2014 Traverse City Film Festival Schedule

The Traverse City Film Festival is Traverse City’s film event extravaganza of the summer and will be held July 29–August 3.  The following 2014 Traverse City Film Festival schedule and event guide was provided by the kind folks at the Traverse City Film Festival. Most tickets go on sale on July 13th, 2014—so mark the date!

Find A Movie by Genre or Screening:

Learn about one of the newest TCFF venues: Movies on a Boat! 


OPEN SPACE FREE MOVIES

JAWS - Tuesday at Dusk
1975 | USA | PG | 124 min.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, “Jaws” returns to the bayfront with a…da-dum…da-dum…da-dum…vengeance. When a small seaside community is terrorized by a deadly Great White, it’s up to an embattled police chief (Roy Scheider), a boy wonder oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss), and a salty old shark hunter (Robert Shaw) to track down and destroy the skinny dipper-crunching, man-lunching beast. Director Steven Spielberg ushered in a new era of filmmaking with this rollicking thriller that taps into our deepest fears and never lets go. We’re gonna need a bigger screen to contain all the wickedly playful humor, heart-pounding tension, and breathtaking suspense that awaits visitors to the Open Space Tuesday night for a special showing of the original summer blockbuster (and the very first film to ever screen at the Open Space back in 2005).

JURASSIC PARK - Wednesday at Dusk
1993 | USA | PG-13 | 127 min.
Eccentric billionaire John Hammond builds a theme park on an island where, thanks to some prehistoric bug juice, dinosaurs once again roam the earth. What could possibly go wrong? Well, to the sheer delight of moviegoers everywhere—quite a lot. Taking you on a thrill ride of colossally entertaining proportions, a team of scientists (including Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum! and Laura Dern) fight for survival amidst a stirring John Williams score, dino-mite jeeps, and only partially annoying children. While the landmark special effects, electrifying action set pieces, and menacing raptors remain undeniably awesome, it is the way master of movie-making wizardry Steven Spielberg speaks to our collective imagination with majestic and awe-inspiring wonder that is the true star attraction. Rained out at the Open Space back in 2006, be a “clever girl” or boy and don’t miss it this time around.

CASABLANCA – Thursday at Dusk
1942 | USA | NR | 102 min.
Iconic. A national treasure. And even as time goes by, it remains one of the greatest romances ever made. It could’ve been just another average studio picture—no one was expecting a great movie. But luckily for us, destiny intervened with story, lighting, music, and the unparalleled acting chops of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman coming together with unparalleled craftsmanship. There’s a lot more we could say about cynical American expatriate Rick Blaine and the girl who walks into his gin joint and back into his life, but it all comes down to this: If “Casablanca” comes to Traverse City and you’re not at the Open Space, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE™ PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER – Friday at Dusk
1977 | USA | PG | 125 min.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas created a film that would change cinema forever and launch an unstoppable pop-culture juggernaut that has survived both Jar Jar Binks and a very “special” Christmas special. Luke Skywalker, a farm boy from the planet Tatooine, begins a hero’s journey that takes him across the galaxy to rescue Rebel Alliance leader Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Darth Vader. Along the way, he joins a colorful cast of characters including the sage Obi Wan Kenobi, roguish Han Solo, steadfast Chewbacca, neurotic C-3PO, and trusty R2-D2 in the fight against the Galactic Empire. Whether for the first or 500th time, don’t miss your chance to experience this ultimate classic for the whole family like never before—on a 65-foot screen beneath the stars. May the force be with you as surprises await potential Jedi padawans at this special People’s Choice winning screening.

THE GOONIES - Saturday at Dusk
1985 | USA | PG | 114 min.
With their homes in the “goon docks” threatened by devious developers, a misfit band of kids—including a brace-faced astmatic, a wise guy with one heck of a mouth, a gadget geek, and a Baby Ruth-loving klutz—take to their bikes and embark on an unforgettable quest to uncover the lost treasure of the pirate One-Eyed Willie. A swashbuckling fantasy replete with booby traps, secret passages, golden doubloons, ghost ships, and a Sloth, this may be the most gloriously giddy and genuinely fun adventure ever committed to celluloid. A movie that defined a generation and remains compulsively watchable, “The Goonies” is pure cinematic magic that perfectly captures the wonder of growing up, and the friendships we make that never die!

THE WIZARD OF OZ - Sunday at Dusk
1939 | USA | NR | 102 min.

There’s no place like the Open Space, and there’s certainly no better place to see a film with this much timeless enchantment, this much enduring magic, and this much fantastical splendor. After a tornado transports her to the extraordinary Land of Oz, Dorothy Gale (and her little dog, too) leaves a sepia-toned reality behind for a dazzling Technicolor daydream. But in order to return home, Dorothy must follow a yellow brick road, encountering munchkins, flying monkeys, a wicked witch, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) along the way. While oft reimagined and retold, there remains nothing in the cinematic cannon that can top the breathtaking imagination and hopeful joy of Judy Garland transporting us somewhere over the rainbow and reminding us just how wonderful the movies can be.
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AMERICAN FILMS

5 TO 7 - Wednesday 3 pm. State Theatre, Sunday 9 pm. Lars Hockstad
2014 | USA | NR | 97 min.
Maybe there are some people you are meant to love, and some you are meant to marry—this idea, and the French “cinq à sept” affair (liaisons scheduled during that hazy time between leaving work and arriving home) are explored in this gloriously romantic, Audrey Hepburn-esque love story. After Bérénice Marlohe (“Skyfall”) and aspiring writer Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek”) fall in love at first sight, it takes time for him to accept the open relationship she has with her husband, but soon he’s attending the married couple’s dinner parties with the husband’s mistress in attendance, too. His parents (Glenn Close and Frank Langella) are memorably slower to accept the concept, and eventually, he has to decide if the 5 to 7 window is enough. A funny and earnestly sentimental crowd pleaser, “5 to 7” has the power to change the way we think about relationships.
WED 3 PM ST | SUN 9 PM LARS

BLUE RUIN - Thursday 6 pm. Bijou
2013 | USA | R | 91 min.
Dwight lives a peaceful existence as a beach bum in a Virginia resort town, scraping by on food scrounged from dumpsters and generally avoiding confrontation with the locals while sleeping in his beat-up Pontiac. But his life is given renewed purpose when he receives word that a man with whom he has a score to settle is set to be released from prison. Dwight is spurred into action as a hapless assassin with the will and motivation—but not necessarily the resources—to exact revenge. His ineptitude as a killer sets off a chain of events that leaves him in a desperate fight to protect his family. An award winner at Cannes, director Jeremy Saulnier’s masterful revenge thriller is rife with blackly comedic moments and heart-pounding thrills.

COHERENCE - Wednesday 9 pm. City Opera House and Saturday 3 pm. Old Town Playhouse
2013 | USA | NR | 89 min.
When four couples meet for a dinner party on the night Miller’s comet is due to pass close to Earth, they couldn’t have anticipated the astrological anomaly causing a disruption of the evening’s affairs. But after the power goes out, internet and phone service shut down, and all the lights in the quiet suburb go dim—save one eerily similar house a few blocks away—their evening takes a decidedly mind-bending turn. As the group scrambles to make sense of the bizarre turn of events, they argue over ever-wilder theories as to what sinister forces lie in wait outside the confines of the house. A heady mix of quantum physics and mystery, “Coherence” is a clever and original low-budget sci-fi flick that emphasizes storytelling over flashy effects, and is sure to be one of the most talked about genre films of the summer.

COLD IN JULY - Thursday 6 pm. Miliken
2014 | USA, France | R | 89 min.
On a hot summer night in Texas in the late 80s, timid family man Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) semi-accidentally shoots and kills low-life burglar Freddy Russell, who has invaded his family’s home. This action sets off a chain of events that sends ripples beyond Dane’s small hometown. When word of Freddy’s demise reaches his father (Sam Shepard), the grizzled ex-con rolls into town with vengeance on his mind, and Richard turns to a flamboyant private eye in Houston (Don Johnson) to help protect his family. Full of smart twists and turns, this suspenseful pulp action flick follows the trio’s deadly chase through an increasingly intricate web of police corruption, vigilantism, and violence that will keep you rooted to your seat, all of the way through to its shocking conclusion.

FADING GIGOLO - Thursday 12 pm. Lars Hockstad and Saturday 9 pm. State Theatre
2013 | USA | R | 98 min.
What a delight to see Woody Allen in top form, riffing as Murray, owner of a cash- strapped rare books emporium. He sees an opportunity to save the store when his dermatologist (Sharon Stone) asks him to find a man who can help her realize the fantasy of a ménage à trois with her friend, Sofia Vergara. Murray talks his shy florist friend Fioravante (actor-writer-director John Turturro) into taking the job, and his remarkable skills lead to a lucrative series of meetings with other wealthy and lonely women. Everything goes remarkably well until Murray arranges a platonic meet-up with a lonely Hasidic widow (Vanessa Paradis), and a meaningful bond begins to form under the jealous and watchful eye of Liev Schreiber from her neighborhood’s Jewish police. It’s possibly the funniest, most tender, wryly observant, sepia-tinted, jazzy story about a gigolo ever made.

LIFE OF CRIME - Friday 9 pm. State Theatre and Saturday 6 pm. Lars Hockstad
2013 | USA | R | 94 min.
We are thrilled to present the US premiere of “Life of Crime,” the best adaptation we’ve seen of a novel by “the Dickens of Detroit,” Elmore Leonard. John Hawkes and Mos Def star as low-level criminals who kidnap a corrupt Detroit real estate developer’s wife for ransom (the couple is played by Tim Robbins and Jennifer Aniston). While Aniston attempts to improve her position, two very different kinds of sleazeballs up the ante in an escalating sequence of double crosses and plot twists, all set in 1970s Detroit to a great soundtrack of Top 40 hits and lounge tracks. Based on Leonard’s 1978 novel “The Switch,” director Daniel Schechter’s (“Supporting Characters,” TCFF ‘12) comedy brilliantly captures the look and feel of inexpensive 70s caper cinema, from the opening copyright to the vintage jacket Aniston wears (an item in our TCFF auction!).

HELLION - Friday 9 pm. City Opera House and Sunday 9 pm. Old Town Playhouse
2014 | USA | NR | 98 min.
Expanded from her short film of the same name (TCFF ‘12), writer/director Kat Candler’s hard-hitting family drama explores adolescent angst through the eyes of 13-year-old hellraiser Jacob. In a small rural town in southeast Texas, single father Hollis (Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad”) has withdrawn to boozy depression following the death of his wife, and doesn’t have much in the way of fatherhood to offer his two boys. Left unattended, Jacob’s wild antics threaten to bring the family to collapse when his latest stunt draws the attention of Child Protective Services, and Jacob’s younger brother is removed from his father’s custody. A breakout hit at Sundance, this authentic and haunting family drama offers the very best of American indie cinema, including masterful performances by Aaron Paul and teenage newcomer Josh Wiggins.

LAND HO! - Wednesday 12 pm. Lars Hockstad and Saturday 6 pm. Miliken
2014 | USA | R | 95 min.
After being forced into retirement, Mitch, a cheeky sweetheart of a man, convinces Colin, his gentle soul of an ex-brother-in-law, to join him on an impromptu holiday to Iceland to get their septuagenarian groove back. The result is a joyously entertaining and thoughtfully humorous journey of rediscovery. Together, they take on the hottest nightclubs, swankiest spas, and finest restaurants in Reykjavik before exploring the gorgeously filmed vast vistas and natural wonders of the countryside. Part exhilarating travelogue, and part road-tripping buddy comedy, the incredible comedic chemistry and refreshingly old-fashioned regard for characterization make this touching look at friendship and aging a sure-fire TCFF hit. You’ll leave the theater smiling uncontrollably with the overwhelming sense that their adventures, and yours, are just beginning.

LOVE IS STRANGE - Wednesday 9 am. Miliken and Saturday 6 pm. City Opera House
2014 | USA, France | R | 93 min.
Ben and George (played brilliantly by Alfred Molina and John Lithgow) have lived in love together for 39 years before they are finally allowed to be married in 2011, when New York finally blesses same-sex marriages. But good news proves short lived when the Catholic school where George works as a music teacher conveniently “discovers” that (gasp!) he has a same sex partner (something they’ve known for years and years). George is fired, and the reduced income brings many changes. Forced to give up their Chelsea apartment, and unable to find a new place, George camps out on the couch of the two gay cops next door, while Ben moves into his nephew’s teenaged son’s bottom bunk in Brooklyn. Marisa Tomei and Darren Burrows co-star in Ira Sachs’ funny, tender, sensitive study of partnerships, modern love, and the damage caused by homophobia. In English, Russian with subtitles.

