Traverse City Film Festival 2012: The list of movies that are going to be played, discussed, analyzed, loved, re-watched and change lives has been released! Go through the variety of cinematic pleasures that are compiled and decide on one (or many!) that suit your fancy. In the words of Founder Michael Moore, "see as many movies as you can. Then go see more. This is the year you were meant to set a record." This year's Traverse City Film Festival runs from July 31st-August 5th, 2012.

Opening Night

Searching for Sugar Man

2012 | Sweden, UK | NR | 85 min.

Destined to be one of the most-remembered TCFF opening night films, “Searching for Sugar Man” is the true story of a singer-songwriter from Detroit who was once certain to become a superstar—only to end up out on the street before his career ever began, recording contract voided, never to be heard from again. Years later, in the 1970s, a bootleg of one of his albums wound up at a radio station in, of all places, South Africa. There, it spread like wildfire among the anti-apartheid youth, and his protest songs helped fuel their protest movement. And thus this man’s music, never having been really played in his own country (the USA), was suddenly, in South Africa, as famous as The Beatles! Bring your handkerchiefs and be ready to be uplifted by this very Michigan story about a man long forgotten whose musical legacy will live on forever. Viewing Tip: You will most enjoy this movie if you do not read reviews or watch clips in advance. Let this beautiful, unique film unfold as you discover it on Opening Night—and experience the magic of great cinema right here in Traverse City. In Person: Director Malik Bendjelloul.

Tue 6 pm State Theatre | Tue 7 Pm City Opera House

Centerpiece Screening

Beasts of The Southern Wild

2012 | USA | Pg-13 | 91 min.

For all that six-year-old Hushpuppy knows, her home in “the Bathub” in Louisiana’s southern Delta may as well be at the end of the world— a mythical place cut off from society at large, where the resilience of the human spirit is pitted against the often cruel mistress of Mother Nature. When a storm of biblical proportions threatens to wash their home away, Hushpuppy and the citizens of the Bathtub band together to keep the hurricane at bay. First-time filmmaker Behn Zeitlin’s mad labor of love captures the essence of the indomitable American spirit, powered by the kind of freedom that comes only with being completely unafraid. All the more impressive for its humble homespun production ethic and its cast of non-professional actors, including Quvenzhané Wallis, one of the year’s greatest discoveries, this Sundance and Cannes award winner is not to be missed. In Person: Special guests.

Fri 6 pm State Theatre

Closing Night

The Zen of Bennett

2012 | USA | NR | 84 min.

With remarkable access to one of America’s great artists, Danny Bennett’s tribute to his 85-year-old father gives an up-close-and-personal look behind the scenes while Tony Bennett rehearses and records duets with artists Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson, Amy Winehouse, John Mayer, Norah Jones and others. An unprecedented look inside the process of a powerhouse musician whose work spans six decades, “The Zen of Bennett” follows the famous singer as he jets to Italy to perform a duet with opera star Andrea Bocelli, draws the people and things he sees, and negotiates with band leaders about tempo. Danny Bennett will join us on Closing Night to present this intimate, inspirational film, a seductive and soulful look at a superhumanly charming man with a passionate devotion to artistic excellence. In Person: Danny Bennett.

Sun 6 pm State Theatre

State Theatre Centennial Celebration

In 2016, our festival’s anchor venue and movie palace, the State Theatre, will celebrate 100 years of showing movies in the same location right here in downtown Traverse City. We’re getting the party started early with once-in-a-century cinema treats harkening back to the early days of the great art form we love.

Alloy Orchestra Presents Hitchcock's Blackmail

1929 | UK | NR | 84 min.

Roger Ebert calls them “the best in the world at accompanying silent films,” and we call them festival regulars we love to welcome back. This year, the incomparable musical stylings of the Alloy Orchestra will accompany a silent version of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Blackmail,” in which the master of suspense flexes his emerging directorial voice in a tale of love, lies and betrayal. Alice Walker thought having two dates in one evening was bad enough, but after ditching Detective Frank Webber to meet an artist with impure intentions, things turn deadly,and Alice has murder on her hands. Frank is put on the case, and when he recognizes the gloves Alice left at the scene, he becomes complicit in the cover-up. What follows is a tangled web of intrigue, deception, and blackmail. Don’t miss your chance to catch this rare piece of the Hitchcock legend—and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for one Hitch’s best cameos!

Sun 3 pm State Theatre

Richard III

1912 | USA | NR | 91 min.

Our State Theatre Centennial Celebration continues with thistreasure from the year 1912, the oldest surviving American feature film in existence. Starring legendary 19th century stage actor Frederick Warde as Richard, the hunchbacked Duke of Gloucester, this royal tragedy was one of the most ambitiousShakespearean adaptations of its time. Not only does it honor the intricacies of the original play, but also enriches the drama with impressive crowd scenes and lush production values. Whether you are familiar with the play or not, Richard’s brilliant and treacherous rise to England’s throne and eventual downfall is a marvel tobehold. Without heavily employing distracting intertitles, the performances in this silent wonder wordlessly bring life to Shakespeare’s inspired verse for a completely singular experience.

Wed 3 pm Dutmers Theater

The Story of Film: An Odyssey

2011 | UK | NR | 900 min.

This epic exploration of film by critic Mark Cousins will take you on a journey through film history from its silent past through its changing digital future. From Lumière and Edison to Scorsese and Spielberg,Cousins’ passionate love-letter to the medium is filled with clips and interviews that bring alive the magic of the movies.  Ambitious in scope and poetic in execution, this 15-part odyssey is something no self-respecting cinephile will want to miss. Only 35 lucky people will get to experience the equivalent of a once-in-a-lifetime cinema studies course shown in its entirety over two days (Parts 1-8 on Saturday & Parts 9-15 on Sunday) at Dutmers Theater, with intermissions. Tickets are $20 a day. Not able to make that much of a commitment? Get a taste of the wonder with Parts 1-2 and 14-15 of the series shown at the Old Town Playhouse at 9 am Thursday and Friday, respectively. In Person: Director Mark Cousins.  

Thu Noon Old Town Playhouse (PT 1-2)                 Sat 9 am Dutmers Theater (PT 1-8)    
Fri Noon Old Town Playhouse (PT 14-15)               Sun 9 am Dutmers Theater (PT 9-15)

A Trip to The Moon With The Extraordinary Voyage

Program Runtime: 76 min.

Using trick photography and intricate set design, cine-magician George Méliès created the most famous movie in all of early cinema and took the world on its first outer-space journey in “A Trip to the Moon.” The patron saint of special effects, Méliès was also the first filmmaker to see the cinema not just as reflection of reality, but as a canvas for our dreams. We are screening this classic along with “The Extraordinary Voyage,” which documents the rigorous restoration of Méliès’best known work by film archivists Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange and their work to revitalize a film unseen in its original hand-painted glory for 109 years. Throughinterviews with some of the most imaginative minds in cinema today, including Martin Scorsese, Michel Gondry and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Méliès’ enduring legacy becomes apparent. In French and English with English subtitles.

Wed 9 am Old Town Playhouse

Open Space Movies

Movie magic on Grand Traverse Bay, free for everyone. The biggest screen, the biggest stars, the biggest sound—nothing is better than watching a Hollywood classic with friends and family on a 60-foot screen by the Bay. Come early for free music, entertainment and fun beginning at 7 pm.


1984 | USA | PG | 107 min.

"Footloose" (the Kevin Bacon one) is this year’s People’s Choice Open Space film! On Tuesday, July 31 “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” and the folks of Traverse City as we watch the People’s Choice selection under the stars.  It’s a foot-stomping, hand-clapping piece of 1980s pop-cheese nostalgia that will have you singing along. And like all Open Space films, it’s free.

Tuesday at Dusk


2008 | USA | G | 98 min.

“It Only Takes a Moment” to fall in love with the indomitable robot at the center of this Pixar master- piece. After 700 years dutifully cleaning up the mess left on the abandoned toxic planet we call Earth—with only a very resilient cockroach and VHS copy of “Hello Dolly” to keep him company— WALL·E meets a sleek robot named EVE with a mysterious directive and is instantly smitten. When EVE’s programming calls her away following the discovery of a plant seedling, WALL·E follows her across outer space and embarks on an adventure that will change the fate of mankind, reminding us what it means to be human. Featuring the vocal talents of Sigourney Weaver and our very own Jeff Garlin, “Put on Your Saturday Clothes” and come to the Open Space for a celebration of the art of animation.

Saturday at Dusk

When Harry Met Sally…

1989 | USA| R | 96 min.

Can men and women ever just be friends? That is the question at the heart of this uproarious film from director Rob Reiner (“The Princess Bride”) and writer Nora Ephron (“Julie & Julia” TCFF ‘09) that ushered in a new era of smart romantic comedies. A series of chance encounters over the course of 12 years transforms the persnickety Sally (Meg Ryan) and the abrasive but good-hearted Harry (Billy Crystal) from bitter enemies to friends. But as they support each other through the ups and downs of love, they just may discover that what they have been looking for has been right in front of them all along. Crystal and Ryan’s palpable chemistry and the always hilarious and often insightful commentary on male-female relationships will leave you wanting to “have what they’re having” on this Friday night for mature audiences at the Open Space. We honor the memory of Nora Ephron with this screening.

Friday At Dusk

Star Trek II:
The Wrath of Khan

1982 | USA | PG | 113 min.

Boldly going where he has gone before, Captain James T. Kirk leaves his paper-pushing desk job to reunite with Spock and the crew of the USS Enterprise. But what starts out as a routine training mission turns into the battle of a lifetime once Kirk crosses paths with Khan, a former foe fresh out of exile and hell-bent on exacting vengeance. The stakes grow higher after Khan is found in possession of Genesis—a device wielding the power of both ultimate creation and destruction—leading one beloved member of the Enterprise to make the ultimate sacrifice. An action movie is only as good as its villain, and the sadistic tyrant Khan helps make this swashbuckling space opera the most critically acclaimed Star Trek movie to date. Embrace your inner Trekkie and join us at the Open Space: The Final Frontier.

Wednesday At Dusk

Rebel Without A Cause

1955 | USA | PG-13 | 111 min.

Released just months after the untimely death of star James Dean, “Rebel Without a Cause” begat the legend of Dean’s eternal teenager and his status as the epitome of cool. Dean plays Jim Stark, a student with a troubled past who hopes to start fresh in a new school, but quickly runs afoul of the big man on campus. While Jim finds kinship with fellow lost souls (played by Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo), the bullying turns violent amidst switchblades and “chickie runs,” triggering a chain of events over the course of 24 hours that builds to a crescendo of tragedy. Nicholas Ray’s stunning film is remembered not only for Dean’s iconic performance, but also for its frank and honest depiction of teenage angst, generational differences, and the very human search for meaning and connection.

Thursday At Dusk

A Tribute to Wim Wenders

TCFF proudly welcomes world-renowned filmmaker Wim Wenders. From his roots in the 1960s New German Cinema to his mastery of 3D in “Pina,” the towering works of Wim Wenders are treasures of modern cinema. Master of alienation, pilgrimages, and fleeting moments of grace, Germany’s great director is bringing his unique vision to Traverse City. We are proud to present some of his greatest works and to welcome him to our state.

Wim Wenders Shorts

Program Runtime: 54 min.

These four films offer a rare chance to see one of the world’s true master filmmakers in an entirely different way, showcasing Wim Wenders’ signature cinematic poetry in four short-form pieces. A short parable casting a hard light on media ethics, “War in Peace” plays as a metanarrative on the construction of war in film; the observational “To See or Not to See” captures the lives of visually impaired children in a school in Brazil; “Person to Person” provides a politically charged look at the impacts of micro-financing; and “Invisible Crimes” offers a sobering examination of the effects of civil war on the women of the Democratic Republic of Congo with striking visual intensity. In person: Wim Wenders.

