If anyone’s going to show some movies in the beautiful region of Traverse City, Michigan, they better be some pretty flippin’ great movies.
Lucky for them (and us, the prospective audience), this has never been a problem.
This year marks the fourth hosting of the Traverse City Film Festival by downtown Traverse City, and the slogan meets the expectations: “Just Great Films.” Co-Founders Michael Moore, Doug Stanton, and John Robert Williams have put together another fabulous affair, selecting movies with big stars (Williams H. Macy, John Cusack), talented directors (Larry Charles, Werner Herzog), and one big special guest (that Madonna lady), which so far have satiated the audience who show up in droves for every event.
Downtown Traverse City’s streets are flooded with enthusiasm for the festival, evidenced by the fact that getting tickets to some of these films is next to impossible. The historic and magnificent State Theater plays host to some of these films, which is both fittingly phenomenal and a sucky shame. Phenomenal because good grief, there is NO better place in the great Traverse City area to show a film, and a shame because I couldn’t get tickets to the films I wanted to see. Blerg!
A feature that was introduced this year which should be conducive to people being able to see movies they wanted to but were unable to procure seats for is called Ticket Swap. Essentially, it is a way to connect people with extra tickets to sold-out performances to those without. One can access this wonderful feature via the Traverse City Film Festival website.
Back to the talent, though. This festival features a heap of amazing movies you may never have heard of, like Hamlet 2, the story of an actor-turned-drama teacher who writes an original play when he learns that the theater program will be shutting down (not as dry as it first sounds-Einstein and Hilary Clinton are written into this sequel of Shakespeare’s play, which also includes the musical number “Rock Me Sexy Jesus”). Neil Young also directorially contributes with his documentary about his rock mates Crosby, Stills and Nash with CSNY: Déjà vu. There is also a delightful film called Captain Abu Raed about a janitor who finds a captain’s hat in the garbage and proceeds to lie to all the children in his neighborhood about his exploits.
To top things off, Madonna returns to the mitten-state for a showing of I Am Because We Are, a documentary examining the lives of orphaned children dealing with AIDS in the second poorest country in the world, Malawi (I know, it sounds like a real day-brightener!). Things are expected to get a little nutty around Saturday evening when Madge gets here, but that only makes sense, right?
Essentially, this year’s TCFF seems to be a step up over past incarnations, which is no small feat. The stars are bigger, the films perhaps better, and Michael Moore has promised to shave his head and beard if Anvil! The Story of Anvil sells out. What more could anyone ask for?
Update: Watch Oneupweb interviews with the audience of this year’s Traverse City Film Festival.