivory Tower – We’ve all been waiting for this film to be made, the one that rips the lid off the assault on our public post-secondary education system.
Lonesome – A stunning “lost” film from the silent era, you’ll be enchanted watching this love story from the 1920s. And once again we’re flying in from Boston the great Alloy Orchestra to play the score live. If you’ve missed this event in the past, this is the year to clear the decks and see a silent film with live music in one of Traverse City’s first silent movie houses.
Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere – If that title alone doesn’t draw you in to watch this murder-mystery doc, then I don’t know what to tell ya.
Summer of Blood – A whole new take on the vampire genre, this is a hilarious comedy about the Date from Hell. From what I can gather, just about every woman has dated this guy.
Sneak Preview: Stations of the Cross – This may just end up being the best film of the festival. True cinephiles must not miss this movie.
See you soon,
P.S. One more note: our Walk of Fame Auction launches tomorrow, Sunday, July 20, online at tcff.org/auction. But you can get ready today by previewing the eclectic lineup of the star-studded items (like a jacket worn by Jennifer Aniston) and local offerings (dinner for six in your home by Chef Guillaume of Bistro FouFou, anyone?) available in this 10th Anniversary fundraiser.
With the film festival fast approaching, it’s time to get pumped and start thinking about which life-changing film experiences you want under your belt. Consider, then, these two documentaries of critical acclaim: “The Internet’s Own Boy” and “The Case Against 8.”
“The Internet’s Own Boy” chronicles the life and death of programmer, hacker, and information activist Aaron Swartz. Swartz, known for his revolutionary programming prowess and drive for social justice, took his own life in the midst of a legal battle with the federal government for Internet-related crimes in 2013. “The Case Against 8″ gets a behind-the-scenes look at another hard-fought court struggle: the case to overturn California’s infamous ban on same-sex marriage. We’re excited to welcome directors Brian Knappenberger (“The Internet’s Own Boy”) and Ben Cotner (“The Case Against 8″) to the Traverse City Film Festival this year!
For a little preview, check out the Documentary Podcast by the team over at Detroit’s Freep Film Festival. They had the opportunity to chat with the directors. Knappenberger discusses what drew him to this story and how frustrating it was to receive minimal cooperation from the prosecution, particularly as to why they were determined to come down so hard on Swartz. Cotner and co-director Ryan White explain how they managed to add suspense to a documentary where the end result isn’t a surprise—they say it all comes down to great editing, and that one of the couples featured in the movie was actually on the edge of their seats watching their first day in court play out on-screen!
“The Internet’s Own Boy” and “The Case Against 8″ will be playing at the Old Town Playhouse and the City Opera House, respectively. The screening of “The Case Against 8″ will be followed by a Cinema Salon discussion at Clinch Park.
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 →
In anticipation of the start of this year’s Friends of the Film Festival ticketing, the State Theatre welcomed its first eager “camper” at 11 pm the night before tickets went on sale. Dennis Baur of Birmingham, MI waited in line for twelve hours so he and his wife could be the first to purchase their tickets from a long list of incredible movies. “This is our third year being a Friend of the Festival and we love seeing the people and the new attractions they create every year,” said Dennis’ wife Linda. “The festival is so well organized, the volunteers are so happy and accommodating that we just get caught up in everything.”
Friends of the Film Festival are able to buy up to four tickets per time slot one week before the public and also receive two tickets to each of the Friends Only Screening Party films (“Divide in Concord” and “Human Capital“). David and Chris Jaymes, ten year veterans of the festival, were excited to says this was their first year standing in line and couldn’t believe they hadn’t done it sooner. They recalled their time at Opening Night of the very first festival and have been hooked ever since, increasing their involvement every year. David has also volunteer for the past seven years.
Those who dared the morning wait were let into the State at 10 am for a brief welcome and instructions. As the theater filled, the atmosphere came alive with conversation and excitement over what everyone planned to see. Buzz about films started to pop around; “The Gilded Cage,” “Land Ho!,” and “Snowpiercer” were frequently mentioned.
Max ‘Old Bear’ and Candace Lee have come every year and still get “antsy” when the schedule comes out. Candace explains how she has friends that frequently go to other film festivals yet still find the Traverse City Film Festival unique in that it is actually centered around the movies rather than endorsements or celebrities.
After being comfortably situated at the State, ticketing commenced! Our amazing interns helped the Friends down the block to the box office to purchase their tickets where they were greeted by our crack team of box office volunteers.
The 10th Annual Traverse City Film Festival is officially underway and with that brings the smiles that come with the knowledge that this year’s festival is destined to be the best yet!
The time has arrived! Your first chance to purchase tickets for the 10th Anniversary Traverse City Film Festival is tomorrow, Sunday, July 13th — an early-ticketing benefit reserved exclusively for those of you who are Friends of the Film Festival. BUT — it’s not too late to become a Friend if you want to get your tickets tomorrow ahead of the crush next weekend. All you have to do to become a Friend is click here.