Invisible Crimes 2007 | Spain | 23 min.

Person to Person 2008 | France, Germany | 17 min.

To See or Not to See 2000 | Germany | 11 min.

War in Peace 2007 | France | 3 min.

Sat 12:30 pm Old Town Playhouse

Buena Vista Social Club

 1999 | Germany, USA, UK, France, Cuba | G | 105 min.

Traveling to Cuba in search of musicians, Ry Cooder brings a group of elderly musicians out of retirement to share their songs with a world that has been denied their extraordinary talents because of senseless embargos. Finally receiving the international acclaim they deserved, the musicians’ uplifting stories prove not only the power of the arts to breakdown political barriers, but also that it can take much more than practice to get to Carnegie Hall. Spawning a Grammy Award-winning album and giving rare insight into Cuban history and the spirit of its people, Wim
Wenders’ exuberant film is carefully attuned to both the rhythm of music and the rhythm of life. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. In person: Wim Wenders.

Sun 3 pm Old Town Playhouse

 Wings of Desire
(der Himmel über berlin)

1987 | West Germany, France | Pg-13 | 128 min.

Wim Wenders’ romantic fantasy brings us an utterly unique vision of angels who walk among us unseen. Angels Damiel and Cassiel spend their time roaming Berlin, listening to thoughts of its lonely and damaged inhabitants and providing what comfort they can. Their immortal and unfeeling existence is shaken, however, after Damiel falls for a beautiful trapeze artist and wishes to become human. But along with the human pleasures of love comes the pain that serves as a reminder of what it means to be truly alive. With stunning and lyrical photography set floating through the streets of a still-divided Berlin, this city symphony stands as a quintessential post-Cold War film. We are very proud to present this great work with Wim Wenders, the master himself, in person. In German, English, French, Turkish, Hebrew, Spanish and Japanese with English subtitles.

Sat 3 pm State Theatre

Occupy the Cinema!

Over the past two years, a wave of nonviolent protests has been sweeping the world, toppling regimes and demanding profound social change. From the Tunisia to Egypt, Spain to Greece, and Wisconsin to Wall Street, demonstrations, marches and occupations have given a powerful new voice to the many to challenge the oppressive systems run by the few. We have reached a rare moment in history where the democratization of technology now allows us to capture the world’s story as it unfolds in real time. These six selections offer unprecedented access to the streets and parks that have become the platforms for the revolutionary movements transforming the discourse of politics around the globe.

Ashes of America with Poor America

 Program Runtime: 90 minutes

With the U.S. economy near a breaking point, these two documentaries explore the different avenues people have taken to cope with the crisis. Mike McSweeney’s hauntingly beautiful “Ashes of America” may be the discovery of this year’s festival and focuses not only on the Occupy Wall Street movement, but moves across space and time to create a stirringly powerful and poetic depiction of the nation of America and its people. Told from the perspective of a British journalist, “Poor America” examines the desperate living conditions people face as unemployment continues to permeate the country and shows us the things about ourselves we might otherwise not see. Together, these films bring us the America we know, the America we imagine, the America we remember, and the America we try to forget. In Person: “Ashes of America” director Michael McSweeney.

Fri 3 pm Old Town Playhouse | Sun 3 pm Milliken Auditorium

We Are Legion: The Story of Hacktivists

2012 | USA | NR | 89 min.

The radical hacktivist collective known only as “Anonymous” has redefined civil disobedience for the digital age. Featuring interviews with current members as well as hackers returning from prison or facing trials, this film gives an inside look at how Anonymous has become the most powerful global Internet freedom movement of our time and one of the greatest representations of the transformative influence of digital media and its growing political capital. This documentary charts the history of Anonymous from its humble beginnings on the website 4chan to its current influential role in protests around the world, including the 2011 Egyptian revolution, showing just how crucial the role of technology has become as a tool for social change.

Wed 9 pm City Opera House

The Reluctant Revolutionary

2012 | UK, Ireland | NR | 70 min.

Among the most compelling and accessible portraits of the Arab Spring caught on film, “The Reluctant Revolutionary” follows the revolution in Yemen from its early days through the eyes of filmmaker Sean McAllister and his immensely like-able Yemeni companion Kais. Initially hired as McAllister’s tour guide, Kais becomes the heart and soul of the film as he transforms from a man just trying to do right by his family to a protestor swept up in the righteous battle for social change. Leading up to the fateful events of the “Friday of Dignity,” where 52 people were killed at a peaceful protest, Kais undergoes a profound personal change as he comes to realize just how much is at stake. In English and Arabic with English subtitles. In Person: Director Sean McAllister.

Thu 6 pm City Opera House | Sun 6 pm Milliken Auditorium

Occupy Wall Street Shorts

Chronicling one of our generation’s most important movements, this collection of shorts offers the first definitive look at Occupy Wall Street and the champions of the 99 percent in intimate detail. From an examination of the turbulent first month of the occupation to a portrait of the scrappy and innovative media movement that gave OWS a platform to spread its message beyond Zuccotti Park, these short documentaries give a first-hand account of life in the trenches in the fight for social justice and equality.

Program length: 76 min.

#whilewewatch Kevin Breslin | 2011 | USA | 39 min.

Month One Suki Hawley, Joanna Arnow, Michael?Galinsky | 2012 | USA | 10 min.

Gravity Hill Newsreels Jem Cohen | 2012 | USA | 27 min.

Fri Noon City Opera House

Tahrir: Liberation Square

2011 | France, Italy | R | 90 min.

By plunging directly into the protesting crowds of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, director Stefano Savona, captures the thrill and excitement of individuals fighting to overcome oppression. With the ultimate goal of political freedom, Egypt’s street protesters aim to overcome Mubarak’s 30-year regime and do so with a distinctive blend of traditional and more contemporary methods of protest.  From the use of cell phones, Facebook, and Twitter, to brutal stone throwing and chanting, the old and new ways of protesting each had roles to play in this crucial moment in Egyptian history. This film gives an incredibly close look inside the revolution, showing both the motives and goals of the protesters as well as the state’s cruel responses to their actions. In Arabic with English subtitles.

Sat 9 am Milliken Auditorium

We are Wisconsin

2012 | USA | NR | 91 min.

After Republican Governor Scott Walker cut benefits and collective bargaining rights for most public workers, public outcry turned into a transformative movement that successfully placed a gubernatorial recall on the ballot for only the third time in US history. Following a social worker, high school teacher, college student, retired nurse, electrician, and police officer as they fight to maintain their livelihoods, it is hard not to see yourself, your friends, or your neighbors in these faces of social activism. In this shocking condemnation and vital record of this era of greed, director Amie Williams takes us into the historic 18 days of protests on the steps of Wisconsin’s State Capital that served as a rallying cry to people to the world over to join together and let their voices be heard.

Thu 9 am Old Town Playhouse

Women on Women

All-male congressional hearings about women’s health remind us of a time, not so long ago, when similar events led to a revolution in film—when women first put a dent in Hollywood’s door by picking up cameras to take control of their own image and their own stories. In two programs,filmmaker Julia Reichert (“Growing Up Female”) will show us how it looked and how it felt when women captured on film the battle that was waged over women’s reproductive rights in the early 1970s. And to make our own contribution to a modern-day revolution of women making movies, TCFF continues our 8-year long tradition of featuring numerous movies at our festival written and directed by women.

Growing up Female

Program Runtime: 71 min.

Widely recognized as the first feature film to come out of the modern women’s movement, Julia Reichert’s landmark documentary “Growing Up Female” follows six girls and six women living in Ohio and gives voice to their powerlessness over imposing institutional forces. Recently inducted into the National Film Registry, this honest and daring film remains a powerful example of what women can accomplish when they pick up the camera and is something we encourage all young girls to see. Reichert will be on hand for discussion and  to introduce additional films from the era. In Person: Director Julia Reichert.

Make Out Geri Ashur, Andrea Eagan | 1970 | USA | 5 min.

Up Against the Wall Miss America Newsreel Group | 1968 | USA | 8 min.

Anything You Want to Be Liane Brandon | 1972 | USA | 8 min.

Growing Up Female Jim Klein, Julia Reichert | 1971 | USA | 50 min.

Wed 3 pm City Opera House

Films From the Early Women's Health Movement 

Program Runtime: 70 min.

Exploring the dangerous days before women had the right to choose, as well as the greater movement to have women take control of their bodies, this program is essential viewing at a time when women’s health and reproductive rights are again a leading subject of debate. Released in 1972, one year prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, and featuring personal interviews with women both young and old, “It Happens to Us” remains the classic plea for a woman’s right to choose and reminds us of the often harrowing consequences that come with restricting women’s health. Artifacts of their time, this collection of documentaries provides both a unique window into the past and a compelling parallel to the present, showing just what women were fighting for and just how much is currently at risk. In Person: Director Julia Reichert.

It Happens to Us Amalie R. Rothschild | 1972 | USA | 30 min.

Taking Our Bodies Back
Margaret Lazarus, Renner Wunderlich 1974 | USA | 30 min.

Clips from the Chicago Maternity Center Story
Jerry Blumenthal, Suzanne Davenport, Sharon Karp,   Gordon Quinn, Jennifer Rohrer | 1960 | USA

Thu 3 pm Milliken Auditorium

Other Films in This Section



Sexy Baby

Turn Me On, Dammit!

The World Before Her

US Indies


2011 | USA | PG-13 | 104 min

In the sleepy East Texas town of Carthage, Berhnardt “Bernie” Tiede (Jack Black, delivering a flawlessly mannered performance) is the go-to guy for all things funeral-related, a master in the business of bereavement. Much beloved by the townsfolk, the smooth-talking mortician manages to befriend wealthy widow and legendary sourpuss Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine). But when Marjorie takes advantage of Bernie’s self-less nature, treating him as both her globetrotting partner and personal assistant, how much can a man take? Based on a true story and featuring interviews with the real townspeople of Carthage, this black comedy from director Richard Linklater (“School of Rock,” “Dazed and Confused”) mixes traditional storytelling and a mockumentary style to deliver pathos and over-the-top laughs in equal measure.

Thu 6 pm Lars Hockstad


2012 | USA | R | 90 min.

In a time when the nation has ratcheted up its security on all fronts, where the TSA’s full body scans and an increasingly imposing police presence have become the norm, how far would you bend to the will of authority? Sandra, the mid-level manager of a fast food chain in a non-descript town, is already on edge because of a minor infraction perpetrated by one of her employees, when she gets a call from a cop accusing one of her young female staffers of stealing. The caller demands that Sandra question and search the suspect immediately, and she is all too willing to obey, leading to a nightmarish series of events. This difficult to watch, controversial conversation starter plays as a tense psychological drama, made all the more terrifying because it is based on true events that happened not once, not twice, but many times.

Fri 9 pm Milliken Auditorium

A Better Life

2011 | USA | PG-13 | 98 min.

Carlos (Demian Bichir, in an Academy Award-nominated performance)is a single father who, as an illegal immigrant, faces daily struggles tohold down an honest job and keep his teenage son Luis in school and out of trouble in the ganglands of East Los Angeles. Scraping together a living as a gardener, Carlos is able to keep a roof over his son’s head, but fully-assimilated Luis expects a higher standard of living than his dad is able to provide. Filmmaker Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”) infuses the drama with a personal touch in this intimately-scaled production, offering both a portrait of fatherhood and a moving look at the plight of illegal immigrants for whom the American dream is tempered by the constant threat of deportation. In English and Spanish with English subtitles.

