By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Traverse City Film Fest At 13 Has Over 120,000 Admissions

The 2017 Traverse City Film Festival(TCFF), founded by Michael Moore in 2005, offered 229 screenings of 115 feature films and 66 shorts in its 13th year. The annual celebration of film welcomed over 120,000 admissions across 12 different venues, including 12 film school classes, six free filmmaker panels, seven parties, two live podcasts, and a gaming and new media gallery. A volunteer force of 1,600 volunteers, led by 360 volunteer managers, sold 80 percent of available tickets to these screenings and events, of which 142 were sold out.

For the first time in TCFF history, Moore was unable to attend the festival due to a conflict with his Broadway show “The Terms of My Surrender,” which opened Friday, July 28. His presence was strongly felt through his curation of the festival program, and he called in to introduce several screenings to the audience, including festival favorite “Mike’s Surprise.”
Festival Galas began Tuesday evening with three Opening Night screenings of “I, Daniel Blake” for which director Ken Loach sent a personally recorded introduction, and continued with the sold out Friday Centerpiece screening of “Step,” an inspiring documentary that follows a high school dance team in Baltimore. After the film, director Amanda Lipitz called in for a question and answer session. The festival closed with a sold out Northern Michigan premiere of Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit,” which depicts events that took place 50 years ago amidst the turmoil of the Detroit uprising.
Audience Awards went to “The Divine Order” for Best Fiction Film and “I Am Evidence” for Best Documentary. The Founders Grand Prize went to filmmaker Raoul Peck for his two TCFF selections, “I Am Not Your Negro” and “The Young Karl Marx.” The festival’s awards ceremony was live streamed, and a complete list of winners can be found here: http://www.traversecityfilmfest.org/tcff-xiii-award-winners/.
Films at the Open Space drew record crowds of thousands each night for Hollywood favorites on a 65-foot screen on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay. A test screening of the Talking Heads concert movie “Stop Making Sense” in tribute to Jonathan Demme was followed by “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” “La La Land,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “What About Bob?” “Star Wars: Episode VII -The Force Awakens,” and a “Moana” Sing-Along.
In a special sidebar, TCFF presented films made in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, countries whose citizens and filmmakers have been targeted by the Travel Ban. Filmmakers and subjects from these films appeared in person and via Skype, including Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (“The Salesman”), to share stories and voices across borders, allowing festival-goers to learn more about these countries and their people.
The Food on Film Sidebar returned for a third year to staggering success. The best in culinary cinema was paired with a great selection of local chefs and renowned visiting subjects and directors who joined for post-film discussions, and to create bites inspired by the films for the audience to sample. This year’s sold out showcase featured a shorts program and four feature films, including “WASTED! The Story of Food Waste” presented by acclaimed NYC chef Mario Batali.
For the second year, the Traverse City Film Festival was a Certified Local Food Event, sourcing at least 20% of food served at the festival locally. TCFF, in partnership with Taste the Local Difference and with the aid of Oryana Community Co-op and S2S Sugar 2 Salt, represented the tastes of Northern Michigan by putting a focus on local restaurants and food providers.
The festival continued many of its popular traditions like Around the Bay, which brings special advance screenings of festival films to historic theaters in scenic Manistee, Frankfort, Elk Rapids, and Suttons Bay, and now to the newly opened Lyric Theatre of Harbor Springs.
As always, family-friendly activities are a highlight at the festival. The Free Lawn Party following the sold-out $1 Kids Fest movies moved to Clinch Park and was busier than ever, with thousands of little ones enjoying face painting, balloonists, caricature drawings, crafts, costume tents, martial arts, robotics, yoga, and FREE flipbooks every day!
Movies on a Boat, unique filmgoing excursions departing nightly on the Natui-Cat, the largest commercially sailing catamaran on the Great Lakes, returned for another sold-out run.
The Woz, the interactive new media and gaming gallery powered by Michigan State University, and situated in the beautiful new Hotel Indigo in TC’s warehouse distrivct, exhibited experiences and storytelling that go beyond traditional screens, introducing many to virtual reality through the extremely popular HTC Vive.
Two new temporary venues were added to the festival: 150-seat Kirkbride Hall at the Grand Traverse Commons, and 450-seat Central High School Auditorium, both equipped with state-of-the-art technology and designed by the world renowned high-end cinema experts at Boston Light & Sound. Both made great additions to the festival, receiving raves from patrons and filmmakers.
With new locations and expanded service, the festival’s Free, Green, and Easy Festival Loop Shuttle provided 6,568 rides to moviegoers thanks to our partnership with the Bay Area Transportation Authority and support from The Wege Family.