THE ONE I LOVE - Wednesday 9 pm. Lars Hockstad, Sunday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat and City Opera House
2014 | USA | R | 91 min.
We all have a good wife, or a good husband, inside of us—but sometimes we lose touch. Love and physical attraction fade, and soon we’re harping on our mate not to eat the foods they love. Elizabeth Moss and triple-threat Mark Duplass give near perfect performances as a married couple on the brink of separation in Charlie McDowell’s wholly original, funny, and remarkably clever exploration of marriage. Things get a little bit “Twilight Zone” when the couple begins exploring the beautiful weekend getaway house suggested by their marriage counselor (Ted Danson). Forced by a series of bizarre experiences to confront their better and worse selves, McDowell’s comedic, uncanny exploration of troubled human partnerships has wholly unpredictable results that you’ll be discussing after the film ends. Bacon!

SISTER - Thursday 7 pm. Elk Rapids, Thursday 6 pm. State Theatre and Friday 3 pm. Lars Hockstad
2014 | USA | NR | 113 min.
Reid Scott (“Veep”) shows his star potential playing Billy, the older brother of an adopted sister Nikki (Grace Kaufman), a troubled teen in desperate need of help. When their unstable mother Susan (Barbara Hershey) is institutionalized following a tragic accident that left her widowed and Nikki without the father she relied on so heavily, Billy and his wife are forced to take in the difficult sister. The resulting household tensions cause significant career and household strife that ends in big life changes for an initially reluctant Billy. But as the bond between the siblings strengthens and he grows into the role of brother and protector, Billy discovers that, in order to really help Nikki, what he really needs is a plan to replace the psychotropic drugs that have been prescribed for her. Amidst the incredibly personal, compelling, and often laugh-out-loud funny family drama, director David Lascher crafts an important and powerful statement about medicating our children.

PALO ALTO - Wednesday 6 pm. State Theatre
2013 | USA | R | 100 min.
Based on a book by pop provocateur James Franco, “Palo Alto” is that rare teen movie that vividly captures the beautiful rapture and intense indifference of youth in a manner that is both decidedly of its time and somehow also timeless. A dreamily evocative portrait of teenagers trapped in their suburban milieu, this film follows April (Emma Roberts), the prototypical girl next door—shy, sensitive, and yearning for Teddy (Jack Kilmer, whose father Val makes a cameo), the sweetly lost boy next door. But despite a shared affection, adolescent indecisiveness keeps them apart and April suddenly finds herself engaged in an illicit flirtation with her soccer coach (James Franco). A remarkable debut from director Gia Coppola—proving some things really do just run in the family—her decidedly mature direction marks the entrance of a bold and exciting new voice in American cinema.

RUBBER SOUL - Friday 6 pm. Old Town Playhouse and Sunday 12 pm. Bijou
2014 | USA | NR | 84 min.
Just when you thought the Beatles had been done every which way from Sunday and back, director Jon Lefkovitz comes along with a completely fresh take on the legendary band’s story. John Lennon and Yoko Ono gave Rolling Stone’s Jann S. Wenner an interview in December 1970 for the release of “Plastic Ono Band.” Ten years later, while recording “Double Fantasy,” they agreed to an interview with Playboy, just three months before Lennon’s assassination. Lefkovitz took verbatim chunks of the interviews from transcripts and had Joseph Bearor and Denice Lee reenact them (although Ono mostly sits quietly while Lennon talks). He then expertly edited them together, cutting back and forth in time to create a fascinating and revealing look at the repetitive nature of celebrity interviews, and at John Lennon, the musician and the man.
FRI 6 PM OTP | SUN 12 NOON BIJ

SUMMER OF BLOOD - Wednesday 12 am. Old Town Playhouse and Thursday 9 pm. Bijou
2014 | USA | NR | 86 min.
Part Woody Allen-esque self-deprecator, part schlubby-but-loveable Judd Apatovian man-child, writer-director-star Onur Tukel is a force to be reckoned with in this outrageously hilarious and goofy comedy. Tukel plays Eric, an egotistical and unambitious complainer who doesn’t have the good sense to say yes when his far-too- good-for-him girlfriend proposes. With limited career prospects, an inability to commit, and severe shortcomings in the bedroom, Eric is just about every Match.com-er’s worst nightmare. But just when our bumbling antihero seems to have hit rock bottom following a bizarre encounter one night, he wakes up with a new lease on life—and an insatiable thirst for blood. Transformed into a literal lady-killer, Eric embarks on a quest to win back the one that got away in this freewheeling Brooklyn love story.

WILD CANARIES - Thursday 9 pm. Old Town Playhouse and Saturday 9 pm. Bijou
2014 | USA | NR | 98 min.
Classic mystery lovers will rejoice at this affectionate amateur detective adventure that casts a Brooklyn couple as a sort-of hipster Nick and Nora Charles. Barri (Sophia Takal) is an inquisitive ball of energy, so naturally she suspects foul play following the death of her elderly neighbor, and sets out with childlike enthusiasm to investigate. With the help of her roommate Jean (Alia Shawkat of “Arrested Development”), Barri embarks on a shenanigans-heavy surveillance mission—while her boyfriend Noah (director Lawrence Michael Levine) unsuccessfully attempts to rein her in, thinking his partner’s imagination is running wild after watching a little too much Hitchcock. But as the evidence starts to pile up, the unlikely sleuths uncover secrets harbored within their apartment building that paint everyone in a suspicious light. Also starring Jason Ritter (“Parenthood”) and TCFF perennial Kevin Corrigan, this is not your typical Brooklyn-set American indie, but a witty farce with a smart sensibility all its own.

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FOREIGN FILMS

THE BACHELOR WEEKEND - Sunday 7 pm. Vogue, Tuesday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat and Friday 9 pm. Lars Hockstad | 2013 | Ireland | NR | 94 min.

Who doesn’t love a boisterous Irish comedy—especially one with this much heart? The unlikely bachelor at the center of the titular weekend is Fionnan, a guy more interested in talking wedding details than jetting off for organized debauchery. At the insistence of his fiancée Ruth, however, he reluctantly agrees to cut loose for one last prenuptial hurrah with his best mates (one of whom just so happens to carry a torch for Ruth). But when Ruth’s notoriously unpredictable brother, known only as “The Machine,” turns up, what started as a relaxed camping adventure becomes a rowdy journey into the wilderness as they encounter more than their fair share of unexpected detours. In this “The Hangover” for the discerning movie-goer—where nothing says male bonding like a memorable sing-along or a raucous de-trousering—it’s how the wacky comedy plays off an underlying sweetness that makes this a side-splitting pleasure.

BLACK COAL, THIN ICE (BAI RI YAN HUO) - Wednesday 9 pm. Milliken Auditorium | 2014 | China, Hong Kong | NR | 106 min.

Heads up, noir fans—this one should be first on your list. Moody with working-class despair, encroaching danger, and pulp romantic fatalism, and set in a wintry industrial city in Northern China, the top prize winner from this year’s Berlin Film Festival is a powerfully controlled detective thriller with no heroes and no villains. Five years after a tragically botched arrest attempt of a suspect implicated in the grisly discovery of dismembered human remains, an alcoholic ex-detective now working security in a coal factory begins the old investigation anew when more body parts are found. A knotty plot rewards mystery buffs’ concentrated efforts, and features a plethora of sublime cinematic moments: a shootout the likes of which you’ve never seen; a dazzling tracking shot that moves the story from 1999 to 2004; and a perfect, absurdist unexpected ending. In Mandarin with subtitles.

BLIND DATES (BRMA PAEMNEBI) – Saturday 9 am. Old Town Playhouse | 2013 | Georgia | NR | 95 min.

Forty-year-old schoolteacher Sandro still lives with his parents in Tbilisi, in spite of his nagging mother’s insistence that he grow up and find a wife. After joining his friend on an unsuccessful blind double date, fate lends a hand when he meets Manana, the mother of one of Sandro’s students, and sparks soon fly. The only catch: Manana’s temperamental husband is set to be released from prison the next day. Bound and determined not to miss out on his one chance at true romance, Sandro will do whatever it takes to keep in contact with Manana—even if that means aiding her husband in some not-so-legal business. A sweet and compassionately human comedy drama, Georgian New Wave director Levan Koguashivili’s winning film is a tragicomic look at the quest for true love and honor. In Georgian with subtitles.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR - Saturday 5 pm. Bijou by the Bay | 2013 | France | NC-17 | 179 min.

Adèle (played by an unforgettable 19-year-old Adèle Exarchopoulos) comes of age in one of the most explosive, intense, masterful, and quintessentially French films you’re ever likely to see. The first Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner to deal with LGBT issues, based on Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, and infamous for its sexually explicit encounters between the two actresses, this epic story of love is not a single frame longer than it should be. Beautifully paced from the introduction of the high school protagonist and her electric first encounter with blue haired punk artist Emma, and on through the years, as class, career, flirtations, and time erode their love. The sheer power of the truth acclaimed director Abdellatif Kechiche reveals about the ache of tumultuous relationships will leave you breathless and transformed. In French with subtitles.

CHILD’S POSE (POZITIA COPILULUI) - Friday 12 pm. State Theatre and Saturday 9 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2013 | Romania | NR | 112 min.

Winner of the top prize at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, this riveting psychological thriller is the latest in a string of great dramas coming from Romania. In one of the best performances you’ll see at the festival, Luminita Gheorghiu stars as Cornelia, a well-to-do retired architect in Bucharest with a fanatical devotion to her only child, thirty something Barbu. When Barbu runs over and kills a teenage boy in the suburbs, Cornelia will stop at nothing to save her “poor boy” from any jail time—even if it means bribing witnesses, turning in false police reports, and pressuring the victim’s family. Director Calin Peter Netzer offers razor-sharp social satire in this brilliantly-wrought film, a spellbinding drama about class, family, and obsession. In Romanian with subtitles.

CHINESE PUZZLE (CASSE-TÊTE CHINOIS) - Thursday 3 pm. Lars Hockstad and Sunday 3 pm. City Opera House| 2013 | France | R | 117 min.

Acclaimed French director Cédric Klapisch (“My Piece of the Pie,” TCFF ‘11) returns to the festival with the third entry in his “Auberge Espagnole” trilogy, a lively, globetrotting rom-com following the romantic trials and tribulations of perpetually restless writer Xavier (Romain Duris). When his ex-wife of 10 years leaves Paris for greener pastures in New York City and takes their children with her, Xavier has no choice but to chase after her and make a go of it for himself in America—despite having no job and no accommodations beyond his friend’s couch in Brooklyn. Whether you’re new to the series or you’ve been following for years, this lighthearted and playful gem, featuring top French movie stars like Audrey Tautou, is sure to delight. In French with subtitles.

A COFFEE IN BERLIN - Friday 9 am. Old Town Playhouse and Saturday 9 pm. Miliken | 2012 | Germany | NR | 88 min.

The slacker cool of Jim Jarmusch meets shades of vintage Woody Allen in this deadpan black-and-white comedy following a day in the life of twenty something law school dropout Niko, who has been living off his father’s allowance while waiting for life to come to him. Aimless and adrift after being indifferently dumped by his girlfriend, he wanders the streets of Berlin with little in mind other than procuring a perpetually elusive cup of coffee, careening from one absurd encounter to the next, until a chance meeting with a girl from his past forces him to confront his live-for-the-moment attitude. Winner of six German Oscars and a mega hit throughout Europe, director Jan-Ole Gerster’s clever breakout feature is a poetic look at life in the German capital that captures something quintessential about the millennial generation and what it means to be young today. In German with subtitles.

EXCUSE MY FRENCH (LAMOAKHZA) – Thursday 9 am. Old Town Playhouse and Saturday 9 am. Miliken | 2014 | Egypt | NR | 99 min.

When young Hany’s father unexpectedly drops dead at the dinner table, he and his mother discover that their upper class family is massively in debt, and can no longer afford Hany’s expensive private Christian education. Hany is dropped into a chaotic public school where he finds himself well out of his comfort zone among rowdy classmates who mistake him for a fellow Muslim. Desperate to do anything to fit in, Hany goes along with the misunderstanding. “Excuse My French” almost never saw the light of day after its script was held up by censors for four years, but we’re glad it did: it’s a delightfully black comedy satirizing class and religion in modern Egypt, and a snapshot of the lives of ordinary citizens in a nation trapped in the throes of ongoing revolution. In Arabic with subtitles.

FISHING WITHOUT NETS – Wednesday 12 pm. State Theatre and Sunday 9 am. Bijou by the Bay | 2014 | Kenya, Somalia, USA | NR | 109 min.

On the coast of Somalia, Abdi’s family have long sustained themselves as fishermen. But a recent surge in pollution, droughts, and war have forced the normally upstanding Abdi into a difficult situation. Desperate to make a better life for his family, he reluctantly joins a local pirate crew and sets out to hijack a passing French oil tanker, taking its crew hostage. But how far will he go to earn his cut of the ransom? An award winner at Sundance, this gripping docu-drama plays like “Captain Phillips” from the pirates’ point of view, as portrayed by a cast of Somali refugees (mainly non-professional actors), offering mesmerizing and deeply human portraits of life on a side of the world we rarely see. In English, French, Somali with subtitles.

