Posts Tagged 'film'

Film Forum Series @ Traverse City Film Festival

Crowd at Open Space Film, Beth PriceThe Traverse City Film Festival will have a new Film Forum Series in 2010. The forums are designed to provide an opportunity for movie lovers to discuss films in an informal community in the round format and takes place at Lay Park on Union Street, Wednesday, July 28 through Saturday, July 31 after specially designated noon and 3:00 p.m. films. The series is free and includes performances from live musicians following the discussions. The schedule for the series is as follows:

Wednesday, July 28
Budrus: after noon movie
12th & Delaware: after 3 pm movie

Thursday, July 29
Waiting for “Superman’”: after noon movie
Restrepo: after 3 pm movie

Friday, July 30
American Radical: after noon movie
8: The Mormon Proposition: after 3 pm movie

Saturday, July 31
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers: after noon movie
GasLand: after 3 pm movie
Strawberry and Chocolate: after 6 pm movie

Photo: Crowd at Open Space Film, Beth Price


Larry Charles, Michael Moore, Jeff Garlin & others on the Traverse City Film Festival

Traverse City Film Festival co-founder Michael Moore, Director Larry Charles, Producer/ Actor Jeff Garlin and others give their thoughts on Traverse City, the state of Michigan and the Traverse City Film Festival in this video by Scott Allman Video.

Traverse City Film Festival Wrapup

Fifth annual event draws biggest attendance numbers ever

TRAVERSE CITY, MI (Aug. 3, 2009) — The Traverse City Film Festival marked its fifth anniversary year with record-setting admissions and turnouts for free nightly films on the waterfront, along with the announcement of a new Comedy Festival to kick off this winter. Continue reading ‘Traverse City Film Festival Wrapup’

Movie Review: Learning Gravity

by Cherie Spaulding

Editor’s Note: Learning Gravity won the Michigan Prize for best film about or shot in Michigan. Lynch is known for such literary works as The Undertaking. More about him at

Walking down Union Street before show time on Friday I wandered into a downtown antique store for a look at all of the recycled life looming in our town. Before long, I stumbled upon the tackle and tool section and found a treasure–an old fly fishing rod and reel. Silvery-blue, even with a matte finish it sparkled. I had been casually considering a fly rod purchase for some time, so it was a bit of a present to find such a stylish one and light–suitable for a beginner itching to liberate her waders from the unemployment line.

Tied in twine the metallic blue rod and I moseyed up the street to catch the film, Learning Gravity. Hearing the remarks that a woman and a fishing rod receive in the matter of a two block stretch was comical. Though lacking originality with the “catching anything?” inquiry, time and again, I appreciated the willingness of those passing by to acknowledge the absurdity even at the price of my own anonymity. Pleasantly pleased to think my fellow movie goers still had a pulse–still observed their surroundings and embraced the scene with a sense of humor. After all, what value does life have without connection?

Learning Gravity is a documentary film that explores the work of Thomas Lynch, an under-taker in Southern Michigan, who happens to also be a poet and essayist. Lynch descends from an under-taking family and shares the business with many of his relatives, much of his immediate family included. The first time I heard a Thomas Lynch poem, he was being interviewed on an N.P.R segment, five or six years ago. Wintertime had settled upon Traverse and I still recall it was a gray and lonely kind of day. In a strange and magnificent way, however, Lynch’s piece spoke to me, awakening a springtime of thought. Death is not exactly an uplifting topic for many, but I was grateful–in the dead of winter–to be considering the possibilities for rich contemplation in in the heart of a heavy storm.

Q&A for Thomas Lynch's Learning GravityQuiet contemplation is essentially what Lynch does best. Cathal Black directs the piece, and in his efforts he honors the solitary elements of Lynch’s journey–his quest to consider the value of human life beyond the scope of a last breath. Lynch reacquaints his audience with the cultural importance of honoring the dead, how the act and ceremony of funerals is an act of completing the cycle of the human experience. Of course, he acknowledges that our rituals not intended to aid the dead in their process. Instead, the living are served, supported in their journey through their waking lives. By honoring the dead we pay the greatest homage to life imaginable. Again, what value and meaning would our lives have without the guarantee of mortality?

Though I have seen other documentary pieces about Lynch and his family, in Learning Gravity, Black transforms the meaning of Lynch’s work to its visual form–a medium that is multi-sensory. By bringing Lynch’s poetry to life on the big screen, the film captures an audience beyond the typical scope of the work, and for a guitar-less poet, that is impressive. In Learning Gravity, Lynch’s contemplative work finds new life.

Photo Credits: The sun sets in TCXL by Dagmar Cunningham and Q&A for Thomas Lynch’s Learning Gravity by tcfilmfest (Thom Powers, Director Cathal Black and Thomas Lynch at the Q&A after Learning Gravity.)

Traverse City Film Festival: Day 5

Comedian Jeff Garlin and director Larry Charles share a light moment before the Comedy panel discussion on August 1, 2009. photo by Gary L Howe.

