The Traverse City Film Festival is Traverse City’s film event extravaganza of the summer and will be held July 28–August 2, 2015. The following 2015 Traverse City Film Festival schedule and event guide was provided by the kind folks at the Traverse City Film Festival. Most tickets go on sale on July 18th, 2015—so mark the date! Purchase tickets here.



GRAVITY— Tuesday at 9:45
2013 | USA | PG-13 | 91 min.

It’s a film of such jaw-dropping virtuosity, such sublime cinematic pleasure, such thrilling technical genius—we simply had to make “Gravity” this year’s opener at our outdoor cinema under the stars. Two astronauts—one a veteran (George Clooney) on his last mission, one a newbie (Sandra Bullock) on her first—confront unimaginable challenges after disaster strikes during a routine spacewalk. Facing deafening silence, indescribable solitude, and total desolation over 400 miles away from Earth, the tension builds to near heart-stopping levels as the human will to survive takes flight. Both a massively entertaining space adventure and a visionary work of transformative art, Alfonso Cuarón’s out-of-this-world masterpiece is the kind of dazzling artistry that only comes along once in a blue moon.

THE GREAT DICTATOR— Wednesday at 9:45
1940 | USA | NR | 125 min.

Long before “The Interview” courted controversy for lampooning a living despot, Hollywood’s biggest star made its first great political satire by fearlessly going after Hitler and fascism, years before the US even entered WWII. In Charlie Chaplin’s first true talkie, he sends a message loud and clear, playing the dual roles of a brutal and loony tyrant and a genial Jewish barber who are mistaken for one another. This savagely funny magnum opus seamlessly balances touching romance, real tragedy, and slapstick comedy, climaxing in one of cinema’s most indelible moments: Chaplin’s famous speech in which the artifice of the movies stops for a moment and humanity breaks through with an impassioned plea for tolerance. We are honored to have Geraldine Chaplin on hand to present her father’s bravest and most stirring work on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. In Person: Geraldine Chaplin.

THE BIRDCAGE– Thursday at 9:45
1996 | USA | R | 119 min.

Take a trip to the fabulous 1990s South Beach drag scene in this hysterical romp from the great Mike Nichols. A Miami nightclub owner (Robin Williams) and his cross-dressing partner (Nathan Lane) are forced to play it straight when their son’s uber-religious and ultra-conservative in-laws-to-be (Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest) come calling. Nearly 20 years after its release, this heartfelt and offbeat delight remains a landmark work for bringing gay culture to mainstream audiences. As much an irresistibly witty piece of political satire as a tender story of family, the true beauty of “The Birdcage” is not its marvelous ensemble cast or its unforgettable characters, but its underlying belief in being proud of who you are. We pay tribute to the memories of Robin Williams and Mike Nichols with this screening.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB – Friday at 9:45
1985 | USA | R | 97 min.

This enduring ode to teendom from the sweet bard of youth, John Hughes, might be celebrating its 30th year, but it remains as inextricably tied to the fabric of pop culture as ever. It’s the story of five teenagers (Molly Ringwald, Judd Hirsch, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and Anthony Michael Hall) who learn they may not be as different as they seem over the course of one fateful Saturday in the now-fabled halls of Shermer High School, and it’s both of its time, and timeless. With spontaneous dance parties, soul-baring breakthroughs, and the most epic fist pump ever put on celluloid, detention never seemed more awesome. So whether you’re a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or a criminal, don’t you forget about coming to the Open Space to see your 2015 People’s Choice Winner.

2014 | USA | PG-13 | 121 min.

Because this is not just another man-saves-galaxy- from-unspeakable-evil story. Because in this free-wheeling space opera, it’s all about the oddballs and outcasts. Because it’s set to a 70s AM beat with goofy spirit and sweet retro charm that is all too easy to love. Because it’s as fantastic as it is fun and as hilarious as it is heartfelt. Because blockbuster wunderkind Chris Pratt is already having the best summer ever. Because even Iron Man called it the best Marvel movie to date. Because there’s a talking raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper. Because, ooh child, things are gonna get easier. And because WE ARE GROOT—“Guardians of the Galaxy” could very well be the most downright giddy and just plain awesome movie making its debut at the Open Space this year.

THE LEGO MOVIE— Sunday at 9:45
2014 | USA | PG | 100 min.

A movie about tiny plastic playthings? Does this mark the end of film as we know it? Luckily for us, “The LEGO Movie” is not your average toy tie-in movie, but an utterly imaginative and unexpected cinematic joy. With dazzling animation, gut-busting irreverence and wit, and the incredible vocal talents of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, and Will Ferrell, this wickedly smart and hilarious story of an ordinary LEGO minifigure on an extraordinary quest is as much for the adults as for the kids. So leave your DUPLOs at home and bring your double-decker couch buddies to our Closing Night Bash, because everything truly is awesome in this subversive spectacle with the perfect message for kids: you are wonderful and special, and you will survive the adults.



Set sail into the sunset on the Nauti-Cat, the largest sailing catamaran on the Great Lakes, and enjoy a great film in an unparalleled setting. These unique filmgoing excursions depart at 9:45 pm every night from Clinch Marina with a projector, screen, and popcorn in tow. Behold the Bay’s stunning vistas, and enjoy an outstanding film—if you keep a bucket list, this should be on it! $25 tickets are available online and in the box office on July 18. The Nauti-Cat offers an exciting variety of libations including their world-famous specialty drink: Cat-Nip! Remember to bring warm clothing, and be prepared for a swashbuckling moviegoing experience.

Visit for more details.


MONTY PYTHON: THE MEANING OF LIVE – Friday 7/24 7 pm. VOGUE | Tuesday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat | Saturday 6 pm State Theatre | Sunday 6 pm Lars Hockstad

2014 | UK | NR | 94 min.

Silly run, don’t silly walk, to this behind-the-scenes documentary following the five surviving Pythons as they put together their first live stage show in more than thirty years. Directors Roger Graef and James Rogan gleefully tag along as flies on the wall for the Pythons’ rehearsals, offering a rare glimpse into the group’s behind-the-scenes dynamics and preshow anxieties. Using rare and never-before-seen archival footage from their early stage performances, Graef and Rogan lay the foundation for the Python’s modern show with a look back at the origins of some of their most beloved sketches. As the Pythons themselves are quick to point out, they’ll be dead soon, so do yourself a favor and enjoy them while you can in this hilarious tribute to some of the world’s most often-quoted comedy legends.

DO I SOUND GAY? – Wednesday 6 pm. City Opera House | Wednesday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat | Friday 9 pm Bijou

2014 | USA | PG | 77 min.

Fresh on the heels of a bad breakup with his beau, newly single Brooklynite David Thorpe decides to take stock of his perceived flaws as he works on getting his life back in order. Chief among them: his anxiety about sounding “too gay.” Enlisting the help of voice coaches, linguists, friends and family, and total strangers, he embarks on a hilarious and fascinating journey of self-identity that opens onto a larger discussion of gay identity in America and the cultural history of the so-called gay voice. Featuring interviews with gay icons like Dan Savage, David Sedaris, Tim Gunn, Margaret Cho, and George Takei, “Do I Sound Gay?” is a cleverly wrought and insightful exploration of what one of Thorpe’s friends calls “the elephant in the room in the gay community.”

In Person: Director David Thorpe.

HAEMOO – Wednesday 9 pm. Milliken Auditorium | Thursday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat | Sunday 9 pm. Lars Hockstad

2014 | South Korea | NR | 111 min.

A tense high-seas adventure with substance and heart, co-scripted by Bong Joon-ho (“The Host,” “Snowpiercer”), this spectacle of a thriller is exactly why Hollywood is beating a path to South Korea’s door. Kang is captain of a fishing boat crewed by rough men who are used to the harsh realities of life at sea. Regular fishing runs net a meager income, and Kang has a problem with his wife. So he finds it impossible to pass up the lucrative, but highly risky, opportunity to smuggle a group of illegal immigrants from China to Korea. “Haemoo” is based on actual events, giving sharp dimension to the story of crew members scheming, battling, and exploiting their human cargo. It has the tense, steady build of film like “Jaws,” but with a very human threat. Thriller lovers won’t want to miss this powerfully emotional drama that tightens like a winch. In Korean with subtitles

HIP HOP-ERATION – Friday 9 am. Milliken Auditorium | Friday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat | Sunday 3 pm. City Opera House

2014 | New Zealand, USA | NR | 93 min.

A group of 27 sassy women ranging in age from 66 to 94 years young sets out to prove that you can be a hip hop dancer, even after you’ve had hip replacement surgery. Taking off from their native New Zealand for the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas, they’re prepared to compete against dance crews whose members are the same age as their great-grandchildren. It’s not easy when there’s only sixty dollars in the bank, you don’t really like the music, and you’re worried about how to get your socks on, but with the help of “I’ve never danced in my life” Billie and young hip hoppers from Street Dance New Zealand, they begin to believe. Charming, inspiring, life-affirming, and very funny, this refreshing doc will make your heart soar. Just try not to cry when one member says, “I want to die dancing.” We dare you.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS – Wednesday 3 pm. Bijou | Friday 6:15 pm. Lars Hockstad | Saturday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat

2014 | USA | PG-13 | 94 min.

If the proverb “when the emotion becomes too strong for speech, you sing” holds true, then it should come as no surprise that this enchanting musical is simply bursting with soaring, grand emotion. The ever-charming and wonderful Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect”) and Jeremy Jordan (Broadway’s “Newsies”) sing their hearts out as New Yorkers falling in and out of love. But this adaptation of the Broadway sensation is no straightforward boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl tale—rather, its clever structure zigzags across perspectives and back and forth in time. The girl starts off heartbroken about their breakup, and her story moves backwards to their first date; while the boy starts off giddy about his new love, and moves forward through marriage, infidelity, and divorce. Perfectly capturing the breathlessness of young love and the exquisite pain of its demise, with brilliant performances of Jason Robert Brown’s ingenious songs, “The Last Five Years” casts a dazzling romantic spell.

FORCE MAJEURE – Thursday 9 am. Milliken | Friday 9 pm. City Opera House | Sunday 9 pm. Movies on a Boat

2014 | Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden | R | 118 min.

The perfect anti-date-night movie, “Force Majeure” is a Bergmanesque dissection of marriage laced with sardonic comedy and a lot of snow. A couple on ski vacation in an upscale resort are seemingly living the dream. Sleeping in their posh bed with their two beautiful children, they look as picture-perfect as their marriage seems to be. But a mere ten minutes into the film, they discover that the threat of a sudden avalanche is an uncomfortably appropriate metaphor for their marriage. It’s an anti-disaster movie, where the threat of physical danger is much less calamitous than the longer-lasting psychological effects of disappointing one’s spouse. It’s a must see for lovers of intelligent cinema, but couples in precarious romantic relationships are cautioned against post-screening conversations. In English, French, Norwegian, Swedish with subtitles.


BEING CANADIAN – Saturday 7/25 Noon Lars Hockstad | Saturday 7/25 6 pm Lars Hockstad

2015 | Canada | NR | 90 min.

You’ve met them, whether you realize it or not. In fact, you may be sitting next to one right now. What makes Canadians different than us? Why does that country produce so many hilarious people? And what the hell is poutine? LA-based Canadian comedy writer Rob Cohen travels across his homeland, discussing Canadian history and talking to a who’s who of Canadian luminaries like Dan Aykroyd, Seth Rogen, Mike Myers, Michael J. Fox, Alanis Morissette, Martin Short, and the band Rush. It would be downright rude not to take this chance to learn more about your Northern neighbors—and there’s nothing these people hate more than rudeness. In Person: Director Rob Cohen

99 HOMES – Saturday 7/25 3 pm Lars Hockstad | Saturday 7/25 9 pm Lars Hockstad

2014 | USA | R | 110 min.

When doting father and construction worker Dennis Nash falls disastrously behind on his mortgage payments and gets evicted from his home by a cut-throat local real estate agent, his family suffers the consequences experienced by so many Americans during the US housing- market meltdown of the last decade. But Nash’s true story takes a surprising turn when he solves the problem by going to work for the same bank axeman who turned him out. Acclaimed director Ramin Bahrani (“Man Push Cart,” “Chop Shop”) brings us another moving chronicle about the struggles of ordinary people in his modern day Faustian tale starring Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern, and one of America’s greatest living actors, Michael Shannon (“Take Shelter,” TCFF 2012, “Boardwalk Empire”).


LES VAMPIRES – Wednesday Noon Dutmers Theater

1915 | France | NR | 87 min.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Louis Feuillade, but there’s no doubt you have seen something that has been influenced by his cinematically masterful ten episode serial, some of which was so controversial upon its initial release that it was banned in France. After getting a tip about the decapitated body of a high-ranking crime investigator, newspaper reporter Philippe Guérande digs into the dealings of an underground criminal organization known as The Vampires. They don’t suck actual blood—instead, they feed off the fear of Parisian citizens. Both Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock borrowed from the series’ thriller conventions; echoes of its gangsters can be seen in Coppola’s “Godfather” trilogy; and the iconic femme fatale character Irma Vep has been recreated time and again. It’s an incredible legacy for a film made 100 years ago. We are showcasing the first three films in the serial.


1926 | USA | NR | 68 min.

There are so many reasons not to miss this classic film adapted for the screen by Frances Marion, one of the most prolific female screenwriters of the last century. It was Rudolph Valentino’s last on-screen appearance, and his performance has been widely heralded as one of his best. Add stunning art direction and cinematography that transforms the Arizona desert into an Arabian locale; equestrian stunts and exotic dance moves; and fun tongue-in-cheek humor sprinkled into a sweeping and slightly controversial melodrama, and you’ve got a unique cinematic experience that is a must for your TCFF 2015 list! But the very best reason of all to see this great film on the State Theatre’s beautiful screen is to experience an exciting live musical soundtrack performed by perennial TCFF favorites The Alloy Orchestra—an ensemble touted by Roger Ebert as “the best in the world at accompanying silent films.”


Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime event as we begin our year-long 100th birthday celebration of the historic State Theatre. Three-time Golden Globe nominee Geraldine Chaplin (“Doctor Zhivago,” “Nashville”) will kick off our Centennial Year by re-chistening the State’s cornerstone, as well as introducing her father’s classic “The Tramp” (which is celebrating its own 100th anniversary), and discussing her father’s impact on the founding of American cinema. Other Chaplin clips will be shown, including the first film featuring his Little Tramp character. To celebrate the birthday of one the country’s best movie theaters, we’re recreating the experience of going to the movies in downtown Traverse City 100 years ago, complete with an organist, vaudeville acts, ushers in period dress, and other surprises. And most novel of all, we’ll actually be projecting 35mm film onto the screen! You’ll be transported back to a time when the only things glowing in theaters were people’s eyes, wide open in wonder.


F FOR FAKE – Sunday 9 am Bijou

1973 | France | PG | 89 min.