A FIVE STAR LIFE (VIAGGIO SOLA) – Friday 3 pm. Miliken and Saturday 12 pm. Lars Hockstad | 2013 | Italy | NR | 85 min.

Forty-something Irene’s job description reads like a fantasy come true: Traveling across Europe, visiting the most stunning cities and staying in the most lavish hotels, methodically evaluating her experience with a set of criteria that encompasses everything from the softness of the sheets to the temperature of the soup. But a dream job does not a dream life make, and beneath the seeming glamour of her career lies an emptiness that no amount of room service, plush robes, or luxury toiletries can ever hope to fill. Following a shocking announcement from one of the few people she holds dear, the perpetually unattached Irene begins to reevaluate the choices she’s made. A sleeper hit in Italy where star Margherita Buy’s quietly extraordinary performance won the Italian Oscar, “A Five Star Life” is a warm, wonderful, and beautiful trip definitely worth taking. In Italian with subtitles.

THE GERMAN DOCTOR (WAKOLDA) – Wednesday 7 pm. Garden, Thursday 9 pm. City Opera House and Friday 12 pm. Lars Hockstad | 2013 | Argentina, France, Norway, Spain | PG-13 | 93 min.

A fictionalized account of a missing chapter in the life of one of the 20th century’s most notorious war criminals, this gripping drama opens in a German community in Patagonia in 1960. Josef Mengele (the “Angel of Death”) is hiding there following revelations of the cruel and inhumane experiments performed on concentration camp inmates at his behest. We meet Mengele through the eyes of twelve- year-old Lilith, whose family is unknowingly hosting the fugitive in their hotel. During their time together, Mengele takes a sinister interest in naïve Lilith, who proves a willing party to his new experiments to help make her taller. Argentina’s submission for Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, “The German Doctor” is a provocative thriller tinged with mystery and suspense. In German, Spanish, Hebrew with subtitles.

THE GILDED CAGE (LA CAGE DORÉE) – Wednesday 6 pm. City Opera House and Sunday 6 pm. Lars Hockstad | 2013 | France | NR | 90 min.

A box office smash in France, this delightful comedy follows a working-class Portuguese immigrant family in Paris headed by Maria, the concierge at a ritzy apartment complex, and José, the hardworking foreman at a prominent construction company. In their 30-odd years in France, they’ve made a modest but comfortable life in the service of others—so much so that when they inherit a winery back in their native Portugal and have their life-long dream tantalizingly within reach, everyone they’ve worked for starts scrambling to find ways to keep them from leaving. As the son of Portuguese immigrants himself, writer-director Ruben Alves delivers a keenly observed comedy that satirizes stereotypes along cultural and class lines—a warm-hearted look at family and what it means to belong in society. In English, French, Portuguese with subtitles.

I WON’T COME BACK (YA NE VERNUS) - Wednesday 6 pm. Bijou and Friday 6 pm. City Opera House | 2014 | Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Russia | NR | 109 min.

Each year we try to bring films that, despite their lack of eye-catching stars or high-concept plot devices, are so exquisitely and simply told that they stay with you long after the credits roll. This is one of those films—a profoundly moving story of two girls on a heartfelt journey of mutual survival across a bleakly beautiful Russian landscape. Anya, a grad student who suddenly finds herself on the run from the police, reluctantly gains a young traveling companion in Kristina, an orphaned girl determined to reunite with the only family she has left. For different reasons, both girls cling to the hope of finding Kristina’s long-lost grandmother, who may or may not be waiting at the end of the journey. It all leads to a climax of such sheer poignancy that it will take your breath away. In Russian with subtitles.

THE HUNT (JAGTEN) – Thursday 3 pm. Bijou and Sunday 6 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2012 | Denmark | R | 111 min.

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, “The Hunt” is essential viewing that will make you laugh, cry, and rage with uncontrollable fury all at once. When a beloved kindergarten teacher is falsely accused of an unspeakable crime, his simple life is shattered. Rumors become insinuations, insinuations become fact, and he is shunned by friends and family. The incredible intensity of the great Mads Mikkelsen (TV’s “Hannibal;” “A Royal Affair,” TCFF ’12), the man at the center of this devastating witch-hunt, makes the chilling tale of mob mentality and hysteria the kind of gripping storytelling you just can’t shake. As riveting as any thriller, director Thomas Vinterberg’s film will draw you in and take you down a road that is anything but expected. In Danish with subtitles.

THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES (KVINDEN I BURET) - Wednesday 6 pm. Miliken and Thursday 9 pm. State Theatre | 2013 | Denmark, Germany, Sweden | NR | 97 min.

As fans of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Killing” can attest, there’s no place like Scandinavia to find the latest and greatest in hardboiled crime drama. After a shootout leaves one partner paralyzed and the other dead, former chief detective Carl Mørck finds himself exiled from the homicide department to a desk job in Department Q, where he is tasked with processing and quickly closing cold case files. But the first case to come across his desk proves too tantalizing to write off, so the tenacious Mørck hits the streets with his assistant Assad to investigate the supposed suicide of a prominent female politician whose body vanished without a trace. Their quest for justice leads to a sinister discovery in this gripping and finely crafted Nordic noir, a tense mystery full of twists. In Danish with subtitles.

THE LUNCHBOX (DABBA) – Friday 12 pm. Milliken Auditorium | 2013 | France, Germany, India, US | PG | 105 min.

Mumbai’s Dabbawallahs are a community of 5,000 lunchbox deliverymen. Harvard University analyzed their delivery system and concluded that just one in a million lunch boxes ever gets delivered to the wrong address. This is the story of that one lunchbox, and how it connects a lonely stranger in the dusk of his life with a young, neglected housewife trying to regain her husband’s attention with special lunches. When her husband doesn’t mention the new food she’s sending daily, she puts a note in the lunchbox for him, only to receive a reply from the stranger, whose appreciation for her food is great. Thus begins a correspondence and fantasy world which threatens to take over reality for both parties in this Indian romance that is a bright, easy- to-embrace crowd-pleaser basking in light humor and emotional smarts. In English, Hindi with subtitles.

MANOS SUCIAS – Thursday 3 pm. City Opera House and Friday 12 pm. Old Town Playhouse |2014 | Colombia, USA | NR | 82 min.

Forget what you know about Colombian drug trafficking movies. Executive produced by Spike Lee and shot entirely on location in the violent epicenter of Colombia’s drug trade, director Josef Kubota Wladyka’s airtight drama grabs you early on and doesn’t let go. We meet estranged brothers Jacobo and Delio, who have little in common: stern Jacobo is an experienced drug runner whose young son was murdered after he mouthed off to a paramilitary gang, while the uninitiated young Delio has an infant son at home and dreams of being a rapper. Reunited by coincidence and tasked with towing millions of dollars worth of cocaine behind a fishing boat to Panama along the dense jungle coastline, the brothers must come together to avoid certain death when the inevitable trouble arises. In Spanish with subtitles.

MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN (DAST-NEVESHTEHAA NEMISOOSAND) – Wednesday 3 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2013 | Iran | NR | 127 min.

Iranian cinema has experienced a renaissance in recent years—often shooting covertly, the country’s filmmakers are turning their country’s political drama into incredibly powerful cinema. “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” is one of the very best of these films. Writer-director Mohammad Rasoulof (“Iron Island,” TCFF ‘06, “Head Wind,” TCFF ‘08, “The White Meadows,” TCFF ‘11—can you tell we’re fans of his work?) follows both the government operatives assigned to terrorize, torture, and murder dissident writers and intellectuals, as well as the old men who will soon be their targets. The killers have problems of their own—one is a desperate father who needs the contract killing work to pay for his son’s operation. With the fraught mood (if not the adrenaline pace) of a thriller, Rasoulof has created a near perfect document on the horrors of censorship. In Persian with subtitles.

OMAR – Saturday 9 am. State Theatre | 2013 | Occupied Palestinian Territory | NR | 98 min.

In a divided city in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestine Territories, twenty-something Omar won’t let a separation wall or bullets fired by the Israeli Army keep him from his childhood friends Tarek and Amjad, or his high school love Nadja. Baker by day and resistance fighter by night, Omar and his friends hatch a plan to attack an Israeli soldier; in the aftermath, he is chased down, apprehended and tortured before being released back to his friends. As suspicions mount among his peers about his loyalty, Omar’s already-fractured life is torn further asunder. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, this gripping, action-packed drama from Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad (“Paradise Now,” TCFF ‘06) brings hard truths about life under occupation and the price of resistance into stark relief. In Arabic, Hebrew with subtitles.

THE PAST (LE PASSÉ) - Thursday 9 am. State Theatre |2013 | France, Iran, Italy | NR | 130 min.

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s followup to his Oscar winner “A Separation” once again proves the director’s mastery at crafting emotionally complex and intimate human dramas. Ahman leaves Tehran for Paris following a four-year separation from his estranged wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo of “The Artist”), returning at her behest to finalize their divorce so she can marry her new beau Samir. He finds a family in turmoil: Samir’s current wife is in a coma; Marie is newly pregnant; and Lucie, Marie’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage, resents her mother’s string of fleeting romances. Ahman’s presence in their lives throws their troubles into sharp relief as everyone realizes it’s not so easy to break free from the past. This Cannes Film Festival award winner is a powerful and nuanced masterpiece that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. In Persian, French with subtitles.

SNEAK PREVIEW: STATIONS OF THE CROSS (KREUZWEG) – Wednesday 9 pm. State Theatre and Sunday 9 pm. Miliken | 2014 | Germany, France | NR | 107 min.

As a pious Catholic in modern Germany, fourteen-year-old Maria won’t let anything get in the way of her devotion to her faith—even if it means being picked on at school and missing out on the social life the other kids around her get to enjoy. Told in 14 chapters mirroring the 14 stations of the cross (the stages of Christ’s condemnation to death), this film follows Maria as she takes on the impossibly heavy burden of expectations from heroverbearing mother and extremely strict priest. But her zealous approach to religion and desire to do the right thing leads her down a dangerous path of self-sacrifice. A carefully crafted and darkly comic arthouse masterpiece about the dangers of religious conservatism, this absorbing film from acclaimed director Dietrich Brüggemann took home Best Screenplay at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, and is at the top of the must-see list for this year’s Traverse City Film Festival. In German with subtitles.

PLAYING DEAD (JE FAIS LE MORT) – Friday 7pm. Bay Theatre and Saturday 9 pm. Lars Hockstad
2013 | France | NR | 104 min.
This witty, Agatha Christie-style whodunit stars Belgian-born François Damiens as a wisecracking, likeable lug of the Vince Vaughn variety. Damiens is divorced and broke, eeking out a living acting in ads for diarrhea medicine, but over 20 years ago, he won the coveted César award for Most Promising Actor. He’s talented—he just annoys everyone by turning each role into an elaborate method acting exercise. Then he lands a job in the French Alps playing the victims in a homicide reenactment (French courts use reenactments to test the plausibility of case facts). While working the new gig, he falls for the attractive, no-nonsense magistrate in charge, and stumbles into helping her solve the crime he’s there to reenact. This smart, frequently funny caper comedy is the complete package: great acting, beautiful scenery, and a playful score. In French with subtitles.

SNOWPIERCER – Wednesday 9 pm. Lars Hockstad, Saturday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat and Sunday 9 pm. State Theatre
2013 | South Korea | R | 125 min.
In the not-so-distant future, failed efforts to halt global warming have left the Earth frozen in a second ice age. Thanks to the vision of a benevolent billionaire, the last surviving members of the human race are confined to a state-of-the-art train that acts as a sort of Noah’s Ark, kept on a perpetually speeding journey around the globe. The train’s first class passengers enjoy all the luxuries of a lavish life; for thelower-class workers trapped in the rear of the train, things aren’t quite so rosy. Tired of being confined to the bottom caste, Curtis (Chris Evans) rallies his ragtag comrades to rebel against the ruling class, which is led by an evil prime minister tasked with maintaining the status quo (Tilda Swinton, in a scene-stealing role). One of the best sci-fi films in years, the first English-language film from Korean director Bong Joon-ho (“The Host,” TCFF ‘07) is a thrilling, action-packed dystopian vision. In English, French, Japanese, Korean with subtitles.

