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For the last decade and a half, Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine) has brought world-class films and filmmakers to the small bay city of Traverse City, Michigan to make it a destination festival.
This year’s slate is a combination of new films, classic films, shorts, kids’ film, foreign films and tributes including:
The North American premiere of Mark Cousins’ Cannes film The Eyes of Orson Welles, the World premiere of Slater Jewell-Kemker’s short subject documentary Youth Unstoppable, from Executive Producer Adrian Grenier, the World premiere of Dawn Porter’s short subject documentary You Have the Right to Vote, and the U.S. premiere of Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver, starring Shirley MacLaine.
Michigan films include The Sentence and The Russian Five.
There will be a Tribute to Jonathan Demme and Jane Fonda to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from Michael Moore.
The Opening Night film is the Ruth Bader Ginsburg doc and box office smash RBG (with co-director Betsy West in-person), the Centerpiece film is Hearts Beat Loud with Kiersey Clemons, Nick Offerman and Toni Collette from director Brett Haley and the Closing Night film is the Sundance hit Burden with Garrett Hedlund and Andrea Riseborough directed by Andrew Heckler.
The 14th Traverse City Film Festival will kick off on July 31st and go to August 5th this year. Here is the festival trailer and the entire slate.
Directed by Julie Cohen, Betsy West
If you’re suffering from superhero fatigue, then we have the movie for you—2018’s actual best superhero flick, a revealing and exciting portrayal of the Notorious RBG herself, Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Since Justice Ginsburg joined the Supreme Court in 1993, she’s become famous for two things: her fierce dissenting opinions and the constant push-up workouts that sustain her vitality. And yes, you’ll see both of those here. But RBG also presents a compelling story of a woman who has fought a tireless, six-decade crusade for gender equality, and how her successes in that arena have made her a cult superstar to generations of people pining for progress. Plus, you just haven’t known real delight until you see Justice Ginsburg watch and giggle along to Kate McKinnon portraying her on Saturday Night Live. In Person: Director Betsy West and other guests TBA.
HEARTS BEAT LOUD
Directed by Brett Haley
Let’s be honest: starting a band with your dad sounds pretty lame. At least that’s what Sam (Kiersey Clemons) thinks when her hipster dad, Frank (Nick Offerman), suggests she join his weekly “jam seshes.” A one-time musician with lingering dreams of stardom and a failing record store, Frank just wants to stay connected with Sam before she flies from Brooklyn to study pre-med at UCLA. When he secretly uploads one of their songs to a streaming service, it becomes an unexpected hit and this unlikely father-daughter duo kick-start a musical journey of discovery, growing up, and letting go. Everyone’s favorite woodworker, Nick Offerman, gives a truly heartfelt performance, and Kiersey Clemons shows she’s a damn rock star in this endearingly sweet comedy that is the perfect summer bop. Scheduled to Appear via Skype: Director Brett Haley.
Directed by Andrew Heckler
We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring you Sundance 2018’s US Dramatic Audience Award winner, joining such esteemed company as all-time TCFF faves The Sessions and Fruitvale Station. This unbelievably powerful true story stars Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound, TRON: Legacy) as Mike Burden, a man raised within the disgusting indoctrination of the South Carolina KKK, but moved to purge the hatred from his life when he falls in love with a single mom (Andrea Riseborough, also at TCFF 2018 with Nancy). The incredible supporting cast features Tom Wilkinson as the menacing father figure of the local Klan group, Forest Whitaker as the preacher that takes Mike in, and Usher—yes, that Usher—as one of Mike’s coworkers. Burden is not only one of the best acted films you’ll see this year, but it’s a film that looks straight into the heart of our darkness and offers a beacon of hope and inspiration at a time we sorely need it. In Person: Director Andrew Heckler.
Directed by Gabriela Pichler
Times are tough in the quaint Swedish hamlet of Lafors. The main industries of the once prosperous town are barely hanging on and in need of a serious economic boost. Enter the Wal-Mart-esque chain Superbilly and their plans to open a new location, maybe in Lafors. The cash-strapped town council’s big idea to set them apart? Inviting local high schoolers armed with selfie sticks to make a promotional video. When they realize the teens may not be quite up to the task, plans are scrapped. But two participants from very different immigrant families, Aida and Dana, take the mission to heart and continue to capture the reality of their changing multicultural community and its underrepresented voices to hilarious and poignant effect. With an effortless charm and infectious DIY spirit, this irresistible social comedy is a warm reminder of the wonderful things that happen when people tell their own stories.
SKID ROW MARATHON
Directed by Mark Hayes
Judge Craig Mitchell is the definition of inspirational. By day he presides over a criminal court for Los Angeles County, but by early morning (like 4 am early)—he trades his judicial garb for tennis shoes and running shorts as he jogs the darkened streets of L.A. among the people who call Skid Row home. He’s not running alone, however, because each morning he is joined by a group of addicts, ex-cons, and criminals as they all train to run marathons. Skid Row Marathon follows the individual stories of four runners as they fight against poverty and addiction to run marathons around the world. This film is about more than just running marathons, though, it’s about the comradeship of a group of people who receive a second chance. Ultimately, it’s a tear-inducing, hopeful, and illuminating film that asks its audience to look at the world from a different angle.
Directed by Ethan Hawke
Written and directed by Ethan Hawke, Blaze is inspired by the legend of Blaze Foley, a Texas outlaw country singer who tragically died in 1989 before ever hittin’ the big time. Moving seamlessly between three different periods, the film explores his love affair with Sybil Rosen (who co-wrote the screenplay), the days leading up to his death, and the reminiscences of his closest friends after he is gone. Featuring incredible acting and musical performance by Benjamin Dickey (remember his name) and a star-studded supporting cast (Alia Shakwat, Josh Hamilton, Charlie Sexton, Sam Rock-well, Steve Zahn, Kris Kristofferson, and more), Blaze is a profoundly bittersweet and beautiful country music tragedy that will leave tears in your eyes and hope in your heart.
Directed by Kent Jones
Making his narrative feature debut, legendary film critic and cinephile Kent Jones delivers a richly atmospheric drama you won’t soon forget. Diane is the story of a widowed baby-boomer who faithfully devotes her life to serving the needs of others. She spends her days serving soup at a food kitchen, consoling her ailing friends, and desperately attempting to forge a meaningful relationship with her opioid-addicted son (Jake Lacy). As her friends pass away, Diane’s altruistic world begins to crumble, forcing her to reconcile her current life with past regrets, and ultimately come to grips with her own mortality. Taking home Tribeca’s top prize for US Narrative Feature, Dianeis filled with warmth and humanity, anchored by a quietly phenomenal performance from Mary Kay Place that makes Diane’s struggles all the more relatable and profound. In Person: Director Kent Jones (Wed).
Directed by Scott Cooper
It’s been a while since we had a great revisionist western, but the wait is over—Christian Bale’s entry into the genre has arrived, and it’s one that will stay with you. Bale plays a racist US Officer ordered against his will to safely escort a Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to their home in Montana. Their travel through hostile territory is beset by numerous problems, including the arrival of a beautiful woman whose family was just slaughtered (Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl). Director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) brings together an impressive cast that also includes Ben Foster and Timothée Chalamet for this stark, powerful look at how shared histories of divisive hatred make reconciliation so difficult to achieve.
HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
From master of fantasy Neil Gaiman (Coraline, American Gods) and glam-rock legend John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus), this delightfully quirky punk rock spectacle is an instant cult classic. Enn (Alex Sharp) is an awkward suburban teenager in 1977 London, sneaking into underground punk parties hosted by Queen Boadicea (Nicole Kidman). One night he and his friends crash a kinky house party that feels a little too much like a latex-laden alien cult gathering. Blissfully ignorant of his hosts’ inhumanity, Enn falls for Zan, a beautiful teen eager to rebel against her colony’s strict rules. Together, the galaxy-crossed lovers embark on a glorious punk rampage. But Zan’s love-struck foray into non-conformity may have interstellar consequences, and leads to an ultimate battle of punks vs. aliens, loyalty vs. true love.
LEAVE NO TRACE
Directed by Debra Granik
If reading the news these days provokes fantasies of leaving civilization behind, this heartfelt—and uncompromising—father/daughter story might be just what you need. Ben Foster (in the best performance of his career) plays Will, a man living off the grid in the wilds of Oregon and raising his teenage daughter, Tom, with total self-sufficiency. But when authorities are alerted to their unlawful presence, they’re taken into the custody of social services. As Tom adjusts to her new surroundings, Will can only think of escape, and conflicting ideas about how to find happiness develop between the two. Director Debra Granik made one of the most memorable indies of the decade with Winter’s Bone, which introduced Jennifer Lawrence to the world; Leave No Trace, with its vivid and true sense of grace, proves that lightning sometimes really does strike twice.
THE LONG DUMB ROAD
Directed by Hannah Fidell
The biggest mistake Nathan (Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel) could make is starting college without a clear direction in life. At least, that’s what the random guy in his car says. Nathan was making the drive from Texas to California for his first year of art school when his car broke down, and Richard, a small-town mechanic, said he could fix it in exchange for taking him along for the ride. But in this hilarious comedy, Richard—played by Jason Mantzoukas of The League and the How Did This Get Made? podcast, in a true breakout role—is both more (and kinda less) than he seems; try to imagine a stoner Yoda that never shuts up and you’re just about there. The Long Dumb Road deftly combines buddy comedy, road movie, and a coming of age story, recontextualizing them in a way that breathes fresh air into all three. And you better believe plenty of hijinks do ensue.
THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST
Directed by Desiree Akhavan
One of the great, under-reported human rights tragedies of modern America is the existence of gay conversion therapy, which has only been outlawed for minors in 13 states. (Sadly, Michigan isn’t one of them.) Based on the modern classic novel, this Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner brings this ongoing atrocity powerfully to life. Chloë Grace Moretz plays the titular Cameron, a teenager caught with another girl in the backseat of a car on prom night. When her guardians pull her out of school and send her to a gay conversion therapy camp, Cameron’s world is sent into upheaval. But Cameron also realizes that, for the first time, she’s surrounded by other LGBTQ teens, and suddenly feels part of a support group that’s committed to resist the oppressive ideology the camp preaches.
Directed by Christina Choe
As a failed, socially awkward 35-year-old writer, Nancy (played by rising star Andrea Riseborough, see also TCFF 2018’s Closing Night film Burden) has always had problems with her elaborate fictions distorting her sense of reality. But when her mother dies, distinguishing fact from fiction becomes an even more perilous endeavor. After seeing a story on the news about a couple (Steve Buscemi and Ann Dowd) whose 5-year-old daughter went missing 30 years earlier, Nancy becomes convinced that she might actually be their missing daughter, and that she had been stolen away as a child. With Nancy, first-time feature director Christina Choe has given us the perfect female anti-hero for our times—one whose duplicity is presented with the ambiguity that our present-day world is increasingly attaching to notions of truth.
NEVER GOIN’ BACK
Directed by Augustine Frizzell
High school dropout besties Angela and Jessie (Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone) have serious problems: they’re only a few shifts at their scuzzy diner job away from a dream beach vacation, but, like, they can’t make rent after a botched drug deal, getting robbed, and a bogus trip to juvie. Now they might get evicted, fired, or both. But it’s all totally not their fault and ugghh, like, why is the universe giving such harsh vibes? But our heroes make a pact—they’re getting to that beach, no matter how many schemes they have to spring on the idiot boys crushing on them (including the hilarious Kyle Mooney, of TCFF 2017’s Brigsby Bear). The latest film from the leading purveyors of indie cool, A24, this lady stoner comedy showcases an exciting new voice in the sisterhood of female filmmakers, and it’s destined to be a future cult classic.