Orson Welles launched a million film studies classes with his seminal “Citizen Kane.” Much less attention is given to the final film he completed as a writer-director-actor, but it is a postmodern masterpiece of the highest order. Professional art forger Elmyr de Hory’s infamous career is the inspiration for a gleeful investigation into the nature of authenticity. As a meta joke-within-a-joke, this innovative documentary hybrid mixes truth and fiction until they become impossible to distinguish, and the man who terrified the entire nation with his “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast proves he still has a couple of tricks up his sleeve. (Part of that broadcast is recreated in the film.) Buckle up and let this unique film take you on a trippy journey with one heck of a mischievous, irresistible, and twisted tour guide. In English, French, Spanish with subtitles

TOUCH OF EVIL – Friday 9 am The Buzz

1958 | USA | PG-13 | 95 min.

From its very first iconic shot—a virtuoso long take following a ticking bomb in the trunk of a car as it winds its way toward the Mexican-American border—Orson Welles’ lesser-known but just as influential film takes us deep into the heart of corruption in a Mexican border town. Historically significant in a number of ways, from its stature as the last classic film noir to its casting of Charlton Heston as a Mexican government official, and the controversy over the studio’s recut of the movie for its original release (making it Welles’ swan song to Hollywood), this atmospheric triumph features Welles’ signature use of deep space and a complex puzzle-like narrative, as well as enthralling performances by Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, and Welles himself.


NASHVILLE – Friday 5:30 pm State Theater

1975 | USA | R | 159 min.

The storytelling poetry of Robert Altman is at its peak in this panorama of human experience that feels as spectacularly alive today as it did 40 years ago. Set in the country music capital of the world over the course of five days, Altman weaves together a sprawling ensemble cast of 24 characters—including a reporter (Geraldine Chaplin), a PR man (Michael Murphy), and a gospel singer (Lily Tomlin)—into an unforgettable epic built from small, singular moments. That Altman had the audacity to attempt something as innovative as “Nashville” is remarkable. That he had the skill to pull it off so perfectly is all the more impressive. But to have the grace and intuition to make it sing such a sad, beautiful, and splendid song of love, loneliness, loss, and life is nothing short of a miracle.

Scheduled to Appear: Kathryn Altman and actors Michael Murphy and Geraldine Chaplin.

M*A*S*H – Saturday Noon City Opera House

1970 | USA | R | 116 min.

In 1970, a disillusioned American audience still grappling with the realities of the Vietnam War was just waiting for this kind of brash, honest, and darkly comedic exploration of life in wartime—both its tragedies and the ways people cope. Set during the Korean War, but very obviously commenting on the then-current conflict, “M*A*S*H” follows the shenanigans of Hawkeye and Trapper (Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould), a duo of hot-shot doctors in a Mobile Army Surgery Unit as they patch up a gory parade of patients, and find ways to keep their sanity by playing pranks and flirting with the nurses. Don’t miss your chance to see the brilliant black comedy that inspired a hit TV show and cemented Robert Altman’s place as one of the most distinctive and innovative American auteurs.

Scheduled to Appear: Kathryn Altman and actor Michael Murphy.

ALTMAN – Wednesday Noon City Opera House

2014 | Canada | NR | 96 min.

A beautiful tribute to an artist who created some of our favorite films, and a film that will make you appreciate Altman’s great work all the more, Ron Mann’s biographical doc traces the idiosyncratic career path of iconic director Robert Altman, charting a filmography that spanned over fifty years and earned him five Oscar nominations. Assembled with the help of Altman’s widow Kathryn and a wealth of home movies, archival interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage, Mann lets Altman tell his story largely in his own words, giving a rare insight into the mind of a moviemaking maverick whose uncompromising vision shaped the American filmmaking landscape for decades to come. The film is topped off by cameos from many of the faces that Altman collaborated with over the years—including Elliott Gould, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Lily Tomlin—as they answer one question: What is Altmanesque?

Scheduled to Appear: director Ron Mann and Kathryn Altman.


THE INTRUDER – Wednesday 9 pm Bijou

1962 | USA | PG-13 | 84 min.

When you think Roger Corman, progressive, socially conscious message movies don’t usually come to mind. But that’s what makes the “The Intruder” such a bold and riveting marvel. Known as his most courageous and explosive film, this uncompromising and unflinching look at racism in America explores tensions in a southern town that has been ordered to integrate its schools. A young and charismatic William Shatner plays Adam Cramer, a rabble-rouser who arrives to incite violent opposition to the new law, flashing toothy smiles and integrating himself through lies, seduction, and threats. Filmed on location and courting controversy from local groups (including threats from the Ku Klux Klan), it’s as much a fascinating relic of the era as it is a taut, tense, and brilliant work of raw power. Overlooked by American audiences but critically lauded, we’re excited to present this self-funded Corman passion project, a work that was truly ahead of its time.

In Person: Roger Corman.


2010 | USA | R | 89 min.

Zombies, cavemen, scantily clad teens, creatures from outer space, mercenary bikers, and an ever-expanding array of not-too-terribly-convincing monsters: the cinematic universe of Roger Corman is truly unlike any other. Using an iconoclastic approach to moviemaking—fast, cheap, and crazy—Corman has churned out over 400 films in the course of his career, and has nurtured countless others. This engrossing doc moves beyond the typical depiction of Corman as the Sultan of Shlock or the Bard of the B-movie—it also reveals his unlikely and innovative path to becoming the godfather of indie film. A star-studded list of filmmaking luminaries, including Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, and Ron Howard, affectionately weigh in on Corman’s legacy in this insightful and hilarious doc, a testimony to what makes Corman one of the most influential forces in Hollywood history, and also a funny, fiery, wise, and warm man.

In Person: Roger Corman.

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH – Thursday Noon State Theater

1964 | USA, UK | NR | 89 min.

The final film in Roger Corman’s wildly successful and wickedly entertaining series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations finds the director at his most ingenious and brilliant. In this darkly elegiac vision of humanity, Vincent Price plays the sadistic and tyrannical Prince Prospero, who loves nothing more than being amused by the torment of others. When he hears that a prophecy has spread about his demise—arriving hand-in-hand with a strange sickness known as “The Red Death”—he throws a masked ball of debauched decadence, and torments attendees with his warped games. But then an unexpected guest, a mysterious prophet in a red cloak, shows up with his own infernal surprises. With its sumptuous, stylized design and decadent cinematography that seems to bleed red, Corman’s evocative work of horror is as rich and complex as it is visually astonishing. His seamless blend of beauty and horror challenges traditional distinctions between high and low art in a classic work that ranks among his best.

In Person: Roger Corman.



THE END OF THE TOUR – Tuesday 6 pm State Theater | Tuesday 7:30 pm City Opera House | Tuesday 10 pm State Theater

2015 | USA | R | 106 min.

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everybody else,” wrote David Foster Wallace in his influential 1996 book “Infinite Jest.” Shortly after reading that 1,079-page tome, Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky set out on assignment to travel with the newfound celebrity author on the last five days of his book tour, to try and uncover what made the prolific and conflicted writer tick. Based on the memoir that Lipsky wrote after Wallace’s death, the film can be seen as a profoundly compelling exploration of the relationship between two writers, but it’s also a story of universal truths—the art of talking, the high of a good conversation, and the simple pleasures of meaningful connection. Jesse Eisenberg is wise and wonderful as Lipsky, while Jason Segel is quietly devastating in his heartbreaking take on Wallace. Full of humor and melancholy, life and loneliness, director James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now,” TCFF 2013) handles the outpouring of beautifully alive emotion with skill and tenderness.


GRANDMA – Sunday 6 pm State Theater

2015 | USA | R | 79 min.

At 75 years old, Lily Tomlin is having a moment. Her performance here marks a career high, as she gives a brilliant and biting portrayal of a once-celebrated lesbian poet whose granddaughter unexpectedly shows up in need of $600 and a ride. With no cash to be found between them and an appointment at the women’s clinic later that afternoon, grandma Elle and granddaughter Sage hop in Elle’s vintage blue Dodge Royal and embark on an urban odyssey across Los Angeles. As they travel from old haunt to old flame collecting on debts and asking for money, what initially begins as a buoyant intergenerational comedy reveals its emotional punch. The standout supporting cast in this sublime day-in-the-life saga includes Marcia Gay Harden as Sage’s career driven mother, and Sam Elliot as a mysterious man from Elle’s past. But it is director Paul Weitz (“About a Boy”) who brings it all together, masterfully balancing moments of acerbic wit with a poignant story about mothers, daughters, and the grand messiness of life.


7 CHINESE BROTHERS – Saturday 9 pm State Theater | Sunday 9 pm Bijou

2015 | USA | NR | 76 min.

Jason Schwartzman gives a finely nuanced performance as Larry, a good-hearted slacker with few friends and even fewer career prospects. His cantankerous grandmother (Oscarwinner Olympia Dukakis) tolerates the time he spends attempting to be a good grandson, but essentially he lives the life of a man more comfortable in the company of his sleepy, scene-stealing French bulldog (Schwatrzman’s real-life pet) than with other humans. Larry’s life gets a much-needed shot in the arm when he stumbles into a Quick-Lube job he actually likes. And the job comes with an attractive female boss (Eleanore Pienta) he likes a lot more—maybe even enough to keep the job and win the girl. Writer-director and TCFF regular Bob Byington’s latest work is perhaps his best, an existential comedy that shrewdly observes the mundane details of American workaday existence.

In Person: Director Bob Byington.

Scheduled to Appear via Skype: Jason Schwartzman.

DIGGING FOR FIRE – Tuesday 7/21 7 pm Elk Rapids | Saturday 6 pm Lars Hockstad

2015 | USA | R | 85 min.

Prolific indie auteur Joe Swanberg (“Drinking Buddies,” “V/H/S”) has assembled another fantasy indie hangout crew—including Jake Johnson, Sam Rockwell, Sam Elliott, Chris Messina, Mike Birbiglia, Anna Kendrick, and Brie Larson—to offer up his most polished and mainstream film yet. Lee (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Tim (Jake Johnson) are parents on the verge of a nervous breakdown, bickering while they housesit for one of Tim’s wealthy clients. Tim putters around the property instead of doing the taxes, and accidentally turns up a rusty old pistol and what could be a bone from a human arm or leg, setting him off on a reckless quest towards a macabre discovery. Exasperated, Lee decides to spend a weekend at her mother’s house, and ends up cruising on a motorcycle with a dashing stranger (Orlando Bloom). Backed by an alternately wistful and thumping synth-driven score courtesy of Dan Romer (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), “Digging for Fire” is a bewitching dissection of happiness and unhappiness in love.

GOOD KILL – Wednesday 3 pm Lars Hockstad | Friday 9 am State Theater

2014 | USA | R | 103 min.

In a spartan air-conditioned shipping container somewhere in the Nevada desert, combat via joystick is being waged with real lives at stake. The air force has turned Top Gun Major Tommy Egan (Ethan Hawke) into a team leader for drone operators. They’re recruited in shopping malls on the strength of their gaming expertise and trained to kill targets 7,000 miles away. After work, Egan gets in his sports car and heads home to barbecue with his wife Molly (“Mad Men’s” January Jones) and their two young children. When Egan and his crew are given a wider license to kill by the CIA, selecting targets based not on personal profiles but patterns of activity, Egan’s anguish over playing god, and his ability to comply with his superiors’ directives, reaches a breaking point. Sci-fi futures with complex moral and political architecture are writer-director Andrew Niccol’s (“Gattaca,” “Lord of War”) specialty. And although this story is set back in 2010, when the use of drones was dramatically expanded, “Good Kill” still feels like a heady science fiction conversation piece—at once forward-thinking and exhilaratingly of the moment.

KILL THE MESSENGER – Thursday 6 pm Old Town Playhouse

2014 | USA | R | 112 min.

Joining the great genre of newsroom conspiracy thrillers is the remarkable true story of investigative reporter Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), who dropped a bombshell on the political landscape with his groundbreaking exposé on the CIA in 1996. Stumbling into the story of a lifetime, Webb travels to Nicaraguan prisons, California drug dens, and Washington’s hallowed halls in search of clues to piece together the CIA’s involvement in drug trafficking and the crack epidemic of the 1980s. Despite threats from the CIA and his fellow journalists’ efforts to discredit him, Webb will stop at nothing to unravel the conspiracy and reveal the truth. A gripping, real-life David-and-Goliath tale, director Michael Cuesta’s “All the President’s Men”- meets-“The Wire” muckraker is eye-opening suspense at its finest.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS – Wednesday 3 pm Bijou | Friday 6:15 pm Lars Hockstad | Saturday 9 pm Movies on a Boat

2014 | USA | PG-13 | 94 min.

If the proverb “when the emotion becomes too strong for speech, you sing” holds true, then it should come as no surprise that this enchanting musical is simply bursting with soaring, grand emotion. The ever-charming and wonderful Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect”) and Jeremy Jordan (Broadway’s “Newsies”) sing their hearts out as New Yorkers falling in and out of love. But this adaptation of the Broadway sensation is no straightforward boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl tale—rather, its clever structure zigzags across perspectives and back and forth in time. The girl starts off heartbroken about their breakup, and her story moves backwards to their first date; while the boy starts off giddy about his new love, and moves forward through marriage, infidelity, and divorce. Perfectly capturing the breathlessness of young love and the exquisite pain of its demise, with brilliant performances of Jason Robert Brown’s ingenious songs, “The Last Five Years” casts a dazzling romantic spell.

THE OVERNIGHT – Thursday 9 pm Lars Hockstad | Sunday 9 pm Milliken

2015 | USA | R | 80 min.

Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) and Taylor Schilling (“Orange is the New Black”) recently moved to LA from Seattle, and they’re desperate to make new friends. Their luck seemingly turns around when they’re invited over for dinner by the parents of their son’s new friend—a warm, charming couple played by Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche. Their “adult playdate” starts off simply enough, but wine, marijuana, and the hosts’ habit of oversharing details about their sex life takes things in an unexpected direction, as writer-director Patrick Brice ratchets up the tension to deliciously devilish levels. Containing one of the most memorably ridiculous nude scenes you’ll ever see, it’s either a 21st-century “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” filtered through the distinct sensibilities of exec producers the Duplass brothers, or a film with an overreliance on prosthetics sported by the male leads. This raunchy, trippy comedy earns its R rating.

TANGERINE – Saturday 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

2015 | USA | R | 88 min.

Filmed entirely on an iPhone 5s, Sean Baker’s “Tangerine” is an exuberantly raw and up-close portrait of Los Angeles’ underground subculture, centered on two sharply-drawn transgender women who find the resilience of their friendship tested and affirmed over the course of one madcap Christmas Eve. Sin-Dee is back working the streets with her bestie Alexandra after a month-long stint in prison. When Alexandra drops the news that Sin-Dee’s boyfriend/pimp has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman, the two set off on a wild ride through LA, filled with sassy repartee, nightclub debuts, richly detailed characters, and capital D-RAMA. Refreshingly hilarious and full of surprises, “Tangerine” is one of the most buzzed about films of the summer.