STILL LIFE – Wednesday 9 am. Bijou and Friday 9 pm. Miliken
2013 | UK, Italy | NR | 92 min.
Quiet, unassuming John May (Eddie Marsan, in a pitch-perfect performance) has held an unusual occupation for the past 20-odd years, tracking down the next of kin to those who have died alone. Meticulous to a fault, John’s care and attention to detail is deemed unnecessary in this age of efficiency and he finds himself next in line for downsizing. But before his inevitable departure, he pursues one final assignment: finding the relatives of his elderly neighbor Billy Stoke. When his journey to piece together Billy’s past takes him outside London, he is shaken by an encounter with a life that too closely mirrors his own solitary existence. But then hope comes when he finds an unexpected companion in Billy’s estranged daughter Kelly (“Downton Abbey” regular Joanne Froggatt). Winner of Best Director at the Venice Film Festival, “Still Life” is a poignant drama that serves as a reminder that the best moments of life are meant to be shared with others.

HE VOLCANO (EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL) – Thursday 9 pm. Lars Hockstad and Sunday 12 pm. State Theatre 2013 | Belgium, France | NR | 92 min.
From the team that brought you the TCFF ’10 favorite “Heartbreakers” and the TCFF ’12 sensation “The Intouchables” comes a zany and entertaining story of a bitterly divorced couple (Valerie Bonneton and French megastar Dany Boon) who inadvertently cross paths while traveling to Greece for their daughter’s wedding. As if sharing airspace on the same 747 isn’t bad enough, even though she’s in first-class, and he’s in coach, the eruption of a certain famously unpronounceable Icelandic volcano (Eyjafjallajokull, for inquiring minds) grounds their flight plans. So the polar opposites must swallow their pride and work together to make their way, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”-style, from Paris to Greece. It’s got irresistible chemistry, lively antics, scenic settings, and a raucously playful road-tripping premise—what more could you ask for in a great romantic comedy? In French with subtitles.
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DOCUMENTARIES

112 WEDDING – Friday 12 pm. City Opera House and Sunday 9 pm. Bijou by the Bay | 2014 | USA | NR | 95 min.

For the last two decades, Doug Block has supported his documentary filmmaking career by moonlighting as a wedding videographer. 112 Weddings later, he has amassed hundreds of hours of footage of couples on their big day when their love was new and energetic. But what are their marriages like years later? Who has kept the spark and who has lost it? Block revisits nine couples to see how their marriages are (or aren’t) working out, asking the difficult questions about what it takes to make a relationship work. From ecstatic celebrations to intimate and candid present-day interviews, “112 Weddings” explores love and the true meaning of commitment with curiosity, humor, and heart.

1971 - Wednesday 12 pm. City Opera House | 2014 | USA | NR | 80 min.

Joining the great genre of improbable heist movies is the true story of government protestors who used the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight at Madison Square Garden as cover to handily defeat J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI at the height of the Vietnam War. Meet the members of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, who used crowbars instead of computers to expose government records to the media in March, 1971. Retold by the participants, confessing on camera for the first time, and through archival footage combined with compelling reenactments, we see the fascinating parallels between Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and this small group of dedicated academic activists who exposed thousands of files from a regional FBI office.

AL HELM: MARTIN LUTHER KING IN PALESTINE – Thursday 3 pm. Milliken Auditorium and Sunday 3 pm. Bijou by the Bay | 2013 | USA | NR | 96 min.

Offering a fresh perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “Al Helm” (Arabic for “The Dream”) follows an African-American Christian gospel choir as they team up with a troupe from the Palestinian National Theater to perform a play about Martin Luther King, Jr., and spread the concept of equality through non-violence to the people of the West Bank. Filmmaker Connie Field captures the power of art to change the way people think as both the Americans and Palestinians find they have much to learn from each other in this unique cultural exchange, providing new insight into life in Palestine under occupation and how a young generation is changing the political conversation through non-violent acts of protest.

BENDING THE LIGHT - Sunday 12 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2014 | USA | NR | 60 min.

From renowned director and TCFF Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Michael Apted (“56 Up,” TCFF ’13) comes a revealing and marvelous look at the heart and science of image making. Taking you on a passionate journey, “Bending the Light” explores the divinely harmonious relationship between the artisans who craft camera lenses and the masters who use lenses to reflect humanity’s hopes, fears, and dreams. Whether peering into the infinite vastness of the solar system, freezing a beautiful moment in time, or creating indelible moving images that live within our hearts and minds, they paint with light in an attempt to create transcendent understanding. A must-see for anyone with an interest in the photographic arts, this poetic and soulful film will astound you with its breathtakingly beautiful imagery.

BRONX OBAMA - Friday 3 pm. City Opera House | 2013 | USA | NR | 92 min.

Louis Ortiz was an unemployed single father living in the Bronx when his fate changed for the better: after shaving off his goatee, people noticed he was a dead ringer for President Barack Obama. Capitalizing on his resemblance to the POTUS, Ortiz honed his Obama act with the help of a casting agent who manages a group of political impersonators (including Mitt Romney and a sleazy Bill Clinton), and hit the road in pursuit of an unlikely version of the American Dream. First time director Ryan Murdock follows Ortiz’s story with humor and heart, charting his transformation and the obstacles he overcomes alongside the changes taking place in America during Obama’s first two terms in office. Along the way, we discover something interesting about what it means to be someone you’re not.

THE CASE AGAINST 8 - Thursday 12 pm. City Opera House | 2014 | USA | NR | 109 min.

In 2008, the passing of Proposition 8 revoked marriage rights for same-sex couples in California just months after the state Supreme Court legalized it. Here’s your all-access pass behind the scenes of the five-year journey to overturn Proposition 8, a landmark legal battle over one of the most vital civil rights issues of our time. This rousing Sundance award winner by filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White follows history in the making from the very beginning of the battle to the climactic moment when two LGBT activist couples and their larger-than-life lawyers from opposite sides of the political spectrum (who had previously butted heads in the 2000 Bush v. Gore case) team up together to beat the right wing, in front of a right wing Supreme Court.

CASTING BY - Friday 9 am. Milliken Auditorium | 2012 | USA | NR | 89 min.

If you love the movies, you will love this documentary, end of story. A look into one of the most critical, most unsung, and most misunderstood roles in filmmaking, the amazing story of casting director Marion Dougherty takes center stage in this illuminating behind-the-scenes doc. An iconoclast who changed the face of Hollywood with her impeccable taste and incomparable instincts, she brought a different kind of actor into the movies, making choices based not on looks but rather on the ability to create compelling characters. Among her discoveries were James Dean, Al Pacino, and Dustin Hoffman. Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Jeff Bridges, and other filmmaking luminaries weigh in on the crucial role casting directors play in the creative process and the destiny-changing career-launching power they possess.

DANGEROUS ACTS STARRING THE UNSTABLE ELEMENTS OF BELARUS - Thursday 9 am. Bijou by the Bay | 2013 | Belarus | NR | 76 min.

Belarus is home to the last surviving dictatorship in Europe. Following the dubious reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko in 2010, a new voice of protest against the regime emerges in the form of the Belarus Free Theatre, a world-renowned performance group that defies the censors at home through underground performances. But as the resistance movement in the country gains steam on stage and in the streets, the government’s increased crackdown on dissenters means the troupe risks exile, imprisonment, or worse each time they perform. Director Madeleine Sackler captures a country fighting for historic change in this rousing documentary, a brave and provocative look at art as a weapon against oppression.

DINOSAUR 13 – Thursday 12 pm. State Theatre and Saturday 3 pm. Lars Hockstad Auditorium | 2014 | USA | PG | 95 min.

In the Badlands of South Dakota in the summer of 1990, a team of amateur paleontologists led by Peter Larson made the discovery of a lifetime: the world’s largest and most complete T. Rex fossil, which the team named “Sue” after the volunteer who first spotted the dinosaur. But Larson’s joy was short lived- an epic legal battle soon began over the rights to Sue, with Larson’s team, the US government, and Native American tribes each claiming ownership of the fossil. Director Todd Douglas Miller’s compelling documentary follows this stranger-than-fiction David vs. Goliath story over the course of a decade, as working class dreams are attacked by governmental and corporate powers.

DON’T LEAVE ME (NE ME QUITTE PAS) - Wednesday 9 am. Old Town Playhouse and Thursday 6 pm. City Opera House | 2013 | Belgium | NR | 107 min.

Give this film a chance and you’ll learn something new about men (the species), laugh yourself silly, and find your American sensibilities being assaulted in the most thought-provoking ways. It’s hard to believe this deadpan movie by two Dutch filmmakers is a documentary—it doesn’t seem like any filmmaker could get such intimate access into the life of a bitter yet impossibly likable man living in the forests of isolated southern Belgium, much less two such men who have pitch-perfect chemistry as they stumble through life drowning their sorrows in booze. An infectiously lighthearted portrait of alcoholic friends who want to commit suicide, “Don’t Leave Me” plays like an upbeat “Waiting for Godot” set to a bouncy rockabilly soundtrack; it’s the ultimate absurdist buddy comedy with brains. Do not miss this film.

FED UP - Wednesday 3:00 pm. Lars Hockstad | 2014 | USA | PG | 92 min.
Katie Couric narrates this surprising exposé of the food industry, offering a unique take on a story that, as she recalls, began many years ago as a small sidebar about increasing obesity among Americans. Now a huge story that she and her fellow TV journalists cover constantly, Couric and filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig set out to uncover the reasons why the next generations of American kids are likely to have shorter life spans than their parents, despite media attention, the public’s fascination with appearance, and government policies to combat childhood obesity. By following the battles of three obese children to lose weight, through interviews with top experts in the field, and by using sharp examination of data gathered over the course of 30 years, “Fed Up” aims to change the way you think about sugar and the way you eat.

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER - Saturday 12 pm. State Theatre and Sunday 9 am. Milliken Auditorium | 2013 | USA | NR | 83 min.

One of the year’s great films, “Finding Vivian Maier” tells the story of a working class woman who photographed life on the street as she saw it. A nanny by trade, Vivian Maier secretly held a passion for photography, leaving behind a legacy of over 100,000 photos that may have vanished into obscurity had they not caught the eye of amateur historian John Maloof (one of the film’s co-directors). Teaming up with filmmaker Charlie Siskel, Maloof sets out on a journey across New York, France, and Chicago to uncover the mysteries of one of the 20th century’s great unknown photographers.

A GOAT FOR A VOTE  – Saturday 3 pm. Bijou by the Bay | 2014 | Netherlands | NR | 50 min.

What does democracy look like through the eyes of a teenager in rural Kenya? This charming and enlightening documentary follows three students through their campaigns to become class president, which will not only earn them respect of their peers but could also be a stepping stone to greater things in Kenyan society. On the ballot are the popular and well-to-do Said, who writes a catchy rap song for his campaign; Harry, who tries to bribe his classmates with goat meat; and Magdalene, who rallies her fellow female students in an attempt to become the first girl president of her school. Expertly directed by filmmaker Jeroen van Velzen, “A Goat for a Vote” is a thoughtful and entertaining look at the democratic process.

HAPPY VALLEY - Friday 9 am. Bijou by the Bay | 2014 | USA | NR | 100 min.

For many of the citizens of State College, home to Penn State University, college football is a religion, and for four decades, Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno was their patron saint—until November 2011, when longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with over 40 counts of child sex abuse, shattering Paterno’s legacy under allegations that he turned a blind eye to immoral behavior. Director Amir Bar-Lev (“The Tillman Story,” TCFF ’10 and “12-12-12,” TCFF ‘14) delves beyond the public perception of the controversy to show how it affected lives in Penn State and the surrounding community, and asks bigger questions about how we choose our heroes and what happens when college football becomes a way of life.

THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY: THE STORY OF AARON SWARTZ - Thursday 3 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2014 | USA | NR | 105 min.

As a teenage programming prodigy, Aaron Swartz emerged on the tech scene at the tender age of 14 when he helped author the now-ubiquitous blogging technology RSS. Just a few short years later, he became a major voice for an open internet by helping to create the alternate-copy right platform Creative Commons, and co-founding Reddit. His unquenchable thirst for knowledge and passion for freedom of information set him on a path to become one of the pioneers of internet activism. But shortly after being prosecuted by the FBI for his efforts in making millions of academic articles publicly available, Swartz tragically took his life at the age of 26. Director Brian Knappenberger (We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists,”TCFF, ‘12) pays tribute to Swartz’s life in this timely, powerful documentary, a must-see for anyone invested in the future of a free and open internet.

IVORY TOWER - Wednesday 3 pm. Milliken Aud. and Sunday 9 am. Lars Hockstead Aud. | 2014 | USA | PG-13 | 97 min.

With college tuition fees skyrocketing, student loan debt passing the trillion dollar mark, and recent graduates struggling to find employment, where are the young adults of
today to turn for a worthwhile higher education? Filmmaker Andrew Rossi (“Page One: Inside the New York Times”) traverses the country to provide a panoramic view of edu cation in America during a period of monumental change, profiling traditional universities as well as online courses, free schools, and other alternatives to the standard model. A must-see for anyone with an interest in our country’s education system, “Ivory Tower” questions the increasingly outrageous costs of college education and the burden that business-driven university administrations place on our society.