NIGHT COMES ON
Directed by Jordana Spiro
Balancing anger with hope. Attitude with innocence. Tough with tender. Dominique Fishback establishes herself as a name to remember in this Sun-dance-breakout about a bruised 18-year-old with her mind set on retribution. After serving time for unlawful possession of a weapon, Angel (Fishback) is thrown back onto the streets with nothing but a dead cellphone and drive for revenge. Her sister, Abby, is stuck in foster care, while her father killed their mother, but now walks free. Looking to reconcile the demons of her past, An-gel leaves with her 10-year-old sister on a course that could forever change their future. Bringing a refreshing female gaze, Jordana Spiro etches a compassion and humor onto an intimately bleak world in this quietly compelling coming of age story.
Directed by Marc Turtletaub
Prepare to be charmed by this sweetly endearing character study of an unassuming housewife who finds meaning in the simple and unexpected pleasure of putting all the pieces together. Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) has spent her adult life quietly catering to the needs of her family. It’s not that her husband and kids don’t appreciate her, it’s just that her only worth seems to be tied to them, and Agnes has found herself drowning in contentment. When she unwraps a present of a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, she discovers the great satisfaction of being good at something, and a sudden desire to do more. Venturing to a specialty puzzle store in the city leads her to a champion puzzler looking for a new partner, and for the first time Agnes begins to fight for what she wants. With standout performances by Irfan Khan (The Lunchbox, TCFF 2014) and David Denman (The Office), this heartfelt and poignant gem is what’s missing from your TCFF experience.
Directed by Joel Potrykus
Cult Michigan auteur Joel Potrykus brings us this bonkers (and kinda gross) burst of 90s nostalgia: one guy, on a couch on the eve of Y2K, mandated by his overlord brother to beat the impossible Level 256 of Pac-Man without getting up, before the apocalypse arrives. The result is like a more absurdist—and even more claustrophobic—version of Darren Aronofsky’s allegory-laden mother!, but with video games. Strange characters come in and out, a supernatural pair of 3D glasses gets involved, and this stunted male archetype is taken to its ultimate, explosive conclusion. Prepare yourself, because Relaxer brilliantly imprisons its audience along with its hero; you’re on that couch, the game is on, and there’s no such thing as getting up for bathroom breaks.
Directed by Michael Mayer
Tony Award–winning Broadway heavyweights Stephen Karam and Michael Mayer (American Idiot, Michael Moore on Broadway) team up for this splendid screen adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic tragicomedy of incredibly complicated love triangles. Famed Russian actress Irina brings her son Konstantin (a budding playwright) out to her brother’s estate to enjoy a pleasant holiday in the country. Konstantin becomes infatuated with Nina (a neighbor), much to the dismay of young Masha (the farmer’s daughter). But Nina is in love with Boris, while Boris is currently dating Irina—you get the idea; it’s a swooning lovesick mess. Featuring a divinely lush setting and an absolutely perfectly-cast ensemble of stars (Annette Bening, Corey Stoll, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, and more), The Seagull is a hilarious and heart wrenching saga that poetically explores the nature of family, fame, art, and love.
SUPPORT THE GIRLS
Directed by Andrew Bujalski
Middle-aged mom Lisa Conroy (the amazingly brilliant Regina Hall) does not look like someone you’d find at a roadside Texas breastaurant with scantily clad waitresses and greasy bar food. But the hardworking manager of the crudely named Double Whammies has an affection for her job, and more importantly–her girls. A fierce den mother, Lisa protects her short-short wearing staff from rude customers and sexist management in a thoughtful and truly remarkable ensemble comedy for the modern workforce that owes a debt to another TCFF 2018 film, 9 to 5. Over the course of a trying day involving an attempted robbery, a broken satellite, and an unauthorized car wash, Lisa’s optimistic resolve is tested more than ever. With outstanding supporting turns by James LeGros and Haley Lu Richardson, director Andrew Bujalski delivers a punchy feminist message of solidarity in the most unlikely of places.
WOMAN WALKS AHEAD
Directed by Susanna White
The always stellar Jessica Chastain stars as the head-strong Catherine Weldon, a happily widowed woman in the late 19th century who defies society’s expectations to become a noted painter. She travels to the Dakotas determined to paint a portrait of the legendary Sitting Bull, and while the “New York liberal” is initially met with hostility by the famed Sioux warrior, things take an unexpected turn when they begin to form a strange but powerful friendship. Welcomed into their world, Catherine is awakened to the injustices around her and becomes an advocate in the tribe’s struggle to retain their land as a showdown with hostile soldiers (including Sam Rockwell) mounts. Handsomely directed with vistas that make you ache, what sets this earnest and moving historical drama apart is how it’s aware of the tiresome White Savior trope and skillfully turns the stale cliche upside down. In English, Sioux with subtitles.
ALI & CAVETT: THE TALE OF THE TAPES
Directed by Robert S. Bader
Sports, politics, and entertainment collide in this captivating documentary that centers on the relationship between two legends who struck up an unlikely friendship and deep admiration for each other. Over the course of the 13 years that The Dick Cavett Show was on the air, boxer and activist Muhammad Ali made over a dozen appearances, sparring with the host about his career, his decision to join the Nation of Islam, his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War, and his often controversial statements on race relations in America. Co-written by Cavett himself, the film delves into a time when late night talk shows were more than monologues and viral videos, but built around insightful conversations. Part biography, part nostalgic tribute, and part history lesson on social and political issues that are still relevant today (see the NFL’s taking a knee), this superb film is also an important reminder of what progress can be made when respect dominates the discourse. Scheduled to Appear: Director Robert S. Bader and Dick Cavett.
ARTHUR MILLER: WRITER
Directed by Rebecca Miller
This highly personal and lovingly crafted film shines new light on the celebrated American playwright and U-M alumnus Arthur Miller from someone who knew him best—his daughter, Rebecca Miller (Maggie’s Plan, TCFF 2016). Assembled from over twenty years of archival footage and interviews, Miller delivers an engaging portrait of a complicated man who used his personal struggles to create timeless works of art, and yet found himself suddenly out of favor in the last years of his career. Weaving in interviews from famed writers including director Mike Nichols and playwright Tony Kushner, Millers serves up in-depth perspectives on the importance of Miller’s seminal works Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, while also exploring the vulnerabilities of the man she knew as her father—a man with plenty of regrets, including the institutionalization of his youngest son who was born with Down syndrome. This rich and heartfelt documentary will captivate you from start to finish, with a narrative that is just as compelling as Miller’s own work.
BATHTUBS OVER BROADWAY
Directed by Dava Whisenant
While researching unusual vinyl albums for David Letterman, comedy writer Steve Young never expected to stumble across anything quite like the long-hidden and forgotten world of industrial musicals. And little did he know that this quirky discovery would yield such a nerdy mystery and fascinating documentary. An obscure corner of show business that was meant to entertain and energize the sales forces of corporate America, these musicals were full scale productions with budgets often toppling their Broadway counterparts. Sure, the featured songs with titles like “Everything’s coming Up Citgo” (for Citgo Petroleum Corporation) and “Detroit Diesel Dazzle” (for General Motors) are easy to laugh at, but there’s also something truly beautiful at work here. Young’s giddy enthusiasm for these oddities turns insightful and meaningful, forming a community of collectors who uncover not only the well known people who got their start in the field (the film features interviews with the likes of Martin Short and Florence Henderson), but also the unknown craftsmen thrilled to finally have their work recognized. Told with such warmth, charm, and unabashed nostalgia, Young’s love for this slice of Americana cheese is infectious. It’s a film that works its delightful magic so thoroughly you’re sure to leave humming tunes about bathroom fixtures (“The Bathrooms are Coming!”). Scheduled to Appear: Director Dava Whisenant and Steve Young.
Directed by Robert Greene
In 1917, the border town of Bisbee, Arizona, did something absolutely horrific: 1,200 striking copper miners—many of them immigrant migrant workers—were rounded up at gun point, forced onto cattle cars, driven out to the middle of the desert, and left to die. A century later, current Bisbee residents prepare to commemorate the anniversary of the now infamous “Bisbee’s Deportation” by staging dramatic reenactments of the strike and its aftermath. These dramatizations, crafted by the area’s locals with conflicting accounts handed down as family lore for generations, reveal a town in firm denial of its dark past. In Bisbee ’17, innovative nonfiction artist Robert Greene perfects his signature style of blending documentary and drama, artfully examining the complex issues of immigration, corporate corruption, and environmental protection. It’s a cautionary tale for modern America that in light of recent ICE policies involving children and families, makes what happened in Bisbee 100 years ago seem less unimaginable than ever before.
BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY
Directed by Alexandra Dean
File this under “stories” so fascinating Hollywood couldn’t have even made it up. Remembered for her sizzling screen presence and stunning looks that inspired Snow White’s face, there was so much more to Austrian born actress Hedy Lamarr than meets the eye. Being “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” meant that she wasn’t always taken seriously, even though behind the ravishing beauty was an incredibly inventive mind that left an indelible mark on the world, eventually changing the course of history. A Jewish immigrant who escaped a marriage to a munitions tycoon with ties to Mussolini and Hitler, Lamarr was so eager to join the war effort she helped invent a wireless form of communication designed to aid allies during WWII. Although Lamarr’s contributions were dismissed, and she was never compensated, her concepts eventually became the basis for Wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth technology. Using interviews from her children, friends, colleagues, and newly discovered audio tapes of Lamarr herself, this marvelous—and often infuriating documentary— unveils a complex woman of undeniable intelligence and chutzpah who finally gets her due.
THE COLD BLUE
Directed by Erik Nelson
In the summer of 1943, legendary Hollywood director William Wyler (Ben-Hur, Roman Holiday, Funny Girl) traveled to Europe with a film crew to document and recognize the airmen risking their lives in WWII. The resulting film, Memphis Belle, focused on the eponymous B-17 bomber that survived 25 near suicide missions practically unscathed. Miraculously, the raw color footage from Wyler’s shoot was recently unearthed in the National Archives and given new life by director Erik Nelson. This gorgeous and moving documentary pays tribute to both filmmaker and its subjects, and includes rich and penetrating narration from nine surviving veterans. As the voices of the Greatest Generation carry over the images of their youth, they take us through a meditative journey of war, sacrifice, and what it means to be truly brave. Don’t miss this breathtaking work of historical significance as it was meant to be experienced: on the big screen. Scheduled to Appear: Director Erik Nelson.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
CRACKED UP: THE DARRELL HAMMOND STORY
Directed by Michelle Esrick
You probably know Darrell Hammond as Saturday Night Live’s man of impeccable impressions. From Bill Clinton to Donald Trump to a raunchy Sean Connery, Hammond’s seemingly limitless range of impersonations made him SNL’s go-to opener for a record 14 seasons. What you probably don’t know is that his facility for mimicry was honed from a very young age to distract and defend against his horribly abusive mother. Cracked Up is an incredibly courageous and intimate portrait of a man coming to terms with the lasting effects of his childhood trauma. Even at the peak of his SNL career, Hammond’s mental health was rapidly deteriorating. Thankfully, as compassionately captured by director Michelle Esrick (Saint Misbehavin’, TCFF 2009), one doctor is able to isolate the key to unlocking Hammond’s past, ultimately leading him toward a path of redemption. This is a special “work in progress” screening exclusive to the Traverse City Film Festival. Be the first to see the film and provide valuable feedback to the filmmakers. Scheduled to Appear: Director Michelle Esrick and Darrell Hammond.
