Since its 2005 premiere, the Traverse City Film Festival has been dedicated to bringing “Just Great Movies” to northern Michigan. But TCFF is about more than its line up of laughter-inducing, eye opening, heartbreaking, and inspiring films. It’s also about the spirit of community, the power of creative energy, and the preservation of the original American art form—the cinema.
As a dedicated (okay, obsessed) TCFF patron for the past eight years, a festival intern in 2010, and the author of Traverse Magazine’s feature “Inside the TCFF” in its 2012 FilmGoer Guide, I’ve compiled a list a list of how you can best enjoy everything that is TCFF 2012:
1) Bring some blankets, grab some popcorn, and watch a (free!) classic film under the stars at the Open Space on West Bay. I promise it will be a night you won’t forget.
2) Wait in a stand-by ticket line. Not only will you make your friends jealous by scoring tickets to a sold-out film, but the conversations you’ll strike up with the fellow film lovers in line may turn out to be more memorable than the film itself.
3) Volunteer! You’ll get to see an exclusive screening, attend the Volunteer Party, get a free t-shirt, and make lifelong friends. Plus, you’ll know that you’re part of what makes this incredible non-profit event possible.
4) Attend a Filmmaker Panel. They’re free, they’re not likely to interfere with the list of films you want to see (each panel is at 9:30am at the City Opera House), and they’ll entertain you with exclusive behind-the-scenes insights into the film industry.
5) Go to a music performance at the Clinch Park Music Stage. Watch sailboats drift by as you listen to some of the best musicians from within, and beyond, the Michigan borders.
6) Attend a class at the Film School. For just $5, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from industry pros about everything from acting to documentary film-making to perfecting a good and gory horror flick.
7). Close your eyes and point at the film schedule. Go to the film your finger lands on. You won’t be disappointed. If you’re lucky, you’ll randomly choose a film that’s part of the Cinema Salon, a festival-organized roundtable discussion for which especially thought-provoking or audience-driven films are chosen specifically.
8) Attend a festival party to sip on local wine and beer and sample some of the area’s best cuisine. Or just head to Firefly, located on Cass Street, on Saturday and Sunday nights for the official (and free) TCFF “Afterglow” parties to share a cocktail with the who’s-who of the film festival.
9) Celebrate the work of Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon by attending one of her films being featured this year. Susan will be in town to introduce them, and will be the headliner of Wednesday’s Filmmaker Panel, “Susan Sarandon: One on One with Michael Moore.”
10) Order a coffee from Cuppa Joe at Horizon Books, sit at an outdoor table on the main drag, and take it all in. The magic of TCFF isn’t contained inside the theaters. It pours out onto the streets, igniting contemplations, conversation, and ideas. Ask a stranger for a film recommendation, or tell him or her about your favorite. You just might make a new best friend.
For more information, visit TCFF’s website. Tickets are on sale now online and at the Festival Box Office, located at 125 Park Street in downtown Traverse City. As Festival Founder Michael Moore likes to say, “See you at the movies!”
–Ariana Hendrix, Feature Writer