LETTERS TO JACKIE: REMEMBERING PRESIDENT KENNEDY – Wednesday noon Milliken Aud. and Friday noon Bijou by the Bay | 2013 | USA | NR | 88 min.

Fifty years after the country was brought to its knees following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, “Letters to Jackie” pays timely tribute to the president’s life, revisiting America in the 60s and the enduring legacy of a beloved presidency. In the two months following the assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy received over 800,000 letters from average American citizens offering condolences to the First Lady and mourning the loss of a great leader. Oscar-winning filmmaker Bill Couturié artfully combines archival footage with Kennedy family home movies, set to vivid readings of the letters by an all-star cast of actors, to create a portrait of the hopes, dreams, and promise for a better future that Kennedy signified to many in our nation. Bring Kleenex.

LIFE ITSELF – Thursday 3 pm. State Theatre and Sunday noon City Opera House | 2014 | USA | NR | 112 min.

Told largely in his own words, Roger Ebert’s legendary life spent at the movies now has the big-screen treatment it so richly deserves. Combining the reminisces of family, friends,and the filmmakers whose careers he touched, “Life Itself” takes you from Ebert’s days as a college newspaperman, to his gin-soaked newsman era at the Sun-Times and life as a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and populist TV pundit, to regaining his voice online after losing it to cancer. Director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) was given considerable access to Ebert in the final months of his life, and while Ebert’s death looms large over the film, so does his unwavering passion for the movies, a love that inspired us all. Imbued with the same wit, honesty, and empathetic revelations his reviews were famous for, this is a movie of such devastatingly beautiful emotion, we can’t help but think he would have given it a thumbs up.

LOVE AND TERROR ON THE HOWLING PLAINS OF NOWHERE – Friday 9 pm. Bijou and Saturday 6 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2014 | USA | NR | 95 min.

In 2006, Dr. Steven Haataja had just settled into his new post as a math professor at the local college in the sleepy town of Chadron, population 5,600, in the far western plains of Nebraska. Later that year, he would disappear without a trace—until his body was discovered three months later, burned beyond recognition. The gruesome discovery sets the town reeling, with conspiracy theories running rampant and locals eager to weigh in with their suspicions. Following the lead of author Poe Ballantine—whose acclaimed memoir inspired the film—filmmaker Dave Jannetta smartly leads us through the “Twin Peaks”-like community of Chadron and the unsolved mystery of Haataja’s bizarre death, with morbid humor and a keen eye for eccentric characters.

MEET THE PATELS – Friday 6 pm. Lars Hockstead and Saturday 3 pm. at State Theater | 2014 | USA | PG | 88 min.

Fresh off a breakup that leaves his heart and head spinning, first-generation Indian-American Ravi Patel has had enough of contemporary courtship and starts to consider finding a wife the old-fashioned way—by enlisting the help of his matchmaking parents. As he embarks on a cross-country dating odyssey, Ravi’s sister joins him
to document the matrimonial conventions, awkward setups, and surprising twists along the way. Without a doubt one of the most laugh-out-loud and joyous documentaries we’ve seen this year, Ravi’s sweetly-meddling,advice-spouting, larger-than-life parents (who upon first arriving in the US landed in Houghton, MI) will delight you with their bighearted embrace. But behind its light tone, the film is not only a testament to the travails of modern love, but also a universal look at the struggle between upholding tradition and forging our own paths.

MISSION BLUE – Friday 6 pm. at Milliken and Sunday 3:30 pm. at Lars Hockstead | 2014 | USA | G | 95 min.

Majestic underwater photography and an essential environmental message make this compelling portrait of a true American pioneer one of the most enlightening, stunning,
and inspiring documentaries we’ve seen this year. Dr. Sylvia Earle is a living legend; as an oceanographer, explorer, and eco-activist, she broke barriers as a scientist in a community that had a hard time seeing her as more than a pretty girl in a swim suit. Feeling most at home underwater, Earle’s exuberant exploration of the deep seas has led to unprecedented discoveries. And now nearing 80 years old, with 7,000+ hours spent underwater, Earle is one of the foremost advocates for our imperiled oceans, whose poor conditions portend potentially disastrous implications for human life. Join Dr. Earle on her globetrotting mission to create “Hope Spots” protected from human interference, and her infectious passion will leap off the screen and into your heart.

MITT – Wednesday 9 am. State Theatre and Sunday 6 pm. at Bijou | 2014 | USA | NR | 92 min.

Allowed unprecedented access to Michigan-native Mitt Romney on the campaign trail—and complete creative control over the resulting documentary, provided no
footage was released until after the 2012 presidential election—filmmaker Greg Whiteley delivers an amazingly candid portrait of the life of a major presidential hopeful. With a fly-on-the-wall approach, this fascinating documentary downplays the politics in favor of showing the man behind the public figure, capturing small moments between Romney and his close-knit family with home movie-like intimacy over the course of six years and two failed campaigns—from his besting at the primaries by John McCain in 2008 to the eventual loss to Barack Obama in 2012. Both revelatory and humanizing, this absorbing documentary will show you Mitt in a whole new light.

THE NEWBURGH STING – Thursday noon at Bijou | 2014 | USA | NR | 80 min.

If you like outrageously unbelievable true stories, documented by seemingly irrefutable footage, this movie will blow your mind. In 2009, a Pakistani FBI informant posing as a rich business man secretly recorded hours of incriminating conversations in his BMW and Mercedes with four black Muslim men from poverty-stricken Newburgh, as he helped coerce them into bombing synagogues and a National Guard Air Base by promising a big payday. Using shocking FBI surveillance footage, directors David Heilbroner and Kate Davis carefully reconstruct the evidence that points increasingly to a government set-up, mounting a strong counter-argument against the media’s portrayal of the men as cold, calculating terrorists. A stunning exposé on the lengths the American government will go in the name of the “War on Terror,” “The Newburgh Sting” is an impassioned look at a perceived miscarriage of justice.

RICH HILL – Saturday 3 pm. City Opera House and Sunday 3 pm. at Old Town Playhouse | 2014 | USA | NR | 91 min.

Winner of the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, “Rich Hill” is a quintessential portrait of America in 2014 told through the eyes of three teenage boys in Rich Hill, MO—a town with a population of just under 1,400 and a poverty rate of 19%; a place like many others in our country where the middle class has been destroyed and the working class is fighting to stay above the poverty line. Through the skillful and sensitive lenses of filmmaking cousins Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palmero, we are introduced to the lives of Harley, Andrew, and Appachey, and the stubborn optimism with which they navigate the difficult road through adolescence and bravely confront their circumstances. “Rich Hill” is truly stunning achievement of cinema and an ode to the resilient spirit that is alive and well in rural America, in spite of grim economic conditions.

THE OVERNIGHTERS – Saturday noon Milliken and Sunday 3 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2013 | USA | NR | 100 min.

The limits of “Love Thy Neighbor” and the American Dream are tested in this superior, richly layered, searingly American documentary about a small town turned boomtown after hydraulic fracturing uncovers a rich oil field in North Dakota. Tens of thousands of unemployed men descend on the state, only to find slim work prospects and nowhere to sleep. Meanwhile, in the nearby small town of Williston, Pastor Reinke believes it is his duty to turn his Lutheran Church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center for the migrants each night. Much of the community opposes his approach, and even want to deny the homeless any services. Filmmaker Jesse Moss spent two years embedded in Williston to make this devastating masterpiece, complete with a twist ending you probably won’t see coming.

POINT AND SHOOT – Wednesday noon Bijou | 2014 | USA | NR | 83 min.

This year’s winner of the award for Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, “Point and Shoot” tells the engrossing story of Matthew VanDyke, a timid young American with OCD who traveled across the Middle East for a self-described “crash course in manhood,” filming every step of the way. His journey eventually led him to Libya, where he became perhaps the most unlikely member of the revolution against Gadhafi. Camera in one hand, gun in the other, Matthew captured the fight on the front lines—until being taken prisoner and held in solitary confinement for six months. A remarkably gifted storyteller, director Marshall Curry (“If a Tree Falls,” winner of the Founders Award for Best Documentary at TCFF ‘11) skillfully combines VanDyke’s footage with interviews that offer insight into his personal transformation, and examine ideas of masculinity and what drives people to take part in war.

PRINT THE LEGEND – Friday 6 pm. Bijou | 2014 | USA | NR | 100 min.

The emerging field of 3D printing has been described as “the next Industrial Revolution;” a uniquely disruptive technology that is poised to change the world’s commerce by enabling people to manufacture objects in their homes. This engrossing documentary follows two companies vying for position on the cusp of history as they race to bring 3D printing to the home user, with everything from the print-your-own-gun controversy to the ability to print human organs. Filmmakers Luis Lopez and Clay Tweel offer an early behind-the-scenes look at this fascinating emerging technology, capturing a compelling tale about what it takes to live the American Dream in the modern world.

RETURN TO HOMS – Wednesday 9 pm. Bijou | 2013 | Germany, Syria | NR | 87 min.

In the western Syria city of Homs lives Basset, a charismatic, 19-year-old goalkeeper for the Syrian national soccer team and talented singer/songwriter. His friend
Ossama, a 24-year-old media activist and pacifist, works with Basset for peaceful libration from their country’s brutal regime. For two years starting in 2011, filmmaker
Talal Derki followed the two friends as they navigated lively protest parties, panicking citizens on the run, grim battles in a deserted city, and rising numbers of fallen
loved ones, while their beloved home city crumbled around them. Meanwhile, they turn from peaceful protest to become rebel insurgents. With no narration or
soundtrack other than Basset’s songs, Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner “Return to Homs” is a shockingly visceral look at the excitement of protest, the painful
dilemma of duty, and, most of all, the horror of war. In Arabic with subtitles.

SLOW FOOD STORY – Wednesday 6 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2013 | Ireland, Italy | NR | 74 min.

The tale of a revolution more than 25 years in the making, “Slow Food Story” charts the titular anti-fast food movement led by Carlo Petrini from its inception in 1986, spurred by the opening of a McDonald’s in the heart of historic Rome, to its current global status with members in over 150 countries. This charming documentary follows the slow food movement’s growth under the charismatic leadership of Petrini from his picturesque hometown in Piedmont, Italy, as his lively and vibrant brand of environmental activism earns the cause high-profile supporters, including Alice Waters and Michael Pollen. Sure to speak to the hearts, minds, and stomachs of Michigan foodies, and anyone with a passion for eating well. In Italian with subtitles.

RUNNING FROM CRAZY – Wednesday 3 pm. Bijou by the Bay | 2013 | USA | NR | 100 min.

Behind the literary prowess at the heart of Ernest Hemingway’s legacy also lies the “terrible curse” of suicide that continues to haunt the family to this day. Mariel Hemingway, Ernest’s granddaughter, looks back on the more than seven suicides in her immediate family, with special attention paid to the untimely death of her supermodel sister Margaux. Revealing hidden family secrets, Mariel strives to understand how, in spite of having experienced depression and suicidal thoughts firsthand,
she can keep herself and her daughters from surrendering to the same fate. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County USA”) crafts an open-hearted and wise film that uses home movies and rare archival footage to offer unique insights into a famously troubled family, as Mariel breaks down taboos
about mental health issues while advocating for suicide prevention.

SILENCED – Thursday 6 pm. Old Town Playhouse | 2014 | USA | NR | 103 min.

”I’m fighting to have my September 10 country back,” says Jesselyn Radack, one of the three government whistleblowers to speak out for the first time in this
film by Academy Award-nominee James Spione. Muscled out of the Justice Department after releasing emails regarding John Walker Lindh, Radack now works on
whistleblower cases like those of Thomas Drake, who exposed illegal spying on American citizens, and John Kiriakou, the first CIA agent to publicly confirm the use of torture in terrorism interrogations. Only 11 Americans have ever been charged under the Espionage Act of 1917; eight of those charges have been filed since President Obama took office. Particularly resonant in the post-Snowden era, “Silenced” is an impassioned defense of whistleblowers as an essential part of a healthy democracy.

SUPERMENSCH: THE LEGEND OF SHEP GORDON – Thursday 9 pm. Boat, Saturday 3 pm Milliken Auditorium and Sunday 6 pm. City Opera House | 2013 | USA | R | 84 min.

Mike Myers’ directorial debut is a fascinating portrait of one of the most well-known managers in Hollywood, yet a man few outside show business know—the legendary Shep Gordon. He’s managed great bands, produced movies, and even invented the “celebrity chef.” Myers’ documentary is a fascinating look at both the wheeling and dealing of the entertainment industry and the concept of what constitutes a friend or mentor in show business. You’ll especially like the part covering his time in Detroit, including the story of how Detroit made Alice Cooper famous. Told by his friends Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Willie Nelson, Anne Murray, Emeril Lagasse, and Steven Tyler, Gordon’s storied career is by turns funny, revealing, shocking, and, when covering his recent years in Hawaii, moving and profound.