Sat 9 am State Theatre | Sun 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

First Winter

2011 | USA | NR | 91 min.

Far from the stresses of urban life in Brooklyn, a group of new-age hipsters occupy their days with sex, drugs and yoga in a remote farmhouse in upstate New York. But with the coming of winter, their communal existence is flung into disarray as a blackout of apocalyptic proportions throws the group even farther off the grid than they had originally intended, and their ability to survive autonomously from the outside world is challenged. Filmmaker Benjamin Dickinson crafts an intimate, lo-fi aesthetic in his debut feature, shooting on 16mm film lit by only natural lighting and candles to capture naturalistic performances from a group of mostly non-professional actors. The result is a poetic, Bergman-esque film that examines the nature of human instinct when delusions of self-sufficiency are put to the test.

Wed 9 pm Milliken Auditorium

Hollywood Sneak Preview

Hit and Run

2012 | USA | R

Written and directed by Michigan native Dax Shephard (“Idiocracy,” TCFF 08) and starring his real-life fiancé and fellow Michigander Kristen Bell (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), “Hit and Run” follows a group of misfits on a hectic, hilarious, and high-stakes road trip in this special Sneak Preview screening from the producer of “Wedding Crashers.” Charlie Bronson’s (Shephard) past comes barreling back to haunt him after he jeopardizes his witness protection identity to take his otherwise oblivious fiancée (Bell) to Los Angeles. Things get even more complicated when Charlie’s former bank robbing gang (led by a dread- lock-rocking Bradley Cooper) comes knocking at his door to demand their former wheelman’s services. With the Feds hot on their tails, the group embarks on a high-speed rollicking thrill ride that combines the intensity of “Drive” with the outrageous comedy of the “The Hangover.” Straight from Hollywood, stars will be in attendance here in Traverse City as they bring this action rom-com home to an audience of true film fans. Tickets for this sneak peak are $15.

Thu 9 pm Lars Hockstad

Liberal Arts

2012 | USA | NR | 97 min.

Writer/director Josh Radnor (“happythankyoumoreplease”) stars as Jesse Fisher in “Liberal Arts,” which follows a mid-thirties bookworm whose affection for the printed word eclipses all of his other interests, including his tiresome job and any prospect of romance. So when Jesse’s favorite college professor invites him back to his Midwestern alma mater to speak at his retirement dinner, Jesse leaps at the opportunity for a change of scenery. But his visit provides more than just a nostalgia trip when he meets and falls for a bright and beautiful sophomore named Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), who provides a much-needed jolt to his introverted emotions. This late coming-of-age indie comedy is a winning crowd-pleaser, featuring stellar supporting turns by Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney and Zac Efron.


The Giant Mechanical Man

2012 | USA | PG-13 | 94 min.

Out of work and down on her luck, Janice (Jenna Fischer) is forced to move in with her control-freak sister Jill (Malin Akerman) and brother-in-law Brian (Rich Sommer) after losing her job as a temp. On the other side of the city, Tim (Chris Messina) is also living a less- than-charmed life after his girlfriend dumps him when he won’t give up his “career” as a street performer. Janice comes across Tim performing his robot act and sees in him a fellow nonconformist, so when the two lost souls end up working together at a zoo, sparks soon fly. Making the best use of the city of Detroit as a backdrop since “True Romance,” “The Giant  Mechanical Man” is a sweet, down-to-earth film about an everyday person going through the tough times we’re in, and finding love.


Missed Connections

2012 | USA | NR | 81 min.

On the heels of a messy breakup and suffering through the daily grind of a tedious job, Neal finds the perfect diversion: responding to posts on the Missed Connections section of Craiglist, where people leave messages describing the details of chance encounters. With the help of his friends, Neal hatches a scheme to lure in lonely women and cure his aching heart. Everything is going as planned until Neal meets Jane, a woman who may just be as devious as he. The directorial debut from Eric Kissack (frequent collaborator with Larry Charles and editor of “The Dictator” and “Borat”), this clever, charming comedy finds humor and heart in the perils and absurdity of romance in the cyber age. In Person: Director Eric Kissack.

Fri Noon Milliken Auditorium


2011 | USA | R | 150 min.

Playwright Kenneth Lonergan’s second turn behind the camera (following his 2000 success “You Can Count on Me”) captures a sprawling narrative centered around the life of 17-year-old New Yorker Lisa (Anna Paquin) in the days after a fatal traffic accident in which she believes she played a part. Wracked with guilt over the thought that she may have contributed to a woman’s death, Lisa’s struggles to assimilate the tragedy send her on a collision course with the harsh realities of the adult world. One of the year’s greatest overlooked American films—a film that was nearly lost to the world after a brutal and lengthy editing process sparked multiple lawsuits—this long-awaited masterwork features an all-star cast, including Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, J. Smith-Cameron, Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno.

Wed 6 pm State Theatre | Fri 9 pm City Opera House

Take Shelter

2011 | USA | R | 120 min.

In the quiet, working-class Midwestern countryside, Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) lives a modest lifewith his loving wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and their deaf six-year-old daughter. But Curtis sensesthe world closing in around him in an ever-tightening knot. Nightmarish visions trouble his fragile psyche, and he is driven to drastic measures to fend off the coming apocalypse, turning his energy to the obsessive construction of a storm shelter in his backyard. Curtis’ seemingly inexplicable behavior starts to take its toll on his family life while he goes to great lengths to protect his loved ones from a danger no one else can see. The perfect film for a frightened nation in the post-9/11 era, this true masterpiece of modern cinema is both a family drama and a haunting psychological thriller, featuring an incredible performance by one of America’s greatest actors and stunning visuals that will blur your perception of reality.

Wed 6 pm City Opera House

Red Flag

2012 | USA | NR | 84 min.

Teasing the line between fact and fiction, this quasi-autobiographical road trip comedy follows filmmaker Alex Karpovsky (playing a version himself) as he tours across the southern United States with his feature “Woodpecker” (a film he actually made in 2008). Fresh off a breakup with his long-term girlfriend, Alex’s bruised ego is perhaps a bit too receptive to the connections he makes on the road: he ends up meeting an estranged friend and having a one night stand with an obsessive fan, both of whom tag along for a series of misadventures. Karpovsky’s prolific output on the micro-budget film scene (with several films to his credit as well as roles in “Beeswax” and “Tiny Furniture,” TCFF ‘10) has given him plenty of fodder for poking fun at himself and the American indie film scene at large, with his characteristic dry wit and low-key charm. In Person: Director Alex Karpovsky.

Sat 9 pm City Opera House

Somebody Up There Likes Me

2012 | USA | NR | 76 min.

From director Bob Byington (“RSO” and “Harmony and Me,” TCFF ‘09), this deadpan farce follows the trials and tribulations of Max (Keith Poulson), his best friend Sal (Nick Offerman, “Parks and Recreation”) and Lyla (Jess Weixler), the woman who almost comes between them, over the course of 35 years. Through the ups and downs of failed relationships, financial successes, betrayals and infidelities, Max drifts through unfazed and eternally youthful, maintaining the appearance of a man in his late twenties throughout several decades, thanks to a mysterious glowing suitcase kept in the trunk of his car. Byington’s latest effort is his most assured and accessible work to date, infusing his eccentricbrand of comedy into a slightly more traditional, scripted mold while maintaining his inimitable sense of humor. In Person: Director Bob Byington.

Thu 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

Supporting Characters

2012 | USA | NR | 87 min.

Best friends and film editing team Nick (Alex Karpovsky, “Red Flag”) and Darryl (Tarik Lowe) are hired to save a messy indie film from its neurotic director. But what should have been a simple project ends up straining their relationships—both with each other and their significant others—as the innate stresses of the film business start taking their toll. And then Nick is offered a gig without Darryl, testing their friendship. Co-written by Lowe and director Daniel Schechter, this delightful contemporary New York buddy flick about trying to make movies and maintain your relationships at the same time is bolstered by a strong cast of notable indie stars including Kevin Corrigan, Melonie Diaz and Lena Dunham (“Tiny Furniture,” TCFF ‘10). In Person: Director Daniel Schechter and Actor Alex Karpovsky.

Sat 6 pm Old Town Playhouse | Sun 6 pm Lars Hockstad

On the Ice

2011 | USA | R | 96 min.

In the bone-chillingly cold town of Barrow, Alaska, Iñupiaq teenagers Qalli and Aivaaq have grown up like brothers in an isolated community that still clings to the old way of doing things while mainstream American culture seeps in through imported hip-hop and snowmobiles. While on a seal hunting expedition, a fight breaks out between the two boys and another teen that escalates to into a tragic accident, and Qalli and Aivaaq find themselves sharing a dark secret that tests the limits of their friendship. With the starkly beautiful Alaskan tundra providing the backdrop, this film is both a rare glimpse into a modern Inuit community and a suspenseful, icy thriller. In English and Iñupiaq with English subtitles.

Wed 3 pm Old Town Playhouse | Thu 9 am Milliken Auditorium

New Foreign Cinema


2009 | France | NR | 111 min.

A vibrant celebration of Roma culture set against the backdrop of World War II-era France, “Freedom” follows a close-knit band of Roma gypsies on their annual trek to a Vichy village to help with a wine harvest. The town’s mayor goes to great lengths to protect them from being harassed by the occupying Nazi forces, but it’s only a matter of time before the Nazis mount a campaign to round up the Roma and send them to an internment camp. Director Tony Gatlif (“Indignados”), who has proven himself a masterful chronicler of the Roma experience in past films like “Latcho Drom” and “Exile,” offers a graceful, poetic tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Roma who are often overlooked as victims of the Holocaust. In French, German and Romany with English subtitles.

Wed 9 am State Theatre | Sun Noon City Opera House


2011 | France, Luxembourg, UK, USA | R | 95 min.

In a culture that considers uncovered chair legs potentially obscene, what are a woman’s chances of having her needs met behind closed doors? This bubbly Victorian-era farce tells the unlikely story of the invention of the vibrator in an age that epitomized priggishness. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is a charming young doctor in 1880s London employed by Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), a physician who treats his female patients who have been diagnosed with hysteria with a special kind of “massage.” When the physical demands of Mortimer’s job get the best of him, his inventor friend (Rupert Everett) gives him an idea: an electric massager that simulates the doctors’ handiwork. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Felicity Jones also star in this pleasurable period piece, one of the best romantic comedies for the thinking woman in recent memory, and a film that you can watch with your parents and not blush (much).

Thu Noon State Theatre | Fri 6 pm Lars Hockstad

The Kid with a Bike
(Le Gamin Au Vélo)

2011 | Belgium, France, Italy | PG-13 | 87 min.

Cyril is a young and restless 11-year-old living in an orphanage in the working-class Belgian town of Sera-ing. Refusing to accept that he has been abandoned by his father, Cyril escapes the orphanage and starts hanging out near his former apartment, where he meets Samantha, a young hairdresser who agrees to take care of the boy on the weekends. Samantha becomes Cyril’s unlikely ward on his obsessive quest to recover his bike and reunite with his errant father. The latest film from brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne is infused with their signature understated naturalism, tempered by equal touches of early Truffaut and De Sica’s classic “Bicycle Thieves.” Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In French with English subtitles.

 Sun 9 am Lars Hockstad


2011 | UK | R | 123 min.