CRIME + PUNISHMENT
Directed by Stephen Maing
Absolutely essential and completely daring, this sprawling look at corruption in the NYPD, with remarkable access to whistleblowers, will flood you with the kind of righteous anger you didn’t think possible. While the state of New York officially banned policing quotas in 2010, the corrupt practice endures at the NYPD as a cash-grabbing method helping pad its annual budget. These quotas are met by cops patrolling “high crime” areas (read: communities of color), making arrests that only seem to get dismissed in court. It’s only due to the courage of whistleblowers like the NYPD12, a group of minority officers who’ve filed a class-action lawsuit against the force, and the hard-nose investigations of private detectives like ex-cop Manual Gomez, that light is shed on the continued injustice and its dehumanizing practices. Up-close and unnerving, Stephen Maing’s explosive documentary masterfully weaves firsthand accounts, private documents, and secret recordings to give unparalleled insight into these institutional practices of racial discrimination, while revealing the bravery of police officers willing to do anything to serve and protect their community. As citizens, it’s practically our duty to see.
Directed by Tony Zierra
Two great men—one a filmmaking giant whose name has practically become an adjective, and one a “filmworker” whose name you’ve probably never heard of—have their inspired works and relationship examined in this illuminating documentary. After starring as the memorable Lord Bullingdon in Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 film Barry Lyndon, Leon Vitali abandoned his burgeoning acting career to be in service of the reclusive filmmaker. The Igor to Kubrick’s Dr. Frankenstein, Leon took on roles from gofer to casting director to sound design to acting coach, writing copious notes for Kubrick on every aspect of production, and working tirelessly at all hours of the day and night. In Filmworker, Vitale finally receives long overdue recognition for his efforts; he not only found Danny Lloyd to play the young boy in The Shining, but also discovered the iconic twins who weren’t even in the original script. Even after Kubrick’s death Vitali continued his efforts to preserve the filmmaker’s high standards for his theatrical and video releases, at excessive cost to both his health and personal life. With unprece-dented insight into Kubrick’s creative process, including previously unseen footage and photographs, this riveting exploration of obsession is both a cinephile’s dream and a universally riveting portrait of a man’s devotion .
FREAKS & GEEKS: THE DOCUMENTARY
Directed by Brent Hodge
Fans of this short-lived but much beloved TV series will revel in this retrospective behind-the-scenes look at the show that started the careers of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, and Linda Cardellini, and cemented both Paul Feig (TCFF Michigan Filmmaker Honoree) and Judd Apatow as talented writer/directors. For those who have somehow still missed the critically acclaimed show—you’re about to be schooled. How is it that in one season a show exploring the nerds, druggies, and weirdos of a Detroit-suburb school (the kind of kids ignored in all the glossy high school TV shows up until that point) had such significant influence over the cultural landscape of popular entertainment even up until today? From recognizing the raw talent of the cast and bringing them together, to the groundbreaking cinematic shooting style and soundtrack, and the zits-and-all narratives exploring the universal experience of adolescence, Freaks and Geeks was much more than just a show. With new interviews from the cast and crew (including friend of the fest Samm Levine), we promise this nostalgic trip back from director Brent Hodge (Pistol Shrimps, TCFF 2016) will be way more enjoyable than any other high school reunion. Scheduled to Appear: Samm Levine.
Directed by Amy Scott
When we think of the iconic filmmaking style of 1970s New Hollywood, our minds often go to the marquee names of Coppola or Scorsese. But perhaps no one was more emblematic of that legendary era than Hal Ashby, maverick director of zeitgeist classics like Harold and Maude, Shampoo, Coming Home (also at TCFF 2018!), and Being There. Sadly, Ashby’s subsequent battles with studios in the 1980s, his own personal demons, and untimely death from cancer has obscured his name from history. Hal succeeds not just as a lovingly detailed portrayal, but also as an important reclamation and redemption project, emphasizing not the controversies, but rather the stunning body of socially conscious work left behind. Through interviews with Ashby collaborators like Jane Fonda and Dustin Hoffman—and with those he influenced, like Judd Apatow, Alexander Payne, and David O. Russell—an all-time great vividly emerges.
Directed by Sally Rubin, Ashley York
Appalachia is possibly the most stereotyped and dismissed region in America. Its inhabitants are allpoor, opioid-addicted coal miners, right? In an increasingly divided nation, where coal country is ridiculed regularly and blamed for all political ills by coastal elites, directors Ashley York and Sally Rubin attempt to challenge the stereotypes—are they really all toothless and uneducated? Spoiler alert: they’re not! Hear from Tennessee-local Dolly Parton, activist-author bell hooks, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Garner, queer activists, and “Affrilachian” poets, who help dismantle a more than 100-year legacy of negative media representations. There is more to rural identity than the infamous hillbilly, after all. This film is a refreshing—and much needed—call for dialogue.
Directed by Kent Jones
One of the most important and legendary conversations in the history of film took place over several days in 1962, when the French New Wave auteur François Truffaut interviewed Alfred Hitchock about the breadth of his landmark career. The ensuing book that Truffaut wrote has been taught in film schools ever since, and now it’s finally been lovingly brought to life as a movie. Film historian and director Kent Jones (also at TCFF 2018 with Diane)—along with a truly epic collection of tour guides including Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, and Michigan native Paul Schrader—takes us on a deep dive into Hitchcock’s unrivaled catalog that will do nothing less than change the way you view film.
JANE FONDA IN FIVE ACTS
Directed by Susan Lacy
Like many women, Jane Fonda spent much of her life labeled by the way others saw her—girl next door, activist, feminist, sex kitten, daughter, wife—before finally emerging as the fierce and determined actress who, now in her 80s, is creating some of her best work. This is the compelling trajectory of Susan Lacy’s insightful and timely biography of a talented woman as celebrated as she is underestimated, and a story that resonates even more so in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Told with the first four acts tethered to the major men in her life, from her father Henry Fonda to her three husbands, the film dissects how these charismatic figures captivated and inspired her and yet kept her often locked firmly in their control. Through intimate glimpses of home movies and interviews, the film explores Fonda’s darkest moments, including her decades-long battle with bulimia, as well as her biggest triumphs, and culminates in a final act centered on the bold and brilliant Jane she finally becomes. A not-to-be-missed film that will no doubt inspire another generation of girls to fight the patriarchy and seize control of their own lives. Scheduled to Appear: Jane Fonda (Wed), Director Susan Lacy, Producer Emma Pildes.
MINDING THE GAP
Directed by Bing Liu
Some films evoke so much, getting so close to the core of the human condition, that they defy description. Minding the Gap, which won a Breakthrough Filmmaking Award at Sundance, is just such a film. In Rockford, Illinois—a Rust Belt town that may feel hauntingly familiar to some Michiganders—three friends grow up bonded by their mutual love of skateboarding, each of them using it as a much-needed escape from their poor and troubled home lives. But circumstances eventually separate Zack, Keire, and Bing. Following his graduation from film school, Bing (the film’s director) sets his camera on the enduring friendship of the three young men, taking an honest, unvarnished look at how they’ve given each other invaluable help in getting through the seemingly mundane, dead-end existences the world set up for them. It’s a film you won’t want to let go. Scheduled to Appear: Director Bing Liu and Producer Diane Quon.
A MURDER IN MANSFIELD
Directed by Barbara Kopple
A horrific murder. A pre-teen son accuses his respected physician father. A life sentence and… denial. Collier Boyle, the son at the center of his family’s much-publicized tragedy, returns to visit his father in prison nearly three decades after the murder. He’s looking to exorcise the ghosts of his past and, hopefully, to get some closure. Two-time Academy Award–winning director and TCFF Mid-Life Achievement Honoree Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA) masterfully and sensitively tells this story of an unthinkable act, avoiding the pitfalls of sensationalism. A gripping true-crime exposé that takes eerie and artful turns as it thoughtfully explores the aftermath of tragedy; the film’s climax—the meeting between father and son—is equally frustrating, mesmerizing, and cathartic. In Person: Director Barbara Kopple.
ONE OF US
Directed by Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
What is the price of claiming your own identity? Imagine if standing up for yourself meant breaking with everything and everyone you knew, meant being thwarted and intimidated every step of the way. And your reward? Entering a world you are unequipped for, and left feeling nostalgic for the community you’ve left behind. One of Us is the touching and dramatic story of Luzer, Etty, and Ari—three young people who are at various stages of leaving the most closed-off community in North America—the New York Hasidim. Oscar-nominated directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia TCFF 2012, Jesus Camp 2006), manage to capture this, sometimes life-threatening process, over the course of three years. Regardless of the film’s almost thriller-like segments, or insights into the ultra- secretive community, it is first and foremost a portrait of strength and courage.
ROLL RED ROLL
Directed by Nancy Schwartzman
A small town. A beloved high school football team. A “boys will be boys” mentality. In Nancy Schwartzman’s pointed Roll Red Roll, rape culture is examined through the lens of the infamous case in Steubenville, Ohio. In 2012, an underaged teenage girl was sexually assaulted at a pre-season party. The news swept the nation, but the town stayed silent on the suspects. It wasn’t until amateur true crime blogger Alex Goddard scoured through the students’ social media that the police made their arrests. And it wasn’t until the hacktivist group Anonymous got involved that there was anything close to justice. In unearthing the disturbing and extensive evidence of the crime, Goddard reveals the apathetic attitudes that shepherded the bystander culture of complicity and silence. Utterly impactful and harrowing, this is a must-see of the #MeToo era we dare not turn away from.
THE RUSSIAN FIVE
Directed by Joshua Riehl
When Jim Devellano was hired as the new general manager of the struggling Detroit “Dead” Wings in 1982, his mission appeared impossible: restore the flailing franchise to its former glory by winning a Stanley Cup. He devised a radical, dangerous plan—draft superstars from the USSR’s Red Army team, then extract them from behind the iron curtain. Through covert dealings straight out of a spy novel, Devellano and his scouts persuade three celebrated Soviets—Federov, Konstantinov, and Koslov—to defect to Detroit. Years later they add veteran legends Fetisov and Larionov to form the NHL’s first all-Russian line, culminating in back-to-back Stanley Cup victories for the city of Detroit. More than mere nostalgic reminiscing, The Russian Five demonstrates the power of sports to change culture and politics by smashing stereotypes and forging bonds across borders.
SAY HER NAME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SANDRA BLAND
Directed by Kate Davis, David Heilbroner
Three days after being pulled over for failing to signal during a lane change, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell, her death quickly ruled a suicide. As if these circumstances weren’t suspect enough, the fact that she was an outspoken Black Lives Matter activist, and the murky evidence provided by the Waller County, Texas law officials, spurred nationwide public outcry on social media and protests in the streets. Following her family’s two year investigation and court case, this gripping documentary by Academy Award–nominated filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (The Newburgh Sting, TCFF 2014) delves into the multitude of difficult questions surrounding her arrest and death, giving voice to the victim herself by weaving in video of Bland from her web series, “Sandra Speaks.” Don’t miss this deftly crafted film which is essential viewing as part of the continuing conversation of racial injustice in America.