Friends ticketing all starts at 11 am at the main box office (201 E. Front at the corner of Front and Cass) and by phone (231-242-FILM); and then at 6 pm, online sales begin. Those of you joining us in person can lineup at the State Theatre where, starting at 10 am, we will let you in to wait your turn in absolute comfort.
Tickets go on sale to the public next Saturday, July 19.
I trust by now you’ve had a chance to look at the festival schedule and, with over 128 outstanding feature films to choose from, plus 8 shorts programs, a kids fest, film school, and loads of free movies and panels, you might be a little overwhelmed.
Fear not! With a lineup this great, you really can’t go wrong no matter what you pick.
Before you set your schedule in cement, read on for some important and cool announcements…
MOVIES AROUND THE BAY
There is no better way to ease up this year’s massive festival gridlock than getting things started early and joining us on a scenic cinematic tour across Northern Michigan — seeing some of the best festival films while visiting charming towns and historic theaters in the process. Sounds like a definite win-win to me!
Beginning next Sunday, July 20th, we’re showing a different TCFF10 film in a different town each night around the “Bay.” From Petoskey to Manistee, each of the six towns and theaters we’ve selected will become a film fest venue for a night in the week leading up to the festival in Traverse City. If you’re a Friend of the Festival, you can purchase your tickets for any of these special screenings beginning tomorrow.
Tickets for Movies Around the Bay will go on sale to the general public this Wednesday, July 16. You can read more about the lineup of films and participating partner theaters in Manistee, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Frankfort, Elk Rapids, and Suttons Bay here!
MOVIES ON A BOAT
Due to the overwhelming response we’ve received to these special nautical screenings (and the limited capacity of the boat rides as compared to, let’s say, the State Theatre), we will be holding a drawing for your chance to buy a ticket to set sail on a moviegoing adventure unlike any other.
Simply send one postcard or letter per film to TCFF Movies on a Boat, PO Box 4064, Traverse City MI 49685 or drop one off at the main box office starting July 13. Please include the film title, your contact information, and your choice of one or two tickets. Please, only one entry per person, per film.
TCFF 10TH ANNIVERSARY TRAILER
You’ll definitely want to check out the absolutely epic TCFF10 Trailer we have put together. If this doesn’t get you excited for the upcoming festival, nothing will.
DOWNLOAD OUR MOBILE APP
Stay connected to the TCFF on the go by downloading our mobile app from the App Store or Google Play. Order tickets and browse films, events, and places to eat and shop — plus, be the first to receive the latest news and schedule updates as you make your way around the festival. Even self-proclaimed Luddites (who I still call friends) will find the app to be an indispensable tool that will enhance the festival experience.
WALK OF FAME AUCTION (TCFF.ORG/AUCTION)
I’ve been gathering handprints of visiting filmmakers in cement since we started the festival back in 2005. Madonna, John Waters, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Donen, Wim Wenders, and many more have all made their mark. We’ve been stockpiling the squares in hopes of having a TCFF Walk of Fame on Front Street outside of the State Theatre — our own little piece of Hollywood right here in TC!
Now that we’re ten, it’s time to put their hands into a heated sidewalk along the street. Help us create the Walk of Fame by purchasing an item from our TCFF 10th Anniversary auction! Go online to tcff.org/auction now to preview the star-studded offerings and then, between July 20 and August 5, you can bid on great items like the chance to join me at a special screening at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, a Tony Bennett signed limited edition art print, a jacket worn by Jennifer Aniston in “Life of Crime,” or join Doug Benson as a guest on his “Doug Loves Mov ies” podcast!
That’s it for now! See you tomorrow when the tickets go on sale!
For its tenth anniversary, the Traverse City Film Festival is proud to introduce a brand new venue: The Buzz at InsideOut Gallery! Named after our beloved festival friend, the late Buzz Wilson, the venue will feature a variety of inspiring, intelligent movies completely free of charge.
Free tickets to screenings at The Buzz will be available when public ticketing begins on Saturday, July 19 at the main box office at 201 E. Front Street, or by calling 231-242-FILM, at 11 am, and online at 6 pm. And even if you’re unable to reserve a seat in advance, standby lines will form before each show.
Giving everyone a chance to see a great movie, the Buzz will showcase some of the best documentaries we’ve seen all year. With films representing many different areas of interest, there is something for everybody at The Buzz. We start the week with Good Driver Smetana, which tells the story of a bus driver who challenges injustice within Czech politics. Later, Fishtail provides viewers with a glimpse into the life of modern-day cowboys on a Montana ranch, complete with spectacular panoramas and a beautiful score. On Friday, catch The Hand That Feeds, an empowering film that follows a group of immigrant bakery workers who risk deportation to achieve fair treatment. Also consider checking out 10%: What Makes a Hero?, which details the compelling search for the elusive “hero gene.”
The venue will also host a retrospective look at the past nine years of “just great movies.” In recognition of the festival’s legacy and tenth anniversary celebration, The Buzz will screen one iconic, memorable film from each festival. Films range from The Edukators, which won the Founders Grand Prize at the first festival in 2005, to a 2013 Oscar-nominated favorite from Belgium, The Broken Circle Breakdown. Free of charge, these films are great way to catch up on what you have may have missed or a wonderful opportunity to experience these unforgettable moments anew.