TO BE TAKEI – Wednesday 9 pm. Boat and Thursday 9 pm. Milliken Auditorium | 2014 | USA | NR | 90 min.

“Star Trek” icon. LGBT activist. Internet sensation. The remarkable life and career of George Takei is chronicled in this crowd-pleasing documentary of camp and conviction. Boldly going from stock player to beloved pop culture figure and gay rights advocate, today Takei is perhaps best known not for his groundbreaking work as Sulu on “Star Trek,” but for regaling his millions of social media followers with his candor and wicked wit. With a contagious optimism, despite a childhood spent in WWII Japanese-American internment camps, Takei’s inspiring second act also finds him and his husband Brad (their playful bickering is a sitcom waiting to happen) as the unlikely poster couple for marriage equality. Touching and hilarious, Takei’s tireless crusade for equal rights is an exhilarating quest for liberty and love.

TWO RAGING GRANNIES – Saturday noon City Opera House and Sunday 6 pm. Milliken Auditorium | 2013 | Denmark, Italy, Norway | NR | 78 min.

Who would have thought that one of the best explanations of modern day capitalism would come from two women who grew up during the Great Depression? Armed with
curious minds, common sense, and the audacity to ask straightforward questions, Shirley (90) and Hinda (84) set out on their scooters to journey across the USA from
Seattle to Wall Street, aiming to figure out how we got into the current financial crisis and just how messed up our economy really is. With humor, heart, and a fair amount of friendly bickering, “Two Raging Grannies” follows their search for answers (in plain English!) as they meet everyone from economists to homeless people to investment bankers, asking whether our current model of perpetual economic growth is sustainable.

THE UNKNOWN KNOWN – Saturday 9 am. Bijou by the Bay | 2013 | USA | PG-13 | 102 min.

With a typically unconventional approach, Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris offers a thoroughly fascinating look at the life of Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush who left a lasting legacy as the principal architect of the Iraq War. Comprised largely of extended interviews with Rumsfeld himself, “The Unknown Known” charts Rumsfeld’s long history in Washington, from his roles as ambassador under Nixon and Secretary of State under Ford to his return to politics during
the Bush years, allowing Rumsfeld to explain his decisions and philosophies. The result is less a political commentary than it is an examination of the dual-edged power of language, which can be used as a tool for diplomacy or for evil.

VIRUNGA – Thursday noon Milliken Auditorium and Friday 3 pm. Bijou by the Bay | 2014 | UK | NR | 97 min.

The home to the world’s only remaining population of wild mountain gorillas lies in Virunga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site deep in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this most precious of places, it’s no surprise that corruption and greed threaten destruction and death, as many forces vie for control over the lucrative natural resources underground. The last line of defense against these devastating forces is a group of fiercely dedicated park rangers and journalists who stand guard over the park and its inhabitants, wielding guns, hidden cameras, and the mighty pen to protect the park’s precious and delicate ecosystem. Director Orlando von Einsiedel shows us the park when Congo’s largest rebel group declares war on the government, just one of the dangers posed by the ongoing political and environmental crisis in Congo. In English, French, and Swahili with subtitles.

WALKING UNDER WATER – Thursday 9 am. Milliken Auditorium | 2014 | Germany, Poland, UK | NR | 76 min.

Some of the most beautiful cinematography ever to hit TCFF screens awaits you in this remarkable portrait of an endearing uncle and his nephew, who live in a culture so foreign to us that it’s both enlightening and bewildering to enter their world. Alexan (the uncle) happens to be the only remaining Badjao compressor diver on Mabul Island near Borneo—and as we find out, there’s more than one reason why he’s the last of his kind. As his nephew Sari struggles to choose between his uncle’s traditional life at harmony with the sea and working in the nearby resort, you’ll find it hard to believe that anyone ever made a living this way. Meanwhile, back in his home perched on the edge of the ocean, Alexan’s wife is a whole other kettle of amusing trouble. Made to be viewed on the big screen with contemplative moments and deep thoughts throughout, “Walking Under Water” is a unique opportunity to go someplace beautiful and extremely “other.” In Badjao with subtitles.

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FREE MOVIES AT THE BUZZ

10%: WHAT MAKES A HERO? – Friday 3 pm. Buzz | 2013 | Germany, Israel, South Africa, USA, Congo | NR | 88 min.

What makes a hero? What compels someone to stand up for what’s right, to defy social pressures and fight for one’s beliefs? Award-winning director Yoav Shamir (“Defamation,” TCFF ‘09) sets off on a quest in pursuit of the elusive “hero gene” that takes him around the globe, from his home in Israel where activists stand up against the occupation of Palestine; to Congo where primatologists study social structures in bonobos; and on to New York where a “subway hero” risked his life to save someone who fell on the tracks. With a fearless and wryly playful style, Shamir’s film is a fascinating look at morality that will challenge your preconceived notions of heroism. In
Hebrew with subtitl
es.

12-12-12 – Wednesday 6 pm Buzz | 2013 | USA | R | 105 min.

This year’s great music doc gives an all-access pass to the star-studded 12-12-12 benefit concert at Madison Square Garden, featuring performances by a who’s who of the last half-century of rock and pop music, including Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, and more. Set against the backdrop of Hurricane Sandy’s devastating effects on New York City and ongoing recovery efforts, directors Amir Bar-Lev (“The Tillman Story,” TCFF ‘10) and Charlie Lightning mix energetic performance footage with casually hilarious candid moments from backstage in this expertly made concert doc.

FISHTAIL – Thursday 9 pm. Friday 6 pm. and Sunday 6 pm. Buzz | 2014 | USA | NR | 61 min.

The great Harry Dean Stanton narrates Andrew Renzi’s poignant glimpse into the life of modern-day cowboys as they go about their business on Montana’s Fishtail Basin Ranch during calving season. The film’s western pacing allows us to consider Walt Whitman’s take on the American soul and other great passages about what makes us tick, while watching the quiet beauty of life on the edge of wilderness, and the routines of the strong, rugged, soft spoken men who make a living there. The campfires and games with children, stunning panoramas and details of the business of documenting medication administration—the pieces of this day-in-the-life film, combined with a beautiful score and some of the greatest prose ever written about the American West, add up to something unforgettable.

GOOD DRIVER SMETANA – Wednesday 9 am. Buzz | 2013 | Czech Republic | NR | 77 min.

We’re excited to offer the latest effort from a pair of filmmakers who were part of our very first festival. The deft satirical wit and impassionaed muckraking of Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda (“Czech Dream,” TCFF ‘05 and “Czech Peace,” TCFF ‘10) returns to the TCFF with the story of Roman Smetana, a regular-Josef of a bus driver who takes on the injustice and corruption infecting Czech politics armed only with a permanent marker. The small act of civil disobedience of drawing antennae on the heads of election posters and labeling the politicians as liars and thieves incites an unexpected reaction after a colleague turns him in for defacing private property. Refusing to complete part of his sentence, Smetana becomes an unlikely political folk hero who inspires both the public and the filmmakers themselves to take up the paint and pen in his absence. In Czech with subtitles.

THE HAND THAT FEEDS – Friday noon and Saturday 3 pm Buzz | 2014 | USA | NR | 88 min.

Across the country, undocumented immigrant workers toil in unsafe conditions and face abusive managers for sub-minimum wage pay. This rousing documentary follows a group of workers at a bakery in New York’s Upper East Side who banded together and stood up to their employers, risking deportation and their livelihoods to fight for fair treatment. Led by sandwich maker Mahoma López, the workers teamed up with activists, Occupy Wall Street protestors and other groups sympathetic to their cause, working to persevere over the course of a year filled with lockouts, picket lines, betrayals, and legal battles. An engrossing saga of a courageous fight for equality, “The Hand That Feeds” is one of the year’s great David vs. Goliath stories. In English, Spanish with subtitles.

LA MAISON DE LA RADIO – Wednesday 9 pm Buzz | 2013 | France, Japan | NR | 99 min.

French documentary master Nicolas Philibert’s latest film is an engrossing look at the perpetually bustling Paris headquarters of Radio France (the Gaelic equivalent of NPR), from the crack of dawn through the last late-night sign off. Covering all types of content from political reports to pop-culture commentaries, the film reveals the dedicated effort that goes into every minute of programing and all the faces previously left only to the imagination. Capturing the rich spectrum of cultural offerings broadcasted daily by the producers, guests, journalists, and show hosts whose work reaches thousands of ears every day, “La maison de la radio” takes us on a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a cultural institution. In French with subtitles.

IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY? – Friday 9 am. at Buzz | 2013 | USA | NR | 88 min.

Part documentary and part dazzling journey of cinematic expression, director Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) sits down with esteemed and controversial linguist, philosopher, and political commentator Noam Chomsky for a series of wide-ranging conversations about science and philosophy that delve far into the recesses of the human mind. Gondry presents a visual spectacle by pairing colorful, illustrative drawings with Chomsky’s complex ideas centered around his theory on the emergence of language. This movie is like a private session with the most brilliant professor you’ve ever dreamed of meeting, complete with a visionary artist to “interpret.” The result is a feast for both the eyes and the mind that explores the very nature of how we learn and think.

KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON – Thursday 6 pm. and Saturday noon Buzz | 2014 | USA | NR | 86 min.

The indomitable spirit of jazz legend Clark Terry transcends the music biopic genre, creating an unquestionably special film that is pure heart and soul. A talented musician who played alongside Duke Ellington and Count Basie, Terry found his greatest joy not as one of the most celebrated trumpeters in music history, but rather as a teacher whose students include Miles Davis and mega-producer Quincy Jones. His impact on music education is incalculable. Now age 93, facing declining health and loss of vision, Terry’s enduring passion for mentoring the next generation of musicians lives on in the close bond he forms with an exceptional up-and-coming pianist who also happens to be blind. A toe-tapping crowd pleaser that never misses a beat, this moving look at a great man and the teacher-student relationship is a vibrant celebration of life and music. Winner of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award.

THE LAB – Sunday 3 pm. Buzz | 2013 | Israel | NR | 60 min.

Over the past decade, with conflict escalating throughout the Middle East, enterprising Israeli arms companies have grown exponentially on business generated by their homeland’s ongoing conflict with Palestine; they now rank among the biggest weapons manufacturers in the world, selling tools of destruction indiscriminately to countries and regimes around the globe. Israeli filmmaker Yotam Feldman interviews key players from the past and present of the arms industry, and their testimonies reveal chilling stories of weapons testing on Palestinian communities in the name of advancing military technology and profits. This brave documentary turns a critical lens on the lucrative business of war and occupation, which has become an indispensable part of Israel’s growing economy and political capital. In Hebrew with subtitles.

WEB JUNKIE – Thursday 9 am. buzz | 2013 | Israel, USA | NR | 74 min.

In China, the government has dubbed “internet addiction” as the new number one public health concern among teenagers. To combat this perceived plague among modern youth, they open the world’s first internet rehab center in a prison-like building outside of Beijing—one of 400 planned to open across the country. Directors Shosh Shlam (“Good Garbage,” TCFF ‘13) and Hilla Medalia’s eye-opening documentary focuses on 16-year-old Hope and his time in and out of the detox center, from his immersion in fantasy games and massive online communities to the bizarre treatments offered as a cure. “Web Junkie” offers a fascinating window into the rapidly-changing cultural landscape of modern China and the generational gap between those in power and the youth upon whom the country’s hopes are pinned. In English, Chinese with subtitles.

THE EDUKATORS (DIE FETTEN JAHRE SIND VORBEI) – Sunday noon Buzz | 2004 | Austria, Germany | R | 130 min.

Winner of the Founders Grand Prize at the inaugural Traverse City Film Festival, the best German film of 2004 (and a Palme d’Or nominee at the Cannes Film Festival) follows a group of twenty-somethings who have had enough of demonstrations and believe it’s time to send a different kind of political and social message: “What you own, someone once said, one day will own you.” They form a clandestine gang called The Edukators and break into the homes of the rich, rearrange their furniture, and leave them a message about their greedy ways. “Your days of plenty are numbered.” But things go awry as sexual attraction intrudes, and a kidnapped CEO upsets their master plan. Tense, evocative, and emotional, it’s one of the smartest thrillers ever shown at the festival. In German with subtitles.

MEN AT WORK (KARGARAN MASHGHOOLE KARAND) – Thursday 3 pm Buzz | 2006 | Iran | NR | 75 min.

Four men from Tehran are on their way to the mountains for a weekend ski trip. As they round a curve, they encounter a boulder that sits on the edge of a cliff. Together they decide that the boulder must be pushed off that cliff. And, for the next 80 minutes, that’s what we see them try to do in this funny, poignant allegory by the acclaimed Iranian director Mani Haghighi. No matter what they try to do, the rock won’t budge. And neither will they. This is a great, small film that has many big things to say, and it won the Founders Award at the second annual Traverse City Film Festival. In Persian with subtitles.