Directed by Rudy Valdez
This Sundance Audience Award Winner with Michigan roots is a deeply personal portrait about the consequences of mass incarceration and mandatory minimums on a Lansing family. Cindy Shank was a happily married mother of three little girls when her family’s life is turned upside down. For her tangential relationship to a drug dealing ex-boyfriend from a lifetime ago, Cindy is convicted of conspiracy through a little-known law known as “The Girlfriend Problem.” The minimum sentence? 15 excruciating years. Enter Cindy’s filmmaker brother Rudy Valdez, on hand to document every moment of his nieces new lives. From the morning goodbyes to Halloween costumes and birthday wishes and everything in between, as years pass, their mother’s absence feels more and more permanent. Drawing upon hundreds of hours of footage, The Sentence was born out of Rudy’s very human desire to capture every moment for his sister as she tries to be a mother to her children against insurmountable odds. The result is an impossibly moving and beautiful film that won’t leave a dry eye in the house. Bring tissues. Scheduled to Appear: Director Rudy Valdez, other guests TBA.
TIME FOR ILHAN
Directed by Norah Shapiro
In a time fogged up by fake news and cynicism, breaths of fresh air in the news cycle are few and far between. Norah Shapiro’s wonderful documentary, depicting Minnesota politician Ilhan Omar’s run for state legislator, however, provides a big refreshing gulp of feel-good optimism. Community organizer Ilhan, a black, Muslim, hijab-wearing, immigrant mother-of-three, describes herself as the “extreme other.” Plus, no one of Somali descent has ever been elected to legislative office in the US. Could this scrappy political outsider’s odds be any more daunting? Oh yeah, we forgot to mention she’s trying to unseat a 43-year incumbent. While watching the exciting campaign drama, it’s impossible not to fall in love with Ilhan’s unapologetic hopefulness and tenacity—watching her on the campaign is an extraordinary thing to behold. Time for Ilhanis an inspirational strike for feminism, diversity, and grass-roots idealism, and is exactly what we so desperately need to see right now.
WATER & POWER: A CALIFORNIA HEIST
Directed by Marina Zenovich
In the classic film Chinatown, Jack Nicholson’s character, Jake Gittes, confronts the millionaire Noah Cross, and asks him why he’s trying to steal the Los Angeles water supply. Gittes asks, “How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can’t already afford?” And Cross famously replies, “The future, Mr. Gittes! The future.”
Water & Power: A California Heist is that interaction writ large, And made startlingly real. The top levels of corruption are laid bare in this incredible work of investigative journalism, showing how the trickle-down effects of California’s water crisis are both devastating local agriculture and causing massive environmental problems with tragic human costs. Trust us, the real-life villains are even worse than the ones of Hollywood yore, and the connections to our beautiful Great Lakes state are all too easy to draw.
WHITE TIDE: THE LEGEND OF CUELBRA
Directed by Theo Love
Guys, we guarantee you’ve never seen a movie quite like White Tide. And promise that you’ve never met anyone quite like Rodney Hyden. Rodney was living the American dream—successful construction business, wonderful family, plenty of Florida sunshine—until the Great Recession crashed down on him and sent him into despair. Deep in debt and living in a trailer, Rodney hears a story from his hippie neighbor about a buried treasure on an island, and suddenly begins to see his dream rekindled. But this time the dream means digging up $2 million in cocaine, figuring out how to sell it, and basically becoming some sort of modern day Scarface, all for the sake of his wife and daughter. Though it sounds like the plot of the next incarnation of Breaking Bad, the story is 100% true, and told with unbelievable charm and wit in this documentary that defies all traditional definitions. Mixing real life interviews with the outlandish characters themselves and cleverly produced reenactments of the events featuring the real-life players, Theo Love’s complete laugh riot will astound you with its masterful telling of an amazing story. A wild and wacky ride that will make you wonder: if you knew where to dig up potential millions, would you do it, too? Scheduled to Appear: Director Theo Love and Producer Bryan Storkel.
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
Directed by Morgan Neville
A man. A legacy. A cardigan. Who else could it be, but Mr. Rogers? In an era where young people are increasingly standing up and speaking out, it feels timely to revisit such a beloved television personality who placed so much trust in his young viewers, never shying away from difficult topics, acknowledging their fears and feelings, and offering simple kindness in return. “I like you just the way you are.” Who doesn’t want to hear that? Funny how that can sound so radical now. Morgan Neville’s (Best of Enemies, TCFF 2015) enchanting portrait is more of a hug than a film—it’s also more of a plea for understanding and respect than mere nostalgic trip down memory lane. So let’s all try and remember to be a little more like Mr. Rogers—kind, gentle, in touch with our emotions, and accepting.
Directed by Suzannah Herbert
From wrestling on the mat, to grappling with life’s big problems, Wrestle follows an underdog highschool team in Hunstville, Alabama, over the course of one tumultuous season. We meet four boys—Teague, Jailen, Jamario, and Jaquan—who look to their wrestling coach for much more than just feedback on their holds. At practice, Coach Scribner is passionate and unrelenting, pushing the boys in hopes of making the state championships. He also steps in as dad, taxi, and teacher. Facing a difficult uphill battle in the face of school underfunding, broken homes, and teenage pregnancy, we get to see not only how they grow in the sport, but how it keeps them in control of their lives. Told with such unsentimental empathy, Suzannah Herbert and co-director Lauren Belfer’s investment in the athlete’s lives makes the heartrending question of what their prospects are after high school just as suspenseful as the outcome of each match.
Directed by Ferenc Török
On a hot summer day in 1945, the villagers in a Hungarian town prepare for the wedding of the clerk’s son. It’s a chance for celebration and a welcomed return to normalcy following the trauma of WWII. On that same summer day in 1945, two Orthodox men arrive. Soon this previously bright occasion is shadowed with a sense of foreboding as their presence springboards unwelcome tension and fear. Who are these men? What do they carry? Do they know the town’s dark secrets and, if so, what are they planning to do about them? Using mesmerizing simplicity, this official selection of the prestigious Berlinale tells a beautifully nuanced and strangely uplifting story that reveals the inescapable moral costs of doing wrong, or of doing nothing. In Hungarian, Russian with subtitles
AND BREATHE NORMALLY
Directed by Ísold Uggadottir
For Lara, life on a small peninsula in Iceland is a constant struggle: she’s unemployed, in debt, she abuses drugs—yet she’s determined to be a loving and responsible mother to her son, Eldar. Aiming to get her life back on track, she takes a seemingly simple job as a border patrol agent at the regional airport. While still in training, Lara flags a suspicious passport, leading to the arrest of Adja, a refugee from Guinea-Bissau traveling on forged documents. For days Adja lingers in limbo awaiting her trial, causing the two women to continually cross paths in the small town. A stunning debut from writer/director Ísold Uggadóttir, and winner of a Sundance directing award, And Breathe Normally confronts issues of immigration and human rights through the intimate story of two seemingly dissimilar women destined to change each other’s lives forever.
Directed by Robert Schwentke
They say the clothes make the man, but is that really true? An unlikely answer comes in the form of Herold, a young German soldier wanted for desertion during the final days of the Third Reich. But when he finds and dons a Nazi Captain’s uniform, everything changes. Suddenly Herold is ordering—and performing—sadistic acts of cruelty, and he finds a perverse attraction to the authoritarian power. Hollywood veteran Robert Schwentke (Red, The Time Traveler’s Wife) revisits his German roots with this true story, which is stunningly shot, darkly evocative, and universally resonant. We won’t lie to you, The Captain can be a rough watch, but also a rewarding one, finding a haunting way into the Nazi psyche without asking us for any sympathies.
THE DEATH OF STALIN
Directed by Armando Iannucci
In HBO’s hit show Veep, writer/creator Armando Iannucci brilliantly skewered our present-day American political system by spotlighting the absurd inanities inherent in it. With The Death of Stalin, Iannucci turns his talents to one of the 20th century’s defining geopolitical moments. When Stalin died in 1953, the Soviet Union’s other highest ranking officials all tried to seize total control for themselves, setting off a ludicrous chain of desperate power grabs and backstabbing schemes, many of which had lethal consequences. Using an all-star cast of beloved character actors—including Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs, and Michael Palin—Iannucci hilariously reveals the depraved stupidity of these infamous political “strategists.” And if you look closely enough, you just might find some parallels to another, more current regime of incompetent authoritarians.
Directed by Sebastián Lelio
A gorgeously acted, tremendously feeling, tenderly written tale of forbidden love, Disobedience is elegantly old-fashioned melodrama with a few key updates. Ronit (Rachel Weisz) is a New York photographer who has long since left her conservative Orthodox community. But when her estranged father, a reverend rabbi, passes away, Ronit reluctantly returns to London to pay her respects and liquidate his inheritance. Though the stiff greeting from the community is expected, Ronit is genuinely surprised when she finds her childhood friend Dovid has married Esti (Rachel McAdams), her best friend and old flame. The two reconnect and hidden desires come back to the surface. Sebastian Lelio’s follow up to his Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman cements him as a complexly empathetic filmmaker in this beautifully directed film of love, faith, and freedom.
A FANTASTIC WOMAN
Directed by Sebastián Lelio
Marina, the young transgender woman at the center of A Fantastic Woman, lives up the title in more ways than one. When her older lover, Orlando, dies after suffering an aneurysm, Marina must work with his family to settle his affairs. But because of Marina’s age difference and gender identity, Orlando’s family suspects foul play, cruelly exiling her from any remembrance of her lover and even getting the police involved. A Fantastic Woman both grounds us in a beautifully detailed character portrait while also dazzling us with occasional forays into magical realism that lovingly evoke its Latin American setting and tradition. Chilean actress Daniela Vega went from total obscurity to presenting at the Academy Awards for her powerful and sympathetic performance in this newly crowned Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film. In Spanish with subtitles
Directed by Pascal Bourdiaux
The family that thieves together brings all the laughs in this delightfully madcap caper comedy. Introverted computer scientist Carole and charming con artist Caroline could not be more different, but these half sisters are bonded through their father, Patrick—a man they’ve never met due to the fact that he’s an international art thief at the top of Interpol’s lists. But after Patrick is betrayed by his partner in crime (pun intended) and nearly killed, he decides to bring his daughters together to pull off one final heist: steal a Stradivarius violin worth 15 million euros. French superstar Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional) makes use of both his stellar comedy and action chops, bringing deadpan humor and flexible forcefulness as he discovers this job may not be so easy to pull off amidst his bickering daughters, especially when his double-crossing ex-partner starts to fall for one of them. Totally entertaining and completely effervescent, Family Heist’s witty repartee, plethora of pratfalls, and romantic hijinks captures the slapstick spirit and scintillating style of the classic French comedies of yesteryear. In French with subtitles
Directed by Gustav Möller
This razor-sharp thriller follows police officer Asger Holm, newly demoted and desk-bound, when he gets a panicked phone call from a woman claiming to be kidnapped. When the call is abruptly cut off, Holm must try to piece together what little evidence he has using only his wit and the few resources at hand to find her before the clock runs out. What’s remarkable about this gripping and tightly wound mystery is its beautifully streamlined simplicity. Stripped of the usual gimmicks of car chases and long fight sequences, the film takes place pretty much exclusively in one location with a story that unfolds in real time and rests almost solely on the simmering performance by Jakob Cedergren as Holm. A treat for any suspense fan, this clever and impressive debut feature by Danish filmmaker Gustav Möller is an edge-of-your-seat, heart-racing puzzle that will keep you guessing, and a film that makes those overly-gruesome and over-plotted primetime cop shows look like rookies. In Danish with subtitles
Directed by Ziad Doueiri
It’s a typical summer afternoon in Beirut when the simple issue of a broken drainpipe causes an argument between two men: hot-headed Tony, who’s Christian, and construction foreman Yasser, who happens to be a Palestinian refugee. During the dispute one of them utters an unforgivable insult, the catalyst that leads first to injury and eventually to an explosive courtroom case that gains national attention and fuels a much larger political fire. This complex and riveting drama is at once a layered exploration of the history of the Lebanese Civil War and a timely examination of the continued conflicts in the region. With faultless filmmaking by Lebanese-born Ziad Doueiri, this extraordinary film is a relevant reminder that no matter our politics or where we live, our tendency to hold on tight to the past can prevent us from moving into a better future. In Arabic with subtitles
IN THE FADE
Directed by Fatih Akin
It’s no surprise that Diane Kruger (National Treasure) won Best Actress at Cannes for her career-best performance as Katja, a German woman who loses her Middle-Eastern immigrant husband and young son to a horrific act of white supremacist terrorism. We see Katja traverse stages of grief from crippling immobility to drug addiction to plots of revenge in ways that feel hauntingly authentic. At a time when both white nationalism and the failures of the justice system are in the news seemingly every day, In the Fade couldn’t possibly feel more timely. And just like current news headlines, we realize this film won’t exactly add any pep to your step, but what this 2018 Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language Film will do is wrench your heart and powerfully challenge your notions of forgiveness. One of the best films of the year! In German with subtitles.
