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Letters 8/25/08

- August 25th, 2008
Film Fest too elitist?
Does the Traverse City Film Festival love the people of Traverse City? The festival has demonstrated tremendous potential, but is at risk of losing focus of its mission to “just show great movies.“
There were several moments throughout the 2008 festival -- like ushering the audience out of the theatre before the credits could roll -- that made it seem that maybe good films are no longer behind the excitement of the festival.
Although festivals like this rely on the generous support of the community, the motivation to become a “Friend” or an individual sponsor denotes a certain status that allows special access to the films rather than a desire to donate to the festival.
Rather than reserving tickets for sale to the general public, many movies were sold out prior to the opening of sales, and standby tickets for these films were not available. Failing to make the movies available to the ‘people that love to go to the movies’ – especially those in the community that may not be able to afford a ‘generous donation’ – taints the ‘magic’ of the TC Film Festival.
In their mission, the Traverse City Film Festival pledges to “enrich the human spirit and the art of filmmaking — not the bottom line.” And this mission is fulfilled when audiences are invited to engage in thoughtful discussion with the filmmakers after screening films like Captain Abu Raed and Body of War.
These films inspire and provoke, ask us to look beyond ourselves, and remind us of what success is really about. In these films, success is about giving hope and meaning, especially to those that need it the most. How can our Film Festival give hope and meaning to those that need it the most in our community?
Knowing all the good reasons to go see these films, many people waited in standby lines for hours and failed to receive tickets. This is deplorable.
Catering to the people who can afford the large fee to become a friend of the festival will ostracize many citizens who live in and around Traverse City. This system prevents a substantial population of working-class citizens from even having the hope that they can afford the money or the time in line to attend the festival.
In order to retain support and enthusiasm, tickets must be available to the people and continue to be affordable.
The Traverse City Film Festival was supposed to be a festival for the people; we do not think anyone would want to promote our film festival as one emulating the Sundance Film Festival.
The Traverse City Film Festival is unique because it is not exclusive and it is not about celebrities. Let’s always strive for an egalitarian society where even “just great films” are for everyone, despite their ‘friend’ status. A real friend supports the greater good of the festival and the community, and not by increasing their personal access to films by restricting it to others.

Kathryn & Frank Lepera

Quit knocking Madonna
As a fan of Madonna, I am tired of the ridicule, criticism, and negative attitudes towards her appearing at the film festival.
Michael Moore asked her to attend because he felt her documentary was a worthwhile experience for everyone in Traverse City, whether you were a Madonna fan or not.
The whole reason she was here was to make us more aware of how fortunate we are as a country, and how we can be a part of the big picture in changing the world. In my stance, if anyone can help save us, Madonna can. She does not limit herself to one perspective, but has many. She rarely judges others as we do, or puts people on pedestals.
I think if you have something important to say, say it, but if it is only to bash another celebrity for living their life, or doing their job in ways you find inappropriate, keep it to yourself.

Angela Crandall • via email

The brain drain
I agree with Rick Coates’ articulate article about the youth of this state and the future need to have them stay (“Plugging the Brain Drain“ 8/11).
I must say that I was one of those fleeing the state; albeit decades ago. My reason: Growing up in suburban Detroit, everything was focused on the auto industry. I wanted to pursue an education and career in the arts -- either fine art or commercial. Michigan is not as encouraging to young people either today or yesterday. Yes, there are those that stayed to flourish and succeed. But there are others who just don’t.
A couple of suggestions from someone who eventually came back to Michigan after a 20+ year absence:

- Improve the public school system;
- Offer more scholarships/grants;
- Expand industry sectors (thus creating a wider range of job opportunities);
- Spotlight innovation and “think tanks”;
- Open up small business lending and “angel” investing;
- Focus on quality of work/life balance.

As we pack up my eldest for her first year of college in Chicago, I don’t in the slightest begrudge her the opportunity to attend college in such a vibrant and diverse environment. A city in which she spent the first 10 years of her life; how befitting that she regards it as somewhat of a homecoming.
I’m generalizing here, but Michigan’s leadership in the political and industrial arenas have shunned the “creative class.” I find this contrary to our history. Been to Greenfield Village or Henry Ford Museum lately? Take a look at all the innovation that this great state was built upon.
Yes, Rick, you are right... we need our youth. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, business owners, researchers, designers, civic leadership and so much more so our state can start anew.

Joann Sondy • via email

Life is sacred
A rebuttal to B.J. Christensen’s letter in the August 11 issue:
I must address his/her assertion that Right to Life views end at birth, simply because Democrats “believe [that] right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is intended for all life’s journey.”
I am neither Republican nor Democrat, but I promote life through the act of having children and raising them, and being open to them as individuals intended to be on this earth, not as blobs that I can decide will live or die.
Look around at families on the street with multiple children and recognize that their very lives are statements of the “life journey” you refer to. Perhaps all the emphasis on getting babies to be born has given Right to Life a bad name, if individuals such as yourself are getting the impression that life after birth is inconsequential to them. Life is sacred from conception to natural death, Republican or Democrat.

Amy Ettawageshik • TC

Exxon‘s profits
It’s not the price of gas that concerns me; it’s the profit. The impact of that profit has chastised this country.
Americans don’t expect a free ride; however they do expect to be able to ride. Congress needs to be voted out. It‘s time to flush this cess-politcal mess. Factories closing, job losses, homes being foreclosed.
We need conservation by redesigning our traffic systems and replacing low-use stop signs with more carousels to limit idle time on all vehicles.
Buy a ticket to a concert, then try to sell it for more than you paid. Isn’t that called scalping? Buy a load of generators, take them to a storm-stricken area and try charging more than you paid. Isn’t that called racketeering? So what would you call what the oil people are doing to the country under the Bush administration? Impeachment in this case is way, way overdue!
George and Dick need to be replaced as oil ministers of the U.S. After that, what will they do? I don’t believe the two of them together could manage to string a kite, so having them go fly a kite is out of the question.
P.S. Exxon’s profit was $11.7 billion between April-July ‘08.

Joe Pelky • Manistee

McCain & nukes
How does John McCain keep a straight face while touting more nuclear power plants? The self-styled “straight talk” presidential candidate says nothing about nuclear power being dirty, dangerous, and energy intensive during its entire production cycle. Nor does he connect the dots between nuclear power plants and their potential material for nuclear weapons.
True “straight talk” would be about solving thorny problems facing us and the world ever since the horrific atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, 63 years ago this month.

Barbara MacArthur • Charlevoix

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