One of the coolest things about the festival for me has been talking with people like Jeff and Larry and hearing how much they’re enjoying Traverse City and the state of Michigan. Having truly funny people like these guys introducing films makes it almost like getting a free comedy show thrown in!

This photo is part of the Day 5 set of photos from the TC Film Fest photographers. Check them all out right here.

Report from the Michigan Film Council meeting at the 2009 Traverse City Film Festival

michigan-film-council-meetingThanks to Impact for providing open wireless!

The Big Story is that a remake of the 80s invasion classic Red Dawn. The film will be entirely shot in Michigan, adding a new meaning to the battle cry of “Wolverines!”

Richard Jewell is the new workforce development guy. He will be tasked with developing a Michigan certification program for film crew. Janet warns to be careful when selecting a “film school” as many of them are turning out people with poor skills who can’t get a job. Richard promises that we will develop a program that ensures Michiganians will be employed in the film industry. New Mexico is a target for the state as they are getting tons of projects through the infrastructure and support to the industry they have established.

Michael Moore was asked to deliver a report on the Traverse City Film Festival which is estimated to pour over $10 million into the regional economy over the first few days alone. He says that the TCFF has had more than 250,000 admissions over the first 5 years and that this year the festival has drawn filmmakers from 50 countries worldwide. Central was a salute to Scandinavian film. In addition to the opening film Troubled Water, there was the sold out midnight screening of the “Nazi zombie pic” Dead Snow.

Picking up on a theme that Cherie highlighted in Festival Inspiration, Michael noted that there were a lot of young folk (including his niece) who probably saw their first subtitled film last night. He notes that one of the purposes of the festival is to increase film literacy and that when they go away to school, they probably won’t feel shy about seeing a film with subtitles.

Mike notes that he and festival director Deb Lake will share  how they’ve done what they’ve done at the State Theatre and in the TCFF with anyone – call them! He also reiterated that there are no minimum wage jobs on a film set and his hopes that Michigan not let our ship sail in and then sail away.

The director of the University of Michigan Film School followed up by saying that the year we passed the film incentive was the first year that he saw students staying in Michigan instead of heading out to LA or New York. “40 years ago we went to the moon – can you imagine if we’d kept going what would have happened. You have to imagine your future – just give this thing a chance.”

Move review: Defamation

by Cherie Spaulding

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. ~Anne Frank

In all honesty, I had not quite prepared myself for the film Defamation by Yoav Shamir. A friend of mine had an extra ticket so we met downtown at a busy riverside restaurant, enjoyed a drink and then walked the short distance to the Old Town Playhouse to catch this Israeli documentary, Thursday evening. Since our meeting was impromptu, we rushed away having only tasted a light appetizer. Anti-Semitism was an unexpected main course, followed by a dessert of thoughtful regard. (Can you see how I would have been unprepared for such food for thought?)

So, after the drink, I’m sitting in the theater and right away, the film goes straight for the meat–are the Jewish people hated or not? Gulp. So first, the director interviews his grandmother. She is proud and strong; still living in Israel, she sees herself separate from Jewish people living in America and elsewhere. Right away the viewer realizes that this film-maker is willing to spare nothing to examine his question–from far corners of the globe and the deep interior of the heart. Though he begins at home, he spans the gamut of opinions on the matter, from New York City to the gates of Auschwitz.

Luckily, the director was both witty and compassionate enough to approach this delicate subject with thoughtfulness, care, and an ounce or two of humor. He champions the extreme right and left wings with equal bravado. He listens to their arguments, finds the heart of their passions, and then digs deeper. As the film transpired, I became more and more aware of the delicate nature of this topic. In part because the wounds are generations deep. Fear of atrocity has become so woven into the fabric of the Jewish culture that it seemed to define their existence. One of the teachers interviewed on a field-trip with a group of Israeli teens at a concentration camp in Poland, wonders whether or not he is participating in the perpetuation of a deep cultural fear, leaving one to consider if it is indeed fear–or a kind of love–a deep desire to protect their living families, hence, their futures.

Gradually, while viewing the film, I grew more and more aware of my deep inclinations toward foreign documentaries, or foreign movies in general. Instead of handing the viewer an opinion on a silver platter, the director pours a selection of fine Cabernet and allows the tannins to mellow so those dining on the film can wet their inquisitiveness with distinction. If the film has depth, a viewer will appreciate how the subtleties add surprising notes and contrast. And like fine wine, ultimately, it is up to the viewer to determine how successful the artist’s attempt, after battling the elements, was at producing a fine film.

Surprisingly the film had a sense of humor, and whether he came up with style on his own or borrowed a slice or two from Michael Moore, Yoav Shamir, presented a documentary that challenged cultural assumptions, past and present, with apparent hope and a deep regard the future.

Photo: Director Yoav Shamir by festivals gallery

Here’s the Defamation trailer…