MARY GOES ROUND
Directed by Molly McGlynn
Molly McGlynn’s feature debut isn’t just a smart and touching film about the ways we cope with tragedy, it’s also a darkly comic look at failure. Mary is an addiction counselor whose whole world comes crashing down when she (ironically enough) gets a DUI. Not surprisingly, she loses her job, loses her boyfriend, and realizes her tenuous binge-and-lie lifestyle just isn’t going to cut it anymore. With nothing left she decides it’s time to answer the pleas of her estranged father, moving back home to Niagara Falls to finally meet the half sister she’s never known. Aya Cash (FX’s You’re the Worst )delivers a top-notch performance as Mary, who slowly discovers that it might just be in helping others that she can finally start to help herself. Loosely based on McGlynn’s own family, the film perfectly balances dark and light, delivering a poignant coming of age story about healing irreparable wounds, and learning that sometimes “it’s okay for things not to be okay.”
THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Acclaimed auteur Aki Kaurismäki is like the Finnish Wes Anderson, and if you’ve never experienced his work, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to a master. In this winner of Berlinale’s prestigious Silver Bear, Kaurismäki turns his quirky eye to Europe’s migrant crisis, following a Syrian refugee searching for his lost sister while hiding out in a restaurant storeroom. The Other Side of Hope deftly toes the line of keeping things light-hearted and comedic without sugarcoating the issues (such as the far-right nationalist threat spreading throughout Europe). Like Kaurismäki’s other films, this one is populated with colorful and sympathetic outcasts—people who lack autonomy over their own lives. But also like his other films, this one never loses track of the uplifting silver lining that unceasingly shines through. In Finnish, Arabic with subtitles.
Directed by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Some of the most visually dazzling sights you’ll see on a movie screen this year are the gorgeous hand-painted frames of Loving Vincent that each lovingly recreate the colorful, painterly style of Vincent van Gogh. As both an homage to the famed artist and an investigation into the final days of his life, the world’s first fully oil painted feature film tells the story of a young man trying to deliver van Gogh’s final letter, and learning far more about the painter than he bargained for. Featuring a voice cast that includes stars like Chris O’Dowd and Saoirse Ronan (also at TCFF 2018 with The Seagull), this Oscar nominee will astonish you with the way every frame moves and swirls with the beauty of an impressionist masterpiece.
Directed by Marios Piperides
Your dog getting loose on a walk is already a distressing situation, but imagine if it were to trigger an international incident. Well, that’s exactly what happens to Yiannis, when just a few days before he’s set to leave his home in Cyprus and get on a plane for a new life, his beloved canine companion Jimi gets caught in the no man’s land that separates “Greek South” and “Turkish North.” With no legal recourse, he enlists the help of a ragtag crew, including a shady smuggler, a bitter enemy, and an old flame to get Jimi back. Set against a complex geopolitical situation, this charming comedy mixes a heartfelt ode to man’s best friend with exciting prison break intrigue, it deservedly went home as Top Dog at the Tribeca Film Festival, winning Best Narrative International Feature. In English, Greek, Turkish with subtitles.
Directed by Ruben Östlund
What is art? What is the meaning of life? Are humans responsible, selfless beings with highly refined tastes, or are we merely monkey-people? Ponder these and other light questions in Ruben Östlund’s (Force Majeure, TCFF 2014) coldly witty film, The Square. The title refers to a work of art that curator Christian has commissioned for his museum. Christian delights in the piece’s altruistic message, but finds it increasingly hard to live up to the same ideals in his private life. After the theft of his phone, he goes on a rambling journey, during which everything he imagined about himself is gradually stripped away. The film holds nothing sacred in its painfully slow and deliberate deconstruction of masculinity, the art world, class, and liberal politics. This Palme d’O winner is an equally fascinating, funny, and uncomfortable watch and also just very Swedish. In Swedish with subtitles
Directed by Lucrecia Martel
For nine long years fans have been wondering when renowned Argentine director Lucrecia Martel would release another film, and it’s been well worth the wait. Zama is an epic masterpiece and hypnotic satire detailing the life of Don Diego de Zama: an 18th century Spanish magistrate who’s been languishing in a remote, disease-ridden colony in Paraguay for years—possibly decades—hoping to be transferred to a better post and gradually losing his mind. Desperate to escape, he volunteers on an expedition to hunt down legendary outlaw Vicuña Porto, though no one is certain he even exists. So much more than a period piece, this is a sumptuous, mesmerizing colonial nightmare filled with breathtaking juxtapositions of violence and natural beauty that will drawn you in with its exhilarating strangeness. In Spanish with subtitles.
Directed by Peter Luisi
Meticulous Swiss schoolteacher Balz Näf has been setting aside school funds for decades, hoping to dedicate a museum to an unsung local author with special meaning to he and his now-deceased wife. So when the money is diverted to build a sports stadium instead, the normally reserved man breaks—gambling all the money on a soccer match he knows has been fixed. But his sure-fire plan falls to shambles when a supercilious streaker charges the field and disrupts the game. In desperate need of quick cash, Balz hatches a scheme with his bookie barber: create an underground syndicate of professional streakers, then take bets on how long they can last naked on the field. The new (illegal) sport is so popular that the police form a streaker task force helmed by his new girlfriend, ultimately forcing Balz to bare all for what he believes. Hilariously outrageous and also incredibly sweet, this heartwarming romp is on a real winning streak. In German with subtitles.
THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES
Directed by Mark Cousins
If you thought there was nothing else to add to the Orson Welles mythos, prepare to be astonished by TCFF Board Member Mark Cousins’ (Stockholm My Love, TCFF 2016; I Am Belfast, TCFF 2015) latest work. Granted unlimited access to the entirety of Welles’ little known collection of personal artwork “a daily practice of sketching and painting that began in childhood and followed him throughout his life” Cousins turns his own visionary cinematic eye to exploring the film legend from this untapped perspective of Orson Welles himself. Part love-letter, part feast of visual art, Cousins traces Welles™ path across continents and throughout time, examining how these sketches were an essential part of his artistic process and even help to illuminate how he saw the world. At once a look back on Welles’ ongoing filmmaking legacy as well as a lyrical musing on his work’s hyper-relevance in today’s political climate. Meditative and poetic, The Eyes of Orson Welles premiered at Cannes this past spring is making its North American premiere right here at the TCFF. In Person: Director Mark Cousins.
Directed by JR, Agnès Varda
What do you get when you take a French filmmaking legend in her 80s and a secretive graffiti artist in his 30s, then have them drive around France and engage villages in making street art? The answer is unforgettably unique, and the team-up of Agnès Varda and JR turns out to be more joyful than anyone could have guessed. As they explore the back roads of France, they find beauty in the everyday faces of the people (and goats!) that inhabit the countryside. This unlikely pairing could have easily devolved to schtick, but Faces Places—which was nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars—somehow goes in the other direction; it’s simply one of the most beautiful stories of art, collaboration, and community that you’ll ever see. In French with subtitles
Directed by Rüdiger Suchsland
Joseph Goebbels was an evil genius. As Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, he understood that art and cinema could be powerful tools to bolster the German war effort. Between 1933-1945 his Reich Film Chamber produced and censored over 1,000 features aimed at furthering the Nazi agenda. But these weren’t all obvious propaganda pieces—they were big-budget blockbusters rivaling anything in contemporary Hollywood. From situational comedies and intimate family melodramas to lavish musical spectaculars, Goebbels carefully curated an image of jubilant German supremacy broadcast to both fraüleins and fighter pilots. Hitler’s Hollywood is a fascinating, seductive (if stomach-turning) collage of rarely seen Third Reich cinema. Director Rüdiger Suchsland offers an unflinching glimpse into Goebbels’ opus, exploring the many forms of propaganda and cautioning us to recognize political agendas masquerading as mass entertainment. In German with subtitles
LAST MEN IN ALEPPO
Directed by Feras Fayyad
If you see nothing else this festival, you must see this heartbreaking but essential documentary about some of the bravest and most compassionate souls in the world. The White Helmets are the ones who stay behind, digging through the rubble in hopes of finding survivors after the bombs drop on Syria. They are just regular folks, not militants or rebel fighters, but civilians who push politics and religion aside until only humanity remains. They risk their lives to save children, to pull bodies from wreckage in order to give them burial, and worry about the safety of their own families, rejoicing in a few minutes of cease-fire so the kids can play a quick game of soccer. Horrifying and beautiful, harrowing and inspiring, this astonishing feat of filmmaking will entrench you in the visceral tragedy of this ongoing war and yet all at once reveal the sheer light of hope and grace that can exist in humankind. In Arabic with subtitles
Directed by Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui
You don’t have to be a fashion expert to get drawn into this spellbinding documentary which gives an unprecedented look into the life of famed British designer Alexander McQueen. Known for his emotional and often controversial runway shows, and for defying all the rules to do things his way, McQueen’s story is an authentic rags-to-riches journey of an artist struggling with his own demons and putting it all into his work; one all the more resonant when we consider the recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Weaving together personal testimonials from close friends and family, home movies, archival interviews from McQueen himself, and behind-the-scenes and front-row looks at his provocative work, the film is as layered and engrossing as McQueen was himself. Topped with an exquisitely dramatic musical score, intricate animated transitions, and the singular fashions almost too exquisite to behold on the big screen, this ravishing documentary is a riveting cinematic tribute to an extraordinary soul.
