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The Wicked Witch comes to theTraverse City Film Festival

Anne Stanton - June 15th, 2006
Movie lovers want to know. Will Act II stand up to last year’s Traverse City Film Festival?
The movie line-up hasn’t been announced yet, but fortunately film festival organizers are building on what worked so well last year.
The festival will expand from four days to six days, July 31-August 6, with about 45 movies in total. That’s 50 percent more movies than last year plus there’ll be midnight shows this time.
Fortunately, ticket prices will stay the same at $7 and Open Space movies are free for the sitting. The outdoor screen will be twice as big as last year. That will make one of the Open Space movies—Wizard of Oz—a tad scary for the wee ones … or wussy adults for that matter.
“Most people have never seen the Wizard of Oz on a movie screen, the way it was intended to be seen,” said Michael Moore, film festival founder and Academy Award winner. “Another one we’ll show is Jurassic Park. Imagine 65-foot dinosaurs on a 65-foot screen. It will look like dinosaurs are in the Open Space.”
Word is still pending on some of the Open Space movies, but confirmed picks include Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Dr. Strangelove. (You aren’t likely to see last year’s Freedom Festival sailboat floating by again, however. The counter-festival, one could say, sank at sea without a proper burial.)
One might argue that nothing could ever match the excitement of the very first festival. If you missed the inaugural event last year, imagine gobs of people waiting in lines at the long-shuttered State Theatre, the opening of which was nearly as exciting as the movies (scores of bone-tired volunteers painted and scrubbed and laid down carpet, area stores contributed just a ton of stuff. It was really a sight to behold).
People saw movies that they’d never get to see here otherwise. People chatted, they checked their movie guides, they begged for tickets of sold-out movies, they stepped in and out of packed restaurants for a bite to eat or a quick drink, and, weirdly, bought lots and lots of shoes between shows, according to shoe store owners.
Moore said he can’t yet announce the full movie line-up until June 23, with tickets going on sale the following Friday, June 30, at 10 a.m.
Moore said he has locked in the Stanley Kubrick retrospective. The film festival is paying tribute to Kubrick, who died suddenly in 1999 just before his last film was released, Eyes Wide Shut with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The festival will screen all 11 Kubrick films, including The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Attending the Kubrick tribute are his producer and brother-in-law, Jan Harlan, and the stars of his films, Malcolm McDowell and Matthew Modine.
New this year: tickets can be purchased online. The festival is also setting up a box office somewhere in downtown Traverse City. The Film Festival invested $9,000 for its own ticketing system this year (Interlochen Center for the Arts generously sold and processed tickets gratis last year).
Film organizers are also working with restaurants and delis to offer box lunches this year for movie-goers trying to squeeze in a meal between showings. During the Open Space movies, a handful of vendors will also sell food—no specifics yet.
The word on parties is that the festival will host a bash for sponsors on July 16, which includes a film at the Bay Theatre in Suttons Bay, followed by a gathering at the picturesque Ciccone Vineyards.
There will also be a kick-off party and a farewell party (tickets are $25). The opening and closing movies are also $25 apiece.
Once again, a handful of renowned film directors will participate in panel discussions and make personal appearances at their films’ screenings.
Most exciting is this year’s guest director Terry George, a friend of Moore’s who directed Hotel Rwanda.
Free panel discussions are slated for each morning of the festival with entry on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“We’re definitely going to have a Kubrick panel. I personally consider him to be America’s greatest film director,” said Moore, who will moderate the panels or introduce the moderators.
Moore said he is talking about panel ideas with screenwriter Chuck Pfarrer, author Doug Stanton, and Michael Mittelstaedt, who heads the film program at the Interlochen Arts Academy.
“I thought maybe a panel on ratings—the process of how they decide a PG or an R or an MC-17. And a panel on religion and film because I’m hoping to bring in this South African film, Son of Man; a Story of Jesus, but it’s set in modern day Africa. And we’ll just have a discussion of faith in movies, and the whole gamut of ideas. We’ll get a panel of liberal and conservative people to discuss that.”
Meanwhile, the outcome of negotiations with Rotary Charities to buy the State Theatre or to lease it on a long-term basis will be announced soon. The film festival does have firm permission to use the State for this year’s film festival.

Next week: A chat with Michael Moore.
 
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