Located in Traverse City’s Warehouse District, InsideOut is one of the Midwest’s largest art galleries. InsideOut has presented live, original music for over nine years, making it a well-known location for many area residents. The entertainment venue covers over 3,000 square feet and after we transform it into a state-of-the-art movie theater it will seat an audience of 150. The Buzz also has the unique distinction of being the only indoor venue where alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase.
Movies at The Buzz:
The Buzz Retrospective Films:
2005 — The Edukators (Die Fetten Jahre Sind Vorbei)
2006 — Men At Work (Kargaran Mashghoole Karand)
2007 — Please Vote for Me and West Bank Story
2008 — Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
2009 — Troubled Water (Deusynlige)
2010 — Castaway on the Moon (Kimssi Pyoryugi)
2011 — Face to Face
2012 — 5 Broken Cameras
2013 — The Broken Circle Breakdown
I want to highlight a few genius, hidden gems that Deb and I have found this year. You may not have heard of them, but trust me, you won’t stop talking about them after you leave the theater. You may not normally go to films like these, but I hope you will leave your comfort zone and take the risk to see a brilliant movie. Here are my picks:
|SUMMER OF BLOOD — We all know the “date from hell,” but what if the only way your date was going to be interesting was if he got bitten by a vampire on the streets of NYC?|
|MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN — For 10 years we have brought brave, bold movies made in Iran to cinephiles in Northern Michigan. This one is the latest and the greatest.|
|STILL LIFE — A lonely government employee is assigned the task of conducting the funerals and burials for the unclaimed bodies in the city morgue. A quiet, moving film from the UK with a “Downton Abbey” pedigree.|
|BENDING THE LIGHT — Michael Apted (“56 Up,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter”) returns to the festival for the premiere of his new documentary about the art and science of photography and cinematography.|
|THE NEWBURGH STING and SILENCED — Two important films about the dangers of our national security state: whistleblowers are jailed, and innocent people are set up by an FBI in search of “terrorists” around every corner.|
|STATIONS OF THE CROSS — A masterpiece of filmmaking. Need I say more? Ok, I’ll say more. The first shot—not just the first scene—is 17 minutes long. Recovering Catholics, meet me in the park afterward.|
|AL HELM: MARTIN LUTHER KING IN PALESTINE — A doc about what happened recently when a group of African American singers and actors took their play about nonviolence and Martin Luther King, Jr. to Palestine.|
|FISHING WITHOUT NETS — A drama about Somali pirates, told from the point of view of the Somalis. Think of it as the antidote to “Captain Phillips.”|
|DON’T LEAVE ME — A truly great film about divorce that begins with a “Waiting for Godot” line: “It is not every day that we are needed.”|
|THE ONE I LOVE — I’ve been advised by legal not to comment on this film. Fine. But go see it. There’s nothing else like it in the fest!|
|RUBBER SOUL — Wow, just when you’ve thought you’ve seen the story of the Beatles told in every way possible, along comes this canny, brilliant movie. I loved it.|
|I WON’T COME BACK — A powerful road movie from Belarus about two girls who decide to hitchhike to Kazakhstan.|
|BLIND DATES — Two lonely 40-year-old guys in the ex-Soviet state of Georgia arrange awkward blind dates for themselves. Funny. Sad. Funny.|
|THE HUNT — Nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film this year, this Danish film tells the tragic story of a teacher who is falsely accused of molestation.|
|LETTERS TO JACKIE: REMEMBERING PRESIDENT KENNEDY — Don’t miss this one. Bring Kleenex.|
Today we announce the names of the 200+ films that will make up this summer’s special and awesome 10th Anniversary TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL. A schedule of 230 screenings so grand, so filled with surprises, and so jammed-packed with just great movies, it took us a decade to pull it all off.
What surprises, you ask? For starters, we have not one, but TWO new venues.
And one of them isn’t on land!
Yes, our newest theater will be right in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay. That’s right — Movies on a Boat! We’ll take your ticket at the dock, you’ll board the boat, and you and the rest of the audience will head out onto the water to watch a great movie under the stars.
Then there’s The Buzz — our other new venue, named after our beloved festival friend, the late Buzz Wilson, and dedicated to bringing you the most inspiring, interesting, and intelligent movies completely FREE of charge all day, every festival day. This is also where we’ll be hosting our special look back at some of the most memorable films from the past nine years. And did I mention — it’s all for FREE!
TCFF is proud to welcome its eighth full-time intern class! Each year, the festival gathers a group of excited and energetic young professionals to work in a collaborative environment as interns. They perform a variety of tasks critical to running the festival, gain valuable career experience and spend their summer in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Seriously, we couldn’t do it without them! Here’s a look at this summer’s 22 full-time interns:
School: Grand Valley State University (senior)
School: University of Michigan (sophomore)
School: Michigan State University (super-senior)
School: Northern Michigan University (junior-senior)