Traverse City Film Festival Highlights Michigan

Meg Weichman
Traverse City Film Festival



Michigan Premieres, Michigan Filmmakers, Movies about Michigan Coming to This Year’s Film Festival!

In its 12th year, the 2016 Traverse City Film Festival will showcase an assortment of films by Michigan filmmakers and students, Michigan-made premieres, and movies about Michigan to give audiences a cinematic glimpse into the Great Lakes State. The festival runs from July 26-31, 2016.

This year’s lineup includes the world premiere of “Generation Startup,” which focuses on Detroit’s growing startup industry and six young entrepreneurs who are willing to risk everything to get their dreams off the ground. Director Cheryl Miller Houser will appear in person.

“Men of Sparta” will also be making its World Premiere during the festival, This highly anticipated film tells the riveting true story about how Michigan State University fought against discrimination and racism with the 1966 “Game of the Century” – an epic clash of ideologies between the racially-integrated MSU and lily-white Notre Dame squads that reverberated in sports and politics for decades to come. The story is told through the eyes of director and All-American fullback Bob Apisa.

Also premiering is “Walk With Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith,” examining the life of Detroit’s own Judge Keith, and his journey from janitor to preeminent federal judge, while his country transitioned from a land with a segregated army =- in which he served — to a country led by an African-American Commander-in-Chief. Director Jesse Nesser and subject Judge Damon J. Keith will join us in person in Traverse City.

The Traverse City Film Festival is also pleased to continue its enriching partnerships with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. Keeping with tradition, the festival is promoting up-and-coming Michigan filmmakers by showing shorts by University of Michigan and Michigan State University students.

The University of Michigan returns to their annual program with “Present Day” by Ryan McDonough and “The Dejects” by Claudia Fuentes. The shorts from Michigan State University, are “Blacktop” by Trevor Ferla; “From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City” by Izak Gracy and Jenna Ange; “Run, Jump, Paddle” by Jennifer Berggren; and “#LENDMIHAND” by Izak Gracy.

For the second year in a row, Michigan State University students will also present a feature-length film with “MSU Presents: Sorta Late,” a collaboration between the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Letters, and College of Music, focusing on interns in the chaotic world of late night television. More than 100 students were involved in the production of the film.

Student filmmakers from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University will appear in person at all of these screenings.

And through a unique partnership with MSU, Michigan State students will also showcase the latest gaming creations developed by the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab at the Traverse City Film Festival’s interactive media gallery, The Woz.

The 12th Annual Traverse City Film Festival will take place July 26-31, 2016. Tickets are available to the public and can be purchased online at or in person at 328 East Front Street.

The full festival guide is available to view and download here.

The Traverse City Film Festival is a charitable, educational, nonprofit organization committed to the idea that “One Great Movie Can Change You: Just Great Movies” and to helping save one of America’s few indigenous art forms – the cinema. The festival brings films and filmmakers from around the world to northern Michigan for the annual film festival in late July to early August.

It was instrumental in renovating a shuttered historic downtown movie house, the State Theatre, which it continues to own and operate as a year-round, community-based, and volunteer-staffed art house movie theater. The festival also renovated the historic Con Foster Museum building in Clinch Park and turned it into a sister screen for the State Theatre, the Bijou by the Bay.

The festival was founded by Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore who makes his home here, runs the festival, and serves as president of the board of directors. Other board members are filmmakers Rod Birleson (producer, “Capitalism: A Love Story”), Larry Charles (director, “Borat”), Terry George (director, “Hotel Rwanda”), Jeff Daniels (actor, “The Newsroom”), Tom Morello (musician, Rage Against the Machine), Christine Lahti (actor, “Running on Empty”), Mark Cousins (director, “The Story of Film: An Odyssey”), Tia Lessin (director, “Trouble the Water”), as well as Traverse City residents photographer John Robert Williams and former Walt Disney Co. marketing executive Penny Milliken.