The first directorial effort from actor Ralph Fiennes updates one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known Roman political tragedies, set in the midst of a modern state resembling Iraq in the throes of war. Fiennes stars as a vicious military hero who finds himself ill-equipped for the political realm after a military victory earns him a berth in office. Fiennes’ debut feature confirms him as a talent behind the lens, eliciting breathtaking performances from his supporting cast (including Vanessa Redgrave and Jessica Chastain), who lend an urgency to the play’s literary language that fits seamlessly into the gritty, contemporary aesthetic. Aided by superb production design, a gripping pace and thrilling cinematography by “The Hurt Locker” lenser Barry Ackroyd, this tightly-plotted action thriller offers a timeless exploration of the internal workings of a country at war.

Thu Noon Milliken Auditorium | Sun 9 am Old Town Playhouse


2012 | Philippines, USA | NR | 84 min.

Set in the seedy underbelly of Manila, this tense thriller stars Filipino powerhouse Arnold Reyes as Marlon Villar, the long-time chauffeur for a notoriously corrupt politician who becomes entangled in a high-stakes kidnapping plot. After criminals mistake Villar’s daughter for the daughter of his boss, gruesomely slaying the latter in making their getaway, Villar sets out to rescue his child while the competing interests of the congressman and the kidnappers promise to make matters worse. With paralyzing urgency, this gritty political thriller favors suspense and intrigue rather than bombastic action, with smart twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. In Tagalog with English subtitles.

Thursday 9 pm City Opera House | Fri 3 pm Milliken Auditorium

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

2010 | China, Hong Kong PG-13 | 108 min.

On the eve of her coronation as China’s first female ruler, Wu Zetian’s colossal Buddha statue is nearing completion when a series of events threaten to de-rail the Empress’ rise to power. So she summons legendary sleuth and martial arts expert Detective Dee out of exile to solve the mystery. With the help of the beautiful and deadly Jing’er and albino guard Pei, Dee sets out to crack the case… and crack a few skulls along the way. Stunningly choreographed fightscenes abound in this intricately plotted whodunit, set in an exquisitely realized steampunk version of ancient China. A period epic from master Tsui Hark, “Detective Dee” is an action-packed, visually breathtaking Sherlock Holmesian mystery. In Mandarin with English subtitles.

Wed 3 pm Lars Hockstad | Sat Mid Old Town Playhouse


2011 | Norway, Germany| R | 100 min.

An executive-recruiter-cum-art-thief crosses the wrong man in this sleek, farcical and outlandishly violent thriller. Roger is a top-level headhunter who uses his connection to the upper tier of society to satiate his beautiful wife’s taste for luxury, supplementing his salary by stealing extremely valuable art from the homes of unsuspecting clients. But when he discovers that a Rubens worth tens of millions is just within reach, he sets off a chain of events that soon has him fleeing a special forces veteran and his henchmen through the Norwegian countryside. With a Coen Brothers-esque flair for combining dark humor and suspense, this twisty nail-biting film sets the bar high for action-packed thrills. In English, Norwegian, Danish and Russian with English subtitles.

Wed 9:30 pm State Theatre | Sun 9 pm Lars Hockstad

London River

2009 | UK, France, Algeria | NR | 87 min.

Set against the background of London’s bus bombings in July 2005,“London River” follows two parents from different backgrounds who are drawn to London to search for their college-aged offspring in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Elisabeth is a small-town Christian who arrives in the city suspicious and guarded;Sotigui is a French-African Muslim sent to check on a son he hasn’t seen since the boy was six; but the pair find common ground in the wake of the disaster. The latest work from Academy Award-nominated director Rachid Bouchareb (“Outside the Law,” “Days of Glory”) is an intimate drama driven by superb performances by its lead actors, in which small moments of personal hope accumulate into a globally significant message in the face of tragedy. In English, French and Arabic with English subtitles.

Thu Noon Lars Hockstad | Sun 6:30 pm City Opera House

Nova Zembla

2011 | Netherlands | NR | 108 min.

Set sail with a crew of swashbuckling Dutchmen and travel back to a time when much of the world was still unmapped, and the charting of new trade routes from Europe to the Indies meant wealth and power for those courageous and foolhardy enough to brave the seas. Based on the true story of a failed mission to discover a route to Asia across the Arctic Circle, this 16th century period piece follows Willem Barentsz and crew from the port of Amsterdam to an island north of Russia. When their ship gets stuck in the ice, the crew must fend off polar bears and frostbite in order to survive the harsh winter. Gorgeous cinematography and icily exotic locales will whisk you away in this epic, romantic seafaring adventure. In Dutch with English subtitles.

Wed Noon Lars Hockstad

Sleepless Night
(Nuit Blanche)

2011 | France, Belgium, Luxembourg | NR | 103 min.

Vincent is a cocky crooked cop who thinks he’s got all the angles covered, holding down a steady family life while earning a few extra bucks by collaborating with some shady drug dealers. But when he and his partner-in-crime are caught stealing copious amounts of cocaine from a local druglord, the dark side of his existence threatens to ruin his idyllic life, as he sets off in a race against time to return the drugs before the mobsters kill his young son. Set over the course of one night in a massive nightclub, this white- knuckled, nonstop visceral thrill ride has been deservedly hailed by critics as one of the year’s best action films. In French with English subtitles.

Fri 9 pm Lars

August 31st

2011 | Norway | NR | 95 min.

This striking film is international art cinema at its most beautiful and its most accessible. “Oslo, August 31st” follows a day in the life of Anders, an intelligent, vulnerable and handsome man on leave from rehab, facing his demons and the twilight of his youth. Anders travels from location to location and from encounter to encounter, botching a job interview, failing to connect with his sister, leaving messages for a lost love, and visiting a swimming pool that has closed for the season with a younger woman who seems to offer a fresh start. On a visual level, Joachim Trier’s second feature film is a love letter to the stylish and moody—even somber—Norwegian capital, which he succeeds in imbuing with tension, loneliness and melancholy. In Norwegian with English subtitles.

Thu 9 am State Theatre

Turn Me On, Dammit!
(Få meg På, For Faen)

2011 | Norway | NR | 76 min.

In the humdrum town of Skoddeheimen, 15-year-old Alma is a slave to her out-of-control hormones, which have been kept in check thanks only to a chipper phone-sex operator and a vivid imagination. She has also been crushing hard on school heartthrob Arthur, but when she finally seeks out his affections at a party, their quasi-lustful encounter is an awkward disaster—and after Alma’s catty classmates find out, they brand her with a rather cruel nickname. Winner of Best Screenplay at the Tribeca Film Festival, director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen’s hilarious narrative feature debut is a breath of fresh air in the male-dominated realm of teen sex comedies, addressing the frustrations that accompany blossoming female sexuality with a candid but light-hearted touch. In Norwegian with English subtitles.

Thu 9 pm Milliken Auditorium | Sun 9 pm City Opera House

Monsieur Lazhar

2011 | Canada | PG-13 | 94 min.

Seeking asylum in Montreal, Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar offers his services as a substitute teacher and quickly finds work filling in for a 6th grade class shaken by the tragic death of their well-liked teacher. But Lazhar finds himself out of hisdepth in the traumatized school, as he must both adapt to an institution whose educational methods differ significantly from those of his home country and also help the children heal. A film with a universal message that offers real insight intoloss, grief and the true role of an educator, this nuanced drama was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and is sure to change the opinion of anyone who thinks foreign cinema is not for them. In French with English subtitles.

Wed 9 pm State Theatre | Fri 9 am State Theatre

Whole Lotta Sole

2012 | UK | NR | 89 min.

The latest from Oscar winning film-maker and TCFF board member Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda,” “The Shore” TCFF ‘11) is a madcap Irish caper comedy about a botched heist in Belfast. The story follows Jimbo Reagan, a down-on-his-luck gambler with a debt to a local gangster who decides to pay off his dues by robbing a local fish market, only to find out that it is actually a front for the mobsters’ illegal operations. He decides to seek shelter in an antique store run by Joe Maguire (Brendan Fraser, perfectly cast as the fish-out-of-water American), who is taken hostage along with a few others by the increasingly desperate and ill-prepared Jimbo. Never lacking for riotously funny moments, “Whole Lotta Sole” is a tightly-plotted ensemble comedy with energy and wit to spare. In Person: Director Terry George.

Thu 3 pm State Theatre | Sat 6 pm Lars Hockstad

Dangerous Docs

Code of the West

2012 | USA | NR | 71 min.

Once a pioneer in the legalization of medical marijuana, Montana is on the brink of becoming the first state to repeal its medical marijuana law, thanks to a growing anti-drug movement sparked by a belief that lax industry regulations have led to marijuana being easily available to minors. The latest from filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen (who worked on “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11”) turns a keen eye on the courtroom drama surrounding an issue where the legal code has come in conflict with social norms, charting the key players in a debate that addresses state sovereignty and patients’ rights. As an increasing number of states—including Michigan—have come to disagree with the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a drug with no accepted medical use, the ongoing high-stakes showdown taking place in Montana is one with national implications. In Person: Director Rebecca Richman Cohen.

Sat 9 pm Milliken Auditorium

Bidder 70

2012 | USA  | NR | 71 min.

This year’s great environmental documentary tells the story of Tim DeChristopher, a young activist who stirred things up at a land auction that had been set up as a parting gift by the Bush Administration to allow the oil and gas industries to purchase the land surrounding Utah’s national parks. Using the number Bidder 70 given to him at the auction, DeChristopher won tens of thousands of acres of pristine land, saving them from environmental damage—but since he had no intention of paying up, his act of civil disobedience was met with the threat of massive fines and years in prison. Filmmakers Beth and George Gage follow DeChristopher in the months leading up to his trial as he rallied support to bring attention to this urgent issue, charting his heroic individual efforts in a time of global climate crisis. In Person: Directors Beth and George Gage.

Wed 3 pm Milliken Auditorium | Thu 3 pm City Opera House

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

2012 | USA | R | 91 min.

Subversive artist/political activist/ social media pioneer Ai Weiwei has been making international headlines ever since his controversial art installation shed light on the Chinese government’s cover-up of the death of over 5,000 elementary students in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. With bold works across media ranging from millions of ceramic sunflower seeds to discarded backpacks to Twitter posts, Ai Weiwei has captured the attention of both the global art community and the Chinese authorities, who have censored his blog, beat him up, detained him, and bulldozed his studio. Journalist-turned-filmmaker Alison Klayman manages an unprecedented, intimate portrait of this rock star of the art world in her feature debut, following a man whose work in the face of oppressive government censorshipblurs the line between art and politics. In English and Mandarin with English subtitles.

Wed 6 pm Lars Hockstad | Sat 6 pm Milliken

Big Boys Gone Bananas!*

2011 | Sweden, Denmark, Germany, US, UK| NR | 90 min.

In 2009, Swedish filmmakers Fredrik Gertten and Margarete Jangård were set to premiere their documentary “Bananas!*”—an exposé a about a group of Nicaraguan plantation workers who sued Dole for its use of illegal pesticides—at the Los Angeles Film Festival. But when Dole’s PR team
caught wind of the screening, they launched a campaign to have the film pulled from the festival. Gertten and Jangård’s latest documentary “Big
Boys Gone Bananas!*” captures their fight to screen their film against increasingly insurmountable odds, as the multi-national corporation came at them with threats of legal action and used their influence over the media to portray the filmmakers as the villains. The result is a thrilling David-and-Goliath story that offers testament to the power of documentary filmmaking as a means to combat the increasingly disproportionate power of corporations over individuals. In Person: Director Fredrik Gertten. In English and Swedish with English subtitles.

Wed 6 pm Milliken Auditorium

5 Broken Cameras

2011 | Palestine, Israel, France | NR | 90 min.