WHEN I LIVE MY LIFE OVER AGAIN – Thursday 9 am State Theater | Friday 9 pm Lars Hockstad

2015 | USA | NR | 98 min.

Christopher Walken is Paul Lombard, an aging Sinatraesque crooner who peaked in the 1980s. His dusty old hits are still popular background music for romantic makeout sessions, but he’s written a new song, “When I Live My Life Over Again.” It’s good, and he’s itching for a comeback, provided that he can stop wife number I-lost-count from derailing his plans. Meanwhile, Paul’s daughter Jude (Amber Heard) is a musician frustrated by comparisons to her famous father. Forced to move into his Hamptons house when her rent comes due and her life begins falling apart, she finds that spending time at home with her father, her seemingly perfect sister Corinne (Kelli Garner), and her brother-in-law/old flame presents its own challenges. Writer-director Robert Edwards’ likable and intimate dramedy gives Walken his best showcase in years.

LEARNING TO DRIVE – Thursday 3 pm Lars Hockstad | Sunday 6 pm City Opera House

2014 | USA | R | 90 min.

Fiery Manhattanite writer Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) has just found out that her 21 year marriage is over—her husband is leaving her for a younger woman. As she grapples with this turn of events and contemplates her next steps, she realizes that she’s finally going to have to learn to drive so that she can visit her daughter in Vermont. Enter Indian-American cabbie and instructor Darwan (Ben Kingsley), whose life is also at a crossroads as he prepares for an arranged marriage with a recent immigrant from his village in India. As the lessons proceed, the unlikely pair finds that they have a lot to learn from each other and discover about themselves in this sweet, funny, feel-good mid-life-coming-of-age story.


BANANA – Saturday 9 am The Buzz

2014 | Italy | NR | 90 min.

The term “underdog” doesn’t begin to describe the strikes against Banana, a socially awkward, chubby teen with an unfortunate nickname that comes from his curved foot and clumsy soccer skills. Even so, Banana will stop at nothing to get the girl of his dreams—even if it means bumbling his way through a series of awkward missteps. Equipped with a life philosophy based on the principles of his favorite sport, soccer, he’s determined to stay in attack mode until his efforts are rewarded. And his dreams of getting to know the girl he desires may finally be within reach when he strikes upon a plan to become her tutor. Like a John Hughes film crossed with “Rushmore,” this Italian coming-of-age comedy about going to great lengths in the name of love is endlessly charming. In Italian with subtitles

CART – Friday 9 pm The Buzz | Sunday Noon The Buzz

2014 | South Korea | PG | 110 min.

Based on a true story, this stirring Korean drama tells the David-vs-Goliath tale of a group of women who band together to protest the unjust labor practices of a (Walmart-eqsue) big box retail store after being fired from their part-time positions. Just before getting the promotion promised to her, mother of two and part-time cashier Sun-hee is abruptly laid off, along with hundreds of other workers—via text message, no less—when the company decides to outsource their jobs. Sun-hee turns from shy worker bee to passionate protest leader as the company’s core of female workers rally to fight their unfair termination and expose the corporation’s mistreatment of its workers in this empowering social justice drama, a testament to ordinary people’s ability to rise up and fight injustice. In Korean with subtitles

CHALLAT OF TUNIS – Wednesday 6 pm Bijou | Thursday 3 pm State Theater

2014 | Tunisia | NR | 90 min.

An acerbic and hilarious mockumentary weaving together fact and fiction to create a work of brilliant and biting satire, Tunisian writer-director Kaouther Ben Hania’s second feature is a tongue-in-cheek feminist critique of backwards macho chauvinism in Arab culture. True story: in 2003, a mysterious masked assailant made headlines in Tunis after numerous reports of his bizarre attacks—the so-called “Challat” rode his scooter through the capital and slashed the buttocks of women who were dressed “immodestly.” He was never caught. Ben Hania’s film takes up this stranger-than-fiction story over a decade later, seeking to uncover the Challat’s identity, and finding more than a few other examples of rampant sexism along the way—including a videogame based on the Challat’s exploits and a device dubbed the Virgin-o-meter. In Person: Director Kaouther Ben Hania. In Arabic with subtitles


2013 | Sweden | R | 114 min.

A suitable entry into the (film) canon of the country that brought the invention of dynamite to the world, this smash hit Swedish comedy follows the Forrest Gump-like life story of Allan Karlsson, an explosives expert who has had his finger on the trigger of some of the biggest events of the last 100 years. Karlsson’s modern-day exploits find him on the lam from a group of inept thugs after wandering out the window of his retirement home and happening upon a suitcase full of money. Packed with Looney Tunes-esque hijinks and plenty of wry Scandinavian humor, you can expect a high body count and a whole lot of laughs in Sweden’s highest grossing film of all time. In English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Swedish with subtitles

CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA – Thursday 7/23 7 PM Bay Theatre | Wednesday 9 am State Theater | Thursday Noon Lars Hockstad

2014 | Belgium, France, Switzerland, USA | R | 124 min.

Art imitates life in this intelligently crafted, superbly acted, and elegantly playful backstage drama. At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years ago. Then, she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young girl who drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now, she’s being asked to play the older Helena. She departs with her young assistant (Kristen Stewart) to rehearse in Sils Maria, a remote region of the Alps. A young Hollywood starlet with a penchant for scandal (Chloë Grace Moretz) has taken on the role of Sigrid, and Maria finds herself on the other side of the mirror, face to face with a charming woman who is an unsettling reflection of herself. This excellent performance-driven piece offers some of the most complex and richly textured roles for women in years. In English, French, German, Swiss German with subtitles

DARK PLACES – Wednesday 9 pm Lars Hockstad | Friday 6 pm Milliken

2015 | France | R | 113 min.

Whether you loved or hated author Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl,” you’ve got to admit, she sure knows how to write a tantalizing, gripping, gut-punching tale. Now, another Flynn adaptation is ready to burrow its way into your mind. A distinctly Midwestern murder mystery starring Charlize Theron and Nicolas Hoult, “Dark Places” opens with a massacre on a farm that was blamed on a Satanic cult. 25 years later, the little girl who was the lone survivor of that tragedy has grown up haunted by questions about what really happened. So when the local true crime-loving “Kill Club” comes calling with an offer she can’t afford to refuse, she returns to the case, hoping to figure out once and for all whether or not her brother was involved. A stylish crime thriller with the atmospheric intensity of “True Detective” and the twisted daring of “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Dark Places” will keep you gasping and guessing.

DIPLOMACY (DIPLOMATIE) – Wednesday 6 pm Milliken | Friday 6 pm City Opera House

2014 | France, Germany | NR | 85 min.

The fate of Paris hangs in the balance in this WWII drama about the supreme importance of diplomacy. As the Allies approach Paris, Hitler orders that the capital be destroyed. This task falls to General Dietrich von Choltitz, who has already mined the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the bridges over the Seine. In the wee early morning hours, Swedish Consul General Raoul Nording slips into German headquarters unannounced, using a hidden staircase, and spends the night trying everything he can to appeal to von Choltitz’s reason and humanity, and prevent the senseless destruction of Paris. This superb adaptation of the play by “The Tin Drum” director Volker Schlöndorff uses precise, restless camerawork to create a feeling of claustrophobic suspense as the plot races against the clock. In French, German with subtitles

THE CONNECTION (LA FRENCH) – Thursday 9 pm Milliken | Friday 3 pm Lars Hockstad

2014 | France | R | 135 min.

With riveting action, slick montages, and a rollicking soundtrack, “The Connection” is the rare kind of police procedural that takes hold of you and doesn’t let go. The European counterpart to Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle and his unraveling of the international drug pipeline stateside, this hard-boiled crime saga takes a page from the playbook of the brilliant thrillers of the 1970s. Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) exudes cool playing the real-life Marseille cop who spent years engaged in an obsessive game of cat-and-mouse with the untouchable drug kingpin who turned his city into a drug-riddled nightmare. Eventually he’s forced to make the most difficult decision of his life: continue waging his war, or ensure his family’s safety, before it’s too late. Trading grittiness for an irresistible retro chic, director Cédric Jimenez—fashioning himself as the French answer to Scorsese—delivers an insanely watchable, exquisitely crafted, and brazenly unpredictable epic. In French with subtitles

GÜEROS – Thursday 9 pm City Opera House

2014 | Mexico | NR | 108 min.

This bold vision from director Alonso Ruizpalacios demonstrates why Mexican directors are taking the cinematic world by storm. Following an incident with a baby and a water balloon, Tomás’ mother sends her restless son packing to live with his aimless collegeaged brother Sombra and his roommate Santos in Mexico City. Sombra and Santos had been wiling away their days stealing their neighbor’s electricity and ignoring the months-long student strike at the National University that’s keeping them out of school. But Tomás gives them purpose when he convinces them to locate a beloved aging folk singer, and they set off on a road trip across the city through perilous slums and the rebellious halls of the university to the ritzy nightlife downtown. Tipping its hat playfully to the French New Wave but creating a voice all its own, “Güeros” has swept up awards at festivals worldwide, including Best First Feature at its Berlin debut. It’s a don’t miss for cinephiles. In Spanish with subtitles.

FORCE MAJEURE (TURIST) – Thursday 9 am Milliken | Friday 9 pm City Opera House | Sunday 9 pm Movies on a Boat

2014 | Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden | R | 118 min.

The perfect anti-date-night movie, “Force Majeure” is a Bergmanesque dissection of marriage laced with sardonic comedy and a lot of snow. A couple on ski vacation in an upscale resort are seemingly living the dream. Sleeping in their posh bed with their two beautiful children, they look as picture-perfect as their marriage seems to be. But a mere ten minutes into the film, they discover that the threat of a sudden avalanche is an uncomfortably appropriate metaphor for their marriage. It’s an anti-disaster movie, where the threat of physical danger is much less calamitous than the longer-lasting psychological effects of disappointing one’s spouse. It’s a must see for lovers of intelligent cinema, but couples in precarious romantic relationships are cautioned against post-screening conversations. In English, French, Norwegian, Swedish with subtitles.


2014 | France, Germany, Israel | NR | 115 min.

Under Israeli law, a woman seeking to leave a marriage can only do so legally by a “gett” (divorce) granted directly from her husband. Vivianne’s emotionally detached husband refuses to grant the divorce, even though they have lived apart for years. She takes her plea to the rabbinic court, and finds herself faced with three more men intent on keeping her bound to the marriage. And the case drags on, year after year. This minimalist courtroom drama, brilliantly captured entirely in point of view shots, features an emotionally charged performance by Ronit Elkabetz, who also wrote and directed along with her brother Shlomi Elkabetz. Equally infuriating and spellbinding, “Gett” is an astonishing work of cinema. In Arabic, French, Hebrew with subtitles.

HAEMOO (SEA FOG) – Wednesday 9 pm Milliken | Thursday 9 pm Movies on a Boat | Sunday 9 pm Lars Hockstad

2014 | South Korea | NR | 111 min.

A tense high-seas adventure with substance and heart, co-scripted by Bong Joon-ho (“The Host,” “Snowpiercer”), this spectacle of a thriller is exactly why Hollywood is beating a path to South Korea’s door. Kang is captain of a fishing boat crewed by rough men who are used to the harsh realities of life at sea. Regular fishing runs net a meager income, and Kang has a problem with his wife. So he finds it impossible to pass up the lucrative, but highly risky, opportunity to smuggle a group of illegal immigrants from China to Korea. “Haemoo” is based on actual events, giving sharp dimension to the story of crew members scheming, battling, and exploiting their human cargo. It has the tense, steady build of film like “Jaws,” but with a very human threat. Thriller lovers won’t want to miss this powerfully emotional drama that tightens like a winch. In Korean with subtitles.


2014 | Germany | NR | 122 min.

“Labyrinth of Lies” is set in 1958 Frankfurt, a significant and often-forgotten postwar period when many Germans denied their war crimes, despite the infamy of the Nuremberg trials. Tipped off by a journalist, an ambitious young prosecutor investigates a massive conspiracy to cover up the Nazi pasts of prominent public figures, searching for the evidence necessary to sue the 8,000 people who worked at Auschwitz, many of whom went on to successful careers in public service. An intelligent and arresting fact based drama that plays like a streamlined version of the high-minded, blunt-spoken, socially conscious prestige pictures made by Stanley Kramer in the 1950s and 1960s, we follow the prosecutor as he begins to wonder if his own family history is as honourable as he once thought. And we are left with questions about social memory, how history is ultimately written, and the ways in which we allow ourselves to forget events that we find too painful to acknowledge. In German with subtitles.

LOVE AT FIRST FIGHT (LES COMBATTANTS) – Friday 3 pm City Opera House | Saturday 9 am Milliken

2014 | France | NR | 98 min.

Dropping the rom-com genre on its head and then blowing it away with gale-force winds, this winner of four awards at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival will knock you out with its superb acting and twist on gender roles. Sweet natured Arnaud is still grappling with his father’s death when he is thrown head over heels, literally, during an impromptu beach wrestling match with strong-willed Madeleine, a girl wholly intent on joining an elite army regiment. When Arnaud happens into a job building a garden shed for her parents, he falls further in love with the intense, solemn-faced, apocalypse preaching, sardine guzzling paratrooper-wannabe. In fact, he is so enamored, he follows her to a two-week boot camp training session, the ultimate test not just of their survival skills, but of their potential romance. This crowd-pleaser has serious cinematic chops, and an ending that will leave feminists with plenty to talk about. In French with subtitles.

MAN UP – Wednesday 6 pm Lars Hockstad | Saturday 9 pm Lars Hockstad

2015 | UK, France | NR | 88 min.

If you like sweet, slightly raunchy, and very clever comedies that talk about relationships in honest ways, put this film at the top of your list. Lake Bell (“In a World…”) brings topnotch comedic skills (and an impressive British accent) to the role of Nancy, a guarded thirty-something who wouldn’t mind love, but has trouble putting herself out there. Fate hands her a chance when she is mistaken by Jack (Simon Pegg, “Shaun of the Dead”) as his much-anticipated blind date. Feeling a connection, Nancy lets her guard down and decides to go all in, pretending she is the one. Things go swimmingly until she is outed by a chance encounter with an old acquaintance. The question is—will they “man up” and fight for their chance at love? This charming crowd-pleaser has all the right ingredients for a fresh imagining of the classic screwball comedy: mistaken identities, witty one-liners, spontaneous choreography, and a madcap all-in-one-night adventure.

MOMMY – Friday 9 pm Milliken

2014 | Canada | R | 139 min.

Xavier Dolan’s riveting dark comedy explores the tumultuous relationship between a widow trying to hold on to her youth and her hyperactive and sometimes violent teenage son. Help comes in the form of a new neighbor, a seemingly timid former schoolteacher battling a stammer as well as her own demons. Together the unlikely trio traverses the unpredictable and bramble-strewn world of parenting. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival 2014 Jury Prize, “Mommy” defies modern, splashy, big-screen tropes: there are explosions, yes, but they come from the performances and the film’s brilliant cinematography, which immerses you in private moments of pain and joy in the most unexpected and revelatory ways. It’s outrageous, it’s brilliant, it makes everything else around look negligible and passionless. Don’t miss “Mommy.” In English, French with subtitles.