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME and WEST BANK STORY – Wednesday noon Buzz

  • PLEASE VOTE FOR ME | 2007 | China, Denmark, South Africa | NR | 58 min. A charming look at contemporary Chinese culture through the lens of a third-grade classroom, “Please Vote for Me” follows a small-scale experiment with democracy in the world’s largest Communist country. Three candidates (all of them eight years old) run for the position of Class Monitor and learn what it takes to run a successful campaign.In Mandarin with subtitles.
  • WEST BANK STORY | 2005 | USA | NR | 21 min. Highlighted by terrific musical numbers (including a parody of the finger-snapping gangs in “West Side Story”), this wacky musical comedy tells the story of forbidden love between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian woman. Their romantic interests are blocked by their families, who own rival fast food restaurants (Hummus Hut and Kosher King) and are constantly at odds.

PROFIT MOTIVE AND THE WHISPERING WIND – Wednesday 3 pm Buzz | 2007 | USA | NR | 58 min.

Inspired by historian Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” filmmaker John Gianvito creates a portrait of American history by documenting grave sites and monuments that commemorate our nation’s activist heroes. A mesmerizing experimental documentary, “Profit motive and the whispering wind” offers a unique, minimalist travelogue through our nation’s past, taking stops to pay respects to figures like Cèsar Chàvez, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mother Jones, and Malcolm X, as well as some lesser-known activists. This perfectly paced, elegiac film stands as a poetic testament to the fallen radicals who helped shape our nation. Winner of the National Society of Film Critics’ Best Experimental Film Award, this film was on many Best 10 Films of the Year lists, including Cahiers du Cinema and Film Comment.

TROUBLED WATER (DEUSYNLIGE) – Friday 9 pm Buzz | 2008 | Germany, Norway, Sweden | NR | 115 min.

Remembered as one of the most extraordinary opening nights in festival history, “Troubled Water” is so beautifully made, so perfectly conceived and executed, that it fills you with joy just to behold it. Director Erik Poppe’s amazing film follows a young man who has just been released from prison after serving eight years for a terrible crime. A gifted organist, Jan is on a quiet path to redemption, playing in a church and even winning the heart of the church’s pastor and her young son. But he is soon forced to confront his past when a woman whose life has been forever scarred by his actions visits the church with her class. Poppe masterfully structures a dual narrative, telling the story from the perspective of both the woman and the organist. We cannot think of a better film to represent the fifth year of our festival than this intense drama about forgiveness, redemption, and the permanency of the decisions we make. In Danish, Norwegian with subtitles.

CASTAWAY ON THE MOON (KIMSSI PYORYUGI) – Sunday 9 pm. Buzz | 2009 | South Korea | NR | 116 min.

With an impeccable eye for composition and a cleverly crafted script, director Lee Hey-jun’s masterwork was the must-see film at the 2010 festival. Driven to despair by life’s failures, Kim aims to end it all by leaping off a bridge into Seoul’s Han River. But he can’t even get suicide right, and ends up washed ashore on an island in the middle of the river, the city skyline in sight but tantalizingly out of reach. Meanwhile, in a high rise on the banks of the river, the zoom lens of a nerdy shut-in who experiences life solely via the internet happens upon Kim one day while she is taking pictures of the city. The two isolated misfits discover the joy of less-than-instant messaging through notes left in bottles and messages scrawled in the sand. This romantic comedy about two of the most sympathetic oddball characters ever to grace the silver screen will move you in ways you haven’t felt at the movies in years. In English, Korean with subtitles.

FACE TO FACE – Sunday 9 am. Buzz | 2011 | Australia | NR | 89 min.

Adapted from fellow Aussie David Williamson’s play of the same name, this smartly acted indie drama from director Michael Rymer (“Angel Baby”), who traveled from Australia to join us here in Traverse City, follows a group of 10 people in a “community conference” (an Australian conflict resolution technique) to determine the fate of Wayne, a violent youth who smashed his boss’ car in a fit of anger after being laid off. But the group, which includes some of Wayne’s coworkers, can’t agree on how to handle his case as each becomes increasingly complicit in the crime. Relying on strong performances from each member of its ensemble, this finely wrought, award-winning drama will draw you in like “12 Angry Men,” and will astonish most every American.

5 BROKEN CAMERAS – Thursday noon Buzz | 2011 | France, Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territory | NR | 90 min.

We’ll never forget having Emad Burnat and his family here in Traverse City for sold-out screenings that helped launch the film’s successful run to an Oscar nomination bid. When Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat purchased a video camera to record the birth of his son Jibreel, the joyous family moment coincided with the invasion of Israeli bulldozers set to make way for Jewish colonists. Burnat joined in his town’s peaceful resistance against the advancing settlers, documenting his involvement with the five titular cameras that became casualties of the ongoing border conflict, smashed or shot over the course of five years of harrowing demonstrations. The resulting footage, which Burnat reconstructed collaboratively with Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, presents a microcosm of an international tragedy reframed through the lenses of one family’s
experience. A brilliant, wrenching, devastating film, not to be missed. In Arabic, Hebrew with subtitles.

THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN – Saturday 6 pm. Buzz | 2012 | Belgium, Netherlands | NR | 100 min.

Each year we see a couple of films that touch us in a way that will never let us go, and in 2012 it was this Belgian tale, the Berlin Film Festival Audience Award winner, which won our hearts and minds—and haunts us still. It’s the story of the glorious, intense love between Elise and Didier, two wild and passionate people who discover that they fit perfectly together, until circumstances beyond their control change everything. Framed around a remarkable bluegrass soundtrack and several performances by Didier’s band, “The Broken Circle Breakdown” will make you laugh and cry, and will wash you in the power of grand love. In Dutch with subtitles.
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CENTERPIECE SCREENING

CALVARY - Friday 6 pm. State Theatre | 2014 | Ireland | NR | 100 min.

From the darkness of the church confessional, an anonymous voice reveals the torment he suffered in his youth at the hands of a serially abusive priest. He promises Father Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) that the Father will be martyred just up the beach the following Sunday to pay for his tormentor’s sins. So begins director John Michael McDonagh’s follow up to “The Guard” (TCFF ‘11), a mordantly comic who’s-gonna-do-it set in a seaside Irish village. The tough-minded, erudite priest has a week to settle his affairs, or change the murderer’s mind. Father Lavelle believes he knows which of his combative black sheep threatened him, even if we do not: is it the supercilious squire, the sad-sack butcher, the baleful publican? Filled with sparkling wit, a deep love of language, a sharp sense of place, and rapid-fire repartee, “Calvary” is a must-see for serious film lovers.

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CLOSING NIGHT

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT - Sunday 6 pm. State Theatre |2014 | USA | PG-13 | 100 min.

Woody Allen returns to the realm of fizzy, funny, and fine romantic farce in this sparking example of why he remains America’s preeminent comedic auteur. In the French Riviera at the height of the roaring 20s, a deliciously delirious battle of wit and wills unfolds as staunch skeptic Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) is sent on a mission to the Côte d’Azur mansion of the Catledge family to debunk a beguiling young medium (Emma Stone). But following a series of infinitely charming and exceedingly magical events, the man once steadfast in his belief that life is dull begins to change. Perhaps, he thinks, when it comes to matters of the heart, there are some things you just can’t possibly know for certain. Firth and Stone are an absolute delight to behold, and their glistening chemistry anchors a star-studded ensemble cast featuring Jacki Weaver, Hamish Linklater, and Marcia Gay Harden, all of which is sure to make for an utterly unforgettable closing night gala.

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EXPERIMENTAL FILMS

FOCUS ON INFINITY – Wednesday 6 pm. Dutmers Theater and Saturday 12 pm. Dutmers Theater |2014 | Austria | NR | 80 min.

Take a cinematic journey in pursuit of the infinite where you’ll encounter men and machines dedicated to exploring the origin of the cosmos and our existence. Enormous telescopes in the desert, supercomputers, gigantic particle accelerators—no effort is too great to satisfy the human thirst for knowledge, to finally understand the secret of infinity. We visit the abandoned “nitrate town” of Pisagua, the ancient Atacama Giant geoglyph, the massive ALMA radio telescope project, Area 51 military base in Nevada, the Cosmic Ray Division lab in Armenia, and large-scale astronomy projects in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. We listen to interviews with leading astronomers, physicists, even the emeritus director from the Vatican Observatory, who present a range of theories about the mysterious cosmos. Meanwhile, Turkish physicist and writer Asli Erdogan contemplates the irony inherent in our obsessive search to know why we are here. Where do we come from, what are we, and where do we go?

THE FORGOTTEN SPACE 2010 –  Thursday 6 pm. Dutmers Theater and Sunday 12 pm. at Dutmers Theater | Austria | PG | 113 min

Ninety percent of the world’s goods are exchanged through the global shipping trade, out of sight and out of mind on the forgotten spaces of the sea. Filmmakers Allan Sekula and Noël Burch posit that the sea is capitalism’s global trading floor writ large in this wide-ranging essay documentary, which follows a very American invention from the 1950s, the cargo container, aboard ships, barges, trains, and trucks as it covers the planet. We meet the people who run the global transport system—workers, engineers, planners, politicians; the villagers in Holland and Belgium who are forced to give up their land; truck drivers in Los Angeles being paid less than minimum wage; seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe; and factory workers in China, whose low wages are key to the larger puzzle.

KARPOTROTTER - Thursday 9 pm. Dutmers Theater, Friday 6 pm. Dutmers Theater and Sunday 3 pm. Dutmers Theater | 2014 | Slovenia | NR | 50 min.

In 1970, at the peak of the Yugoslavian “Black Wave,” a young filmmaker named Karpo Godina took a trip through the flat hinterland of Vojvodina with his camera. Much of the resulting road film has been lost to time, but fortunately for experimental film lovers everywhere, filmmaker Matjaz Ivanisin saved the few original fragments left of the film, and 40 years later took his own camera on a modern-day journey retracing Godina’s original path. He talked to people Godina met during his travels, recording their memories, their progeny, and their contemporary way of life. The resulting film is richly multi-layered, with period folk music augmenting its meditation on the local village culture and inhabitants of five villages in what was once rural Yugoslavia.

PURGATORIO: A JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF THE BORDER (PURGATORIO: VIAJE AL CORAZÓN… - Wednesday 3 pm., Thursday 12 pm., Friday 9 pm. and Saturday 9 pm. at Dutmers Theater | 2013 | Mexico | NR | 80 min.
Winner of the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary at this year’s Ann Arbor Film Festival, “Purgatorio” captures the brutal beauty of the border and the people caught in its spell, presenting a stunning mosaic of compelling characters and broken landscapes. Rodrigo Reyes’ eye-opening documentary offers a thoughtful portrait of the US-Mexico border with coroners, dog-catchers, police, border-crossers, and others on both sides, tying disparate stories together through stunning imagery that depicts the border as an almost mythic place. Concerned mainly with the human implications of defining and enforcing a line between two nations, “Purgatorio” is a searing, horrifying, at times starkly haunting, and dream-like documentary that reimagines the border as a surreal place where spellbound residents are stuck between perception and reality.

SHORT EXPERIMENTAL FILMS -Thursday 3 pm., Friday 3 pm. and Sunday 6 pm. at Dutmers Theater | Program length: 110 min.

The experimental films that moved us most this year have been packed into this rich, deep collection. “Single Stream” takes us into the heart of a Boston recycling facility where hundreds of tons of refuse are sorted daily; “BIRDS” explores the life of birds in urban habitats; a two and a half year old boy revels in all things tiny and huge on and around a farm in “Strawberries in the Summertime;” and in “Mystery,” they say that if you put your ear to the back of his neck, you can hear the Virgin speak.

SHORTS FROM THE ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL - Wednesday 9 pm. and Saturday 3 pm. at Dutmers Theater | Program length: 71 min.
We tip our hats to a great Michigan film festival to the south—the venerable Ann Arbor Film Festival, now in its 52nd year. Some of the finest experimental films in the world screen at AAFF, and we’ve chosen our favorites to play in this not-to-be-missed program. Take a walk through Berlin in “Der Spaziergang;” trawl for sand deep in the river bed in the award winning “Lagos Sand Merchants;” see Bill O’Reilly high art in “The Reality Factory;” and experience a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience with “Eleven Forty Seven.”

YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW IN DETROIT - Friday 12 pm., Saturday 6 pm. and Sunday 9 pm. at Dutmers Theater | 2014 | USA | NR | 72 min.

