Day 53: Traverse City Film Festival

2011 TCFF began on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Cherry Buzz.
People love movies. People love the summer in Traverse City. So, it seems natural to pair the two, but it wasn’t so obvious until Academy Award winning director Michael Moore decided to take that leap seven years ago with the creation of the Traverse City Film Festival. The decision proved wise – like Reese’s famous mixture of chocolate and peanut butter, the TCFF has become just as satisfying.

Crowd filling in on Front Street for TCFF Opening Night Party. Photo courtesy of Cherry Buzz.

During the last week of July, several days after “that other festival” which calls Traverse City home, the TCFF draws thousands of visitors to the Northern Michigan town nestled on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay. Like the Cherry Festival, the Traverse City Film Festival is wildly popular and provides fun for all ages. However, in the short span of seven years, TCFF seems to have built a strong following that other events in Michigan should envy.

“We’re all about movies and the experience of film,” Moore has said. And that’s just what the 2011 TCFF offers.

Over the course of seven days from July 26-31, the 2011 Traverse City Film Festival will screen more than 120 movies, including: epic blockbusters like The Dark Knight and Empire Strikes Back free on a big screen outdoors, (which is just a stone’s throw from the water); Indie films like Being Elmo, (a story about a year in the life of Elmo’s puppeteer), documentaries (this year several focus on labor issues), classics (Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington and To Kill a Mockingbird will be shown), shorts (dozens produced by up-and-coming filmmakers), and much more. Suffice to say, there’s something for everyone at TCFF.

There was dancing on Front Street at the TCFF Opening Night Party. Photo courtesy of Cherry Buzz.

Visitors also have the opportunity to brush up against celebrities, as many actors and filmmakers make the trek to beautiful Traverse City for the festival. This year, Matthew Modine will be in town. TC resident Moore and several of his movie pals are always ever-present.

The festival will also be hosting actress Sandrine Bonnaire, considered to be the French Julia Roberts, along with Caroline Bottaro, the acclaimed director of “Queen to Play.” Michael Rymer, director of “Face to Face,” will fly in from Australia with casting director Loretta Crawford. Many others will be in attendance as well, most of them introducing their films and answering questions. It’s clear that after just seven years, the festival has become well regarded by the film industry all over the world. Almost universally, they agree with festival visitors that Northern Michigan is the perfect backdrop for such an event.

“This is a gorgeous town, we come back every year,” said Scot Garringer, who brought his wife and mother with him from Peoria, Illinois for the festival. “We only wish there were more hours in the day to enjoy all of the movies.”

Tickets for the movies are reasonably priced – at $10 far less than most film festivals – and even though locals snatch up a lot of them, there are plenty to go around. Film panels, a film school, free kids activities, a free music stage, and movie discussions are also offered.

The historic State Theatre in downtown Traverse City. Photo courtesy of Cherry Buzz.

What would movies be without food and drink? The TCFF hosts five parties, well stocked with local food, wine (Traverse City was named a top food city by a national magazine), and celebrity sightings. Unlike the Cherry Festival, which can be overwhelming with the size of crowds and congestion, the TCFF maintains a small-town feel that’s cozy and comfortable.

The Traverse City Film Festival likes to say that their mission is in showing “Just Great Movies.” The Festival does that and much more, which makes you glad you have another reason to come to Traverse City in the summer.

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This was a guest post by Dan Holmes of Cherry Buzz. You can view the original post here.

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