OUT OF NATURE (MOT NATUREN) – Thursday 6:30 pm Bijou | Saturday 3 pm Milliken

2014 | Norway | NR | 80 min.

Martin can’t get out of his own mind, even when he escapes from his family for a solitary weekend in the Norwegian mountains. A constant barrage of thoughts weigh him down, from the tedious decisions of everyday life, to the memories that haunt him, to the fantasies he longs for. In this uniquely compelling, frankly sexual, nearly-one-man comedy from triple-threat Ole Giaever —who wrote, co-directed, and stars in a charming and disarmingly funny performance—we hear uncensored thoughts and brutally honest observations in a stream of- conscious monologue that exposes the raw inner life of a put-upon salary man seeking renewal. How is it all supposed to work? How can I participate in my own life as son, partner, and father? How old is that plump, graying man? 66? I have thirty years until then. Enough time to start over, even. In Norwegian with subtitles

TANGERINES (MANDARIINID) – Wednesday Noon Milliken | Sunday 3 pm Bijou

2013 | Estonia | NR | 87 min.

Zaza Urushadze’s deftly humorous and humanist fable tells the story of Ivo, who makes wooden crates in his workshop to contain the harvest from his neighbor Margus’ tangerine grove. Then one day, a skirmish in the civil war between former Soviet countries leaves two wounded survivors on Ivo’s doorstep: Achmed, a Chechen, and Nika, a Georgian. Ivo calmly declares his home a neutral zone and takes them in, after extracting promises that no bloodshed will occur under his roof. Initially the soliders are hell-bent on killing one another once they’ve recovered, but forced cohabitation brings an unforeseen humanizing effect. How long the peace will last is a question elegantly considered in this deeply pacifist drama, as tense as any thriller. Nominated for the 2015 Best Foreign Film Oscar. In Estonian with subtitles.


2014 | France, Norway, Sweden | PG-13 | 100 min.

Last year’s Golden Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival—the final part of Swedish master Roy Andersson’s trilogy on being a human being—is a cinephile’s dream. Shifting between nightmare, fantasy, reverie, and even an impromptu musical number, “Pigeon” is a dazzling, provocative, hilariously deadpan, and deeply disturbing exploration of man’s perpetual inhumanity to man. Presented as a series of darkly comic, intricate tableaus—like Wes Anderson crossed with Monty Python, but Swedish—the film shifts between two loose narrative strands: in one, two hapless novelty salesmen wander around trying to sell their inventory of vampire fangs and rubber masks; in the other, Charles XII, Sweden’s most bellicose king, reappears in modern times to carry on his series of disastrous defeats. But that is just surface: the film contains multitudes. It’s as inexplicable, and as glorious, as life itself. Also, beautiful. Don’t miss it on the big screen. In English, Swedish with subtitles.

TIMBUKTU – Wednesday 9 am Milliken

2014 | France, Mauritania | PG | 100 min.

Timbuktu was once a haven of culture in northern Mali—a vibrant city rich in tradition and abuzz with the music, art, and sports of its people. But then a new regime of religious fundamentalists came to power and stripped the citizens of Timbuktu of their most basic pleasures, prohibiting everything from football to tea and cigarettes. Living in the dunes, just outside the city, cattle farmer Kidane and his family are spared the chaos going on within the walls, until he runs afoul of the law following an incident involving one of his cows and a local fisherman. Stirring and tragically complex, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by director Abderrahmane Sissako’s vibrantly beautiful drama, an award winner at Cannes and a nominee for Best Foreign Language film at last year’s Oscars. In Arabic, Bambara, English, French, Songhay with subtitles.

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (DEUX JOURS, UNE NUIT) – Wednesday Noon Bijou | Sunday Noon City Opera House

2014 | Belgium, France, Italy | PG-13 | 95 min.

What would you do if you knew that earning your next bonus at work would cost one of your coworkers their job? Marion Cotillard stars in this masterful social realist drama from acclaimed duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (“The Kid with a Bike,” TCFF 2012), set in the working class streets of Belgium. A mother of two, Sandra (Cottilard) receives news that her company has voted to downsize her, and she only has the weekend to convince her 16 coworkers at the solar power plant to vote for keeping her job instead of the extra pay they’ll receive if she’s cut. With an uncanny ability to turn human dramas into edge-of-your-seat thrillers, the Dardenne brothers once again deliver one of the best films of the festival—at once devastating and full of humanity. In French with subtitles.

VIRGIN MOUNTAIN (FÚSI) – Friday 3 pm Milliken | Sunday Noon State Theater

2015 | Iceland, Denmark | NR | 94 min.

First love is tricky enough when you’re young, but when you’re a 43-year-old virgin who lives at home with your mother, it can be downright agonizing. Fúsi is a lonely mountain of a man who finds pleasure in meticulously recreating WWII battles with model tanks and calling the local FM radio DJ to request his favorite tracks. He’s begrudgingly pushed to socialize when his mother’s lover registers him for line-dancing classes for his birthday. Despite actively avoiding the lessons, Fusi ends up meeting Sjorn, a spirited blond who could be just what he needs to break out of his comfort zone. Ripe with wry wit and an endearingly brilliant performance by Gunnar Josson, Icelandic director Dagur Kari’s fourth feature is a tender and wickedly funny comedy, and the winner of the top prize at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

In Person: Director Dagur Kari. In Icelandic with subtitles

WILD TALES (RELATOS SALVAJES) – Saturday Noon Lars Hockstad | Sunday 9 pm State Theater

2014 | Spain, Argentina | R | 122 min.

For pure viewing pleasure, “Wild Tales” will be hard to beat at this festival, or anywhere else, for that matter—assuming you can take a little bit of profanity and violence with your revenge stories. A master of black comedy, Argentinian writer-director Damián Szifrón gives us a bitingly hilarious anthology of six equally stylish and devilishly clever tales about human behavior in extreme situations. It’s the Coen Brothers meets Tarantino meets Almodovar, in short form, united by a theme of vengeance—the kind that explodes in spectacular bursts after a put-upon soul is messed with one too many times. Showcasing perfectly pitched performances and bleak humor derived from daily frustrations we all can relate to, Szifrón’s imaginative shorts build to a crescendo of madness from which no one escapes unscathed. In Spanish with subtitles.


20 YEARS OF MADNESS – Thursday 9 pm Bijou | Sunday 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

2015 | USA | NR | 90 min.

In mid-90s Detroit, a motley crew of young skaters, goths, punks, and other self-described “weirdos” created an anarchic sketch show that aired on public access television called “30 Minutes of Madness.” A local cult hit, everyone involved was sure this real life “Wayne’s World” was their entree to a big time career on MTV or Comedy Central—but then, reality got in the way. Now, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the gang returns to their Michigan hometown in an attempt to rediscover the creative mojo that once provided such an exhilarating outlet. But with their lives in various states of disarray—some have struggled with mental illness and drug addiction, others with jail time and homelessness—the journey to get the band back together takes on unexpected emotional weight and poignancy as the heartbreak of teenage ambition meets middle-aged disappointment. With its bittersweet playfulness, this wistful story of creativity and purpose will ring true with anyone who remembers what the world looked like using the eyes of youth.

In Person: Director Jeremy Royce and “30 Minutes” cast members.

(T)ERROR – Sunday 6 pm Milliken

2015 | USA | NR | 84 min.

Like a great espionage novel set in your own backyard, this stunning work from first-time filmmakers Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe presents a rare glimpse into the murky waters of the government’s counterterrorism practices in the breakout sensation that received a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. In the shadowy world of undercover sting operations, we meet “Shariff,” a revolutionary-turned-informant assigned to befriend a suspected Taliban sympathizer. What starts off with Shariff quietly swapping texts with his handlers takes a mind-blowing twist that turns the tables on the FBI and pushes the boundaries of documentary filmmaking. With unprecedented access to terror investigations, “(T)error” deftly unveils the fragile relationship between individual liberties and the surveillance state, seeking truth from both the watchers and those being watched.

AMY – Wednesday 9 pm City Opera House

2015 | UK | R | 127 min.

Since her tragic death in 2011, Amy Winehouse has been remembered as a beehived, gin-soaked, self-destructive junkie with the sultry growl—an image the unrelenting tabloid media sensationalized to the point of parody. And while it’s easy to reduce this soulful yet erratic artist to a caricature, what director Asif Kapadia masterfully accomplishes instead is a much deeper look at a talented musician who might still be making music if not for a myriad of damaging influences on her life, only one of which was the substance that killed her. By using the voices of 100+ interviewees seamlessly mixed over archival footage—much of which was obtained from the personal collections of Winehouse’s family and friends—viewers are plunged into the heartrending predicament of an artist celebrated for the songs that came out of the most tragic experiences of her life.

THE ARMOR OF LIGHT – Saturday 6 pm Bijou | Sunday 9 am Milliken

2015 | USA | NR | 87 min.

In this astonishing directorial debut by longtime doc producer Abigail Disney, one of our country’s most controversial issues gets an unlikely spiritual voice when an Evangelical minister takes a shockingly liberal stance. Known for his advocacy against abortion but disturbed by the movement’s vigilante killing of a doctor, Reverend Rob Schenck comes to a profound conclusion when he asks the provocative question: does pro-gun go against pro-life? In a gutsy move that creates friction with his NRA card-carrying flock, Reverend Schenck finds the courage to preach about the high cost of gun violence and begins a journey that leads him to Lucy McHale, a mother who challenged Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws after her unarmed son died at the hands of a gunman. Weaving their stories together in a wrenching moral battle, “The Armor of Light” redefines pro-life in an effort to get people to transcend party lines, evolve their stances, and find common ground.

A BRAVE HEART: THE LIZZIE VELASQUEZ STORY – Saturday Noon Milliken | Sunday 3:30 pm Lars Hockstad

2014 | USA | NR | 78 min.

Lizzie Velasquez has been called a lot of things in her life, but if there’s a word that suits her perfectly, it’s inspirational. 26 years old and 63 pounds, Lizzie was born with a rare syndrome that makes it impossible for her to gain weight, and made her the target of ridicule. Fueled by love from her remarkable family, Lizzie became her own advocate, gaining the respect and acceptance of her classmates, only to discover the bullying she thought had stopped had just taken a more vicious form online. After being labeled “The World’s Ugliest Woman” in a video seen by millions, Lizzie fought back, taking her effervescent determination around the country and to Capitol Hill as an outspoken anti-bullying activist. An unstoppable force of nature with a radiance of spirit you just can’t forget, Lizzie’s uplifting story of empowerment is that rare viewing experience that ignites something in your heart.

In Person: Director Sara Hirsh Brodo and subject Lizzie Velasquez.

BEST OF ENEMIES – Wednesday 9 am Bijou | Friday Noon City Opera House

2015 | USA | NR | 87 min.

In the summer of 1968, a series of deliciously exhilarating debates put on air by a then-floundering ABC would alter the course of TV news forever. Seeking two political pundits to debate one another during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, ABC struck a nerve with the intellectual equivalent of the Ali-Frazier fights. On one end was William F. Buckley, a pillar of the modern conservative movement. His opponent? Gore Vidal, the liberal polemic, out homosexual, and antithesis to everything Buckley stood for. With a deep-seated animosity stretching back decades that proved all too intoxicating for viewers, the bitter adversaries riveted audiences with their scathing rhetoric and explosive assault on each other’s ideologies–redefining the nature of public discourse with cutting jabs that seem civil by today’s standards. Get a front seat for this clash of brainy titans.

THE BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD – Wednesday 3 pm City Opera House

2015 | USA | NR | 95 min.

Cable news attracts older Americans like graying moths to an angry flame. But why would someone who was either apolitical or a Democrat in younger days become addicted to conservative talk shows in the twilight years? Filmmaker Jen Senko wondered how her WWII veteran and Kennedy Democrat father had been transformed into a Fox News fanatic, suddenly and inexplicably railing against blacks, gays, and poor people. Using her dad as an entertaining example, Senko pulls back the curtain to expose the tools and tricks of the wizards behind the right-wing media revolution. And in discovering what happened to him, Senko reveals the all-too-chilling bigger picture of what’s happening behind the scenes to influence our national discourse.

In Person: Director Jen Senko and producer Matthew Modine.

BREAKING A MONSTER – Thursday 9 pm State Theater | Friday 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

2015 | USA | NR | 93 min.

Quick: name your favorite tween African-American heavy metal band. Stumped? Next time you’ll be able to namedrop the up-and-coming trio Unlocking the Truth. While their peers were listening to hip hop, these quirky kids found themselves attracted to rock music. Director Luke Meyer documents the astonishing story of baby-faced Brooklyn rockers Alec Atkins, Malcolm Brickhouse, and Jarad Dawkins as they set out to prove they are more than a novelty act, advancing from viral video sensations to the youngest band to ever play at Coachella. Despite dealing with the high-stakes pressures of a million dollar record deal, and a music industry intent on taking control of their lives and music, these are just kids who want to play. It’s highly doubtful that Metallica toasted their first contract signing with sparkling apple juice.

In Person: Director Luke Meyer and Unlocking the Truth.

THE CHINESE MAYOR – Sunday 3 pm Milliken

2014 | China | NR | 86 min.

The newly appointed Chinese mayor of Datong, 54-year-old Geng Yanbo, is on a mission to clean up his city—which ranks as the most polluted city in the country—and bring in tourist dollars by returning it to its former glory of 1,600 years ago. His radical plan includes tearing down poor, unsightly neighborhoods, which will require the relocation of half a million residents (30 percent of Datong’s total population). Success will depend entirely on his ability to calm swarms of furious workers and an increasingly perturbed ruling elite. With unbelievable access, “The Chinese Mayor” captures a man who continues to weather accumulating challenges as he attempts to work against the system, amidst controversy and constant setbacks, seemingly immune to exhaustion and the need for sleep, leaping frantically into an increasingly unstable future.

In Person: Producer Qi Zhao. In Chinese with subtitles

A DANGEROUS GAME – Thursday 3 pm Milliken

2014 | UK | NR | 102 min.

This sequel to “You’ve Been Trumped” (TCFF 2011—and yes, even documentaries get sequels) asks the question, what would happen if the governor of Michigan made it legal for golf courses to be built on the Sleeping Bear Dunes? Filmmaker Anthony Baxter explores the damage that occurs when wealthy developers dig into fragile environments to create massive luxurious resorts. If you think golf is harmless, beforewarned—you’re about to see its dark side. How do all those acres of greenery get watered on courses in literal sand traps like Dubai? Baxter explores golf hotspots in Croatia and China before returning to his native Scotland, where Donald Trump’s development plans are met with mass protests despite his insistence that he’s “a great environmentalist.” If presidential candidate Trump wants people to think of him as a great guy, he’d better hope every copy of this documentary spontaneously combusts.