OUR NEW PRESIDENT
Directed by Maxin Pozdorovkin
Hey, did you ever hear about the curse placed on Hillary Clinton by the mummy tomb she visited in the ‘90s, which has directly led to her epidemic of coughing fits and fainting spells? No? Well, clearly you weren’t watching Russia’s most popular news shows during the 2016 US Presidential campaign. Our New President is brilliantly assembled solely from Russian State TV and other Putin-led propaganda sources, which spread stories like that mummy curse across the globe with startling efficiency and utter shamelessness. You may think you’ve seen the worst that “fake news” has to offer if you’ve ever clicked on a Breitbart link or—dear God—watched any Sean Hannity, but the outlandish fictions spread by Russian State TV about Trump and Clinton are truly beyond your wildest imaginations and director Maxim Pozdorovkin’s dive inside the Russian media’s funhouse mirror of American politics is simply too important to miss. In English, Russian with subtitles
THE PERFECT BID: THE CONTESTANT WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Directed by C.J. Wallis
How did Ted Slauson go from Price is Right superfan to banned from the show for life? It’s all a simple equation, something that this Texas math teacher had figured out long before the 2008 scandal where Slauson was said to have cheated, resulting in a perfect bid on the Showcase Showdown. This fun and lively documentary, finally gives Slauson a chance to tell his side. A viewer since 1972, his memorization skills helped him notice patterns in the products and prices, and compulsion took over. Appearing at 37 tapings over 16 years, Slauson used this information both on the floor and in the audience, becoming a favorite of host Bob Barker. With interviews from Barker and Drew Carey, “Come on Down” for this fascinating look into America’s favorite home-sick-from-school game show.
POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD
Directed by Wim Wenders
Director Wim Wenders is one of the world’s most lauded living filmmakers, and as the 2012 recipient of the TCFF Visionary Award, he’s already a legend at the fest. Now he’s back with the perfect antidote for the 2018 blues: an unforgettable and completely nondenominational portrait of one of the world’s greatest humanitarians. Since being elected as Pontiff a little over five years ago, Pope Francis has shown himself to be unafraid of weighing in on world issues that the Catholic Church had previously been mum about, such as climate change. If you want to feel truly inspired to better walk your walk, there could be no better teacher than his holiness Pope Francis. In English, German, Italian, Spanish with subtitles
THE SILENCE OF OTHERS
Directed by Robert Bahar, Almudena Carracedo
It’s hard to come to terms with your past. But in modern Spain, it can be excruciating. In 1977, the Spanish parliament passed the controversial “Amnesty Law,” which pardoned members of General Franco’s regime—a regime that tortured and killed nearly 100,000 Spaniards. And while forty years may have passed, the victims of Spain’s dictatorship continue to fight a state-imposed amnesia and for long overdue justice in this still-divided country. While a woman battles to exhume her father’s bones from a mass grave, the men responsible for those unmarked graves walk the street with impunity. Produced by the acclaimed auteur Pedro Almodóvar, this expertly researched film that took home an audience award at the prestigious Berlinale film festival, chronicles the struggles of a movement that strives for the small victories in a torn democracy. In Spanish with subtitles.
Directed by Vanessa Redgrave
The European refugee crisis has been much cited by President Trump in his calls for a border wall. But what’s really happening across the Atlantic? Renowned Academy Award-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave makes her directorial debut (at 80 years young no less!) with the harrowing and emotional documentary Sea Sorrow. Redgrave was inspired to take action after a Syrian child tragically drowned while seeking asylum with his family.Redgrave’s own experience as a child being sent away to the country during the WWII Blitz gives her extra empathy for the children who are currently displaced. She travels to the Calais Jungle tent city on France’s north coast where refugees spend months with no water or sanitation while waiting for passage to England. The film’s title comes from a scene in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” which is compellingly performed by Ralph Fiennes.
SPECIAL SCREENINGS – JANE FONDA TRIBUTE
ALSO IN THIS PROGRAM: 9 to 5, Hal, Jane Fonda In Five Acts
This classic masterpiece about female friendship and courage garnered 11 Oscar nominations, including one for Jane Fonda’s portrayal of real life dramatist Lillian Hellman. The story centers around Hellman’s friendship with Julia, played by Vanessa Redgrave (winner, Best Supporting Actress), careening through time as it traces their childhood beginnings, Hellman’s struggles as a young writer and relationship with Dashiell Hammett (Jason Robards), and Julia’s anti-fascist efforts in late 1930s Germany. A tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit, it portrays one of the most edge-of-your seat sequences ever as Hellman smuggles $50,000 to Berlin to help save Jewish lives. Whether you are seeing it for the first time or for the first time in a long time, don’t miss this moving film that features a powerhouse performance by TCFF’s guest of honor.
Directed by Hal Ashby
Jane Fonda conceived this shattering film about a nation and a marriage splitting apart after working with veterans and servicemen, shepherding the project through development and finding a director she knew would do the story justice (the incredible Hal Ashby, see also TCFF 2018’s Hal). The result is a quiet masterpiece filled with moments so tender and uncompromising, it’s the kind of moving work that is the most precious of cinematic miracles. Fonda received an Oscar for her performance as Sally Hyde, a military wife who embarks on a transformative affair with a war-weary paraplegic vet (Jon Voight) while her Marine captain husband (Bruce Dern) is deployed overseas. One of the first Hollywood films to openly and honestly confront the aftermath of the Vietnam War, we revisit this landmark work on the occasion of its 40th Anniversary.
TRIBUTE TO JONATHAN DEMME
SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Spalding Gray was an icon of American theater, known for his innovative style of autobiographical monologues that effortlessly blend personal storytelling with comedy, history, and investigative journalism. Swimming to Cambodia was his first masterwork, an exhilarating tour de force recounting his time as a supporting actor on the movie The Killing Fields (itself an Academy Award–winning film about the Cambodian genocide). Jonathan Demme skillfully transfers Gray’s thrilling performance from stage to screen with precision and simplicity. It’s minimalist, functional storytelling—just a man, a map, a microphone—but don’t let that fool you. This is a tale you won’t soon forget. Gray’s electrifying monologue spans the entire spectrum of human emotion as he searches for truth and meaning in man’s darkest moments.
Directed by Jonathan Demme
It’s the rare movie that can endure both as a piece of high-art, auteurist cinema and also as a delightfully populist relic of its cultural moment, but Jonathan Demme’s 1986 gem Something Wild is just such a flick. Melanie Griffith seized her big star moment by playing Audrey, a Madonna-styled girl who just wants to have fun (and an early prototype for the manic pixie dream girl fad to come). Audrey happens upon Charlie (Jeff Daniels), an uptight stock broker, and she steals him away for a wild few days of adventure that most prominently involve running from her psychotic ex-boyfriend, Ray (Ray Liotta, in his first major film role). Everything Demme excelled at is on full display—memorable characters, great tunes, and a movie that exists wholly on its own terms while still feeling just right.
SPECIAL SCREENINGS: NATIVE AMERICAN MATINEE
Directed by Elizabeth A. Castle, Christina D. King
Centered on the life and work of Lakota community organizer Madonna Thunder Hawk, Warrior Women reveals the largely untold story of women’s activism in the Red Power movement. Directors Christina D. King (Up Heartbreak Hill, TCFF 2011) and Elizabeth A. Castle’s inspiring documentary not only captures her involvement in the American Indian Movement (AIM) using interviews and rare archival footage—including AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee—it also powerfully explores how she instilled the fight for Native rights in her daughter Marcy. Today, both women continue to lead their movement as they take arms against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. And with Marcy now a mother herself, the question of how a commitment to change is passed down from one generation to another makes the magnitude of Thunder Hawk’s legacy all the more clear.
SPECIAL SCREENINGS: NATIVE AMERICAN SHORT
Directed by Shane McSauby
Directed by Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians member Shane McSauby and supported by the Sundance Institute Native American and Indigenous Program, Mino Bimaadiziwin follows Jim, a trans Anishinaabe man, who has lost all connection to his Native culture until he has a chance meeting with a mysterious Anishinaabe woman.
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Directed by ???
Each year, our most popular event is the one no one knows anything about. Not the stage manager. Not the projectionist. No one. Festival founder and president Michael Moore personally presents “Mike’s Surprise” at each year’s fest. He may show up with a sneak preview of a big upcoming movie from one of his filmmaker friends, a buried treasure, or just some of his home movies. One time he just talked for two hours. That was interesting. Another year he got the whole audience up and took them for a walk. After a year being away, Mike is bringing back his surprises in a big way, hosting not one, but two different events with entirely different surprises in store for the audience. What can we say except the man has lots of surprises up his sleeve for everyone this year and you’ll want to be able to say that you were there when…
DOUG LOVES MOVIES PODCAST
Program Length: 90 min.
Join TCFF fixture Doug Benson (Super High Me, You’re the Worst), visiting comedian friends including Samm Levine (Freaks and Geeks), and surprise guests as they record a nationally-renowned podcast featuring imaginatively titled games and spirited discussion, all about movies. Perhaps against our better judgment, we’re welcoming back Traverse City’s adopted son for an evening of outrageous hilarity and uproarious riffing. What exactly can you expect? You never really know, and that’s the best part.
4K RESTORATION REISSUE: THE ATOMIC CAFE
Directed by Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty
Ah, the 1950s, a simpler time, when children dressed up nicely for school and the nuclear family was king. But then FLASH. What’s that in the sky? An atomic explosion? A catchy tune begins and cartoon character Bert the Turtle waddles on screen to remind us all to “Duck and Cover.” The children duck under their school desks, the family of four dive underneath a picnic blanket, and magically they all survive the fallout in time for the baseball game. This clever and satirical documentary edited entirely from original material to recreate the fear and insanity of Cold War culture is as relevant now as when it was released amid the Reagan-era nuclear tensions of 1982. Skillfully weaving together military propaganda, historical footage, and pop culture iconography to give a startling and darkly humorous look back on the Atomic Age, it was a major influence on our founder and president Michael Moore’s own body of work, showing him how a doc about a deadly serious subject could be funny. Which reminds us how easily political media can lull us into a false sense of security, this new 4K restoration of the National Film Registry inductee is a must-see.
FOOD ON FILM
BACK TO BURGUNDY
Directed by Cédric Klapisch
Wine lovers will raise their glass to this delicious and full-bodied French drama about a struggling vineyard and the family that must come together to nurture it back to life. When prodigal son Jean returns home to the picturesque landscape of Burgundy, he’s met with some sour notes from his two estranged siblings, who’ve been taking care of the vineyard while Jean was away. As the three come to face the imminent death of their father, they begin to realize that saving the legacy of their vineyard will mean not only hard labor but also hard truths, and they’ll have to cultivate more than just grapes in order to get past the pain they all have buried. With its striking cinematography, this tender film vividly captures the authentic experience of harvesting wine (director Cédric Klapisch worked a season as research) and will remind you of the important connection to the earth that feeds both body and soul.
Directed by Douglas Tirola
Grains, water, hops, yeast. It takes just four ingredients to make beer, a commodity as old as human history and, more recently, the center of a booming craft industry. In 1998, there were just 1,500 breweries in the United States; today, over 7,000. Creativity and innovation are at the heart of this industry, and for many, brewing has become an unshakable passion. Peeking behind the grain mill, Brewmaster takes the audience to the center of America’s new favorite business venture as we get behind the scenes with the men and women who engulf themselves in this suds-soaked world. From amateur brewers taking their first sips to the most notable names in beer, crack open a cold one and enjoy. This film’s for you.
