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As its fans and film-goers know, the 2020 Traverse City Film Festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the State Theatre has yet to re-open. Now, with only days left until the New Year, both the film festival and State Theatre are back…virtually, that is.

After months of planning, the Traverse City State Theatre launched its virtual counterpart—the Virtual State Theatre. Each Friday one to three films will become available for renting and streaming on any device. These films cost $12 to rent, unless you’re a member, in which case you only pay $6. Each week’s selections are personally curated by filmmaker Michael Moore.

In order to offer this technology, the Traverse City State Theatre joined “a co-op of sorts” with a dozen other art houses across the country, including those in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. Two dollars of each ticket price goes to this co-op to pay for streaming costs. The remaining four dollars is split between the Traverse City Film Festival and the filmmaker/distributor.

In a newsletter, Moore said the purpose of The Virtual State Theatre isn’t to fundraise, but to offer people a way in which they can watch movies together, even if it’s only in spirit. They hope to bring a little bit of the magical movie-watching experience back for those who miss theatre-going. “For me, that’s worth it,” Moore said.

For more information, or to see The Virtual State Theatre in action, head over to thevirtualstate.org. There, you will find an easy-to-navigate webpage that includes information on the movies available for streaming. There’s even a guide to becoming a member, instructions on picking and streaming a movie, and a help line to call if you require assistance.