In two short months, filmmaker/author Michael Moore and the festival committee performed a major miracle by renovating the State Theater, bringing in over two dozen new independent films, providing top-of-the-line projection equipment for all venues, and somehow rounding up hundreds of volunteers to do the work. Unbelievable - and a little overwhelming to ponder what future festivals could become with a full year of planning.
This past week downtown Traverse City has been abuzz with activity generated by the movies. It is THE social event of the year. Most of the movie theaters have been packed and the fifty-foot screen at the open space drew a reported 6,000 for the showing of Jaws. Local merchants must love the fact that many people attending are leaving their shorts and sandals behind and come dressed to spend money with Traverse City merchants before and after each film.
Personally, I look forward to the mystery of attending independent movies that have not been hyped in the media with reviews and short-clips beforehand. Each film has not been what I expected. When is the last time you were really surprised by a movie?
The only change I would recommend is moving the film festival dates to August or September. Do we really need the Cherry Festival, Bliss Fest, Film Festival, July 4th, and several other events all held within three weeks of each other? By the end of this film festival I am going to be burned out on the thought of having any fun (well, almost).
Forget any talk you may have heard that the film festival is a political statement by its founders. The documentaries I have viewed were received with loud applause and conspicuous by their lack of political commentary. This community has come together on all sides of the political spectrum to ensure the success of the Traverse City Film Festival.
Ironically, the alternative film festival (Freedom Festival), set up for the sole purpose of thwarting the T.C. Film Festival, seems to have accomplished little but galvanize the support behind the T.C. Film Festival. Could anyone tell me what the Freedom Festival is providing us freedom from? New ideas? Previews of innovative movies? Possible liberal participants?
Give me the slavery of a world with independent, creative thinking and diverse opinions, anytime.
On the other hand, the verbal attacks that are being vented against the person who launched the so-called Freedom Festival have now gone over the top. It is not surprising that a vendetta against Michael Moore at the expense of our communitys welfare would draw the ire of many locals. Yet, demonizing the Freedom Festival originator as the devil incarnate isnt much different than those who say, Michael Moore hates America and is the biggest supporter terrorism in this country and other absurd hyperbole that only tends to split our citizenry.
It is time to dismiss all selfish, misguided attempts at divisiveness and move on. Michael Moore himself summed it up best when he referred to the T.C. Film Festival. This is the America of liberty, where we can all have our different beliefs and opinions but where we can all come together for the good of the community.
Congratulations, Traverse City. You should be proud.