World Premiere of “Sister Cities” and the Induction of Amy Smart into the TCFF Walk of Fame

Big things happened at the TCFF this year, one of them being the World Premiere of “Sister Cities” at Lars Hockstad Auditorium. The show was sold out, the line worked its way around the building, and anticipation and excitement hung in the air.

Director Sean Hanish and leading lady Amy Smart walked the red carpet and stopped for a quick photo-op and toast before entering the auditorium, settling into their seats, watching the finished project, and seeing all of their hard work come to life on the big screen.

Walking the red carpet wasn’t the only thing Amy participated in last night, she also left her mark on TCFF by adding a new set of hands to our Walk of Fame. Joining the likes of Michael Moore, Madonna, and Judd Apatow, Amy’s handprints will be part of the TCFF family and will soon be a permanent fixture outside of the State Theatre. Congrats to Amy and the cast and crew of “Sister Cities” for one heck of a premiere!


TCFF XII Instagram Roundup 7/30

Twas another successful day of Just Great Movies, music, and fun! Congratulations to all of the films in the festival and to the ones we recognized last night!

Tigers are bad for horses #tcff #beatsbythebay

A video posted by Britney Bouchey (@rebel_pilot14) on

#tcff #traversecitymichigan #traversecity #summertimeinnorthernmichigan #michaelmoore #puremichigan #starlifter #starlifterrocks

A video posted by Laurie Powers Mackowiak (@lauriemack1) on

Downtown #tcff party! #msutcff

A photo posted by Erin Jeannine (@erinjcullen) on

where’s the snacks ???????? #TCFF #traversecity

A photo posted by inthesebones (@inthesebones) on

#sunsetchallenge2016 #tcff2016 #tcff #moviesonaboat

A photo posted by Stephanie Mathewson (@small_phanie) on

Gotta love Thunderclap at the #TCFF #statetheater #traversecityfilmfestival

A video posted by Carolyn Gammicchia (@4autism) on

Alex Zanin and Sara Baumann enjoy the #tcff Filmmaker Party as Harold Kranick (#charliechaplin) silently moves into the picture.

A photo posted by Northern Express (@northernexpressmi) on

TCFF XII Award Winners

For those of you who couldn’t be with us for the festival’s awards ceremony, you can check it out online or by reading the list of winners below. Congrats to yet another incredibly talented group of films and filmmakers!



Festival Executive Director Deb Lake congratulates Elite Zexer

Stuart J. Hollander Prize for Best Kids Film
Oddball” Directed by Stuart McDonald

Buzz Wilson Prize for Best Avant Garde Film
Elephant’s Dream” Directed by Kristof Bilsen

Roger Ebert Prize for Best FOREIGN DOCUMENTARY Film by a First Time Filmmaker
Kings of Kallstadt” Directed by Simone Wendel

Roger Ebert Prize for Best FOREIGN FICTION Film by a First Time Filmmaker
Sand Storm” Directed by Elite Zexer

Roger Ebert Prize for Best US DOCUMENTARY Film by a First Time Filmmaker
The C Word” Directed by Meghan O’Hara

Roger Ebert Prize for Best US FICTION Film by a First Time Filmmaker
Operator” Directed by Logan Kibens

Jeff Grace, Director of “Folk Hero & Funny Guy
Noah Buschel, Director of “The Phenom
Brent Hodge, Director of “The Pistol Shrimps
Sam Pollard, Director of “Two Trains Runnin‘”

Stanley Kubrick Award for Bold and Innovative Filmmaking
I Am Belfast” Directed by Mark Cousins

Trapped” Directed by Dawn Porter
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
Taxi” Directed by Jafar Panahi

Disturbing the Peace” Directed by Steve Apkon and Andrew Young


Founder Michael Moore holds the mic for Kulikar Sotho who received the Founders Grand Prize for Best Film

El Clasico” Directed by Halkawt Nustafa

Cameraperson” Directed by Kirsten Johnson
Unlocking the Cage” Directed by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus 