Six years ago in the Palestinian farming community of Bil’in, Emad Burnat purchased a video camera to record the birth of his son Jibreel. This joyous moment for his family, however, coincided with the invasion of Israeli bulldozers set to make way for Jewish colonists. Burnat joined in with 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.  However you feel about the Israel/Palestine issue when you walk into the theater, there is little doubt you will walk out feeling differently. A brilliant, wrenching, devastating film, not to be missed. In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles. In Person: Director Emad Burnat and family.

Fri 6 pm City Opera House | Sat Noon State Theatre


2012 | USA | NR | 82 min.

Take a trip back in time over two hundred million years to see dinosaurs as you’ve never seen them before. Through vividly imagined CGI, this cin- ematic journey brings the bizarre and violent lives of legendary creatures to the big screen, offering an immersive view of the world through the eyes of these great reptiles based on new scientific research. With a visual style reminiscent of silent cinema and introductory narration by the inimitable Werner Herzog, this stunning, weird and not-really-for-kids movie about animals eating animals made our heads spin—it’s hard to believe we’re living on the same planet today. Disney animator David Krentz and regular Herzog collaborator Erik Nelson offer a transfixing look at our planet’s past. In Person: Director Erik Nelson.

Sat Noon Lars Hockstad


2012 | USA | NR | 90 min.

Once a thriving metropolis of nearly two million inhabitants and a pillar of industry upholding the American economy, Detroit has faced a downward spiral that foreshadowed the economic recession which has since swept the rest of the nation. In postindustrial America, Detroit has become a shadow of its past self—in the words of one union leader, “the failure of the Great American Experiment.” In this visually stunning documentary, Oscar-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (“Jesus Camp,” TCFF ’06) have crafted a haunting, poetic collage of their hometown’s decline. Through the stories of a half dozen stalwart Motor City natives, including artists, business owners and laid off auto workers, Ewing and Grady’s “Detropia” gives a voice to those who continue to weather the storm in a city that embodies our nation’s recent economic decline. In Person: Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.

Sat 3 pm Milliken Auditorium | Sun 6 pm Old Town Playhouse

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey

2012 | USA | NR | 113 min.

In a story for the you-can’t-make- this-stuff-up files, “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” charts the meteoric rise to fame of Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, who went from homeless fanboy to frontman for the legendary rock band Journey in the course of a few short years.  After a friend uploaded videos of Pineda covering classic Journey songs to YouTube, he was discovered by Jour- ney guitarist Neal Schon, who plucked Pineda out of obscurity in Manilla and recruited him to go on tour as their new lead singer. Director Ramona Diaz smartly moves beyond simply using Pineda’s story as a backstage pass for the iconic group, focusing also on Pineda’s hard-fought early life and his struggle to cope with his newfound fame, while capturing more than enough concert footage to satisfy even the most rabid Journey fan. Meeting the members of this band is one of the best and most unexpected experiences you can have at this year’s festival. In English and Tagalog with English subtitles. In Person: Director Ramona S. Diaz and producer Capella Fahoome Brogden.

Thu 3 pm Lars | Fri 9 pm State Theatre


2012 | USA | NR | 97 min.

A richly layered and intimate view into a family who have loomed large over American politics for the last half century, this definitive biography of Ethel Kennedy offers a rare glimpse into the story of a remarkable woman. Director Rory Kennedy (“The Fence,” TCFF '10), the youngest daughter of Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy, crafts a deeply personal portrait of her famously private mother’s life from a veritable treasure trove of rare home movie footage as well as recent interviews with Ethel and her children, charting her mother’s transformation from vocal Democratic campaigner to single mother of 11 against RFK’s tragic arc. As much a family history as it is a window into a crucial period of American history, this moving documentary pays affectionate tribute to a woman whose life and legacy continue to influence the world for the better.

Fri 9 am Milliken Auditorium

Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story  

2012 | USA | NR | 67 min.

In the decade that defined rock and roll in America, no city rocked harder than Detroit in the 1960s. And during its brief six-year existence, the Grande Ballroom was at the center of it all as the launch pad for seminal acts like MC5, Ted Nugent and Iggy & the Stooges. This all-access pass to the legendary gritty rock scene in 1960s Detroit tells the story of the hallowed halls that started it all, featuring interviews with musicians from the Grande’s heyday (including B.B. King, Alice Cooper and Roger Daltrey); incredible never-before- seen performance footage of major acts like The Who; and rare archival photos. Director and Detroit native Tony D’Annuzio has crafted a celebratory tribute to a place that embodied the raw energy of the Motor City in the ‘60s—something any Michigander can be proud of. In Person: Director Tony D’Annunzio.

Thu 9 pm State Theatre | Sat 6 pm City Opera House

How to Survive A Plague

2012 | USA | NR | 109 min.

Making use of rare archival footage, this remarkable film chronicles and pays tribute to the civil rights movement forged in the bleakest days of the AIDS epidemic. The death toll of AIDS in the United States during the ’80s and early ’90s surpassed that of the Vietnam War by a factor of five, and indifference to the demands of the gay community for more rigorous medical research revealed deep-seated prejudices in Washington and the medical establishment. Made up primarily of HIV-positive men and women with no medical training, two coalitions, ACT UP and TAG, were formed with the goal of expediting the efforts of the slow-moving pharmaceutical industry to make AIDS a manageable condition. Set against a terrible backdrop of unremitting death and grief, this story is an account of a community’s will to survive, a blueprint for a successful grassroots campaign, and a testament to the strength at the heart of the gay rights movement.

Wed 9 pm Old Town Playhouse


2012 | Canada | NR | 82 min.

We live in an age of unprecedented financial debt, but what deeper debts are etched on the flip-side of that coin? Inspired by the premise of Margaret Atwood’s insightful book, “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth,” this cinematic essay explores the concept of debt fromfinancial, economic, moral, ecological and spiritual perspectives. DirectorJennifer Baichwal considers the debts implicated in territorial disputes in present-day Albania, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and federal crime and imprisonment, offering insightful and incisive commentary from a range of very smart people. The resulting narrative is spellbinding and intellectually stimulating, with vivid passages from Atwood’s writing juxtaposed against mesmerizing imagery to offer an examination of no less than the roots of social inequality. In English, Spanish and Albanian with English subtitles.

Wed 9 am Milliken Auditorium | Fri 3 pm City Opera House

The Flat

2011 | Israel, Germany | NR | 97 min.

When filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger’s grandmother passed away at age 98, he was tasked with clearing out the flat in Tel Aviv in which she had lived for over 75 years; as a documentarian, naturally he decided to film the process. What awaited him was a rich trove of family history that had been amassed since his grandparents immigrated from Nazi Germany in the 1930s: a veritable mountain of letters, photos and memorabilia. Sifting through the ancient ephemera, Goldfinger began to uncover the clues to shocking secrets from his family’s past from the years before World War II. An award winner at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, this emotionally entrancing documentary offers a fascinating family portrait and an insightful look at the ways different generations deal with the memory of the Holocaust. In English, Hebrew and German with English subtitles. In Person: Director Arnon Goldfinger.

Thu 6 pm State Theatre | Sat 3 pm City Opera House

Journey to Planet X

2012 | USA | NR | 78 min.

Eric Swain and Troy Bernier are geologists by trade, but their real passion lies in their after-hours hobby: making imaginative and often unintentionally funny low-budget science fiction films. Armed with a cast of wannabe actors, some basic editing skills and a working knowledge of green screen, Swain and Bernier’s latest project is their most ambitious to date—an epic adventure through outer space to the mysterious Planet X. Filmmakers Myles Kane and Josh Koury create a wacky, affectionate love letter to amateur craftsmen and fanatical hobbyists everywhere, as they follow the duo’s ardent mission to overcome their lack of technical know-how and realize their vision on the big screen. This hilarious, touching tribute to the joys of filmmaking in its most essential form is sure to bring out your inner film geek. In Person: Directors Josh Koury and Myles Kane.

Fri Noon State Theatre | Sat 9 pm Lars Hockstad

Jiro Dreams of Sushi  

2011 | USA | PG | 81 min.

Sometimes greatness comes in them humblest packages. Such is the case for Sukiyabashi Jiro, the seeming hole-in-the-wall sushi bar located in a Tokyo subway station. It is owned and run by Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old master considered by many to be the greatest sushi chef alive. If sushi were a religion, then Jiro’s kitchen—the first of its kind to receive three Michelin stars—would be its most sacred temple, serving sushi connoisseurs and food critics from around the world, 10 at a time, for upwards of $350 a meal. David Gelb’s documentary takes viewers beyond the astonishing beauty of Jiro’s creations to show us the vision and sense of purpose driving their creator. The master’s genius shines through in elegant photography that makes this film a feast for the eyes. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Sun 9 pm State Theatre

The Revisionaries

2012 | USA | NR | 83 min.

In the heart of the conservative south, the 15 volunteer members of the Texas Board of Education convene once a decade to decide on textbook standards for the state’s schools—decisions that, due to Texas’ purchasing power, ultimately effect schoolbook publications across the nation. Spearheaded by Don McLeroy—an Evangelical Christian and a dentist by trade—the BOE has made its way to the forefront of our nation’s culture wars, overseeing changes to science and social studies curricular, like cutting Thomas Jefferson from the history books, that fit with the staunchly religious views of McLeroy and other fundamentalist board members.  First-time filmmaker Scott Thurman’s rousing documentary offers a remarkably even-handed look behind the curtain at the impassioned debate as Democrats and more moderate Republicans start to fight back against this violation of the separation of church and state.

Fri 3 pm State Theatre | Sun 9 pm Milliken Auditorium

The World Before Her

2012 | Canada | NR | 91 min.

Ruhi and Ankita are two young, beautiful women competing for the title of Miss India in a beauty pageant in Bombay; winning would give them access to a lucrative career in the beauty industry, one of few opportunities for women in their patriarchal society. At the other end of India’s cultural spectrum, Prachi attends a Durgha Vahini camp run by a group of Hindu fundamentalists, where young women are taught lessons on gun use, and given fitness training and spiritual teaching with the aim of protecting Hinduism and the old India. Winner of the award for Best Documentary at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, director Nisha Pahuja’s film smartly juxtaposes these two extremes of Indian society to examine what it means to be a women in modern India, where the tension between Westernization and preserving the old culture clashes at regular intervals. In English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati with English subtitles.

Fri 6 pm Milliken Auditorium

Scenes of a Crime

2011 | USA | NR | 88 min.

For those of you convinced that you could never be talked into confessing to a crime you didn’t commit—consider this a wake-up call. In September 2008, Adrian Thomas’s 4-month-old son Matthew was pronounced dead at a hospital in upstate New York, with brain trauma that was quickly (and
erroneously) attributed to abuse. The police on the case, already convinced that Adrian was guilty of murdering his own son, set about interrogating
Adrian over the course of ten hours with the intent of extracting a confession at all costs. Using chilling footage from the interrogation and interviews with key players in the case, filmmakers Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh  craft a damning a critique of the sophisticated psychological manipulation employed in modern police interrogation to elicit confessions.

Wed Noon Old Town Playhouse | Sat Noon Milliken Auditorium

Side by Side

2012 | USA | NR | 99 min.

As America’s movie theaters are being driven by the big studios to move to digital projection, 2012 may well be remembered as the year celluloid film died. Digital filmmaking technology has advanced beyond its humble roots to become the ubiquitous medium of the cinema over the course of the past several years—but what has been gained and lost along the way, and where is it all leading? This illuminating documentary, produced and narrated by Keanu Reeves, gathers some of the biggest names in the industry, including directors Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, David Fincher and Christopher Nolan, to voice their opinions on the future of cinema. Whether you’re part of the old guard lamenting the loss of celluoid, or among those lauding the democratization of technology enabled by digital, this is a must-see doc for anyone interested in the history and future of film. In Person: Director Chris Kenneally.

