by Cherie Spaulding
Anyone charged with the task of making a film relies on the viewers ability to “suspend reality” or embrace the moment as if it is actually occurring. If this were not so, movie theaters would be vacant, tissue companies would go belly up, and laughter would no longer be prescribed as an optimal elixir. No tears? No laughter? That sounds like fun…barely.
What draws us to movies, I think, is our deep longing for stories. Stories that reveal and connect us to the experience of living, of being human. Some stories are so potent that they inspire us to move from our cushy seats to get off our butts and create some change. For those skeptics who were beginning to believe that the next generation of young people were going to be glued to that soft seat forever, you will be happy to hear that the Traverse City Film Festival has proven to be a source of inspiration for the some of the area’s youth, moving them in the direction of their dreams–to distant lands or higher education–far from this Midwestern oasis.
Ashley is eighteen and works at a clothing boutique in Traverse City. She graduated from high school this past spring and is saving some money before she heads off to Washington state to pursue life, and soon, college. I have known Ashley for four or five years, not well, but enough to know that she is a girl with a mission. And although she was not sure exactly what that mission was the potential was leaking from her fingertips–everything she created was magnificent. I thought her career would be fashion. Then, at a TC Film Festival a few years ago, she went to see the documentary, Iraq in Fragments. The film transports the viewer to Iraq to examine the political and cultural elements of this dynamic, struggling country. Later, she saw the film War Reporter. Immediately she was gripped by the story and filled with passion and a deep sense of connection to the subject. She admits to having a clear epiphany about the direction of her life. Now her goal is to study environmental journalism and then continue her education at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California.
Down the street, in a colorful outdated basement space, a group of other young students work with a New York editor, Ed Einhorn. Ed is sharing his talent by coaching aspiring film-school hopefuls in the craft of editing. The group is taking film clips from the festival for the Film Fest website. Together they are learning, exploring, and gaining real world experience. Of the handful I spoke with none took their passion lightly. Each spoke fervently about how they were infected and inspired by film, finding their niche by pursuing one of their interests to its full potential. Those who prefer to stay closer to home have visions of a film school cropping up at Northwestern Michigan College, just east of downtown.
Not everyone has dreams of participating in the making of film, but the stories at the festival help to put our lives in perspective and hopefully inspire a hidden potential that lies within each one of us through great joy, laughter, and tears.
Editor’s Note: Look for videos from Ed and his crew here later today!