DEEP WEB – Thursday 9 pm The Buzz | Saturday 6 pm The Buzz

2015 | USA | NR | 90 min.

On May 29, Ross Ulbricht, the 30-year-old entrepreneur convicted of operating under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” as creator of the online black market Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Keanu Reeves narrates for his “Bill & Ted” costar Alex Winter, who lucidly explores the deep web, a “place” on the internet where cutting-edge technologies mask participants’ identities for privacy advocates and cybercriminals. The leaders behind the deep web and Bitcoin are caught in a battle for control of a future inextricably linked to technology, with our digital rights hanging in the balance. Focusing on the century’s most riveting digital crime saga, the film investigates the implications for how we will experience the internet in the future.

In Person: Director Alex Winter.

A COURTSHIP – Friday Noon Milliken | Saturday 3:15 pm City Opera House

2015 | USA | NR | 71 min.

Today’s singles are inundated with all the newfangled ways to meet mates: online sites; speed dating; panels of experts on reality TV. But 33-year-old Kelly has chosen to put her faith in God and Christian Courtship, a practice where couples give over control of their dating lives to their family, and save even their first kiss for marriage. It’s a challenge for devout Kelly, since her own parents don’t agree with the plan, and she has already pursued conventional dating. Undeterred, she finds spiritual parents in Grand Rapids who agree to take her in and keep her as long as they need to, until they find her the right match. In her first feature, Amy Kohn tackles a sensitive subject and a deeply interesting personal story with openness and tact, creating a poignant portrait of a woman who, like everyone else, just wants to be loved.

In Person: Director Amy Kohn.

DO I SOUND GAY? – Wednesday 6 pm City Opera House | Wednesday 9 pm Movies on a Boat | Friday 9 pm Bijou

2014 | USA | PG | 77 min.

Fresh on the heels of a bad breakup with his beau, newly single Brooklynite David Thorpe decides to take stock of his perceived flaws as he works on getting his life back in order. Chief among them: his anxiety about sounding “too gay.” Enlisting the help of voice coaches, linguists, friends and family, and total strangers, he embarks on a hilarious and fascinating journey of self-identity that opens onto a larger discussion of gay identity in America and the cultural history of the so-called gay voice. Featuring interviews with gay icons like Dan Savage, David Sedaris, Tim Gunn, Margaret Cho, and George Takei, “Do I Sound Gay?” is a cleverly wrought and insightful exploration of what one of Thorpe’s friends calls “the elephant in the room in the gay community.”

In Person: Director David Thorpe.


2014 | USA | NR | 95 min.

From its humble beginnings as a counterculture magazine to a revered comic institution, National Lampoon’s take-no-prisoners satire forever changed the American comedy landscape. This gleefully irreverent doc follows Lampoon’s meteoric rise to fame that unleashed films like “Animal House” and “Vacation” on the world and helped make the likes of Bill Murray, John Belushi, and Chevy Chase household names. With never-before-seen archival footage, interviews with past luminaries including Christopher Guest, Ivan Reitman, and Chevy Chase, and enough drugs and debauchery to put any rock band biopic to shame, this film offers a rollicking look back at the legacy of this groundbreaking American magazine.

In Person: Director Douglas Tirola.

FEAR NOT THE PATH OF TRUTH – Friday 12:30 pm Bijou | Saturday 3 pm Old Town Playhouse

2013 | USA | NR | 84 min.

When Iraq veteran Ross Caputi set out with his unit for the second siege of Fallujah, he partook in one of the largest and bloodiest operations in the Iraq War, an attack that left the city decimated. Newspapers celebrated Caputi and his fellow soldiers as heroes, books were written about their mission against terrorism—but Caputi’s conscience told him something different. Unwilling to accept the mainstream media’s portrait of his experience, he took up a camera and set out across the US to learn the truth about that day, and what the American people know about it. This is one of the most uncomfortable films you’ll see at the fest, and you won’t be able to take your eyes off of it.

In Person: Ross Caputi. In Arabic, English with subtitles

THE DIPLOMAT – Wednesday 9:15 pm State Theater | Thursday 9 am Bijou

2015 | Afghanistan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Vietnam | NR | 104 min.

With a career spanning half a century, serving the Presidential administrations of Carter, Clinton, and Obama, Richard Holbrooke left behind an unparalleled legacy as one of America’s most influential foreign ambassadors when he passed away suddenly in 2010. Holbrooke’s impact can be seen on foreign policy and peacemaking dating from the Vietnam War to Afghanistan, including his negotiation of the end to the Bosnian conflict in 1995. But for his son David, he left behind an enigma. To better understand his distinguished but often absent father, David Holbrooke set out to explore his father’s world and capture it on film. At once deeply personal and caught up in the sweep of American history, David’s film is a thoroughly fascinating look at a larger-than-life public servant through the eyes of his family, and those he served and worked with, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry.

In Person: Director David Holbrooke and Producer Stacey Reiss.

FINDERS KEEPERS – Wednesday 7/22 7 pm Garden | Wednesday 9 am Old Town Playhouse | Thursday Noon City Opera House

2014 | USA | R | 82 min.

Here’s a story for the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up files. It’s the mid-2000s, rural North Carolina. John Wood, the thirtysomething son of a local business magnate, loses his leg in a plane crash; following his own brand of warped logic, he decides to preserve the detached appendage and store it inside his smoke cooker, which is later sold along with the rest of his possessions when he’s evicted from his home. Enter Shannon Whisnant, an enterprising bargain hunter, who buys said smoker in an auction and discovers the foot inside. You’ll have to see for yourself what happens from there, but let’s just say the story only gets crazier (hint: Shannon doesn’t return the foot, and the national media gets involved). The kind of crazy ride that can only happen in small-town America, with some of the most memorable characters you’ll see in any film this year, “Finders Keepers” ranks among the funniest and most memorable films of the festival.

FROM THIS DAY FORWARD – Saturday 9:30 am State Theater | Sunday 6 pm Old Town Playhouse

2015 | USA | NR | 74 min.

When she was a little girl, Petoskey native Sharon Shattuck’s dad told her that when she got married, he hoped he could wear a dress to walk her down the aisle. Not long after that, while his children were in middle school, Sharon’s father came out as transgender and changed his name to Trisha. His transition was difficult for Sharon’s straight-identified mother to accept, but Sharon’s parents stayed together. When Sharon’s family reunites years later to plan her wedding, she takes up her camera to explore the unorthodox relationships of her family and flesh out the conversations she spent so many years avoiding. Juxtaposing candid home videos from her father’s pre-transition years with present day footage, Shattuck has created an intimate and touching portrait of a modern American family.

In Person: Director Sharron Shattuck, Marcia and Trisha Shattuck.

GLEN CAMPBELL… I’LL BE ME – Friday Noon Lars Hockstad

2014 | USA | PG | 105 min.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest recording artists in history, Glen Campbell has played with everyone from Sinatra to Elvis to the Beach Boys, breaking down barriers for country music as he hit the pop charts time and time again. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, the seemingly infinite boundaries of his career began closing in. But instead of hanging up his hat, Glen, with the unwavering support of his wife Kim, set out on an unprecedented “Goodbye Tour.” A moving and insightful look at life with dementia and a tribute to one of the great musicians of our time, this triumphant and unconventional music doc follows Campbell and his family through 151 cities with appearances by Bruce Springsteen, The Edge, Paul McCartney, and Taylor Swift to celebrate the resilient icon as he rides into the sunset.

HIP HOP-ERATION – Friday 9 am Milliken | Friday 9 pm Movies on a Boat | Sunday 3 pm City Opera House

2014 | New Zealand, USA | NR | 93 min.

A group of 27 sassy women ranging in age from 66 to 94 years young sets out to prove that you can be a hip hop dancer, even after you’ve had hip replacement surgery. Taking off from their native New Zealand for the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas, they’re prepared to compete against dance crews whose members are the same age as their great-grandchildren. It’s not easy when there’s only sixty dollars in the bank, you don’t really like the music, and you’re worried about how to get your socks on, but with the help of “I’ve never danced in my life” Billie and young hip hoppers from Street Dance New Zealand, they begin to believe. Charming, inspiring, life-affirming, and very funny, this refreshing doc will make your heart soar. Just try not to cry when one member says, “I want to die dancing.” We dare you.


2014 | USA | NR | 95 min.

For 60 years, legendary actor Hal Holbrook has toured with his award-winning one-man show, “Mark Twain Tonight!,” portraying America’s most acclaimed satirist and truth-teller for millions on and off Broadway, in all fifty states and twenty countries. Over 175 years after his birth, Twain’s observations about our country and our species are just as relevant as ever. And Holbrook is still going strong at the age of 89, performing around the country and constantly evolving his art so that it remains as engaging as ever. Featuring interviews with Sean Penn and Martin Sheen, Scott Teems’ documentary creates the same intensity audiences feel during a live Holbrook performance. Holbrook and Twain use humor to help make the truth go down—the stage show, and this film that captures it, are a tonic.

In Person: Director Scott Teems.

HOT TYPE: 150 YEARS OF THE NATION – Wednesday Noon State Theater

2015 | USA, Haiti | NR | 93 min.

Chief among the many pleasures of “Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation” is the chance to meet Katrina vanden Heuval, who has been the editor of the longest continuously running weekly magazine in the US since 1995. A powerful woman of towering intellect and quiet, steely determination, vanden Heuval has led the iconic publication through the trials of the precipitous decline of print media, protecting “The Nation”’s status as a weekly staple of American culture and a formidable progressive news outlet. Director Barbara Kopple, two-time Oscar Winner and recipient of the TCFF 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, uses unfettered access and unfiltered honesty to reveal the inner workings of the iconic publication, kept intensely alive through the fierce passion of its editors, contributors, and interns, not to mention former editor Victor Saul Navasky, who still keeps an office. In Person: Director Barbara Kopple and members of “The Nation” staff.

LISTEN TO ME MARLON – Saturday 3 pm State Theater | Sunday 9 pm City Opera House

2015 | UK | NR | 95 min.

There’s nothing else like this documentary in the festival—nor anywhere else, really. The great Marlon Brando kept an audio diary throughout his life— hundreds of hours of audio recordings, including self-hypnosis tapes. And director Stevan Riley used his access to the Brando estate’s stash of previously unseen and unheard audio recordings, along with clips of his films from “On the Waterfront” to “The Godfather,” plus home movies, news footage, and TV interviews, to expertly craft this intimate, complex portrait of one of the world’s most iconic, influential, enigmatic, and elusive actors. Marlon Brando himself narrates the story, revealing details of his exceptional career and remarkable personal life for the first time. No talking heads, no interviewees: just Brando on Brando. It’s on our short list for best doc of the year.

In Person: Director Stevan Riley (Sun), Subject Miko Brando.

THE HUNTING GROUND – Thursday 3 pm City Opera House

2015 | USA | PG-13 | 102 min.

Fearless filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering follow up on their expose of sexual assault in the military, “The Invisible War,” by tackling the epidemic of sexual violence sweeping America’s campuses. Dick and Ziering drag the rape culture at American universities out from under the rug by cementing mind-boggling statistics (20 percent of college women are sexually assaulted) with the inspiring story of two UNC Chapel Hill student survivors- turned-activists who team up to start the organization End Rape on Campus. Andrea Pino and Annie Clark ingeniously employ a Title IX legal strategy to fight back against the institutional cover-ups, villainized victims, and skewed motivations that drive universities to turn a blind eye, and share their knowledge with a growing, unstoppable network of young women who will no longer be silent.

INDIAN POINT – Wednesday Noon The Buzz | Thursday Noon The Buzz

2015 | Japan, USA | NR | 94 min.

Nestled on the Hudson River just north of New York City, in close proximity to 50 million people, sits the Indian Point nuclear power plant. It has operated for over 50 years and provides electricity to two million homes. Ask its engineers, and they’ll tell you the plant is safe, with every precaution taken and every regulation followed. Ask the vocal anti-nuclear contingent who sit in on US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meetings, and they’ll remind you of the devastation caused by the earthquake that brought down Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Director Ivy Meeropol takes full advantage of access to the plant to present understandable science and a multitude of perspectives on Indian Point, including Gregory Jaczko, former chairman of the NRC. This powerful film is essential viewing for all of us living in countries powered by nuclear energy.

LIFE MAY BE – Sunday 6 pm The Buzz

2014 | UK, Iran | NR | 85 min.

Prolific film critic, writer, filmmaker, and TCFF Board Member Mark Cousins (“The Story of Film: An Odyssey,” TCFF 2012) has turned a series of video letters into a fascinating epistolary feature film that is both exquisitely rarefied and surprisingly accessible. A five-part cinematic discourse between Edinburgh resident Cousins and London-based Iranian actress, artist, and director Mania Akbari, “Life May Be” is a unique, poetic journey into the minds of two exceptional filmmakers that becomes a love affair on film. With startling confrontations in the arenas of cultural issues, gender politics, and differing artistic sensibilities, “Life May Be” extends the concept of the personal essay film into a revelatory examination of identity, memory, and self-exposure. In English, Persian with subtitles

MONTY PYTHON: THE MEANING OF LIVE – Friday 7/24 7 pm Vogue | Tuesday 9 pm Movies on a Boat | Saturday 6 pm State Theater | Sunday 6 pm Lars Hockstad

2014 | UK | NR | 94 min.

Silly run, don’t silly walk, to this behind-the-scenes documentary following the five surviving Pythons as they put together their first live stage show in more than thirty years. Directors Roger Graef and James Rogan gleefully tag along as flies on the wall for the Pythons’ rehearsals, offering a rare glimpse into the group’s behind-the-scenes dynamics and preshow anxieties. Using rare and never-before-seen archival footage from their early stage performances, Graef and Rogan lay the foundation for the Python’s modern show with a look back at the origins of some of their most beloved sketches. As the Pythons themselves are quick to point out, they’ll be dead soon, so do yourself a favor and enjoy them while you can in this hilarious tribute to some of the world’s most often-quoted comedy legends.

NIGHT WILL FALL – Thursday Noon Bijou | Friday 9 am Old Town Playhouse

2014 | UK | NR | 75 min.

In 1945, a shocking documentary was made about the Holocaust—a film so effective at showing the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps that, despite the involvement of legendary directors Alfred Hitchock and Billy Wilder, it was never widely seen. After a four-year restoration, the documentary is finally being released. “Night Will Fall” reveals the previously untold story of this vital documentary by juxtaposing unflinching raw footage from the film with modern-day interviews with Holocaust survivors and archival interviews with the film’s creators. A crucial film and an unprecedented look at the experiences of Allied soldiers at the end of WWII, there are few better examples of the power of documentary filmmaking to capture the human experience and preserve the truth of our history.

PEACE OFFICER – Wednesday 9 am The Buzz | Sunday 9 pm The Buzz

2015 | USA | NR | 109 min.