Take a stroll through the streets of Detroit as they once were when Rick Prelinger presents his program of educational, industrial, and home movies made in Detroit from 1925-1976. The San Francisco-based archivist, filmmaker, and educator will moderate interactive screenings of the program during which audiences are encouraged to yell out when they recognize specific locations or when they have hints that can help date films. Audience members will also be asked to let him make copies of home movies or other films they may have for his Detroit-based films collection. The Traverse City Film Festival screenings feature some works from Prelinger’s past compilations (including a priceless reel of a man’s walk past Grand River businesses in the early 1950s) and many new finds, including several home movies from Motown neighborhoods, and a short film about the city’s renaissance made by the City of Detroit circa 1968.

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MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

THE BABADOOK – Wednesday midnight State Theatre | 2014 | Australia | NR | 94 min.

If you’ve ever worried about what lurked behind the door or under your bed, this gruesome treat is sure to ignite your deepest primordial fears. When a gothic nightmare of a children’s book called “Mr. Babadook” mysteriously appears in the home of Amelia, a stressed out single mom, and her deeply troubled, tantrum-prone son Samuel, the book seems to take on a life of its own, and Samuel becomes increasingly convinced that the storybook creature is out to kill them both. Even after trying to rid themselves of this terrorizing tome, Samuel’s aggressive outbursts take a violent turn toward his mother. Amelia must decide if her son is truly unhinged or if there really is a boogeyman creeping in her halls. One of the most critically-acclaimed and stylish spookers of the year, this darkly evocative fairytale laced with pure psycological terror is a simmering, elaborately designed, and deeply unsettling look at familial tension.

THE CANAL – Saturday midnight Old Town Playhouse | 2014 | Ireland | NR | 90 min.

It’s never good when you move into a new house by a canal, only to find out it was the site of a grizzly turn-of-the-century murder. And it gets worse still when you learn about your house’s dark history not from the real estate agent, but instead by stumbling upon the important information while going through grainy National Film Archive footage as part of your job as a film archivist. Add to this life complication the suspicion that your wife is having an affair, and maybe it’s not surprising when you start to lose it and tear into your house’s walls in search of the source of noises you can’t explain. This Irish ghost story directed by Ivan Kavanaugh and starring Rupert Evans (“Hellboy”) is haunting, disturbing, and genuinely scary.

CREEP – Thursday midnight State Theatre | 2014 | USA | NR | 80 min.

If you’ve ever watched a movie and thought hey, this sure could use more Mark Duplass (“The One I Love,” “The League”), then we sure have got a movie for you! In this horror comedy unlike anything you’ve ever seen—and that we dare not tell you too much about—Duplass plays a goofy eccentric who hires a naive videographer via a cryptic Craigslist ad to record him in a remote mountain town under the heartfelt auspice of creating a video to pass along to his unborn son before he dies. Presented as a hypnotic collection of found footage from these filming “sessions,” what starts out as a slightly weird and suspicious exercise becomes so downright creepy that the would-be videographer is forced to flee. Remarkably odd and strangely extraordinary, the debut film from director Patrick Bice masterfully toes the line between the insanely comedic and the truly terrifying.

DER SAMURAI – Friday midnight Old Town Playhouse | 2014 | Australia | NR | 94 min.

On the outskirts of a remote village in eastern Germany, where the fear of wolves in the surrounding forests prevents locals from straying too far from home, a maniacal sword-wielding figure in a woman’s dress lurks among the birch trees waiting to descend upon the unsuspecting villagers. Desperate to protect his hometown from the  bloody onslaught, strait-laced policeman Jakob embarks on a reckless pursuit of the ominous stranger. But as their paths entwine, Jakob becomes increasingly powerless to resist the seductive force of the Samurai’s feral allure, and is forced to confront his own carnal impulses. At once shocking, bloodthirsty, and downright bizarre, director Till Kleinert’s rural thriller is smart arthouse horror at its very best, featuring a euphoric climax you won’t soon forget.

DOUG BENSON’S MOVIE INTERRUPTION: ROAD HOUSE – Friday midnight State Theater | 1989 | USA | R | 114 min.

When Doug Benson told us he wanted to return to the Traverse City Film Festival this year and do one of his famous Movie Interruptions, there was really only one film that came to mind—a film of such raw masculinity, such compelling Zen wisdom and deep human insight, such beautiful mustaches and mullets, and such blistering pain that it remains the gold standard of 80’s prestige filmmaking (read: it’s gloriously campy). Benson and buddies will seat themselves in the front row of the State with microphones in hand to hilariously riff on the timeless story of Dalton (Patrick Swayze), a barroom bouncer (or “cooler” as they say in the biz) on a mission to bring peace to a sleazy saloon.

ZOMBEAVERS – Saturday midnight State Theatre | 2014 | USA | NR | 77 min.

This is it: the movie TCFF midnight fans have been waiting for—a horror comedy so outrageously fun, its trailer is already an internet sensation. Sure, the story may seem familiar: a group of beautiful college students head to a secluded cabin for the weekend only to have their hedonistic plans sidetracked by unexpected terrors. But this time the biting horror is brought to you by a rampaging, ravenous, rabid pack of toxic-waste-mutated Zombeavers (that’s Zombie Beavers for you laymen). So much more than another “Sharknado”-style gimmicky premise, the lovingly handcrafted effects make “Zombeavers” a winning tribute to D-movie creature features. With a first-rate cast of complete unknowns including Jake Weary—no actor has chewed through more scenery since Al Pacino in “And Justice for All”—this “Citizen Kane” of Zombie Beaver movies may just be the best DAM movie we’ve seen all year.

SHORTS FOR MIDNIGHT – Thursday midnight Old Town Playhouse | Program length: 77 min.

Fresh from the warped minds of global short film art masters, these hilarious and seriously strange shorts are worth staying up late for. Eric Kissack (“Missed Connections,” TCFF ‘12) returns to the festival with “The Gunfighter,” in which a bloodthirsty narrator voiced by Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”) tries to set off a shootout in the Wild West; the blackly comic “Happy B-Day” shows how a well-intentioned birthday surprise can go horribly, horribly wrong; “Cruising Electric (1980)” imagines a retro ad for a kids’ toy tie-in to the classic Al Pacino serial-killer movie “Cruising;” and two teddy bears go hunting endangered (and delicious!) creatures in the spectacularly twisted “Unicorn Blood.”

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SPECIAL SCREENINGS

DOUG LOVES MOVIES PODCAST - Wednesday 9 pm. Old Town Playhouse

Join Doug Benson (“Last Comic Standing.” “Super High Me”), our own Michael Moore, and other special guests as they record an interactive podcast featuring games and lively discussion all about movies, live from the Old Town Playhouse. We welcome back Benson, a sellout at last year’s film festival as well as at the 2013 Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival, for an evening of outriht hilarity. be sure to make time for this side-splitting conversation about one of the greatest things in life: the movies. Tickets for this special live event are $20.

AN EVENING WITH LARRY CHARLES – Firday 9 pm. Old Town Playhouse

A true titan of Hollywood, “Borat” director, “Seinfeld” writer, Emmy-winner, TCFF board member, and all-around comedic genius Larry Charles returns to TC for an unforgettably hilarious evening of surprises so secret we can’t give anything away. Let’s just say Larry (who is also the man responsible for the legendary lost Kayne West HBO pilot) has been working on quite a few exciting projects back in Los Angeles, and he’ll be bringing exclusive sneak peeks at the next big things in comedy that you won’t see anywhere else. He’s also made a new short film that you’ll be the first to see. You won’t want to miss a night spent with one of the funniest men on the planet, as he regales us with the darkly absurd and hysterical stories that have made him a TCFF treasure.

LADONNA HARRIS: INDIAN 101 – Sunday 9 am. State Theatre | 2014 | USA | NR | 63 min.

Comanche director Julianna Brannum’s moving portrait of fellow Comanche activist LaDonna Harris follows the remarkable leader’s storied career in Native political and social activism. Raised by her maternal grandparents on an Oklahoma farm during the Great Depression, Harris began a life in public service as the wife of US Senator Fred Harris. She helped return Taos Blue lake to the people of Taos Pueblo, and helped the Menominee Tribe regain federal recognition. At the request of President Lyndon Johnson, she created a course called “Indian 101″ used for 35 years to teach the executive and legislative branches of the US government about American Indian  Tribes. She is President of Americans for Indian Opportunity, and is actively involved in passing her knowledge to a new generation of emerging Indigenous leaders, and in building a global Indigenous coalition.

MIKE’S SURPRISE – Sunday 12 Noon Lars Hockstad | ?? | ?? | ?? | ?? min.

Each year, one of our most popular screenings is the one where no one has any idea what they’re going to see. Even the projectionist doesn’t know. Festival founder and president Michael Moore presents “Mike’s Surprise” on the final day of each year’s fest. Mike may show up with a sneak preview of a big upcoming Hollywood movie or a buried treasure that had disappeared for years, or he may just show you some of his home movies. ONe time he just talked for two hours. That was interesting. Another year he got the whole audience up and took them for a walk around Central Neighborhood. This year, all he’ll say is that he promises there will be “no Pilates, nothing with cats, and Johnn Depp will not be joining us.” Our guess? The movie will be in color.

BAG OF RICE (KISEYE BERENDJ) - Saturday 12 Noon Bijou | 1998 | Iran | NR | 80 min.

Featured in TCFF Board Member Mark Cousins’ acclaimed documentary “A Story of Children in Film” (TCFF ’13) and lovingly restored with the help of Cousins and his friend Tilda Swinton, this lost treasure of cinema is coming to the Bijou. “Bag of Rice” is an unforgettable urban odyssey around Tehran as seen through the eyes of a child. Determined to escape boredom at home, four-year-old Jairan accompanies her half-blind and stubborn elderly neighbor on an errand. Both are ill-equipped to face the unexpected challenges of the journey and must rely on the kindness of strangers to navigate the bustling city. What starts as an odd-couple adventure turns into a profoundly moving parable as these unlikely companions make their way through the world. It’s one of the great humanist, heartwarming in delights in cinema. In Persian with subtitles.

STORIED STREETS – Saturday 9 am. Buzz | 2014 | USA | NR | 110 min.

This winter, two homeless people froze to death in our area. No place in America is without homelessness these days. But really, do we have to watch another film about the homeless? One of the big political debates in front of the TC City Commission this summer is whether or not to turn the City’s building at 517 Wellington Street, which the film festival has used as a warehouse for many years, into a 100 bed homeless shelter. But what’s beaing done to fix the reason we have homelessness in the first place? Come watch this searing documentary produced by Thomas Morgan (“Waiting for Mamu,” TCFF ’13) that explores homelessness across America by telling the stories of those who live it every day.
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STATE CENTENNIAL

ON APPROVAL – Sunday 12 Noon Miliken | 1944 | UK | NR | 80 min.

An incredibly rediscovery of classic cinema, “On Approval” is one of those deliciously witty comedies of manners that the Brits seem to do so much better than anyone else. A rather scandalous look at love in the gay 1890’s, the film follows two wealthy women in the market for potential mates who enter into platonic on-month matrimonial auditions with two blue-blooded (but recently impoverished) bachelors. This seemingly sensible compatibility test becomes anything but in this lively romantic romp, chock full of effervescent sight gags, stylistic flourishes, and deftly satiric banter. It is a true cinematic tragedy that director and star Clive Brook only bestowed his gossamer-light comedic touch on this one film.

TILLIE’S PUNCTURED ROMANCE – Wednesday 12 Noon Dutmers Theatre | 1914 | USA | NR | 82 min.

1914 marked the major league debut of Babe Ruth and the completion of the Panama Canal. But for film lovers, 1914 may be best remembered as the year we were given the gift of feature length comedy. Entering territory previously reserved only for epics, Charlie Chaplin gave comedy its first six-reel treatment, and we’ve been laughing it up ever since. In one of his last roles before disappearing into his iconic Little Tramp persona, Chaplin plays a morally bankrupt con artist who dupes a country girl into marriage in order to steal her money. With legendary Mack Sennett behind the lens, you can count on oodles of classic Keystone gags and pratfalls in this hilarious slapstick sendup of gold diggers. Also starring Marie Dressler and Mabel Normand.

LONESOME WITH THE ALLOY ORCHESTRA – Sunday 3 pm. State Theatre | 1929 | USA | NR | 69 min.

Robert Ebert called the Alloy Orchestra “the best in the world at accompanying silent films,” and that’s just one of the many reasons we love welcoming them back to Traverse City each year. As a special treat for our 10th Anniversary, the incomparable musical stylings of the Alloy Orchestra will accompany one of the great buried treasures of the cinema. Audacious auteur Paul Fejos uses every tool at his disposal in this rapturously rendered silent symphony about two people searching for a connection in the big city over the course of one magically marvelous day. With groundbreaking camerawork, innovative effects (including three sound sequences!), and hand-stenciled color that paints Coney Island in a breathtakingly luminous light, “Lonesome” is without a doubt unlike anything you’ve ever seen and unlike anything you may ever have the chance to experience again. Presented on a beautifully restored print from the George Eastman House.
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