Posts Tagged 'TCFF'

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.


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.

Opening Day of the 2009 Traverse City Film Festival

by Cherie Spaulding

Arriving Tuesday afternoon in downtown Traverse City, the shops and restaurants were already buzzing with business. The streets were alive with a playful spirit, filled with children and families enjoying Tuesday night’s festivities, participants of the 5th Annual Traverse City Film Festival. Oscar-winner and Festival creator, Michael Moore, infused the listeners with his passion and commitment for the event and the people who make it happen, year after year. A thick crowd gathered to celebrate the beginning of this year’s festival and to see Traverse City’s own Rich Brauer receive the 2009 Michigan Filmmaker’s Award.

The evening evoked an ambiance as potent as votive candles warming a dinner party and transformed a charming little affair – a night at the theater – into a night of magic. Bold red letters hung on the marquee; a stage was set in lights; the streets were busy with shuttering cameras and ticket clad tourists. Separated by only a city block, a stunning foreign film, Troubled Water, explored themes of forgiveness and redemption. The film was screened for two theaters filled perfectly full. Concluding the shows, a question and answer session occurred with the film’s director who¬† had traveled from Norway to present and speak.

Shop keepers and locals were embracing the opportunity to participate in Tuesday’s Festival events, which drew attendance from far and wide. The Festival films this season span a wide range of topics, but those passionate about supporting local communities, independent films and the visual arts, were naturally drawn to the scene. Northern Michigan residents hungry for “big city” culture to satiate quaint “little city” life, praised the event. Many young people stationed in the area found an oasis for their creative inclinations. Others simply love film and devour the opportunity to participate in the screenings of documentaries, obscure films, classic, political, and comedic films–just some of the genres represented throughout the week. Along with panel events, lectures, and free family films, the calender of any attendee could be completely filled!

Driving home I noticed Will Smith’s head–the size of a truck–looming against the backdrop of night sky, as adventurous viewers reclined at the Open Space to entertain aliens for a night by the Bay. Though I could not see the audience, I imagined children and parents snuggled up beneath the stars, feeling a warm breeze off the lake, their hearts filled with laughter. Who could resist a night so fine?

Explore many more photos, videos, blog posts and tweets from the 2009 Traverse City Film Festival.

On Location: 2009 Traverse City Film Festival

Our next stop is the 2009 Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) which takes place July 28 through August 2 in Traverse City, Michigan.

This is the 5th year, and the annual festival has grown to become one of the largest film festivals in the Midwest and one of the most respected in the country. Last year, there were over 80,000 admissions to nearly 100 screenings, a number of them U.S. or world premieres. A special emphasis is given to foreign films, American independents, documentaries, and films which have been overlooked but deserve the attention of a public starved to see a good movie.

The festival also features some excellent panels with filmmakers and other experts exploring documentary filmmaking, comedy, the new film mecca of the West Bank and Gaza and other subjects.

We’ll pay special attention to the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council Meeting which takes place on Friday, July 31st. Council members will hold their regular meeting and then take questions from the audience regarding the booming Michigan film industry.

There’s also the new TCFF Film School, parties and even free outdoor movies. Through it all, Absolute Michigan will be there and we invite you to share your comments and also to share your photos in the Traverse City Film Festival Group on Flickr. We’ll also be partnering with Interlochen Public Radio and featuring their coverage. Chekc the right bar for their posts and also for Twitter and blog feeds from TCFF!