In 1975, William “Dub” Lawrence created and trained the rural Utah SWAT team—the very same team that ended up killing his son-in-law during a standoff in 2008. Now the former sheriff has become an unlikely crusader against deaths caused by excessive use of police force. Directors Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson follow Lawrence as he investigates his son-in-law’s death and other suspicious police shootings using materials obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, and discovers evidence of police brutality and deliberate cover-ups. An extremely timely look at the growing militarization of our nation’s police force, this SXSW grand jury award winning documentary is a fascinating portrait of a man on a mission, and a clear and concise look at a knotty problem plaguing our country.

POVERTY, INC. – Friday 6 pm Bijou | Saturday 6 pm Old Town Playhouse

2015 | Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Kenya, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Thailand, UK, USA | NR | 95 min.

We’re encouraged to donate resources where there are none, shoes to those in need, and money to provide disaster relief, all in the ongoing fight to end poverty. The business of doing good has never been better. But when those resources drive out farmers, cripple local business, and decimate the same economy we’re trying to aid, who actually prospers? In this eye-opening documentary on the multi-billion dollar global charity industry, over 200 voices from 20 different countries speak out against those who profit from poverty. This revelatory doc unearths the harsh realities of the donor community and asks whether the charitable efforts of the West truly help, or hold other cultures captive to global aid. In English, French with subtitles

PRESCRIPTION THUGS – Saturday Noon Bijou | Sunday 9 am Old Town Playhouse

2015 | USA | NR | 86 min.

While Americans constitute only 5% of the world’s population, they manage to consume over 75% of the world’s prescription drugs. Trying to find out just what the doctor ordered, this revealing doc from director Chris Bell and producer Vince Vaughn takes aim at the FDA, Big Pharma, and America’s new war on drugs. Turning the camera on himself after losing his brother to prescription drugs, Bell relates a deeply personal story of his own struggle with addiction before launching an examination of a skyrocketing problem affecting the country at large. Addressing an issue that extends from Hollywood’s biggest stars to a Minnesota mom who began taking her daughter’s Adderall, Bell speaks with fellow survivors, whistleblowers, and experts to deliver a galvanizing call to arms.

In Person: Director Chris Bell.


2015 | USA | NR | 104 min.

When three Indiana Jones-loving teenagers embarked on a fun summer project, they never imagined it would consume the next seven summers of their lives and go on to become an underground cult classic. The unbelievable and inspiring story of their lovingly crafted and charmingly DIY shot-for-shot remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (recreated only from memory!) is not only fandom at its most pure, infectious, and geeky, but also a poignant reminder of the escape from the reality the movies offer. Through first kisses, near-disastrous accidents, divorce, fights, and disapproving parents, the boys soldiered on; now, 23 years later, the original gang reunites to complete the one fight sequence they never had the chance to complete in this exhilarating look at the bonds of friendship and living out your dreams.

RED ARMY – Saturday 6 pm Milliken

2014 | Russia, USA | PG | 85 min.

A rare sports doc that’s as much for raving fans as the athletically agnostic, this wildly compelling hockey movie takes you out of the rink and right into the heart of the Cold War. In the 1980s, the Soviet Red Army hockey team was both an undefeated source of pride for the nation and a tool for propaganda: the athlete ambassadors were a symbol of Socialist strength. Oscar-nominated director Gabe Polsky incisively tells the bittersweet story of the Red Army through its captain, Slava Fetisov, a man who went from renowned national hero to political enemy when he outwardly questioned the system and defected to the USA in pursuit of capitalist NHL dollars. Engrossing interviews and archival footage chronicle the clash of national identity and individual autonomy on and off the ice. In English, Russian with subtitles

ROSEANNE FOR PRESIDENT! – Wednesday 6:15 pm State Theater

2015 | USA | NR | 97 min.

She was in our living rooms every week for a decade, but Eric Weinrib’s fly-on-the-wall documentary reveals a side of Emmy-winner Roseanne Barr we never saw—Roseanne as presidential nominee. In 2012, the woman once publicly scorned for making a mockery of the national anthem turned heads when she set out to make a difference by running for president as a third party candidate. As someone who changed the way America talked about class, family, homosexuality, and abortion with her groundbreaking sitcom, it should come as no surprise that she would use her larger than-life personality to call attention to the things that angered her about the state of the nation. Doubling as an entertaining and insightful political profile and a vérité look at her life and career, this candid, no-holds barred portrait of a woman who is never afraid to speak her mind is one of the funniest and best of the fest.

In Person: Director Eric Weinrib.


2014 | Brazil, France, Italy | PG-13 | 109 min.

Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado’s body of work represents something of an aesthetic paradox. His pictures have documented many of the crises of the modern world—gold mines in his home country, blazing oil fires in the Gulf War, the terrors of the Rwandan genocide. Yet in spite of their often harrowing subjects, Salgado’s compositions are also beautiful objects of art. Director Wim Wenders collaborates with Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado in this globe-trotting visual odyssey about an artist and photojournalist who spent forty years as a front-line witness to history in the making around the world. Nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, this exquisitely made doc is an utterly absorbing ode to a restless traveler and tireless humanitarian. In English, French, Portuguese with subtitles

THE STATE-MAFIA PACT (LA TRATTATIVA) – Friday Noon Old Town Playhouse | Saturday 9 am Bijou

2014 | Italy | NR | 108 min.

Covert deals between mafia heads and politicians, a series of bombings that paralyze an entire country, assassinations of brave public voices speaking out against the corruption: it sounds like the makings of a Hollywood crime drama. But in fact, this is Italy’s recent history as recounted in the latest fearless documentary from director and former TCFF Board Member Sabina Guzzanti (“Viva Zapatero!” TCFF 2006). Revealing secret negotiations between government officials and the Cosa Nostra with the aid of her troupe of performers, Guzzanti’s unapologetic perspective and biting satire on contemporary political controversy moves between archival footage and reenactments of important moments in the history of State and Mafia relations. In Italian with subtitles

THE TRIALS OF SPRING – Thursday 6 pm City Opera House

2015 | USA, Egypt | NR | 76 min.

Even as the world watched major media coverage of the demonstrations and upheaval in Egypt over the last few years, many important voices and issues were not represented. The latest documentary from Academy Award-nominated director and TCFF alum Gini Reticker (“Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” TCFF 2008), “The Trials of Spring” offers a powerful look at women’s voices in the Arab Spring over the course of four years. Among these women is young Hend Nafea, who joined the uprising full of hope, only to be met with harassment, torture, and imprisonment. Her story, and the stories of the other women whose paths she crosses, help to illuminate the ways in which brave Arab women, often characterized as weak or submissive, are making real changes in the world. In Person: Director Gini Reticker. In Arabic, English with subtitles

T-REX – Friday 9:30 pm State Theater | Saturday 3 pm Bijou

2015 | Canada, China, UK, USA | NR | 87 min.

Hailing from our very own Flint, MI, scrappy 17-year-old boxing phenom Claressa “T-Rex” Shields has her sights set on earning gold at the 2012 Beijing Olympics—the first time the games have featured women’s boxing. Tough as nails from life on the mean streets of Flint, she’s got the grit, determination, and ferocity to train and compete at the highest levels. Not even her family’s crazy daily drama can derail her from pursuit of Olympic glory—for boxing may well be her only shot at lifting her family out of poverty. Don’t miss one of our favorite films of the festival, an inspiring, feel-good documentary from first-time filmmakers Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari about triumphing over adversity and fighting for your dream.

In Person: Director Zackary Canepari and subject Claressa Shields.

VERY SEMI-SERIOUS – Saturday 9 pm City Opera House | Sunday 6 pm Bijou

2015 | USA | NR | 83 min.

Sometimes it feels like the single panel cartoons in “New Yorker” magazine were bequeathed to us by benevolent beings on Mount Olympus. But there are actually humans behind it all, and we get to meet them in Leah Wolchok’s joyful documentary. At the center of it all is Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff, who drew what may be the greatest cartoon of the modern era (Exec on phone: “No, Thursday’s out. How’s never—is never good for you?”). Mankoff allows any regular schmoe off the street to pitch their work, leading to hilarious and heartbreaking exchanges with the freaks, geeks, and merry pranksters who channel their offbeat worldviews into the magazine’s iconic black-and-white illustrations. This light-hearted and sometimes poignant documentary has a great deal to say about funny business.

In Person: Director Leah Wolchok, Subject Bob Mankoff.

THE WANTED 18 – Friday 3 pm State Theater | Saturday 9 pm Bijou

2014 | Canada, France, Palestine | PG | 75 min.

How do 18 cows get labeled a threat to national security? And how do the cows feel about this, exactly? Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan set out to answer both questions with this doc about an absurdist footnote in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a film defying all labels with its mix of talking heads, claymation, and reenactments, we travel back to 1988, when defiant townspeople in the Occupied Territories created a dairy collective as a step towards economic independence. It was so successful that the army declared the cows a threat to Israel’s national security. The cows were forced to produce their “Intifada milk” underground, with the Israeli army in relentless pursuit. An inspirational tribute to the way nonviolent struggle can inspire hope, even in the darkest times. In Arabic, English, Hebrew with subtitles

WE COME AS FRIENDS – Saturday Noon The Buzz | Sunday 3 pm The Buzz

2014 | Austria, France | NR | 110 min.

South Sudan has been struggling with violent growing pains since it gained independence in 2011. Traveling is extremely dangerous, but intrepid documentarian Hubert Sauper is as fearless as they come. So he designed a tiny homemade airplane that allowed him to move freely among impoverished villages, gathering candid testimony from people who are understandably skeptical of Westerners. Sauper arranges a wealth of material into a searing indictment of a diseased system, deftly describing the horrific legacy of European colonialism that brought South Sudan to this crucial juncture. If all you know about South Sudan is that George Clooney sometimes mentions it in interviews, you’re in for an eye-opener with this challenging and intelligent film. In Arabic, Chinese, English with subtitles

THE WOLFPACK – Thursday 6 pm Lars Hockstad | Friday 6 pm Old Town Playhouse

2015 | USA | R | 90 min.

Great movies can change your life, but can they save it? No doc has been more buzzed about in 2015 than this stranger-than-fiction story about the six Angulo brothers who lived their whole lives in a Manhattan housing project, locked up by their overprotective father. Homeschooled and forbidden to leave the apartment with the exception of rare, carefully supervised excursions, the boys turn to movies to cope with their isolation, diligently transcribing screenplays and meticulously re-enacting their favorite films, complete with elaborate sets, props, and costumes. The kids use cinema to understand an outside world they can only glimpse from their windows, until 20-year-old Mukunda sneaks out of the house wearing a Michael Myers mask, ends up in court-mandated therapy, and the family is forced to enter society. Winner of the Sundance Documentary Grand Jury Prize, “The Wolfpack” is ultimately a film for anyone who has ever used the movies to escape.


SERGIO HERMAN, F**KING PERFECT – Saturday 6 pm City Opera House

2015 | Netherlands | NR | 80 min.

Sergio Herman accepts nothing less than perfection in his kitchen. The master chef at Oud Sluis has dedicated years to ensuring his restaurant’s nightly offerings consistently exceed expectations in both beauty and flavor. But the ceaseless demands of the kitchen are clearly running the 43-year-old and his family into the ground. So in 2013, Sergio sacrifices his life’s work to fulfill the next phase of his dreams. With an exquisite eye as precise as her subject, Willemiek Kluijfhout’s fly-on-the-wall technique captures Sergio’s restless passion as he ventures out to expand his empire. In Dutch with subtitles

Participating chefs: Jennifer Blakeslee & Eric Patterson, The Cooks House Gary Jonas, The Little Fleet French Clements, Frenchies Famous

KING GEORGES – Wednesday 6 pm Old Town Playhouse

2014 | USA | NR | 77 min.

The vast majority of restaurants go down in flames soon after opening. So it’s a big deal to have a restaurant last 40 years, especially when it’s a fancy French eatery in Philadelphia. In 2010, renowned French chef Georges Perrier announces that he will hand over the reins of his establishment Le Bec-Fin to a young protégé—but as the reality of leaving behind his life’s work sinks in, the temperamental Perrier has trouble handing over the spatula. Director Erika Frankel follows the last stand of this proud man in this warmly funny portrait of a chef’s struggle to stay relevant in a culinary world of rapidly changing tastes.

Participating Chefs: Guillaume Hazaël-Massieux, Bistro FouFou & La Bécasse, Pete Peterson, Tapawingo, Dave Denison, Amical

CITY OF GOLD – Thursday 3 pm Old Town Playhouse

2014 | USA | NR | 91 min.

Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold is a towering figure among foodies. He’s a gastronomical guru in his beloved Los Angeles, where the often exotic and groundbreaking cuisine is a reflection of the fact it’s America’s most ethnically diverse metropolis. In director Laura Gabbert’s documentary, Gold takes us on a mouthwatering tour through the hidden corners of LA to share stories of immigrant families who built their American Dreams on steaming bowls of ramen or Oaxacan grasshopper soup. Gold is hilarious, along with being influential enough to make or break a business. (“Where did all these white people come from?” asks one restaurant owner after Gold makes his place famous.) You’ll leave hungry to learn more about world cuisine.

Participating Chefs: Simon Joseph, Harvest Amanda Danielson & Myles Anton, Trattoria Stella

GOOD THINGS AWAIT (SÅ MEGET GODT I VENTE) – Friday 3 pm Old Town Playhouse

2014 | Denmark | NR | 95 min.

On a small, picturesque farm in Denmark, elderly farmer Niels Stokholm has been honing his biodynamic farming technique for over thirty years. Niels’ hard work and commitment to this century-old approach to agriculture has paid off: his farm now sells meat and produce to some of the country’s top restaurants, including the internationally-renowned Copenhagen institution Noma. With stunning cinematography, filmmaker Phie Ambo captures the simple beauty of life in harmony with nature in this captivating documentary. In Danish with subtitles

Participating Chefs: Jess Piskor, Bare Knuckle Farm, Paul Olson, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin


DOUG BENSON’S MOVIE INTERRUPTION: SPEED – Saturday 12 Midnight State Theater

1994 | USA | R | 116 min.

Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb of a movie—an underrated and gloriously ridiculous gem of the 1990s. Once the clock strikes midnight on Saturday night, Doug Benson and a team of his funny festival friends take to their mics to blow the film up. What do you do? What do YOU DO? Why, you head to the State Theatre, of course, for one riotously hilarious adrenaline rush that will make you never want to use mass transit again! A Casio watch-sporting Keanu Reeves, TCFF Board Member Jeff Daniels, America’s sweetheart Sandra Bullock, and America’s favorite psychopath, Dennis Hopper, all-star in the epic tale of the bus that couldn’t slow down.

THE LIFE OF BRIAN – Thursday 12 Midnight State Theater

1979 | UK | R | 94 min.