Directed by Cameron Yates
You may not think a celebrity chef documentary could also be a classic coming-of-age tale, but Chef Flynn is no ordinary movie. Like so many of us, Flynn McGarry grew up with dreams that might have seemed a tad outsized. But Flynn started a hot-ticket dining club when he was 12, appeared on the cover of New York Times Magazine at 15, and virtually defined the word “prodigy.” Things weren’t, however, as easy as they looked. Flynn had to weather enormous backlash (“Chef Doogie Howser”), the weight of expectation, and living with his helicopter mom (the horror!) on his climb to respect. You may come to Chef Flynn ready to salivate over the beautiful culinary creations—and believe us, you will—but you’ll leave talking about the immensely talented and charismatic kid that you can’t stop rooting for.
THE HEAT: A KITCHEN (R)EVOLUTION
Directed by Maya Gallus
Top Chef, Chopped, you name it—we are in the golden age of the celebrity chef and the pressure has never been higher to break out in this cutting industry. High stress and grueling hours are enough to turn up the burner in any kitchen. But in recent years, the tolerance for macho celebrity chef showboating has boiled over. As more women rise up, a long-simmering cultural shift is demanded. Documentary filmmaker Maya Gallus brings the audience to the front lines of the food industry to meet the pioneers who have kicked through the glass ceiling. These apron-donning culinary crafts – women are taking the toxic industry by storm and watch out. Because if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. In Person: Director Maya Gallus.
THE QUEST OF A LAIN DUCASSE
Directed by Gilles de Maistre
This fascinating (and mouth-watering) doc offers a glimpse into the life of a true icon. For over 45 years Alain Ducasse has worked tirelessly to become the most respected chef and culinary mentor in the world. Today, at age 61, he’s amassed a staggering 21 Michelin stars across his 23 restaurants—and he shows no signs of slowing down. So what drives Ducasse to continue? What’s left for him to accomplish? For two years this famously private man allowed director Gilles de Maistre to document his life. De Maistre follows him all across the globe as the godfather of French cuisine plans a new restaurant and checks in on his others. Between meetings Ducasse ventures to remote farms and hole-in-the wall restaurants alike, perpetually searching for unique flavors and foods, firm in his conviction that sustainable, humanist cuisine just might save the world.
Directed by Likarion Wainaina
Prepare to be moved and inspired by the most unexpected superhero movie you will see all summer. Jo is just like any other nine-year-old: she adores her family, loves to play, and daydreams about being a superhero. But unlike the other kids in her Kenyan village, Jo is stricken by a terminal illness and on strict orders to rest. When her older sister, Mwix, recognizes that Jo’s fiery spirit is also at risk, she begins to play into Jo’s greatest fantasy—that she does indeed have super powers—and despite her mother’s worries, soon the whole village is helping make Jo’s dream come true. With stunning cinematography and an incredible performance by youngster Stycie Waweru, this debut feature by writer/director Likarion Wainaina is a genuine, heart-tugging drama about the strongest superpowers of all: imagination and love. In English, Kikuyu, Swahili with subtitles.
Directed by Slater Jewell-Kemker
Slater Jewell-Kemker didn’t set out to spend her teenage years making a film meant to inspire others to act on climate change, yet 10 years later, it’s making its world premiere right here at TCFF. Slater was just 15 years old when she started questioning her local politicians about their inability to pass laws to protect the environment. Soon she began to connect with other young activists doing their part to save the planet, and she took it upon herself to document their eco efforts and growing movement on camera. Traveling around the globe on the front lines of climate change, Slater captures the inspiring voices and fierce tenacity of those too young to vote to have a say in the direction of the planet they will inherit and you can feel the passion in every frame. Produced by TC’s very own Amy Smart, Youth Unstoppable takes us on a journey that lets us connect with the activists of the next generation and instills hope to know that the future is in their capable hands.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE
Directed by John McPhail
There have been hundreds of musicals over the years, and it feels like just as many zombie flicks. But how many musical zombie films can you count? Anna and the Apocalypse is not only blazing that new trail, it’s also got the hilarious, clever, and compelling chops to make it stick. With songs as catchy as the violence is gory, join Anna and her angsty friends as they fight, sing, and dance their way through the descending hordes of the undead and try to make it out of high school alive (there’s a metaphor in there, I’m sure). If you loved Shaun of the Dead but thought it needed more show-tunes (and weapons made out of giant candy canes), this fellow British import is the entertaining mayhem you seek.
Program Length: TBD
What do racing sushi-rolls, a dude with an extraterrestrial sex fetish, and retired Star Trek actors have in common? They’re all part of this mishmash of bizzare-o short films coming to the State Theatre at midnight. You’ll laugh, scream, squirm in your seat, and you’ll even get to see a haunted glass of milk. These films are so wonderfully wacky that you’ll leave the theater feeling like you’re trapped in a Red Lobster commercial or something!
Directed by Preston DeFrancis
Hulking masked figures wielding weapons? Suspicious strangers who are a little too helpful? Unrealistically attractive twenty-somethings in a remote location? An epic conclusion of final girl realness? Sounds like a classic TCFF midnight to me! Ruin Me, shot in the secluded woodlands of Muskegon using some local cast and crew, tells the story of Alex, a reluctant tag-along for a slasher-film-themed campout (cleverly named Slasher Sleepout). Marketed as a camping trip, haunted house, and escape room all wrapped into one 36-hour event, it’s meant to be the ultimate horror movie experience. Alex and her friends are blind folded, dropped in an unfamiliar location, and asked to solve potentially fatal and unnerving tasks. But one by one, her friends meet their violent ends, and Alex must unravel the mystery of who’s responsible if she wants to make it out alive.
DOUG BENSON MOVIE INTERRUPTION
Directed by Jan de Bont
This 90s to the x-treme disasterpiece for action master Jan de Bont (Speed,a previous Benson interruption) is the perfect storm of a choice for Doug Benson (Super High Me, Doug Loves Movies) and buddies to watch while they hail their pellets of comedic genius at the screen. You know the film—a ragtag team led by Bill Pullman and Helen Hunt risk their lives in the pursuit of science with a cyclone (and an equally stormy romance) at their heels—and you love its over-the-top windblown adventure. But you’ve never experienced it like this. So strap in for the next best thing to actual storm chasing, and ride out the tornado of jokes that will descend upon Traverse City Friday night at the State. We’re gonna laugh until the flying cows come home.
MSU PRESENTS: CRANDIES
Directed by Hannah Byrd, Tyler Clifton, Ali Obermeyer, Shanice Pinson, Bryan Susalla, Stefan Lindhal
A feature length comedy, with a touch of romance, Crandies was 100% written, produced, directed and acted by students from Michigan State University. A young, star chef from a four-star Manhattan restaurant has mysteriously left her job in the big city and returned to East Lansing where she is hired to run the kitchen of a down-on-its-luck diner. She begins to turn the restaurant around and the humble eatery is featured on an important food blog which leads to the diner’s appearance on a very popular food show. But the show’s producer is a former Manhattan colleague and friend who is now the chef’s arch enemy and she holds the secret to the chef’s unfortunate departure from New York. This program is free.
SHORTS BY MSU STUDENTS
Program Length: 67 min.
Michigan State University’s talented student filmmakers return to TCFF with eight fantastic short films. In Kyle Brow’s Anya’s Greencard, Bobby moves to India to work in a tech company where he experiences reverse brain-drain. Detritus, by Tyler Vetier, follows a mysterious forest man as he runs for his life, only to be caught in an ongoing cycle of violence. Over the course of a single night, a young man finds connections with people whose lives are as complex as his own in Carlos Mario Mendoza’s SONDER. In his timely and relatable film Almost Human, Ian Hall tells the story of technophobe, Vincent, who struggles to connect with two women dependent on their cellphones. Created by Bradley Coster as a pilot for a web-series, in Rebel Rebel Ep. 1, a lonely geek, nostalgic for the 80s, uses a night out as a means for music, escapism, and violence. Juice by Zoe Kissel is a short neo-noir science fiction film following a young addict’s growing withdrawal and the fatal decision she makes to get high once more. And finally, in All Over (Again), by Bradley Coster, a hopeless romantic gets lost in her eccentric aspirations. This program is free.
SHORTS BY CMU STUDENTS
Program Length: 92 min.
Young filmmakers from Central Michigan University make their TCFF shorts debut with a collection of music videos, short films, and a special animation reel. In Logan Bartrand’s Song Bird, two sisters must learn to deal with their unfortunate situation through their mutual love of music. In Analogous by Mike Torrento and Jesse Mathieson, two strangers, living worlds apart, search for peace. And a man struggling to find his way finds something in the woods in Dependence by Mat Legato. This program is free.
SHORTS BY U-M STUDENTS
Program Length: 61 min.
The University of Michigan Department of Screen Arts & Cultures returns to the festival with their annual program of two shorts, showcasing some of the top filmmaking ability in the state. In a city where everyone is guaranteed a soulmate, Verena’s younger sister goes missing. In order to find her, Verena must uncover the truth behind the “Lifematch” system, and what that means for her future with her own soulmate, in Gillian Greenbaum’s timely and thoughtful film, Lifematch. And in Yevheniia Tanako’s, The Oracle of Delta Phi, the “Greek” Presidents of sororities and fraternities at Olympia University have the power of Gods, and Cassandra is cursed with prophetic visions that no one believes. This program is free.
SHORTS SAVE AMERICA
Program Length: 120 min.
The current political climate of our nation has many marginalized communities fearing for their future as America becomes increasingly divided. This collection of short films shines a light on these people as they examine the way their lives have changed since November 9th, 2016. In Los Lecheros, the fates of undocumented immigrant workers and Wisconsin’s $43 billion dairy industry are inexplicably linked— both uncertain of their future, as the threat of deportation under the Cheeto administration Rise. Notes From Dunblane: Lessons From a School Shooting offers a sensitive look into the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Massacre and a critique of America’s irresponsible relationship with the 2nd Amendment. 50 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, people of color across the US are still having to fight for their right to vote. Dynamic documentary filmmaker, Dawn Porter, is on the case in You Have The Right To Vote. Gavin Grimm vs. offers insight into the life of transgender teen Gavin Grimm after he sued his local school board when its members refused to let him use the bathroom of his choice. He was ready to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court—then the election happened. And finally, Lifeboat takes us to the frontlines of a refugee rescue
mission in the Mediterranean.
THE FUTURE IS SHORTS
Program Length: 90 min.
The future is female in this shorts program! Featuring films both starring and directed by women, this stellar slate of documentary and narrative stories highlights the power and strength of women from all walks of life. In Salam, a female Lyft driver navigates the streets of New York City while waiting to hear news from her family in Syria. Period. End of Sentence. focuses on a group of women in Northern India who set out to destigmatize menstruation in their community. A 97 year-old lady auditions for America’s Got Talent In Death Metal Grandma. We learn about the mother of animation and inventor of the multiplane camera in Lotte, That Silhouette Girl. And in Counterfeit Kunkoo, a woman’s single-status makes renting an apartment virtually impossible.
SHORTS ON SHUFFLE I
Program Length: 110 min.
Like the ultimate mixtape your bff put together for you back in the day, we’ve put together a collection of our favorite fiction and nonfiction shorts we’ve found over the year. Take a terrifying look into a tragic accident on the world’s tallest water slide With The Water Slide. Get a whimsical and imaginary glimpse into the drama that can unfold behind the scenes of a major film production like Barry Lyndon in Kubrick by Candlelight. Stand in awe of the powerful visual examination of a young man’s struggle dealing with questions of race and family identity after he moves into a small English village run by racists that is Black Sheep. Filmmaker Charlie Tyrell seeks to better understand his reclusive and isolated late father through personal items he left behind, including a collection of dirty VHS tapes, in My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes. The thrilling Échappé finds a Soviet ballerina on tour in NYC learning of her brother’s plan to defect. While in Community Patrol, an inspiring Detroit minister encourages his community to shut down a drug house in a hopeful example of collective action. Running the full gamut of emotions—from joy to pain and inspiration to strife—this is Shorts on Shuffle.