TCFF brought 110 filmmakers and industry guests from across the country and around the world to Northern Michigan, to accompany their films and participate with audiences.
Renowned film historian Leonard Maltin lent his presence as a guest at this year’s festival, participating in two podcasts, “Maltin on Movies” with his daughter Jessie Maltin, and “Doug Loves Movies” with podcaster and comedian Doug Benson. Famed for his Disney knowledge, Maltin introduced “Snow White”and “Moana,” as well as Harold Lloyd’s 1928 classic “Speedy” with the Alloy Orchestra. His handprints and signature were set in cement, to be displayed at the “Walk of Fame” in front of the festival-owned and operated State Theatre, which Maltin also toured. The State was listed as the #1 movie theater in the world to watch a movie by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Other notable TCFF XIII guests include comedian Gilbert Gottfried (“Aladdin,” “The Aristocrats”) presenting the documentary “Gilbert” with the film’s director Neil Berekeley; Mariska Hargitay (NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) who produced “I Am Evidence,” joined by directors Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir as well as subjects Kym Worthy, Ericka Murria, Michelle Brettin, and Nicole DiSanto; Noël Wells (“SNL,” “Master of None”), director of “Mr. Roosevelt,” which won the Founders Award for Best US Fiction Film; and comedian Doug Benson, returning to TCFF with the “Doug Loves Movies” podcast and a Benson Movie Interruption of “Starship Troopers” on its 20th anniversary.
The 14th Annual Traverse City Film Festival will take place July 31-August 5, 2018. For more information, visit tcff.org.
TCFF 2017 FESTIVAL GUESTS
Brian Kaufman, Kathy Kieliszewski, Bill McGraw (“12th and Clairmount”);
Paco de Onis and Pamela Yates (“500 Years”);
Steve James (“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”);
Reuben Atlas (“ACORN and the Firestorm”);
Pau Faus (“Ada for Mayor”);
Jeff Cohen, Andrew Munger, Peter Raymont, and Fred Peabody (“All Governments Lie”);
Terence Donahue, Roger Miller, and Kenneth Winkour (The Alloy Orchestra);
Greg Kohs, Gary Krieg, and Josh Rosen  (“AlphaGo”);
Myron Dewey, Doug Good Feather, and James Spione (“Awake, A Dream From Standing Rock”);
Hajooj Kuka (“Beats of the Antonov”);
David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg (“Bill Nye: Science Guy”);
Maria and Nate Hamilton and Erik Ljung (“The Blood Is at the Doorstep”);
Andrew Grant and Anniken Hoel (“Cause of Death: Unknown”);
Jeff Orlowski (“Chasing Coral”);
Abdalaziz “Aziz” Alhamza and Matthew Heineman (“City of Ghosts”);
Nicole Avery, Luciano DelSignore, Mark Kurlyandchik, and James Rigato (“Dinner in Abruzzo”);
Petra Volpe (“The Divine Order”);
Doug Benson, Sean Jordan, Samm Levine (“Doug Loves Movies Podcast”);
Jason Bourque (“Drone”);
Tim Golden (“ELIÁN”);
Zefrey Throwell (“Flames”);
Idil Ibrahim (“Fishing Without Nets”);
Antonino D’Ambrosio (“Frank Serpico”)
Neil Berkeley, Gilbert Gottfried, and Dara Gottfried (“Gilbert”);
Curt Guyette (“Here’s to Flint”);
Jack Henry Robbins (“Hot Winter: A Film by Dick Pierre”);
Trish Adlesic, Michelle Brettin, Nicole DiSanto, Geeta Gandbhir, Mariska Hargitay, Ericka Murria, and Kym Worthy (“I Am Evidence”);
Bryan Fogel (“Icarus”);
Adam Khalil (“INAATE/SE/”);
Bob Byington (“Infinity Baby”);
Micah Barber (“Into the Who Knows!”);
Samar Qupty (“Junction 48″);
Brandon Chrostowski, Darwin Hailey, and Thomas Lennon (“Knife Skills”);
Noe Mendelle (“Libya in Motion”);
Amir Bar-Lev (“Long Strange Trip”);
Leonard Maltin and Jessie Maltin (“Maltin on Movies”);
Noel Wells (“Mr. Roosevelt” and “Infinity Baby”);
Bader Ben Hirsi (“A New Day in Old Sana’a”);
Zaradacht Ahmed (“Nowhere to Hide”);
Slavko Martinov (“Pecking Order”);
Jonathan Olshefski, Christine’a Rainey, Christopher Rainey, and Patricia Rainey (“Quest”);
Susan Froemke (“Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman”);
Kaveh Mazaheri (“Retouch”);
Mark Grieco (“A River Below);
Asghar Farhadi (“The Salesman”);
Mark Cousins (“Stockholm, My Love”);
Timothy Busfield (“Tenure”);