Maggie’s Plan” Directed by Rebecca Miller

Founders Grand Prize Best Film
The Last Reel” Directed by Kulikar Sotho


My Blind Brother” Directed by Sophie Goodhart

Equal Means Equal” Directed by Kamala Lopez

A Man Called Ove” Directed by Hannes Holm

Disturbing the Peace” Directed by Stephen Apkon & Andrew Young

One Smart Fellow” Directed by Timothy Busfield & Tommy Lohmann

Pickle” Directed by Amy Nicholson

Taking Flight” Directed by Brandon Oldenburg


Snails” Directed by Grzegorz Szczepaniak

Pearl” Directed by Patrick Osborne

Speaking is Difficult” Directed by A. J. Schnack

Over” Directed by Jorn Threlfall


First Place
All Access Pass for two to the State and Bijou for one year and two tickets to the 2016 Filmmaker Party
Cherry RepublicIMG_4061
FullSizeRender 2FullSizeRenderSecond Place
$25 Gift Card & 12 Tickets to State and Bijou
Becky Thatcher Designs

Third Place
TCFF Merchandise
Great Lakes Bath & Body



Dunk a City Commissioner at the Closing Night Bash!

27974333723_9dc8765492_bCan you believe it’s already almost time for the closing night bash?! We’ve got some pretty cool activities to checkout Sunday night at the Open Space from 7 pm – 9:45 pm including a dunk tank that will plummet City Commissioners into icy waters, live music you can sing and dance to, interactive games, an icy photo booth, Arendelle’s own bounce castle, reindeer treats, and more! This magical night will surely put all in attendance in good spirits—plus, it’s FREE! We hope all of Traverse City’s royal patrons, snowmen, and ice minors out on the bay because wind never bothered us anyway!

New Added Screening – “The Last Reel”

We’ve taken your feedback to heart and added an EXTRA SCREENING of one of your favorite films from this year’s festival – “The Last Reel.” It’s been an absolute phenomenon at the festival, and likely to take home one of the festival’s top awards, which is why we want you to have the chance to see it after the first two screenings sold out completely!

LastReelDirector Kulikar Sotho has flown in from Cambodia (one of the direct Cambodia-to-Traverse City flights, of course!) to be here for the screening. The groundbreaking film is made by the first Cambodian woman to direct a feature since 1970. Don’t miss this intimate experience with a great Q&A following the film.

Read a rave review from The Hollywood Reporter and buy tickets for tonight’s 11 pm screening at the Bijou by the Bay HERE!

TCFF XII Instagram Roundup 7/29

Day 4 at the Traverse City Film Festival looks like more great filmmakers, musicians, sunsets, and celebrations! Hashtag your Instagram pictures with #tcff to celebrate with us!

Eden and Owen at #tcff #kidsfest so much fun!

A photo posted by @whimsypix on

Getting ready to play at the Traverse City Film Festival! ????????????????????????
A photo posted by Tigers Are Bad For Horses (@tigersarebadforhorses) on

So this is pretty cool. Almost showtime! #TCFF

A photo posted by Alex Mendenall (@alexmendenall) on

No cutsies, ya tramp. #tcff

A photo posted by Tone Branson (@toneisdead) on

Started from a screenplay now we’re here! #sistercitiesmovie #tcff

A photo posted by Cannonball Productions (@cannonballproduction) on

#shrek at the #tcff open space #outdoor #movie tonight! #puremichigan #onion

A photo posted by debbie bihlman (@d_bihlman) on

TCFF XII Instagram Roundup 7/28

Lots of things to do at the festival this week from Open Space, special screenings, kids fest, the marquees, and the beautiful sunsets! Hashtag your instagram pics of the festival with #tcff to share some of your festivities with us!

#tcff #tc #downtown #thestatetheater #home

A photo posted by Debbie Lopez (@deblopez0502) on

#filmmaker #boatcruise #lakemichigan #tcff ????

A photo posted by Simone Wendel (@diefrauwendel) on

Movies are better on the bay. #TCFF #TCMI #puremichigan #bigscreen

A photo posted by Nick Hawkins (@pthawk14) on

Great time with awesome gals ???? . . . #tcff #puremichigan #traversecity #filmfestival

A photo posted by Bethany Phillips (@northerngirltc) on

Stormy night. A film in black and white. A ukulele feels so right. #TCFF #tcukeguy #ukuleke #love

A video posted by Maria Kinney (@mariatherese) on

Beautiful night at the fest #tcff #traversecity #puremichigan

A photo posted by Sara Miller (@sjmiller28) on

TCFF XII Instagram Roundup 7/27

Check out our favorite instagram pics from TCFF day 2! Keep snapping pics and use our hashtag #tcff and one of yours could be here too!

Party on Kev, party on Ash! #tcff #neverstopmakingpopcorn

A photo posted by ashattack03 (@ashattack03) on

Movie by the bay. #tcmi #tcff #tcfuntime

A photo posted by Sarah Elms (@sarahelms) on

#letthefilmsbegin #tcff #popcorn

A photo posted by Sue (@sueatcottage) on

Hear us giggle along with Amy Smart on the next Doug Loves Movies Podcast. #tcff #tcff2016

A photo posted by Stephanie Mathewson (@small_phanie) on

#tcff #film #traversecitymichigan #interview

A photo posted by Bøbby Blãïsdèll (@blaisdell59) on

TCFF XII Dailies

Our Saturday Daily features Linda Price (TCFF Operations Manager for our first 11 years), “Small Talk” director Hilary Fitzgerald, filmmaker and TCFF moderator Rebecca Reynolds, “Equal Means Equal” director Kamala Lopez, and IndieWire’s Anne Thompson discussing the unique challenges female filmmakers face.

View yesterday’s historic panel at:

Our Friday Daily features the 100th Birthday of The State Theatre and information about balloting for the TCFF Audience Awards.

Speaking of Awards, tune in Live on Facebook tomorrow (Sat, July 30) at 9:30 PM for our broadcast of the 2016 Traverse City Film Festival awards ceremony from the Filmmakers Party.

Today’s TCFF Daily features some free & fun things to do at the Traverse City Film Festival including Kid’s Fest, The Woz, great music, and the nightly movies at the Open Space.

Our first TCFF Daily of 2016 features longtime festival volunteer Alan Collard and the story behind the new TCFF Walk of Fame and tips from TCFF intern Kendall Kotcher on getting tickets to movies including the new Traverse City Film Festival Ticket Swap Group and the mechanics of ticket vouchers and the standby line. There’s even an appearance by Michigan State University mascot Sparty!!

Speaking of Sparty, be sure to tune in today at 6 PM when TCFF goes LIVE on Facebook from the free party at the Woz – a VR playground that’s a partnership between MSU & TCFF.

2016 TCFF Dailies Team
Isabella Babieri
Bobby Blaisdell
Morgan Burke-Beyers
Duke Garlin
Lane Lubell
Andrew McFarlane
Kenyon McFarlane
Brody Steele
Charlie VanderKlipp
Olivia White

Less Than 24 Hours to Go – 24 Facts You Need to Know!

TCFF 2016 is less than 24 hours away! Here are 24 things you should know before heading into this year’s festival.

