31 "Absolute Best" New Indie Films Star at Traverse City Film FestivalTraverse City, Mich. -- You'll foxtrot with 11-year-olds, visit Hitler's bunker, live with grizzlies and fall in love (more than once) when 31 independent films light up screens for the inaugural Traverse City Film Festival, July 27-31.
The five-day event kicks off at 8 p.m. on July 27 with the opening night red-carpet premiere of the documentary "Mad, Hot Ballroom" -- an ebullient and excruciating quest for ballroom triumph by sixth-graders. Closing night features Bill Murray as an addled Don Juan on a journey through his love life (think: Sharon Stone) in Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers."
The 31 films are all new to northern Michigan and many will be Midwest premieres. They run the gamut from period romances (Oscar Wilde's "A Good Woman") to docu-biographies ("Tarnation") and include a laundry list of award winners and celebrated directors. Included are upstarts, like "The Talent Given Us," made with $30,000 and a two-man crew, and the offbeat, magical "Me and You and Everyone We Know." Several of the films are expected to be Oscar contenders.
"These are the absolute best independent films made in the last year or two," says film festival founder, Oscar-winner Michael Moore, who personally previewed and selected the roster of films.
The festival has added an extra day due to the tremendous response from film lovers. Opening night is now Wednesday, July 27, and films will be shown all day Thursday through Sunday, July 28-31.
Several films examine the post-9/11 world, including unemployment ("The Ax" and "Time Out"), globalization ("Mondovino"), and corporate gluttony ("Enron; The Smartest Guys in the Room"). Terrorism and war are the focus of others--"Gunner Palace" is a visit to Baghdad, "Land of Plenty" focuses on a one-man homeland security detail, and "11 de Septembre" delivers 11 directors' reactions to 9/11.
Date-night films such as "My Summer of Love" and "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" will take the stage at the festival's anchor venue, the State Theatre, a long-shuttered downtown movie palace that's being resurrected by scores of film festival volunteers.
Distinguished directors--Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch and Costa-Gavras--are represented in the film festival's movie lineup, along with first-time filmmakers.
Four classic films also will headline the festival. At the starlit "On the Waterfront" cinema, moviegoers will see "Jaws" , "The Princess Bride" , "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Casablanca." Admission is free to these 10 p.m. movies, which will be shown along West Grand Traverse Bay as the festival's gift to the community.