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Traverse City Film Fest

- July 7th, 2005
The excitement was as palpable as a scene from “Jaws“ last Friday as the first tickets went on sale for Michael Moore‘s Traverse City Film Festival.
With a line out the door of Interlochen‘s Bravo! shop located next to the State Theatre and Moore himself selling tickets inside, the advance word and expectations on the festival set for July 27-31 is up there with the stars themselves, some of whom may be attending the premiere event.
Moore and festival co-founders author Doug Stanton and photographer John Robert Williams are bringing 31 independent films to Traverse City in an attempt to duplicate similar events at Sundance, Toronto and Telluride. Moore has personally screened and selected each film for the event.
“These are the absolute best independent films made in the last year or two,“ said the Oscar-winning filmmaker at a press conference outside the State Theatre.
He predicted that some of the films could attain the significance of such cultural icons as “The Graduate,“ “A Clockwork Orange“ and “Blazing Saddles.“ “We think that when you walk out of these movies you‘ll regain that sense of some of the great films you saw as a kid.“
The biggest film in the lineup is “Broken Flowers,“ starring Bill Murray as an “addled Don Juan on a journey through his love life“ that leads back to Sharon Stone. Other standouts include Sean Penn‘s “Assassination of Richard Nixon,“ “Grizzly Man“ by director Werner Herzog, “Gunner Palace,“ which explores life under fire in Iraq, and “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.“ The 31 films will be aired a total of 50 times, with some shown twice.
Films will be shown at the State Theatre, which has been the scene of a volunteer fix-up over the past week, and at the Traverse City Opera House. A free “On the Waterfront“ series will also be held each night at 10 p.m. at the Open Space on West Bay, with screenings of “Jaws,“ “The Princess Bride,“ “Ferris Beuller‘s Day Off“ and “Casablanca“ projected on a 50-foot screen.
As at other festivals, the films shown in Traverse City will be judged by attendees as well as by the festival‘s organizers for the awarding of prizes. The winning film will be shown on Sunday night to close out the festival.
While Moore is renowned for the political stance he took with “Fahrenheit 9/11,“ there is no particular agenda at the festival, which includes some date flick offerings such as “Summer of Love“ and “Balzac.“ The festival doesn‘t shy from topical subjects, however: Several films examine problems of the post 9/11 world, including “The Ax“ and “Time Out“ on unemployment; “Mondovino,“ a wine industry film about globalization; and “Enron,“ about corporate greed.
Tickets at $7 per film are on sale now at the Interlochen Box Office and the Bravo! store downtown.
-- by Robert Downes


Med marijuana drive in TC
A new Coalition for Compassionate Care is circulating petitions to get an initiative supporting medical marijuana on this November’s ballot in Traverse City.
The group of marijuana activists is rallying around disabled Gulf War veteran Matthew Barber who was arrested and tried last year for using the drug to ease the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Although marijuana cannot cure MS, many patients claim that it can slow the advance of the disease, reduce seizures and help reduce the need for other medications which produce damaging side effects. Marijuana is also reportedly helpful for the treatment of glaucoma and for easing the pain of cancer patients, among other treatments.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states and municipalities cannot enact the legal use of medical marijuana in defiance of federal law. Nonetheless, the Coalition vows to push ahead with its petition drive. For more information, email

Anti-war action at C-Fest
Local anti-war activists plan to mobilize at this year’s National Cherry Festival with a number of “counter-recruitment” activities to discourage local youth from signing up with the military.
A training session in Traverse City last week advertised “All welcome, especially draft-age high school youth.” The plan is to leaflet the Cherry Festival with information on the risks of a military career.
All branches of the military recruit at the Cherry Festival with booths, give-aways and gimmicks to entice young people to sign up. Protesters claim that the military is being glamorized at the festival, noting that the U.S. Army’s 182nd Transportation Company will act as grand marshals of the Cherry Royale Parade.
According to an organization called No Draft No Way, enlistments are down 30%. ”For the past four months the Army and the Marine Corps have missed their recruiting goals,” the group claims. “The Army missed its April target by 42 percent, and missed its May target by 25 percent, even after adjusting that target halfway through the month.”

Bihlman wins EMMY
Singer-songwriter and bluesrock guitarist Jeff Bihlman of the Bihlman Bros. was awarded the coveted National Television Academy’s EMMY award on June 25 at Ford Field in Detroit. A resident of Interlochen, Bihlman won the award for for writing the score of the documentary “Remembering the Carl D. Bradley” which aired on TV 9 Christmas Eve 2004.
Bihlman has written for a number of film and TV projects since the Bihlman Bros. went on hiatus two years ago. He also performs solo at venues throughout the region and with the grunge tribute band, Alice Pearl Garden.

The TART Plan
TART (Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation) has adopted a five year plan to advance the network of biketrails in the Grand Traverse-Leelanau area, boosting public awareness and its fundraising effort.
In a nutshell, TART hopes to:
• Complete a two-mile trail along the east side of Boardman Lake in 2005.
• Pave the remaining 8.5 miles of the the Leelanau Trail completely by 2010-2012.
• Create a 5.5-mile road shoulder trail from Acme to Williamsburg/GT Resort by 2008.
A fundraising Tour de TART will be held Friday evening, July 22 starting at 5-7 p.m., and riding 19 miles from McLain Cycle on 8th Street in TC to Suttons Bay Marina with a buffet dinner at the end. It‘s $20 to ride and $45 for families. Brochures are available at local bike stores or see

Picturing the Jordan
The Friends of the Jordan are hosting a photo competition this summer, inviting shutterbugs to capture the beauty of the Jordan River Valley in Antrim County. Photos must be taken within the Jordan River Watershed and may depict any aspect of the environment: plants, animals, scenery and activities in any season.
The group hopes to raise public awareness on the value of the river valley, and to relaunch its own effort as a watchdog organization. Grand prize is $250 with three other $100 prizes. Sponsors include the Charlevoix State Bank and Jordan Valley Animal Clinic.
Entries must be received by August 27. To get involved, see or pick up an entry form at the East Jordan Chamber of Commerce or Animal Clinic.
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