Wed Noon Milliken Auditorium | Fri 6 pm Old Town Playhouse


2012 | USA | NR | 90 min.

During the last decade, the plummeting rate of international adoptions has left more and more children, for one reason or another, spending their early years and sometimes their entire lives in orphanages. “Stuck” brings the viewer on a journey to explore the crisis plaguing international adop-
tion at its roots, traveling to Ethiopia, Vietnam and Haiti, and into the halls of power in Washington, DC. A testament to the power of human love and the inexplicable connection between parent and child—even when separated by thousands of miles and seemingly insurmountable obstacles—this love story of a different kind celebrates the indefatigable human spirit, the loyalty and the devotion that bonds these parents and kids together as families. In person: Executive Producer Craig Juntunen with his adopted children.

Fri 9 am Old Town Playhouse

Sexy Baby

2012 | USA | NR | 83 min.

Parents of teenage girls—prepare yourselves for one of the scariest films you’ll ever see. The directorial debut from filmmakers Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus follows the lives of three characters to shed a light on the toll that our hypersexualized culture has taken on our nation’s women. Former adult film star Nikita Kash now makes a living teaching women to pole dance; 22-year-old elementary teacher Laura, spurred on by her porn-loving boyfriend, opts for expensive labiaplasty surgery; and 12-year-old Winnie grows up much faster than her parents can handle. This eye-opening film examines the seismic shift in our society in an age where courtship has been replaced by sexting and kids have access to online porn before sex ed— it’s sure to be a conversation-starter. Warning: graphic images; parents of teens are cautioned.

Thu 6 pm Milliken Auditorium

West of Memphis

2012 | USA | NR | 150 min.

In 1994, the West Memphis Three—Damian Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelly—were tried and wrongfully found guilty of the gruesome murder of three eight-year-old boys. Their case has held the nation’s attention for nearly two decades, as media attention (including the “Paradise Lost” documentary trilogy) led to an overwhelming amount of support from those who saw the trial as a gross miscarriage of justice. Produced by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson (a longstanding advocate for the Three), the latest documentary from Academy Award-nominated director Amy Berg (“Deliver Us from Evil,” TCFF ‘07) offers a fresh and comprehensive examination of the trial and its aftermath, giving a new platform for the victims’ families and drawing shocking new conclusions that could shape future investigationsinto the true identity of the murderer.

Sat 9 am Old Town Playhouse | Sun 3 pm City Opera House

The Queen of Versailles  

2012 | USA, Netherlands, UK, Denmark | PG | 100 min.

The American Dream has fallen on hard times of late, a sad truth captured in comically tragic proportions in the rags-and-riches story of billionaire time share mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie, the former Ms. Florida 1993. The film begins with their quest to build one of the largest single-family houses in America, a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace complete with its own 20-car garage and two-lane bowling alley. But as the economic crisis hits, the couple is forced to make adjustments, like most Americans. With acclaimed photographer Lauren Greenfield at the helm, this playfully insightful and jaw-drop inducing film taps into the zeitgeist of the recession and offers an engrossing character study of a couple whose seemingly singular life boils down to something very familiar for all of us Americans.

Wed Noon State Theatre | Sun 3 pm Lars Hockstad


Let the Bullets Fly
(Rang Zidan Fei)

2010 | China, Hong Kong | NR | 132 min.

Director and star Jiang Wen brings us an epic tale of mistaken identities, double-crossings and high-flying fighting in this 1920s-set East-meets-Western action comedy. Wen plays Pocky, an outlaw masquerading as a politician whose arrival into town angers the presiding mobster (Chow Yun-Fat), who has long relied on local officials as a tool of his oppression. What starts as just another con turns into a mission of vengeance as the two martial arts powerhouses leads to an outrageous series of mind-games—with deadly consequences. Equal parts riotous and vicious, China’s highest grossing domestic release of all time delivers brutal slapstick comedy that proves pratfalls and badassness know no boundaries. In Mandarin with English subtitles.

Wed Midnight State Theatre 

The Raid: Redemption
(Serbuan Maut)

2011 | Indonesia | R | 100 min.

An elite special-forces team is met with 15 floors of fury as they attempt to extract a brutal and ruthless mobster from a high-rise apartment building. After their cover is blown, it is up to the team’s untested rookie to go commando on a veritable army of thugs and goons as increasingly dangerous fights to the death lurk around every corner. This slick action flick with a death toll too high to count gives law enforcement films a kickass martial arts twist. Already taking the world by storm, the meticulous choreography and literal wall-to-wall action will leave you begging for more. In Indonesian with English subtitles.

Sat Midnight State Theatre


2011 | USA | R | 103 min.

Breathing new life into the found footage horror genre, “V/H/S”  calls on five up-and-coming film-makers (David Bruckner, Ti West, Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard and Glenn McQuaid) to show just how devious and warped their young minds can be. After a group of aimless hipsters is hired by a mysterious third party to retrieve a tape of unknown contents and origins, the would- be burglars are confronted with a dead body amidst an avalanche of old VHS tapes, giving them just a taste of the terror that awaits. What follows are five gruesome stories from the stack of tapes, each more twisted than the last and with their own set of deadly consequences.

Fri Midnight State Theatre

Shorts for Midnight

Program Runtime: 86 min.

Anatomically correct robots, a vicious band of wounded Vikings and a roaming group of ghostly foxes trek to the Old Town Playhouse in this year’s collection of late-night shorts that range from violently funny to just flat-out violent. In the satirical “Mulvar is Correct Candidate,” an alien’s campaign ad betrays his shallow understanding of Earth’s political system, while in “Slug Invasion” a hungry army of elite mollusk soldiers take on an elderly lady in a battle for garden space. “Zoltan: The Hungarian Gangster of Love” is the Don Juan of his rural village, and two robots with delusions of grandeur plan the ultimate heist in “Machines of the Working Class.” These shorts—and more!—are not for the faint of heart.  

Foxes Lorcan Finnegan | 2011 | Ireland | 16 min.

Hellion Kat Candler | 2012 | USA | 6 min.

The House on the Lake (La casa del lago) Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia | 2011 | Spain | 12 min.

Intermission Time Michael Degg | 2011 | USA | 4 min.

Machines of the Working Class James Dastoli, Robert Dastoli | 2011 | USA | 2 min.

Meaning of Robots Matt Lenski | 2012 | USA | 4 min.

A Morning Stroll Grant Orchard | 2011 | UK | 7 min.

Mulvar is Correct Candidate! Patrick Désilets | 2011 | Canada | 1 min.

Slug Invasion The Animation Workshop | 2012 | Denmark | 7 min.

Tumult Johnny Barrington | 2011 | UK | 13 min.

Zoltan: The Hungarian Gangster of Love Justin Reardon | 2010 | USA, Hungary | 14 min.

Thu Midnight Old Town Playhouse

(Arme Riddere)

2011 | Norway | NR | 90 min.

In this gleefully gory action comedy with a decidedly Scandinavian sense of deadpan humor, the scene opens on a terrified Oscar Svendsen, who awakens amid a pile of dead bodies in the midst of a crime scene in a sex shop and finds himself staring down the barrel of a cop’s gun. Naturally, he is taken into custody, where he timidly recounts a tale of murder and betrayal following a disagreement over just how to split up the winnings from a shared lottery ticket with his three ex-con co-workers. Fast-paced and gripping from the onset, “Jackpot” has all the hallmarks of the perfect late night popcorn flick. In Norwegian with English subtitles.

Thu Midnight State Theatre

Michigan Filmmaker Award

Did you know that two important genres of cinema were invented/pioneered by Michiganders? Both Documentary (by the U.P.’s Robert “Nanook of the North” Flaherty), and Animation were born in the Great Lake State—and this year we’re paying posthumous tribute to Winsor McCay, the man who made the world’s first animated feature film. The Spring Lake-born cartoonist got his art training at Eastern Michigan University before shaking up the comics world with creations like “Little Nemo” and “Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend.” McCay’s inimitable genius influenced no less than Bill Watterson, Maurice Sendak, Bill Plympton and Walt Disney. We are fortunate to have Bill Plympton in person to celebrate Winsor McCay’s legacy.

Winsor McCay, Michigan Filmmaker Award Winner

Program Runtime: 70 min.

From the mad genius mind of one of America’s first film animators, this group of short films by Winsor McCay offers both an important window into the early days of animation as well as some of the most imaginative and bizarrely hilarious films you’re likely to see anywhere. Contemporary animator and friend of the festival Bill Plympton will be your guide through McCay’s early works, showcasing several of his most famous shorts as well as a some of the important animation influenced by McCay, culminating with Plympton’s hand-crafted restoration of McCay’s 1921 film “The Flying House.” In Person: Bill Plympton.

The Flying House (restored) McCay & Bill Plympton | 2012 | USA | 9 min.

The Flying House Winsor McCay | 1921 | USA | 11 min.

Gertie the Dinosaur Winsor McCay | 1914 | USA | 12 min.

How a Mosquito Operates Winsor McCay | 1912 | USA | 6 min.

Ko-Ko’s Earth Control Dave Fleischer | 1928 | USA | 6 min.

The Pet Winsor McCay | 1921 | USA | 11 min.

The Sinking of the Lusitania Winsor McCay | 1918 | USA | 12 min.

Sun Noon Old Town Playhouse

Spike & Mike

Spike & Mike’s New Generation Festival of Animation  

Program Runtime: 65 min.

A bold new innovation in animation anthology from the venerable Spike & Mike, this collection of off-the-wall shorts focuses on the flat-out best and funniest animation that the world has to offer. It’s a brain-slapping assortment of award-winning animated accomplishments from the top talents around the globe, including Bill Plympton and PES, as well as Oscar nominated shorts, and many, many more. Don’t miss your chance to witness the most impressive and electrifying possibilities that creativity has to offer, debuting right here in Traverse City. In Person: Craig “Spike” Decker.  

Fri 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation

Program Runtime: 73 min.

Spike & Mike’s collections of Sick and Twisted shorts have been pushing the boundaries of animation for 25 years with edgy characters and adult comedy. For the Traverse City Film Festival, they have uncompromisingly thrown together another series that shouldn’t be missed by those who appreciate animation with graphic content. A welcome rebellion against the genre for those brave enough to venture out late at night. In Person: Craig “Spike” Decker.

Wed Midnight Old Town Playhouse

Special Screenings

Native American Matinee: Up Heartbreak Hill

2011 | USA | NR | 88 min.

Chronicling the lives of three Native American teenagers in Navajo, New Mexico, this poignant and sincere documentary reveals what it’s like to come of age on a reservation. Along with the normal stresses that accompany students during their senior year of high school, punk-rock runner Thomas, over-achieving Tamara, and artist Gabby have to make the difficult decision about whether to remain in their community or leave it behind for educational and economic opportunities elsewhere. For this group of teenagers, saying goodbye not only means leaving behind family and friends, but also the traditions that have made them who they are. By following the next generation of Navajo leaders, director Erica Scharf confronts the complex pressures surrounding what it means to be Native American in the contemporary world. In Person: Director Erica Scharf.