SHORTS ON SHUFFLE II
Program Length: 120 min.
Shorts on Shuffle comes back for more with a second program that lets you marvel at the variety of filmmaking voices and styles that makes the short film an art form all its own. Reflect on a historical and urban garden in Rio de Janeiro as a place where the cultural identity of Brazil collides with the pressures of modern globalization in A Singular Garden. The Velvet Underground Played at My High School is an enchanting animated short about the Velvet Underground’s first gig in front of a crowd of dumbstruck students at a New Jersey High School. Saul’s 108th Story is the irresistible story of how a young Saul Moroz got roped into a perilous new job: cleaning the windows of skyscrapers. Deeply question the ethics of who deserves a burial and who doesn’t, as funeral director Peter Stefan oversees the burial of Tamerlan Tszrnaev, the dead suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, in Everything is Stories. Follow controversial spy Rita Katz on her quest to stop internet terrorism in The Terrorist Hunter. The suspenseful thought-experiment, Emergency, involving a group of black and Latino teens who stumble onto a crime scene and weigh the pros and cons of calling the police will unnerve you. And finally in the gorgeously shot Sundance Film Festival-winner Fauve, two boys play in a surface mine with an unexpected finale.
JIM BUTTON AND LUKE THE ENGINE DRIVER
Directed by Dennis Gansel
When an orphaned baby is mysteriously delivered to the island of Morrowland, the four inhabitants decide to raise him as their own and name him Jim. When he turns ten and learns of how he came to the island, he yearns to un-cover his true origins. Tagging along with his friend Luke, Jim sets out on the adventure of a lifetime in an unstoppable train engine—across seas, deserts, forests, mountains, and even volcanoes. In the magical town of Mandala they learn that the Emperor’s daughter, Princess Li Si, has been captured by pirates, and the two decide to risk it all and travel to the treacherous Dragon City to save her. Based on the book by Michael Ende (The Neverending Story), this visual feast with breathtaking special effects is an entertaining epic about friendship and self-discovery and will make its North American premiere here at TCFF. Dubbed in English.
MAYA THE BEE: THE HONEY GAMES
Directed by Noel Cleary, Sergio Delfino
After a slow harvest season, Maya, the bee with the big heart, and her friend Willy travel to vibrant landscape of Buzztropolis where the Empress of the bee kingdom invites them to participate in the Honey Games. But the catch is that if they lose, the hive will have to give the Empress all of their summer honey! Paired up with a zany cast of characters (none particularly enthusiastic nor athletic)—a dark and twisty spider girl, a gaggle of loud nonsensical militarized ants, and a few insecure beetles —Maya rallys the team to bee-lieve they can use their different talents to bring the honey home. A charming, cheerful, and whimsical tale of friendship and teamwork, this kiddie send up of the Hunger Games has all the buzz. In English.
SHORTS FOR ALL KIDS
Program Length: 85 min.
This year’s lineup of Shorts For All Kids features a basketful of imaginative shorts featuring characters and critters of all sizes, species, and colors. Watch a painting playfully come to life in the enchanting Watercolors; meet a girl who loves making dioramas for her guinea pig in the impossibly sweet Sherbert Rozencrantz, You’re Beautiful; or travel to the bottom of the sea to discover Barry the Blobfish—take your family on a journey possible only through the magic of the movies. Mischievous, playful, profound, and lovely, this collection of shorts is equally suited to children just starting out on their cinematic journeys, and to the young at heart. In English or nonverbal.
SHORTS FOR KIDS 6+
Program Length: 90 min.
These stories of growth, change, and transformation show that there are no limits to what kids can achieve, and that being yourself is worth celebrating. Two girls learn a lesson after showing up in the same Halloween costume in Two Medusas; the much-loved, Caldecott-winning tale of Mirette is lovingly brought to the screen; and a Chinese American girl dreams of becoming an astronaut in the inspiring One Small Step. Highlighting the strength and determination of young people, these short tales of friendship, individuality, and community are presented in the service of entertaining the young cinephiles in your family with positive messages and strong role models. In English or nonverbal.
STOP MAKING SENSE (Directed by Jonathan Demme)
Mesmerizing. Beautiful. Awe-inspiring. Impossibly moving. The best dang concert movie of all time. We could fill an encyclopedia with the things that make this classic from the Talking Heads the collective favorite movie of TCFF staff, but when it comes down to it, it’s as simple as this: Stop Making Sense is joy incarnate—pure exhilaration in cinematic form. It’s a film so good that even if you’re not familiar with the band or the music being played, you’ll still be compelled to dance and marvel at a man (the brilliant David Byrne) who seems to have been transported to a state of bliss. So that’s why This Must (Always) Be the Movie for our special Monday night public test screening (no concessions, no frills) as we don our big suits and Burn Down the House for the ultimate dance party in Open Space. Does anybody have any questions?
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
A brilliant reinvention of Chris Van Allsberg’s classic story, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle takes the premise of kids working together to defeat a magical board game and goes digital. Four very different high schoolers find themselves trapped in a video game and in the comically mismatched bodies of some new avatars (played by Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan). The results are a breezy body-swapping hoot as they bond Breakfast Clubstyle while facing stampeding rhinos and poisonous snakes on a quest to locate a stolen jewel. And if the involvement of THE ROCK isn’t enough to suck you in, how about that Jack Black has never been better? Or that it’s just so gosh darn fun and charming? Combining sharp comedy, imaginative adventure, thrilling action, and a sweet message into the perfect family movie, it’ll be a night of fun and games at the Open Space.
One of the most colorful, stunning, and touching films yet from Pixar, the world’s gold standard in animation, Coco will delight everyone with its sublime storytelling. Earnest, one-dimpled chatterbox Miguel yearns above all else to become a musician, but he comes from a music-hating family that has banned anyone playing it. After a family quarrel, he finds himself in limbo in the Land of the Dead, and must work with a goofy hairless dog and a streetwise trickster (Gael García Bernal) to get an ancestor’s blessing in order to return to the Land of the Living. While it may be set in the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead, it’s altogether rare to find a film teeming with this much life. So imaginative, so heartrending, there’s so much to love here – the vibrant culture, the dazzling animation, the splendid music, the reverence for la familia—and it all works together to remind us that when it comes to the cinema, no walls can separate us. Make no bones about it, you’re gonna go loco for
This isn’t just a movie. And this isn’t just another superhero movie. This is an important watershed moment. This is powerful work of cinema that is as joyously entertaining as it is revolutionary. This is escapism as art. This is a beautiful celebration of pride and identity unlike anything you’ve ever seen. This is the movies at their most delightful and meaningful. This is the film that changed everything. Thirty one-year-old filmmaking prodigy Ryan Coogler (Creed) and an outstanding cast of Oscar winners and actors extraordinaire (Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forrest Whitaker) lead a Shakespearean epic about a king coming into his own that is not just the best Marvel movie ever, but one of the best movies of the year. Wakanda Forever!
FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF
Get Cameron out of bed and pull Sloane out of school, because your 2018 People’s Choice winner is the beloved teen comedy classic about the coolest high schooler there ever was. Poet laureate of adolescence, John Hughes’, “love letter to Chicago,” follows the titular fourth wall-breaking, shades-wearing Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) as he and his hypochondriac best friend (Alan Ruck, star of TCFF 2018’s Twister) and original “cool girl” girlfriend (Mia Sara) have the ultimate day playing hooky in the Second City. A stolen Ferrari, the Sausage King of Chicago, a Cubs game (go, Cubs, go), a parade, a jealous sister, a near-comatose teacher (Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?), and a spiteful Dean of Students—truancy has never been more exhilarating or unforgettable. Life moves pretty fast, so make your plans to join us at the Open Space now!
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
Striking a powerful chord with audiences, this smash hit musical details the life of entertainment entrepreneur P.T. Barnum. As a young man growing up on the streets of NYC, Barnum (perennial triple threat Hugh Jackman) used old fashioned gumption to parlay his museum into The Greatest Show on Earth with the help of a playwright (Zac Efron) and his supportive wife (4-time Oscar Nominee Michelle Williams). An underdog story that exudes positivity and gives us hope (don’t give up on dreams, find your people, fall in love), and featuring songs by the Oscar-winning team behind La La Land, for almost two hours The Greatest Showman makes you feel like you can fly on the trapeze. And even if you’ve already seen it, fans of the film know once is “Never Enough,” so consider us born suckers for watching Jackman and Efron sing and dance and come “Rewrite the Stars” under the stars. This is Open Space!
A TRIBUTE TO JANE FONDA: TCFF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNER
9 to 5
Radical at the time, and sadly still all too relevant today, this cult screwball comedy takes aim at sexism in outrageous and inspiring fashion. Starring a holy trinity of badass ladies (Dolly Parton, TCFF 2018 Lifetime Achievement Honoree Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin) and conceived by Fonda herself, the genius of 9 to 5 is how it so shrewdly manages to use hilarity to confront the painful reality of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Sassy and savage, exuberant and euphoric, the satisfying wish fulfillment of getting revenge on their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a sleazy boss (Dabney Coleman) has become a feminist rallying cry and its infections theme song remains the anthem of working girls everywhere. So pour yourself a cup of ambition and come smash the patriarchy with us at this special Jane Fonda Tribute screening because TIME’S UP!
Tickets for this year’s edition will go on sale to the public on Saturday, July 21 at tcff.org, but Friends of the Film Festival will be able to get early access to tickets with advance sales starting Sunday, July 15.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
The Traverse City Film Festival was founded in 2005 by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. He and fellow native Michiganders — producer Rod Birleson, Emmy Award-winning actor Jeff Daniels, Emmy Award-winning actress Christine Lahti and entertainment executive Penny Milliken — serve on the organization’s Board of Directors. Other board members include Oscar-winning director Terry George, Emmy-winning director Larry Charles, Oscar® and Emmy®-nominated producer/director Tia Lessin, Grammy® Award-winning musician Tom Morello, and acclaimed filmmaker Mark Cousins.
The Traverse City Film Festival is a charitable, educational, non-profit organization committed to celebrating the art and power of cinema. We believe “One Great Movie Can Change You.” The festival brings films and filmmakers from around the world to Northern Michigan for the annual summer event, now one of the largest in the country. The festival has helped to create a thriving and vibrant downtown Traverse City, with an estimated annual economic impact of $15 million.
The organization led the preservation and restoration of the historic State Theatre in downtown Traverse City which it continues to own and operate as a year-round, community-based, volunteer-staffed art house theater. The theater has been named #1 by the MPAA on its list of the 10 best movie theaters in the world. The festival later expanded to renovate a WPA building from the FDR era and turn it into a sister screen for the State Theatre – the Bijou by the Bay. Both venues combine world-class state-of-the-art presentation with classic hometown movie palace experiences and offer weekly 25¢ classic and kids matinees, free admission to active duty service members and their immediate families, and more than 350 free and low-cost community events each year.
This year’s festival is being run by acting festival directors Susan Fisher and Meg Weichman. They have worked on the festival for nearly a decade and have been at the helm since December.