In our Behind the Screen Series, MyNorth is honored to bring you the Traverse City Film Festival panel discussions from more than 50 filmmakers, actors and industry insiders.  The first, “Front and Vine: Showing Movies at the State, Making Movies in Michigan” included Rich Brauer (Brauer Productions), Russ Collins (Michigan Theater), Sean Fine (“War Dance”), Kim Gribi, Christine Lahti (“Yonkers Joe”), and special guests Michael Moore, Janet Lockwood of the Michigan Film Office, Andrea Nix-Fine.

Front and Vine panel members discuss the impact of recently legislated Michigan film industry incentives designed to encourage filmmakers to produce projects in Michigan. The incentives have already encouraged several productions including Dimension Films’ comedy Youth in Revolt, directed by Miguel Arteta and starring Michael Cera. (Expected launch in December 2008—see article Behind the Scenes: Youth in Revolt)  The discussion covers information on how the state should prepare to take advantage of the influx of movie making. Additionally, the team reviews what has made the State Theatre so successful on the national level, as well as in Northern Michigan.

Finally, the video captures a message of thanks delivered by 16-year-old Dominic Akena and 17-year-old John Okello, two student musicians from Uganda. Both are talented instrumentalists and dancers. The boys offered their gratitude for spending the summer in Traverse City studying music, a trip made possible by Kim Gribi, the Record-Eagle’s human resources director. Akena appeared in the documentary War Dance, which was shown at last year’s film festival and inspired Gribi to invite the boys to visit Northern Michigan. The children had been living in a Ugandan refugee camp with no real educational prospects for music.

The Traverse City Film Festival is a charitable, educational, nonprofit organization committed to showing “Just Great Movies” and helping to save one of America’s few indigenous art forms — the cinema. The festival also owns and operates a year-round, community-based, mission-driven art house movie theater, the State Theatre. The Front and Vine panel session was sponsored by Warner Norcross & Judd LLP. To volunteer or contribute, please visit

If you’re interested in more Traverse City Film Festival panel discussions and exclusive interviews like MyNorth’s interview with Phil Donahue on his new documentary Body of War, and Larry Charles on his comedy with Bill Maher, Religulous. Please subscribe to Filmgoer, a free e-newsletter and your source for film news and events Up North.