  1. Norte! Bike Valet – Brand new for 2016, please take advantage of our bike-friendly city with the FREE bike valet, courtesy of Norte! Bike valet parking, running throughout the festival, is available in Clinch Park next to the Bijou by the Bay.
  2. Festival Loop – Park all day and night with no cost, because the festival offers a FREE shuttle service to all filmgoers. The loop stops at each movie theater, the free festival parking lots as well as downtown parking decks.
  3. Day 3 TCFF 2015New Media at The Woz – Experience the future of storytelling at the hands-on interactive gallery The Woz, at a new location this year at the Hotel Indigo. We’ve partnered with Michigan State University to bring you transmedia projects that go beyond traditional screens. Check it out for FREE! 
  4. Walk of Fame – You don’t have to go all the way to Hollywood to see the handprints of the stars. Check out our Walk of Fame, which we have in Downtown Traverse City! Head outside the State Theatre to walk in the footsteps of the celebrities that have come across that berth.
  5. Pokemon GO to the movies – For all of the Pokemon trainers out there – you know who you are – we have the perfect spots to help you catch ‘em all. With 14 poke stops and 11 gyms, check out our guide here
  6. 28211740460_b9478110dd_oStandby Line/Vouchers – Nothing is ever sold out at TCFF! A standby ticket line forms one hour before each show, for the opportunity to purchase tickets to the screening. Patrons with vouchers can go to the front of the standby line, and anyone can purchase them – they don’t expire until the end of next year!
  7.  Cinema(n) – Did you know that only a small fraction of Hollywood movies are made by women? This year, ALL of our Official Selections (US) for fiction and documentary are directed or – co-directed by women. Pretty cool, right?
  8. Centerpiece Screening – Tickets are still available to “Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru.” Watch a movie from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost” trilogy) that explores the man behind the myth of Tony Robbins, famous self-help infomercial personality. And meet the director, as well as Tony Robbins, at the Friday screening!
  9. Michigan Made – Take a journey through recent history and explore Judge Keith in “Walk with Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith” From his start as a Detroit-born janitor to his role as the Honorable Judge Keith, this legend has lived a tumultuous and important 94 years through the civil rights movement and beyond.
  10. Animal Lovers – No animal lover should miss “The Champions,” the little-known story of what happened to the dogs in NFL-star Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring, and the effect that kind-hearted humans can have on a pup that is looking for a second chance. We’ll have the director of the film in person, as well as a very special subject — rescue dog Cherry!
  11. Become a Friend — Becoming a Friend of the Film Festival offers you some fantastic perks. Early access to tickets special screenings, and more! Become a Friend for 2017 before Sunday, July 31 and be entered to win a pass to next year’s fest!
  12. Photo by Alexa HughesKid’s Fest – Going to the movies can be a family affair! Check out our Kid’s Fest at Lars Hockstad Auditorium where kids movies are only $1! And don’t forget to head to the FREE Lawn Party after the screening!
  13. The Doug Benson Movie Interruptions – Who says that you can’t talk at the movies? Doug Benson’s Movie Interruptions will have you laughing until you cry as he gives his two cents on “Kisses for My President” and “Bloodsport.”
  14. Read the TCFF Blog – Don’t forget to check out TCFF’s daily news for the lowdown on what’s going on around the festival. Read interviews with filmmakers, breaking events, and so much more!
  15. Volunteer! – We LOVE our volunteers, so hang out with the best at our venues or parties! You’ll get an awesome tshirt, the chance to help out one of the coolest film festivals around, and if you volunteer late night, you get vouchers for swag. How can you beat that? 
  16. The Sidebar: Food on Film – Watch a mouthwatering documentary, sample a bite inspired by the film, and hear from top chef’s — including the legendary Jeremiah Tower of “Jeremiah Tower: The Last Maginficent.” Seriously, where can I sign up?
  17. Parties – Parties galore, there are so many to check out it’ll make your head spin! Check out the Opening Night party on Tuesday, The Woz party on Wednesday (FREE!), Filmmaker Party on Saturday, and the Closing Night Bash on Sunday (FREE!). 
  18. Centennial – It’s the celebration of the State Theatre’s 100th birthday! We’ve decided to pair one of the greatest movie theaters in all the land with a special screening of one of the greatest movies of all time, “Citizen Kane,” — with Orson Welles’ own daughter, Beatrice Welles in person.
  19. 27884622404_cccbc9f5b5_zOpen Space – No tickets needed. 65′ screen on the Grand Traverse Bay near Clinch Park. “Pitch Perfect.” “Wayne’s World.” “Adam’s Rib.” “Shrek.” “Jurassic World.” “Frozen.” FREE. Need we say more? How about that all the Open Space films this year were directed and/or written by women! 
  20. Panels – Check out the FREE panels TCFF has to offer. From The Comedy Panel to Film Under Trump, there’s something for everyone!
  21. 28398751081_530b59bf95_oFilm School – We have a great lineup of film experts teaching classes for filmgoers of all ages to experience at the festival! Test your acting chops in class, learn how to pitch a movie idea that’s been on your mind, or hear about music in film at our Film School this year.
  22. TCFF Music – Come out and enjoy some pre-show music before film screenings, courtesy of our talented group of volunteer musicians who have vowed to entertain our audiences!
  23. Cinema Salon – Watching a movie is great, but talking to audience members about your shared experience is even better! Chat with folks after the show to share your takeaway about the film.
  24. WE COULD NOT DO THIS WITHOUT YOU – We say it a lot, you hear it a lot, and it’s the truth! Without our dedicated volunteers, our generous sponsors, and an audience as curious and passionate as we are about film, this festival would not exist. So thank you, thank you, and thank you again. Please enjoy the 2016 Traverse City Film Festival!