Steve Bannatyne, Jamie Meltzer, Christopher Scott (“True Conviction”);
Mario Batali, Anna Chai, Nari Kye (“WASTED! The Story of Food Waste”);
Cullen Hoback (“What Lies Upstream”);
Anthony Baxter (Work in Progress);
Emil Ben-Shimon (“The Women’s Balcony”)
Gethin Aldous, Rob Allbee, Eon McLeary, Jairus McLeary, Miles McLeary, and Andrew Molino (“The Work”)
2017 TCFF AWARD WINNERS
AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST FICTION FILM
“The Divine Order” by Petra Volpe
Runner Up: “Truman” by Cesc Gay
AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM
“I Am Evidence” by Trish Adlesic, Geeta Gandbhir
Runner Up: “Chasing Coral” by Jeff Orlowski
AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
“Viola, Franca” by Marta Savina
AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
“Knife Skills” by Thomas Lennon
AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST KIDS SHORT
“Hola Llamigo” by Charlie Parisi and Christina Chang
FOUNDERS AWARDS
FOUNDERS GRAND PRIZE
Raoul Peck for “I Am Not Your Negro” and “The Young Karl Marx”
FOUNDERS AWARD FOR BEST US FICTION FILM
“Mr. Roosevelt” by Noël Wells
FOUNDERS AWARD FOR BEST FOREIGN FICTION FILM
“The Divine Order” by Petra Volpe
FOUNDERS AWARD FOR BEST US DOCUMENTARY FILM
“500 Years” by Pamela Yates
FOUNDERS AWARD FOR BEST FOREIGN DOCUMENTARY FILM
“Cause of Death: Unknown” by Anniken Hoel
ROGER EBERT PRIZE FOR BEST FILM BY A FIRST TIME FILMMAKER
Pau Faus for “Ada for Mayor”
SPECIAL FOUNDERS PRIZE FOR CITIZEN JOURNALISM
· Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently in “City of Ghosts”
· Nori Sharif in “Nowhere to Hide”
· Curt Guyette in “Here’s to Flint”
· Myron Dewey in “Awake, a Dream from Standing Rock”
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER SPECIAL FOUNDERS SCIENCE PRIZE
“AlphaGo” by Greg Kohs
SPECIAL FOUNDERS PRIZE
“Long Strange Trip” by Amir Bar-Lev
BUZZ WILSON PRIZE FOR BEST AVANT GARDE FILM
“Austerlitz” by Sergei Loznitsa
STUART J. HOLLANDER PRIZE FOR BEST FAMILY FILM
“Fanny’s Journey” by Lola Doillon
SHORT FILM AWARD WINNERS
BEST FICTION SHORT FILM
“Retouch” by Kaveh Mazaheri
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM
“Ten Meter Tower” by Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson
LARS KELTO PRIZE FOR BEST COMEDY SHORT FILM
“Hot Winter: A Film by Dick Pierre” by Jack Henry Robbins
SPECIAL MENTION SHORT FILM
“Skull + Bone” by Victoria Rivera
SPECIAL MENTION SHORT FILM
“It’s Alright” by Nina Knag
ABOUT THE TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL
The Traverse City Film Festival is a charitable, educational, nonprofit organization committed to the idea that “One Great Movie Can Change You: Just Great Movies” and to helping save one of America’s few indigenous art forms — the cinema. The festival brings films and filmmakers from around the world to northern Michigan for the annual film festival in late July to early August.
It was instrumental in renovating a shuttered historic downtown movie house, the State Theatre, which it continues to own and operate as a year-round, community-based, and volunteer-staffed art house movie theater. The festival also renovated the historic Con Foster Museum building in Clinch Park and turned it into a sister screen for the State Theatre, the Bijou by the Bay.
The festival was founded by Academy Award winning director Michael Moore who makes his home here, runs the festival, and serves as president of the board of directors. Other board members are filmmakers Rod Birleson (producer, “Capitalism: A Love Story”), Larry Charles (director, “Borat”), Academy Award winning director Terry George (director, “Hotel Rwanda”), Jeff Daniels (actor, “The Newsroom”), Tom Morello (musician, Rage Against the Machine), Christine Lahti (actor, “Running on Empty”), Mark Cousins (director, “The Story of Film: An Odyssey”), Tia Lessin (Academy Award nominated director, “Trouble the Water”), as well as Traverse City residents photographer John Robert Williams and former Walt Disney Co. marketing executive Penny Milliken.

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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas