Film is a personal medium. A movie can touch one person deeply and leave the person one seat over staring blankly into the popcorn bucket. The kind of person you are influences what you want to watch, but at the Traverse City Film Festival, we are convinced there will be something for everyone. Here are a few suggestions, movies at this year’s festival you should see if…

… you are curious Israeli/Palestinian relations.

Lemon Tree – This Israeli film is the story of a Palestinian woman’s attempts to save her family’s lemon grove after a rich neighbor, Israel’s defense minister, orders it bulldozed for security reasons. The analogy to the larger regional conflict is obvious, but the personal story still looks compelling.

Rachel – Young American activist Rachel Corrie is at the center of this documentary. Rachel “was run over and killed while trying to prevent an Israeli bulldozer from demolishing Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip,” according to the film description. The film is essentially an investigation of her death, using in-depth interviews to find out what actually happened
Salt of This Sea – A young American woman holds up an Israeli bank for the amount of her Palestinian grandfather’s 60-year old account, plus interest. The film follows her as she flees with a local man trying to leave the country, their journey taking them through various notable locations in Palestine.

… you are a compulsive recycler, a green freak or just generally care about the environment.

The Cove – This documentary exposes illegal fishing practices in Japan that kill thousands of dolphins a year. A group of activists infiltrate and document the groups of fishermen in an attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice.

No Impact Man – A writer from New York and his family live a year with zero impact on the environment in this documentary. This means no electricity, no supermarket food and, overall, an entertaining and informative film.
Waterlife – Canadian Kevin McMahon directed this documentary on the health of the Great Lakes which combines beautiful natural footage with computer graphics to tell the story of lakes in distress.

… you watch both ESPN’s SportsCenter and the Independent Film Channel.

Rudo y Cursi – A pair of Mexican brothers make new lives for themselves in the city after being discovered by a soccer recruiter. One floats toward the music scene and the other slowly slips into the world of high stakes poker in a film that is lighter and more fun than this description makes it sound.

A Matter of Size – This film is the story of an overweight Israeli man, who, along with friends, starts a sumo wrestling club. Not a traditional sport, but a fun and quirky look at finding ways to enjoy your life as it is. 
Sugar – This movie follows a Dominican baseball player through his efforts to break into the American major leagues. A realistic view of the major league system is presented and the realities of one man’s story connect on a personal level.

… you sing in the shower or find that music just makes things better.

Troubled Water – This dark, serious drama follows a hugely talented Norwegian organist as he copes with a violent past while trying to carve out a life in the present.
Sita Sings the Blues – A mash-up of traditional Indian tale the Ramayana and 1920’s Jazz Age music, this animated film may look childish but, for the musically minded, it’s a huge helping of fun and a creative journey from start to finish.
Woodstock – This should speak for itself. The director’s cut of the classic film documenting what may be the greatest music festival of all time. Performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who and many others are included.

… you own at least one beret and are a serious Francophile.

Julie & Julia – One of this film’s plotlines follows Meryl Streep as Julia Child as she attends cooking school in post WWII Paris. The other story is that of Julie Powell, the blogger who cooked her way through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year.

Séraphine – The true story of Séraphine de Senlis is told here. An early 20th century French housekeeper, de Senlis concealed a remarkable talent for painting, finally discovered when she began cleaning the home of a renowned art collector.

Eden is West – This film follows an illegal immigrant as he travels across France, avoiding police and looking for his Eden. It begs comparisons to the Odyssey, and the personal journey motif, and colorful encounters make for an entrancing story.

Explore the complete film schedule.

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