If You Only See One Film Next Week
TCFF staffer picks the most unforgettable films of the 2018 TCFF
By Ross Boissoneau | July 21, 2018
The Traverse City Film Festival always brings a host of movies the general public knows virtually nothing about. So how to decide which ones to seek out? Which are good and which are really good?
We’re here to help. OK, some of the staff at the Film Fest are here to help. After all, they’ve seen every single film showing at this year’s fest. We asked them to tell us which engaged, surprised, or moved them most. Without further ado, your list of the 2018 Traverse City Film Festival’s sleeper hits:
Roll Red Roll – TCFF Creative Director Meg Weichman says this is a film every parent should see. It’s an account of the 2012 rape of a teenage girl by star players of the Steubenville, Ohio, football team. The crime came to light through the social media posts of the players and friends, and the town closed ranks around the perpetrators. “They vilify this girl,” said Weichman. “I think it’s very important, well told, and compelling.”
Hillbilly – “It’s the first film I watched, and I’m still thinking about it,” said Ivy Hutchison, programming coordinator. She said the documentary about the culture in the South and Appalachia opened her eyes, as it showed the true hillbilly culture, rather than the stereotype of a bunch of uneducated opioid-addicted Trump supporters. “It’s a documentary with universal appeal. I think everyone should see it.”
Blaze – The film tells the story of Blaze Foley, an unsung songwriting legend of the Texas Outlaw Music movement that spawned the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. It’s directed by Ethan Hawke. “I’m not a country music fan, but the performances and music blew me away,” said Weichman. “Really great performances and storytelling.”
Minding the Gap – “What do I care about skateboarding?” asked Weichman before seeing the film. After seeing the feature debut of young director Bing Liu, shot in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois, she felt differently. It chronicles the lives and friendships of his skateboarding friends over the course of 12 years. “It’s beautifully shot, and you feel like you know the people,” Weichman said.
White Tide – Dubbed a docu-comedy, this film tells the story of a small-business owner and family man who gets wiped out during the recession, and then seeks a hidden treasure: a legendary buried stash of cocaine worth $2 million. The actual participants re-enact their misadventures. “It’s a wild ride. You don’t know where it’s going,” said Weichman.
The Guilty – Weichman described this as a taut, gripping thriller. An alarm dispatcher and former police officer answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins. “It’s set nearly entirely in one room and over the phone. It doesn’t need flashy chases or anything,” said Weichman, who adds that if you like thrillers, you’ll love this.
Zama – An Argentine period piece about an era we don’t pay enough attention to. The lead character is a magistrate in the 18th century and unable to advance, return to Spain, or even decide what he really wants. “It’s kind of surreal, a little more arty,” said Weichman. “Off-putting subject matter but a total masterpiece.”
Bathtubs Over Broadway – This film documents the secret world of big-budget industrial musicals created for the likes of McDonald's, Miller Beer, and Chevrolet, some of which had budgets topping My Fair Lady and other shows. “It’s a total delight. It has the best ending,” said Weichman. It won director Dava Whisenant the New Documentary Director Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Support the Girls – A heartwarming story set in a Hooters-style restaurant. Regina Hall stars as the mother hen to the put-upon waitresses. “Regina Hall is amazing. She supports her girls but has an awful day, which she tries to face with optimism. It’s a very human film,” said Weichman of this indie comedy.