Sun 9 am State Theatre

The Dictator– Director's Cut

2012 | USA | NR | 120 min. Live from Traverse City, director Larry Charles exclusively brings us the extended director’s cut of “The Dictator,” featuring never-before-seen footage, entire deleted scenes, and perhaps even a few juicy tidbits from behind the scenes. In Charles’ latest outing, Sasha Baron Cohen plays everyone’s friendly neighborhood dictator, Admiral General Hafez Aladeen, who finds himself working in a New York vegan co-op and wooing its eco-activist manager (Anna Faris) after falling victim to a kidnapping plot. Needless to say, hijinks and cultural misunderstandings ensue in this outrageous and off-color comedy. Leave your political correctness at the door for an evening that pushes the boundaries of comedy. In Person: Director Larry Charles.

Sat 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

Drive-in Movie

On Monday, July 30, at  dusk, get the full 1950s experience as the west lawn area of the Turtle Creek Casino plays host to its own FREE modern-day Drive-in! Simply tune your AM radio to a specific station and you can enjoy this blast from the past through your car speakers while snacking on free popcorn and other concessions available for purchase.

The War of the Worlds

1953 | USA | PG | 85 min.

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt this program for a special news bulletin. At dusk on Monday, July 30, prepare for the Martian invasion of Turtle Creek Casino as we continue our look back at some of 1950s sci-fi’s greatest drive-in treats. When a meteor crashes to earth, what begins as an exciting discovery for Dr. Clayton Forrester escalates into the war to end all wars. Rising out of the ground, these metallic manta death rays are on a mission to conquer planet Earth, and it is up to Clayton not only to stay alive, but also to defeat the invaders using modern science. With classic b-movie charm, this adaptation of the H.G. Wells story, updated for the nuclear age, features Academy Award-winning special effects with thrills and fun for the whole family.  

Mon Dusk Casino

Mike's Surprise

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What surprise does Mike have in store for us this year? Festival founder, president, and programmer Michael Moore will show up with… a sneak preview of a big Hollywood movie? A buried treasure that the public hasn’t seen in years? A home movie? Nobody knows until the show begins, sometimes not even Mike. Whatever the surprise is this year, only the curious and the brave should attend.

Sun Noon Lars Hockstad


Shorts – Documentaries 1

Program Runtime: 103 min.

With a strong sense of the personal side of social change, this triptych of moving documentaries charts the efforts of brave citizens who fight to change their homes for the better. “After the Factory” examines the effects of the global economic crisis with a comparison of fallen industrial strongholds Detroit and Lodz in Poland; “My Neighborhood” follows a Palestinian teenager who forms an unlikely friendship with Israeli activists; and “Maestra” pays tribute to the thousands of young women in Cuba in the 1960s who volunteered to combat illiteracy in the country, with astonishing results.

After the Factory Philip Lauri | 2012 | USA | 44 min.

Maestra Catherine Murphy | 2011 | USA, Cuba | 34 min.

My Neighbourhood Julia Bacha, Rebekah Wingert | 2012 | USA, Israel, Palestine | 25 min.

Wed 6 pm Old Town Playhouse

Shorts – Fiction 1

Program Runtime: 105 min.

Featuring a mix of animated and live-action shorts, this alternately touching, wacky and hilarious group of films is sure to delight. In “I Am Round,” a girl who is born round in a world of squares doesn’t seem to fit society’s mold, and a sleepy city’s “Swimming Pool” provides the perfect meet-cute for two sneaky skinny dippers. “Café Regular, Cairo” offers a frank and honest look at modern Arab society as a couple meets at a café to talk through the first crisis in their relationship, while a nebbish “Little Dad” bumbles his way through imparting an important life lesson to his crossdressing seven-year-old son.

(notes on) biology Will Madden | 2011 | USA | 6 min.

Adirake Tati Barrantes, Andinh Ha | 2012 | Thailand | 6 min.

The Black Balloon Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie | 2012 | USA | 21 min.

The Centrifuge Brain Project Till Nowak | 2011 | Germany | 7 min.

Café Regular, Cairo Ritesh Batra | 2011 | Egypt, India | 11 min.

I Am Round (Jag är rund) Mario Adamson | 2011 | Sweden | 14 min.

Julian Matthew Moore | 2011 | Australia | 14 min.

Little Dad Noah Pritziker | 2012 | USA | 12 min.

Song of the Spindle Drew Christie | 2011 | USA | 5 min.

Summer Bummer Bill Plympton | 2012 | USA | 2 min.

Swimming Pool Alexandra Hetmerová | 2010 | Czech Republic | 7 min.

Sat Noon City Opera House

Shorts – Documentaries 2

Program Runtime: 99 min.

From the philosophical musings of the workers who wash windows on skyscrapers to the secret lives of housecats, these award-winning shorts have garnered acclaim at some of the world’s top festivals. “Aaron Burr, Part 2” gives one of history’s villains a chance to tell his side of the story, while in “I’m Never Afraid!” an eight-year-old motorcross champion laughs in the face of danger, and in “Grandmothers,” the stories of Argentinian women whose grandchildren were “disappeared” is given a lyrical animated treatment.

Aaron Burr, Part 2 Dana O’Keefe | 2011 | USA | 9 min.

Baseball in the Time of Cholera David Darg, Bryn Mooser | 2012 | Haiti | 27 min.

Catcam Seth Keal | 2012 | USA | 15 min.

Grandmothers (Abuelas) Afarin Eghbal | 2011 | UK | 9 min.

I’m Never Afraid! (Ik ben echt niet bang!) Willem Baptist | 2010 | Netherlands | 20 min.

The Little Team (L’equip petit) Roger Gómez, Dani Resines | 2011 | Spain | 9 min.

Paraíso Nadav Kurtz | 2012 | USA | 10 min.

Sun 9 am Milliken Auditorium

Shorts – Fiction 2

Program Runtime: 96 min.

This group of stunningly crafted shorts trades in high drama and mounting tension as the films’ protagonists are forced to make difficult decisions. Featuring a cast of Somali refugees, “Asad” follows a young boy faced with a choice between falling in with pirates or living an honest, humble life, while in the drug ballad “Narcocorrido,” a pill-popping cop finds herself in over her head after a border shakedown goes awry, and in “Unmanned,” a young drone pilot living thousands of miles away from the warzone gets a harsh wake-up call in the aftermath of an errant missile strike.

43,000 Feet Campbell Hooper | 2012 | New Zealand | 9 min.

Asad Bryan Buckley | 2012 | USA | 18 min.

Narcocorrido Ryan Prows | 2011 | USA | 24 min.

Under Mark Raso | 2011 | Canada | 23 min.

Unmanned Casey Cooper Johnson | 2011 | USA | 22 min.

Sat 3 pm Old Town Playhouse

Shorts – Ann Arbor Film Festival Michael Moore Award Winners

Program Runtime: 114 min.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of another great Michigan film festival—one that has long been a haven for avant-garde and experimental masters from around the world—we are proud to present three recent winners of the Ann Arbor Film Festival’s Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film: a city symphony on the crazed pace of modern China’s urbanization, a view onto a remote island off the Peruvian coast where workers harvest the droppings of thousands of birds once every 11 years, and a portrait of life in a region of  northern Russia that is still contending with the debris from hydrogen bomb testing.

Thu 3 pm Old Town Playhouse | Fri 6:30 pm Dutmers Theater

Disorder (Xianshi Shi Guoqu De Weilai) Weikai Huang | 2009 | China | 58 min.

Guañape Sur János Richter | 2010 | Italy, Peru | 24 min.

On the Third Planet from the Sun Pavel Medvedev | 2006 | Russia | 32 min.

Shorts -U of M Student Thesis Films

Program Runtime: 64 min.

These shorts from University of Michigan’s senior production class, plus a special short from Interlochen Arts Academy, showcase some of our state’s top young filmmaking talent. In “DUVID,” piety and pleasure collide when Duvid Stern is taken from his sheltered, ultra-orthodox community and introduced to the underground rave scene of New York City.  When Ashley loses her “V Card,” bringing the virgin tally in the apartment to two, her roommates Laura and Jessica make a pact to go all the way, just in time for Laura’s 22nd birthday. And in “Second Star,” two young siblings have to learn to make it on their own.

Thu Noon City Opera House

DUVID Chelsea Rebecca | 2012 | USA | 27 min.

The V Card Jake Burnstein, Brandon Verdi | 2012 | USA | 30 min.

Second Star Savannah Power | 2012 | USA | 7 min.

Kids Fest!

Kids Fest Lawn Party!

Last year’s inaugural Kids Fest was such a hit that we’re bringing it back again this year! After the $1 family movies at Lars Hockstad Wednesday- Saturday at 9:30 am, join us on the beautiful lawn outside for games, arts and crafts, performances, sports, bubbles, music, tiny tots area, family comfort station, food, give aways, misting tents courtesy of Team Bobs, and much more. The Northern Michigan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is even creating Thor’s castle for the kids to explore! Kids Fest takes over the lawn outside Lars Hockstad Auditorium Wednesday, August 1 – Saturday, August 4 from 11 am to 2 pm. Bring some sunscreen and kids ready to have fun—the water and entertainment are on us!

The Crocodiles

2009 | Germany | NR | 98 min.

Bring your tweens to meet the German equivalent of “The Goonies” in this blockbuster hit from across the ocean. The Crocodiles are a close-knit group of 11-year-old friends who build forts, issue dares to one another, and generally horse around. Then a resourceful newcomer to town wants in on the gang, and his wheelchair becomes an issue. Part “The Outsiders,” part Hardy Boys, part “Stand By Me,” this fast-paced, mystery-driven film breaks down stereotypes and celebratesthe bonds of friendship. Warning: dialogue in this German film is stronger than an American audience may be used to. Slurs and stereotypes are expressed not for shock value, but rather as part of a larger and more important narrative about kids learning how hurtful their exclusionary actions and hateful words can be…and then how we learn to make amends. In German with English subtitles.

The Crocodiles Recommended Ages 10 11 12 13 14 15

Fri 9:30 am Lars Hockstad

Circus Dreams

2011 | USA | NR | 82 min.

Some kids are natural born entertainers, and for the American youngeters who discover a passion for the circus arts, Circus Smirkus is a natural home. Each year, the only traveling youth circus in the US assembles the finest young performers for a summer tour of 70 shows. This great documentary captures it all, from the grueling auditions to the inspiring success of a standing ovation. Meet clowns, trapeze artists and jugglers as they experience the highs and lows of collaborative performance, polish their acts and nervously await the audience’s reaction. “Circus Dreams” perfectly balances the fun of the circus with behind-the-scenes drama in a moving demonstration of what dedication, passion, talent and ambition make possible—no matter what your demographic. This film is appropriate for all ages; the little ones will watch the performances in awe, but thematically the film is better suited for slightly older kids. In English.

Circus Dreams Recommended Ages 7 8 9 10 11 12

Wed 9:30 am Lars Hockstad

Legends of Valhalla: Thor

2011 | Germany, Iceland, Ireland | NR | 85 min.

Pack up your young superheroes and come see the story of Thor’s beginnings, created by animators from Iceland over the course of seven years. It’s a delightful, beautifully animated and original take on the story of young Thor, who lives in a peaceful village with his human mother, and doesn’t have much to do with his father Odin, King of the Gods. But when an army of giants and Hel, the Queen of the Underworld, attack the village, Thor must foil an evil plot that endangers the world of both men and the Gods. Fortunately for Thor, a talking hammer named Crusher falls from the sky, claiming to be an all-powerful weapon. If your kids like Disney and Dreamworks films, this one is for them, with great characters who spring off the screen, and comedy that plays for the young and old alike. Dubbed in English.