Blessed are the cheesemakers, blessed are the Pythons, and blessed are those of you who join us at the State Theatre for a special screening of the fabled comedic troupe’s sharpest and most controversial satire about a poor chap who just can’t seem to win. Born on December 25, not too far from a certain manger of note, Brian is constantly mistaken for the Messiah, and it makes life darn difficult. But thanks to Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, we can all look on the bright side of life.

CORMAN’S SURPRISE – Friday Midnight (12:30 AM) State Theater

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We couldn’t toast Roger Corman, the Godfather of Midnight Movies, without bringing you one of his craziest, most batshit, most lurid, and just plain crazy awesome movies at the witching hour, could we? Zombies, monsters, bikers, cannibals, samurais, buxom women. Slasher, splatter, mockbuster, carsploitation—whatever your cult movie poison may be, you have Corman to thank. Take a chance and roll the dice on an oeuvre filled with little known masterpieces. We won’t reveal what we’re showing until the film rolls, but we can tell you this: we’ve narrowed it down to oh, say, about 400 titles or so.

SHORTS: WTF – Wednesday 12 Midnight State Theater

Program length: 92 min.

What do a prancing pony, a rapping hot dog bun, and David Hasselhoff have in common? They’re all part of this collection of mind-melting shorts coming to the State Theatre at midnight. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (well, probably not), you’ll get to see “Kung Fury” on the big screen. And if you don’t think “Storm Hits Jacket” is the best film you’ve ever seen about time traveling, aliens, and a witch who controls cows with her mind, then we don’t know what to tell ya. See you there.


BUTTER YA’SELF 2014 | USA | 3 min.

FOOTPRINTS 2014 | USA | 4 min.

KUNG FURY 2014 | USA | 31 min.

LESLEY THE PONY HAS AN A+ DAY! 2014 | USA | 4 min.


WHOLE 2014 | Denmark | 12 min.

WORLD OF TOMORROW 2015 | USA | 17 min.


DOCTOR ZHIVAGO – Thursday 2 pm Bijou

1965 | USA | NR | 197 min.

In 50 years, nothing has come close to capturing the sheer beauty, meticulous craftsmanship, dramatic intensity, sweeping romance, and pure passion of David Lean’s historical epic “Dr. Zhivago.” Adapted from Boris Pasternak’s Nobel Prize-winning novel, it’s the story of the tumult and chaos of the Russian revolution as witnessed and remembered by poet-turned-physician Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif). While the politics and spectacle of a nation in upheaval makes for captivating viewing, it’s the love story between Zhivago and the two beautiful women he loves—loyal wife Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin) and mistress Lara (Julie Christie)—that still seduces. Winning five Oscars, including one for its score featuring the ever-haunting “Lara’s Theme,” this is old-fashioned storytelling at its most grand.

In Person: Actress Geraldine Chaplin.

SHAUN THE SHEEP – Saturday 3 pm Lars Hockstad

2014 | UK | G | 85 min.

What Pixar is to computer animation, Aardman is to stop-motion: the geniuses behind “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run” never fail to deliver delightful and utterly ewenique entertainment for young and old alike. In their latest feature film, Shaun the Sheep makes his big screen debut in a charmingly adorable romp bursting with sophisticated wit and ingenious visual gags in every frame. When a series of madcap mishaps cause their Farmer to get amnesia and become lost in the big city, Shaun and his scrappy herd of barnyard comrades must gather a little shear determination and come to the rescue. A triumph of old-school charm and wide-eyed sweetness, we couldn’t be more excited to host this special sneak preview of the next great family film before people start flocking to theaters to see it later this summer. Catch it here first if ewe can!

MIKE’S SURPRISE – Sunday 12 Noon Lars Hockstad

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

DOCUMENTARY NOW! – Sunday 3:45 pm Old Town Playhouse

Meet Big Evie (Fred Armisen) and Little Evie (Bill Hader), mother and daughter former socialites, fallen from grace in decades past and now living in extreme squalor, in this “Grey Gardens” documentary send-up. Delve into the lives and lost dreams of this captivating duo as documentarians uncover bits of their decadent past and unlikely descent into shambles; in the process, a shocking secret is revealed. Don’t miss IFC’s sneak peek episode of “Documentary Now!”—a genre bending series that pays tribute to and parodies classic documentaries. Premiering August 20th, the series is created, executive produced, and written by “Saturday Night Live” alums Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers. The screening will be followed by a discussion with documentary filmmakers and Michael Moore.

In Person: Michael Moore and TCFF 2015 filmmakers.

DOUG BENSON’S MOVIE INTERRUPTION: TOP GUN – Thursday 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

1986 | USA | PG | 110 min.

How did Doug Benson want to follow up last year’s tour-de-force Interruption of “Road House?” Why, with another great testosterone-fueled fantasy from the 1980s, of course, but this time with 100% more Regan-era patriotism. Benson and buddies will seat themselves in the front row of the Playhouse and riff on the immortal story of a true Maverick (that also happens to be his call sign), a cocky flyboy (Tom Cruise) who’s riding right into the danger zone. Between the sweat-kissed shirtless volleyball, impromptu bar singing, big hulking war machines, sexual electricity that takes your breath away, and pulsating machismo intensity, we’re sure there will be something to laugh about. So whether this is one of your favorite films, or you’ve lost that loving feeling, you’ve never seen “Top Gun” like this before.

DOUG LOVES MOVIES PODCAST – Wednesday 9 pm Old Town Playhouse

Join beloved TCFF fixture Doug Benson (“Last Comic Standing,” “Friends,” “Super High Me”) and other special surprise guests as they record a nationally-renowned podcast featuring imaginatively titled games and lively discussion all about movies, direct and live from the stage of the Old Town Playhouse. We welcome back Benson, Traverse City’s adopted son and Host of the 2015 TC ComFest, for an evening of outrageous, outright hilarity. Be sure to make time for this side-splitting conversation about the thing that could possibly be the greatest thing in life: the movies. Tickets for this special live event are $20.

NO MORE ROAD TRIPS? – Friday Noon The Buzz

2013 | USA | NR | 79 min.

TCFF 2014 Visionary Award winner Rick Prelinger takes us on a dream ride through 20th-century America, assembled entirely from home movies sourced from over 80 families. “No More Road Trips?” asks if we’ve come to the end of the open road. Have we reached “peak travel?” Can we still find fortune (and ourselves) on the highway? Are we nomads or stay-at-homes? A journey from the Atlantic Coast to California made from a collection of 9,000 home movies, “No More Road Trips?” reveals hidden histories embedded in the landscape, seeking to blend the pleasures of travel with premonitions of its end. The audience is the soundtrack for this fully participatory film—filmgoers will be encouraged to ask questions, make comments, disagree with one another, and generally act like vocal sports spectators or the rowdies in the pit in front of an Elizabethan stage! A project of Creative Capital.

In Person: Director Rick Prelinger.


2015 | USA | NR | 75 min.

Returning to the festival after selling out all of his screenings at TCFF 2014 (and then some), Rick Prelinger presents the world premiere of the fifth in his series of archival urban history explorations of Detroit. He’ll moderate an interactive screening of this newly edited version of his perennially uncompleted film, comprised of home movies made in Detroit from 1920-1970 and footage produced by the industry and government. Filled with humor and surprises, the images of Detroit work and culture, streets and shops, parks and parties counter “ruin porn” stereotypes. The arresting images of a vibrant multicultural city encourage Detroit supporters to contemplate the future of a very complex place. Like Prelinger’s “No More Road Trips?” this won’t be a quiet experience in the dark. Viewers make the soundtrack, identifying places, people, and events, asking questions, and discussing what they see. Don’t wait too long to get your free ticket to this incredibly popular interactive film event.

In Person: Director Rick Prelinger.


2015 | USA | NR | 98 min.

On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the Badlands of South Dakota, teenage Johnny is getting ready to leave the only world he has ever known to follow his girlfriend to Los Angeles. But the unexpected death of his rodeo-cowboy father makes his decision to leave his family and community behind all the more difficult, since it would mean abandoning his beloved young sister Jashuan. “Songs My Brother Taught Me” was a breakout hit at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals for first-time filmmaker Chloe Zhao, who lived for four years on the reservation and cast local actors to create an authentic and nuanced picture of Lakota life. At its core, it’s a film about a deeply-knit community and fighting for your home—no matter how hard it gets.


1932 | USA | NR | 72 min.

Jeff Garlin’s series of forgotten classics and rare treasures returns to the TCFF with this early horror comedy masterpiece directed by the legendary James Whale (“Frankenstein,” “Bride of Frankenstein”), one of the few openly gay filmmakers of his era. Hot on the heels of the success of “Frankenstein,” the incomparable Boris Karloff gets top billing as the hulking, beastly butler of a gothic mansion populated by lunatics and murderers. When a group of travelers comes by to seek shelter from a torrential storm, the quirky Femm family is all too eager to show their hospitality. With unforgettable characters from a masterful ensemble cast (including Charles Laughton and Raymond Massey in their American film debuts), this eerie, surreal, and frequently hilarious film laid the foundation for the genre for years to come.

Scheduled to Appear: Jeff Garlin.

DUSTY STACKS OF MOM LIVE WITH SELECTED SHORTS – Wednesday 3 pm The Buzz | Thursday 3 pm The Buzz

Program length: 75 min.

You’re unlikely to encounter a filmmaker with a more singular vision than Jodie Mack, whose idiosyncratic animation and abstract visuals flood the screen in dazzling fashion. As part of this collection of her recent works, we are thrilled to screen the genre-bending, animated musical documentary “Dusty Stacks of Mom”—a semi-biographical story about her mother’s poster factory set to a whimsical appropriation of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” It’s as crazily creative and psychedelic as it sounds. Jodie will accompany the screening with a live performance. An event not to be missed!

In Person: Director Jodie Mack.



LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE 2013 | USA | 3 min.

NEW FANCY FOILS 2013 | USA | 12 min.



JOURNEY TO THE WEST (XI YOU) – Wednesday 3 pm Dutmers Theater | Thursday Noon Dutmers Theater | Friday Noon Dutmers Theater | Friday 6 pm Dutmers Theater | Saturday 9 pm Dutmers Theater

2014 | France, Taiwan | NR | 56 min.

From out of retirement, Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang surprised the world with a great gift: “Journey to the West,” the sixth installment in his “Walker” series. Perennial protagonist Lee Kang-sheng unswervingly makes his way at an exaggerated snail’s pace through the French city of Marseille, with life bustling around him, like an illusion in his bright red robe. Loosely based on the life of Xuanzang, a seventh-century Buddhist monk who painstakingly traversed Asia for 17 years in search of “the void,” the film’s series of 14 magnificently composed shots are often startling, even witty, as when Lee slow-walks past a human figure more immobile than he is—a trendily dressed sidewalk dummy—and past red paint which literally seems to be drying. Part performance art, part tone poem, and part rebuke to bloated commercial film productions, “Journey to the West” insists that we, too, slow down and see the world anew. In Mandarin with subtitles

SHORTS: OFF THE GRID – Thursday 3 pm Dutmers Theater | Friday 3 pm Dutmers Theater

Program length: 110 min.

At its best, experimental film challenges convention to provoke and even transcend the way we compose our lives on and off screen. We offer the best short films we’ve seen this year in pursuit of that goal. “Buffalo Juggalos” celebrates a Buffalo, New York, subculture with long takes on the favorite activities of the Juggalos—the first and foremost of which is causing mayhem. “Cathedrals” offers six startling responses to the question, “If buildings could talk, what would they say about us?” And Horse ponders his loneliness in one of our favorite shorts in the festival, “The Horse Raised by Spheres.” These shorts are so good, you’ll want to watch them a second time.

AUTOFOCUS 2013 | Croatia | 28 min.

BUFFALO JUGGALOS 2014 | USA | 30 min.

CATHEDRALS (KATHEDRALEN) 2013 | Germany, China | 15 min.

THE CLAUSTRUM 2014 | USA | 16 min.

DIVE 2014 | New Zealand | 13 min.


RECYCLED 2013 | China | 5 min.

FILMS OF KENNETH ANGER – Thursday 6 pm Dutmers Theater | Saturday 6 pm Dutmers Theater | Sunday 3 pm Dutmers Theater

Watching a film by the most notorious legend of experimental and underground cinema, Kenneth Anger, is like having a twisted poem crashed over your head. Drawing from a wide array of influences including bikers, queer culture, the military, and the Commedia dell’arte, these pioneering films from the provocateur of post-war culture are some of the most important works of LGBTQ film, including the work that is often considered to be gay cinema’s first masterpiece, “Fireworks.”

FIREWORKS 1947 | USA | 14 min.

RABBIT’S MOON 1950 | USA | 16 min.


SCORPIO RISING 1963 | USA | 20 min.

MOUNTAIN SPIRITS (SHAN LING) – Wednesday 6 pm Dutmers Theater | Thursday 9 am Dutmers Theater | Saturday Noon Dutmers Theater

2014 | Taiwan | NR | 70 min.

Contemporary art enthusiasts should take note of this intensely beautiful and delicately still documentary about Wang Wen-Chih, a Taiwanese artist best known for large-scale installation pieces made only from natural materials like bamboo and rattan. Weaving together materials, memories, and passion into organically dynamic collective space, his majestic works of art capture the spirit of Asian culture. Directors Singing Chen and Kuoliang offer a rare window into the process of a master craftsman at work. Their evocative and atmospheric portrait is a reflection not only of Wen-Chih’s visually ravishing pieces, but also of his thought-provoking philosophical ideas. In Mandarin, Tawianese with subtitles

THE OWNERS – Thursday 9 pm Dutmers Theater | Saturday 9 am Dutmers Theater | Sunday 6 pm Dutmers Theater

2014 | Kazakhstan | NR | 93 min.

Three siblings fight a corrupt town to try and keep the house they inherited from their late mother in this stylistic tragicomedy from Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov. Although the trio have proof of ownership, the tiny shack they move into has been home to squatter Zhuba, the town bully and drunk who also happens to be the brother of the police chief. Continuing with the themes of oppression and the struggles of the poor seen in his film “Constructors,” Yerzhanov mixes deadpan acting, absurd dance numbers, whimsy, violence, western iconography, and artistic influences from Vincent Van Gogh to Wes Anderson. The result is a dizzying foray into a bizarre and stunning, but vengeful, world. In Kazakh, Russian with subtitles

SPECULATION NATION – Friday 9 pm Dutmers Theater | Sunday Noon Dutmers Theater

2014 | Spain, USA | NR | 74 min.

The global financial crisis of 2007 devastated Spain: 25 percent of the population lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands lost their homes. Bill Brown and Sabine Gruffat traveled across Spain to document Spanish citizens inspired by Occupy Wall Street, mobilizing, collectivizing, and fighting for their right for a decent place to live. We see young mothers and their families squatting in failed condo developments; protest campsites springing up in front of bank branches; and empty apartment buildings transformed into experiments in Utopian living. Living “Without Light, Without Water, Without Fear,” they sit in protest, using the sides of the buildings as handmade billboards to call for affordable housing. A moving look at the determination behind community activism in the direst of circumstances, this beautifully composed cinematic experiment won the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

SHORTS FROM THE ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL – Wednesday 9 pm Dutmers Theater | Saturday 3 pm Dutmers Theater

Program length: 98 min.