Legends of Valhalla: Thor Recommended Ages 3 4 5 6 7 8

Sat 9:30 am Lars Hockstad

Shorts for Kids with Magic Piano

Program Runtime: 75 min.

A perennial favorite of kids fest programming, our collection of short films from all over the world this year features the 25-minute masterwork “Magic Piano,” about a young girl named Anna whose father is forced to leave her in Warsaw with her aunt so he can go to London in search of work. While trying to hide from her annoying cousin Chip-Chip, she discovers a magic piano in a garbage pile that transports them over the ocean through stormy weather to a safe harbor. Shortlisted for an Oscar, “Magic Piano” is one in a series of shorts set to Chopin’s études. This year’s shorts also introduce us to a frenetic beaver, a life-saving fox, Martians having a picnic, a mouse who wants a friend, and everyone’s favorite Android, Floyd. Appropriate for all ages. In English.

Shorts for Kids Recommended Ages 3 4 5 6 7 8

Thu 9:30 am Lars Hockstad

Supporter Screenings

Friends Only Screenings:

Saturday, July 28 1 pm at Lars Hockstad Auditorium

The Intouchables
Saturday, July 28 4 pm at Lars Hockstad Auditorium

Founders Screening:The Queen of Versailles
Sunday, July 29 1 pm at the State Theatre

Volunteer Screening:Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey
Monday, July 30 6 pm at Lars Hockstad Auditorium

Friends of the Film Festival!

We’re throwing a movie party! Friends of the Film Festival, join us for Friends Only movies on Saturday, July 28, featuring award winning films not seen anywhere else in the festival. These screenings are for Friends Only, but don’t worry, there is still time to become a 2012 Friend! To renew or purchase a membership for the 2012 festival, log on to our web site, call 231-392-1134 or email Some changes are coming to the Friends program in 2013. Sign up for your 2013 Friends of the Film Festival membership starting July 21!


2012 | USA | NR | 86 min.

On the front lines with firefighters combating blazes in the city with the highest rate of arson in the nation, “BURN” gives a close-up view of those tasked with the thankless job of rescuing a city many others have written off. Once a flourishing beacon of industry, Detroit is now seen by many as a vast wasteland of abandoned buildings left as kindling. But hope rises from the ashes in the form of the resolute spirit of the brave few who refuse to give up on city they call home. From executive producer Dennis Leary, this riveting and inspiring documentary spends a year in one of the nation’s busiest and worst-funded firehouses, with the men who stand tall in the face of the daily threat of injury and worse. Each of the firefighters has a story to tell, which this documentary smartly wraps into a larger analysis of the flaws in the system at large in this emotionally-charged portrait of some of our nation’s true heroes. In Person: Firefighters from Detroit’s Engine Company 50.

Sat 7/28 1 pm Lars Hockstad

The Intouchables

2011 | France | R | 112 min.

A massive box-office hit in its home country, shattering all the records to become the second most successful French film of all time, this heartwarming crowd pleaser tells the story of the unlikely friendship between stuffy, wheelchair bound millionaire Philippe (François Cluzet, “Tell No One” TCFF ’08) and his newly-hired, street-wise Senegalese caretaker Driss, who applied for the job with the hopes of being rejected so he could stay on welfare. These two men from opposite ends of the social spectrum grow close as they begin to see the world through each other’s eyes: Philippe teaches Driss about opera and fine art, while Driss helps Philippe see the joy in life again. With a winning chemistry between the two leads as their friendship blossoms, this heartwarming crowd-pleaser is a winning, feel-good comedy. In French with English subtitles.

Sat 7/28 4 pm Lars Hockstad

TCFF Filmmaker Panels and Film School

Free Daily Film Industry Panels

Join our visiting filmmakers as they tell stories far away from Hollywood, New York and abroad, mixing it up with each other and the audience. Pan- els begin at 9:30 am Wednesday-Sunday at the City Opera House. Panel topics are subject to change.


Women, Women, Women

Women filmmakers have not reached a level of equality with their male colleagues in the movie industry, but increasingly, they are finding ways to make great movies and tell their stories. We’ll hear some of this year’s female filmmakers talk about their experiences behind the camera. Scheduled to appear: Moderator Rebecca Reynolds and panelists Julia Bacha (“My Neighbourhood”), Ramona Diaz (“Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey”), Paola Mendoza (“Entre Nos”), Julia Reichert (“Growing Up Female”).


Who’s Laughing Now?

The ice caps may be melting, the economy may be suffering, and Kim Kardashian may very well be the most famous person in America, but it’s nothing a little laughter can’t fix. Join Larry Charles and friends for a morning of wisecracks, witticisms, humor and repartees as we explore the funny business of making comedy. Scheduled to appear: Larry Charles (“The Dictator”), Bob Byington (“Somebody Up There Likes Me”), Eric Kissack (“Missed Connections”), Josh Koury (“Journey to Planet X”).


Michigan Film Commisson

This year we’ve seen lots of great movies that were made in Michigan under the tax incentive law. Will that happen again next year, and the year after that? Attend the public meeting held bi-monthly by the Governor’s Michigan Film Office Advisory Council (of which TCFF founder Michael Moore is a member appointed by the governor – um, the last governor!). Hear first hand about the fate of Michigan’s film incentive program, which once was the best in the nation. This is a public meeting, so that means we want you, the public, to come and participate in the part of your government that is set up to support the art of filmmaking. Audience participation will be encouraged—come to ask questions or share ideas.


Film is Dead! Long Live Floppy Disks!

We are in the final year—that’s right, 2012—of films being made with…film! As the digital revolution sweeps over contemporary filmmaking, every digitally produced and released success story is a threat, not only to the authentic cinematic experience, but also to the long-term preservation of film. Whether you are a celluloid purist or could really care less, this eye-opening panel will change the way you think about the technology of filmmaking and the potentially catastrophic implications for our film heritage. Scheduled to appear: Moderator Michael Moore and panelists Mark Cousins (“The Story of Film”), Chapin Cutler (Principal, Boston Light & Sound), Alex Karpovsky (“Supporting Characters” and ”Red Flag”), Christopher Kenneally (“Side by Side”), Wim Wenders (“Wings of Desire”).


Wim Wenders One On One

After screening some of Wim Wenders’ greatest works at the festival this year, Michael Moore will join the legendary director for an intimate discussion about a life in movies. From drama to documentary and even 3D, don’t miss this rare opportunity to sit down with a one of the few great masters in the history of cinema. A panel not to be missed!

TCFF Film School

Returning this year to Scholars Hall, thanks to our sponsor Northwestern Michigan College, our Film School offers twice-daily sessions, at 12 noon and 3 pm, Wednesday through Saturday, feature visiting filmmakers and professionals sharing their insight and experience with an audience of students at all levels. Tickets are just $5 per class. Classes are subject to change.


12 Noon: Secrets of Making A Blockbuster Documentary First Rule of Documentaries: Don’t Make a Documentary Instructor Jeff Gibbs

3 pm: Finding Your Story: The Process of Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Josh Koury (“Journey to Planet X”)


12 Noon: Audio Tech: Field Recorders With Shure Corporation and Roland Digital Corporation

3 pm: Film School Confessions With Jim Burnstein, Robert Rayher & the 2012 U of M Student Filmmakers


12 Noon: Music Docs Rock Instructor Tony D’Anunzio (“Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story”)

3 pm: Best Acting Class Ever Instructors Robert Rayher and Pamela Guest, University of Michigan


12 Noon: Horror, Roger Corman, and Me Instructor Larry Brand (“Halloween: Resurrection”)

3 pm: The TCFF Filmmaker Roundtable Answers Your Questions With moderator Michael Webber (“Elephant in the Living Room,” TCFF ‘10) and a panel of TCFF filmmakers

Wednesday 3 pm (Day 1) / Thursday 3 pm (Day 2)

Young Filmmakers Workshop

This year TCFF is offering a beginning filmmaking class for kids ages 8-12. Blackbird Arts of Traverse City has partnered with us to offer 14 lucky students a chance to create a film from scratch in just two sessions. The completed film will be shown before the 9:30 am Saturday kids movie at Lars Hockstad during the fest! The fun begins on Wednesday with storyboarding and planning, and concludes Thursday with shooting and editing. And it’s just $10 for the entire workshop. Instructor Johamy Morales (Blackbird Arts, Interlochen Arts Academy).

Festival on a Budget!

The TCFF is for everyone, no pocket book required! Using the tips below, you can enjoy world class movie fun and excitement from morning to night for FREE, or low cost, everyday at the film fest.

FREE Movies in Open Space Park

Bring a lawn chair or blanket for an evening out with the whole family as you watch some of Hollywood’s most beloved classics on a ginormous screen right on the Bay at dusk. Arrive early at 7 pm for FREE music and entertainment.

FREE Panels at the City Opera House

Running Wednesday to Sunday each morning at 9:30 am, our FREE filmmaker panels bring together movie luminaries for lively, no-holds-barred conversations you won’t see anywhere else.

FREE Discussions at the Cinema Salon

Following select 12 pm and 3 pm screenings, you can join fellow movie lovers at the Cinema Salon in Lay Park for informal, insightful discussions in the round.

FREE Music in Clinch Park

Relax by one of Traverse City’s most popular beaches while enjoying the musical talents of some of our area’s leading artists.

FREE Kids Fest and $1 Films

Bring your kids to the $1 Wednesday-Saturday 9:30 am kids films at Lars Hockstad Auditorium for a cultural and educational adventure, and then walk outside onto the beautiful lawn for our FREE lawn party that is simply brimming with fun. Your kids won’t want to leave —especially when they see the misting tents we have this year!

Film School Classes

For the low low price of just $5, you can learn about filmmaking from world-class experts, U of M professors and visiting filmmakers— a truly invaluable experience for any budding filmmaker or film fan. Talk about a return on investment!

After Glows at Fire Fly

Can’t afford a party ticket? Get a taste of the festival revelry by heading to Fire Fly for late night gatherings on Saturday and Sunday.

FREE Movies for Volunteers

If you can volunteer for three shifts or more, you will receive a FREE volunteer tshirt and attend the FREE pre-fest volunteer screening and post-fest volunteer party, all while making an important contribution to the festival you love. Plus, at the volunteer screening, we hand
out free festival tickets to volunteers! Sign up on our web site today or call the festival office at 231-392-1134.

Susan Sarandon in Traverse City

Susan Sarandon: One on One with Michael Moore

?Susan interviewed me on the stage of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Now it’s my chance to turn the tables on her! Don’t miss this provocative discussion — we hold nothing back. Come hear the true tales of how Hollywood works. We might also discuss some politics during our first free morning panel of the festival.

City Opera House, Wednesday 8/1 at 9:30 am

Thelma & Louise?

Susan Sarandon will introduce and take questions after the screening of this modern-day classic.

City Opera House, Wednesday 8/1 at 12 noon?

Robot & Frank— Midwestern Premiere

Susan Sarandon will present her latest work, a charming crowd pleaser that also stars Frank Langella, Liv Tyler and Peter Sarsgaard.

State Theatre, Wednesday 8/1 at 3 pm?

Private Dinner to Honor Susan Sarandon

??Limited seating – email us for details.

Wednesday 8/1 at 6 pm

And no Susan Sarandon Tribute would be complete without:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

?THE cult film of all cult films — and an early starring role for Susan Sarandon. Four Cornered Productions players will “participate.” TC will never be the same!

?Old Town Playhouse, Friday 8/3 at Midnight

Tickets go on sale July 15th for Friends of the Film Festival at 11am. Click here to become a Friend! 

General public sales begin July 21 at 11am, click here to buy tickets!

For more information about the TCFF, go to their website!