Each year we excitedly head south to the AAFF, the third oldest film festival in North America, to feast on the best in the world of experimental cinema. Then we bring our favorites back Up North for you. Experience 47 animated, small, surreal events that taken together somehow replicate the feeling of being alive in “Symphony No. 42;” explore a 100-year-old boat shop in the LA harbor that evokes a hidden world at sea in the award-winning “Port Noir;” and thrill to an incredible soundtrack as the Vaux’s Swifts “Layover” in Portland, Oregon, on their migratory flight to South America.

In Person: AAFF Executive Director Leslie Raymond.

ALL THAT IS SOLID 2014 | UK | 15 min.

LAYOVER 2014 | USA | 6 min.

PORT NOIR 2014 | USA | 11 min.

THE BIGGER PICTURE 2014 | UK | 8 min.

MANY THOUSANDS GONE 2015 | USA, Brazil | 8 min.

QUIET ZONE 2015 | Canada | 14 min.

CLEAR AND NO SCREWS 2014 | Canada | 6 min.

NIGHT NOON 2014 | Mexico, USA | 9 min.

SYMPHONY NO. 42 2014 | Hungary | 9 min.

HERD 2015 | Canada, USA, UK | 12 min.


SHORTS: TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCE – Thursday 9 am Old Town Playhouse

Program length: 116 min.

Featuring top award winners from Cannes and Tribeca, these nine shorts represent some of the most powerful dramatic works from around the globe. Nine-year-old Ella wants to look chic for selfies and impress her classmates in “Catwalk;” inspired by true events, “Aban + Khorshid” tells the tragic story of two men in Iran who are persecuted for their love; a wounded veteran embarks on a new journey after returning home in “Birthday;” and in “Discipline,” an impromptu debate on parenting boils over into a full-on ideological showdown at a Swiss grocery store.

ABAN + KHORSHID 2014 | USA | 13 min.

COACH 2014 | UK | 13 min.

SKUNK 2014 | USA | 16 min.

BIRTHDAY 2015 | USA | 12 min.

DISCIPLINE 2014 | Switzerland | 11 min.

TURTLE (WU GUI) 2014 | China | 15 min.

CATWALK 2014 | Sweden | 12 min.

LISTEN 2014 | Finland, Denmark | 13 min.

TZNIUT 2014 | USA | 11 min.

SHORTS: THE BEST MEDICINE – Wednesday 3 pm Milliken

Program length: 104 min.

Looking for some lighter fare? These eleven shorts are just what the doctor ordered. In “Dad in Mum,” two young sisters discuss the merits of their parents’ nocturnal efforts; a young man getting over a breakup gets more than he bargained for when he hires an escort in “The Girlfriend Experience;” the three bachelor brothers in “De Smet” have their lives perfectly in sync—until one of them is wooed away by a neighbor; and in “Myrna the Monster,” a heartbroken alien dreamer struggles to navigate the LA singles scene.

THE ANSWERS 2014 | USA | 8 min.

FOUL 2014 | Norway | 6 min.

MYRNA THE MONSTER 2015 | USA | 14 min.

DAD IN MUM (PAPA DANS MAMAN) 2014 | France | 6 min.



DE SMET 2014 | Netherlands | 14 min.

THE KISS (EL BESO) 2014 | Mexico | 12 min.


DIAGNOSTIC 2013 | France | 8 min.

LIFE’S A BITCH (TOUTES DES CONNES) 2014 | Canada | 6 min.

SHORTS: CHARACTER STUDY – Sunday Noon Old Town Playhouse

Program length: 122 min.

From national heroes to counterculture icons and all the eccentric personalities in between, this year’s documentary shorts program offers unique portraits from around the world. Despite using only a single camera setup, the brilliant “The Face of Ukraine” provides a cathartic examination of the effects of Ukraine’s recent conflict on the psyches of several young women and girls. In “Calls to Okies,” Ben Steinbauer (“Winnebago Man,” TCFF 2009) returns to the festival with a hilarious look at the legacy of an infamous underground prank caller. This year’s top doc award winner at Tribeca, the latest from TCFF alums Bryn Mooser and David Darg, looks at the Ebola epidemic in Liberia through the eyes of a courageous female body collector. And “Giovanni and the Water Ballet” is the charming story of a ten-year-old who wants to be the first boy to compete in the Dutch Synchronized Swimming Championships (and maybe flirt with girls in the pool while he’s at it).


CROOKED CANDY 2014 | USA | 6 min.

GIOVANNI AND THE WATER BALLET 2014 | Netherlands | 17 min.

BODY TEAM 12 2015 | Liberia | 13 min.

ELGIN PARK 2014 | USA | 10 min.

PAPA MACHETE 2014 | USA | 11 min.


THE FACE OF UKRAINE: CASTING OKSANA BAIUL 2015 | Australia, Ukraine | 7 min.


SHORTS: PEACE NOW – Friday 9 am Bijou

Program length: 123 min.

Our second documentary program features four stirring films that address the issues faced by soldiers returning home. This year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary Short, “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” is a moving profile of the workers in America’s only call center providing counseling for troubled veterans; “My Enemy, My Brother” tells the astonishing story of former enemies of the Iran-Iraq War who reunite decades after the conflict; produced on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, “Soldiers’ Stories” reveals never-before-seen 3D images from a century ago; and in “Naneek,” veteran and Traverse City resident Tim Keenan returns to Vietnam to meet his former enemies and confront his past.

Scheduled to Appear: “Naneek” Director Neal Steeno and Subject Tim Keenan.


NANEEK 2015 | USA, Vietnam | 35 min.

SOLDIERS’ STORIES 2014 | Canada, France, USA | 30 min.

MY ENEMY, MY BROTHER 2015 | Canada | 18 min.


MSU PRESENTS: (313) CHOICES – Wednesday Noon Old Town Playhouse

2015 | USA | NR | 90 min.

From the minds of our great state’s next generation of aspiring filmmakers, “(313) Choices” is a contemporary human drama of interwoven stories set in and around Detroit (aka “The 313”). A landmark collaboration between Michigan State University’s Theatre Department and MediaSandbox, the first MSU-produced feature film started as an original student play, and was adapted for the screen with the talents of over 100 passionate and enthusiastic students serving as actors, directors, composers, cinematographers, art directors, and more.

Directors: Tyler Clifton, Brock Lewandowski, Sarah Matthews, Sam Rector, Austin Schuld, Keenan Wetzel

Producers: Carly Belsito, Anna Dood, Stuart Heinlein. Lauren Lahrman, Brock Lewandowski, Sarah Matthews, Andrea Raby

Writer: C J Valle

SHORTS BY MSU STUDENTS – Thursday 6 pm The Buzz

Program length: 93 min.

For the second year at the TCFF, we are joined by four outstanding short films from student filmmakers at Michigan State University. This year’s program includes “The Geography of Hope,” a short documentary by the Media Sandbox Street Team about an important nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities visit our National Parks. “Gay From Gaylord” follows a young stand-up comedian who speaks to the challenges he faced growing up in a conservative town. In “Unchecking the Box,” the filmmakers examine the impact of having a “race” box on official forms; and in the comedy “Reservations,” a young man inherits a troubled, run down, terribly managed hotel.

GAY FROM GAYLORD 2015 | USA | 16 min.

RESERVATIONS 2015 | USA | 28 min.

THE GEOGRAPHY OF HOPE 2015 | USA | 25 min.

UNCHECKING THE BOX 2015 | USA | 24 min.

SHORTS BY U OF M STUDENTS – Thursday Noon Old Town Playhouse

Program length: 58 min.

The University of Michigan Department of Screen Arts & Cultures returns to the TCFF with their annual program of two shorts showcasing some of our state’s top young filmmaking talent. In Sam Gioia’s “All at Once,” a high schooler has to navigate the dangerous underworld of her small town in order to prove her innocence after being suspected of poisoning her best friend. And in Anthony Kalil’s “Love Assassin,” professional heartbreaker Natalie’s latest target may prove to be more than this young love asssassin can handle.

ALL AT ONCE 2015 | USA | 27 min.

LOVE ASSASSIN 2015 | USA | 31 min.


THE CROW’S EGG (KAAKKAA MUTTAI) – Thursday 9 am The Buzz

2014 | India | NR | 99 min.

Little Crow’s Egg and Big Crow’s Egg live in a tiny home in the slums of India with their mom and grandma. They climb trees and eat crow eggs right out of the nest, search for bits of coal, and look through fence bars at TV sets advertising things they can’t afford, like the elusive prize they desire most: pizza. When a pizza parlour opens on the site of their old playground, their desire to taste the exotic dish reaches a fever pitch. They set off on a quest to earn enough money to buy a pie, which costs more than their family’s entire monthly income. It’s a kids movie, social drama, Bollywood-style musical montage, and third world farce all rolled into one—a film that paints a vivid picture of social inequality while showing how youthful ambition and initiative can bring hope to a new generation. In Tamil with subtitles

WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (OMOIDE NO MÂNÎ) – Monday 7/20 Dusk Cherry Bowl | Sunday 9 am Lars Hockstad

2014 | Japan | PG | 103 min.

In what may be the last spellbinding work of hand-drawn animation from the legendary Studio Ghibli, an intrepid and introverted asthmatic orphan girl is sent to a sleepy town for the summer to convalesce in the seaside air. There she meets a girl named Marnie, and the two form an instant bond. Marnie helps her recuperate in ways she didn’t know she could. But from her dated clothes to the deserted-looking mansion in which she lives, it seems there is more to Marnie than meets the eye… With simple and striking images of unequaled beauty, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi—a protégé of Hayao Miyazaki—takes you on a magical journey of discovery and friendship that will kick start your heart.In English


2014 | Norway | PG | 91 min.

When their plan of stowing away on board a helicopter in the hopes of visiting their father in southern Norway backfires, 13-year-old Julia and her younger twin siblings find themselves accidentally stranded on a remote frozen island in the North Pole. With no means of contacting the mainland and no one for company but hungry polar bears and the cutest little white husky you’ll ever see, the plucky trio must brave the perils of the snowy north as a winter storm looms. A huge box office hit in Norway, this gripping survival story set against breathtaking frozen landscapes revives the spirit of classic family adventures like “Swiss Family Robinson” and “The Black Stallion.” In Norwegian with subtitles

THE STUDENT BODY – Saturday 3 pm The Buzz

2015 | USA | NR | 85 min.

After laws were passed in over a dozen states forcing schools to measure the Body Mass Index of all students, kids as young as five started receiving what became known as “Fat Letters” along with their report cards, marking their failure to meet school health requirements. When a sixth grader approached her school board about the bullying nature of these letters, it caught the attention of highschooler Bailey Webber. With some help from her filmmaker dad (TCFF 2010 alum Michael Webber, “The Elephant in the Living Room”), she set out to investigate the new law, confronting politicians who set the policy and taking a stand against the invasion of student privacy.

In Person: Directors Bailey and Michael Webber


Program length: 81 min.

As part of our focus on equality and LGBTQ issues in film this year, we’re highlighting five shorts dealing with gender identity and coming of age. “A Place in the Middle” is the inspiring true story of a young girl in Hawaii who dreams of leading the boys-only hula group in her school. In “Stealth,” Sammy moves to a new school and struggles with revealing her true identity to her two new best friends. In “The Little Deputy,” Trevor tries to take a photo with his dad. Six-year-old Jeffrey loves wearing dresses and wigs in “Pink Boy”—but when he wants to dress up outside the house, his mothers have to teach him how to express his identity in potentially hostile environments. And Bendik helps the monster under his bed realize its dream of becoming a cabaret singer in “Bendik & the Monster.” Scheduled to Appear: “Pink Boy” Director Eric Rockey; “A Place in the Middle” Directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, Subject Kumu Hina

BENDIK & THE MONSTER 2014 | Norway | 10 min.

THE LITTLE DEPUTY 2015 | Canada | 9 min.

PINK BOY 2015 | USA | 15 min.

A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE 2014 | USA | 25 min.

STEALTH 2015 | USA | 22 min.


MINUSCULE: VALLEY OF THE LOST ANTS – Friday 9:30 am Lars Hockstad

2013 | France, Belgium | NR | 89 min.

The ants come marching in this delightful animated French film that plunges us into the teeny tiny world of insects. In a peaceful and sunny clearing, a couple leaves the remains of their picnic behind after a hasty departure. Our plucky heroes, a gang of black ants, soon move in to claim the coveted treasure: a tin box full of sugar cubes. But their sugar high is thwarted when an army of evil red ants launches an epic attack on their colony. Smack in the middle of the colossal firefight, a lone ladybug, abandoned by his family and adopted by the black ants, helps save the anthill from the assailants. While their world may be microscopic, the stakes have never been higher for insects than in this fun family flick. Winner of the French César for Best Animated Film. In English

FIDDLESTICKS – Thursday 9:30 am Lars Hockstad

2014 | Germany | NR | 82 min.

The town of Bollersdorf is known as the belly button of the world: right in the center, and completely ordinary. It’s so average, in fact, that it’s taken over by a market research company determined to foist Green Cornflakes on its residents and turn parents into consumer-driven puppets. Luckily, a ragtag group of kindergarteners known as the Coati Gang aren’t falling for it. With the help of their grandparents, they set out to make their town extraordinary using creativity, pluck, and ingenuity. A hilarious and heartwarming classic live-action adventure for ages four to 104, it’s nothing short of a new birth of the Little Rascals. A worldwide, sure fit hit with all ages! In German with live English translation

SHORTS FOR KIDS 1 – Wednesday 9:30 am Lars Hockstad

Program length: 74 min.

These delightful films for our youngest audiences include a giraffe whose head is in the clouds, a dog who squares off against a robot vacuum cleaner, and one of the cleverest monkeys you’ll ever see. In English


DOG-E Netherlands | 3 min.

DUSTIN Germany | 7 min.

THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE France, Belgium | 6 min.


LOOK! Netherlands | 5 min.




ONE, TWO, TREE France | 7 min.

POKER Japan | 4 min.

THE PRESENT Germany | 4 min.

THE TIE Belgium | 9 min.


SHORTS FOR KIDS 2 – Saturday 9:30 am Lars Hockstad

Program length: 79 min.

We saw so many great kids shorts again this year that we just couldn’t fit them all into one program! Our second collection of shorts includes a robot’s search for self-discovery, a boy’s relationship with his llama pinata, and a lazy astronaut deliveryman. In English

BEAR STORY Chile | 10 min.

BUNNY NEW GIRL Australia | 6 min.

FINDING M.E. Colombia | 8 min.



JOHNNY EXPRESS South Korea | 6 min.

LEAVING HOME Netherlands | 7 min.

LILA Argentina, Spain | 9 min.

PAPA USA | 6 min.