Michael Moore Announces Films for Traverse City FestivalTraverse City, Mich. - Excited movie buffs queued up Friday to buy tickets for the inaugural Traverse City Film Festival - and to meet its founder, the Oscar-winning director Michael Moore.
"It's a great thing you're doing," Mimi Bruder, the first person in line, told Moore, who stood behind the counter as sales got under way. More than 500 tickets were sold within two hours, organizers said.
Bruder chose to see "Mad Hot Ballroom," a documentary about 11-year-old competitors in a New York City ballroom dancing exposition, which will be shown on the festival's opening night.
Moore, a Flint native who now lives in northern Michigan, announced the lineup for the July 27-31 festival. Among the 31 films are four classics that will be shown free of charge on a 40-foot-high, inflatable screen in a park beside Grand Traverse Bay: "Jaws," "The Princess Bride," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Casablanca."
The others are independently produced films from the past couple of years, ranging from cutting-edge foreign documentaries to comedies and period romances. They will be shown indoors, with most tickets selling for $7. (Admission to the opening-night film, "Mad Hot Ballroom," and the closing-night centerpiece, "Broken Flowers," is $25.)
Moore, a fiery leftist known for satirical documentaries such as "Roger & Me" and "Fahrenheit 9/11," included none of his own films in the mix. But some of his choices evoke topical concerns such as unemployment ("The Ax" and "Time Out"); globalization ("Mondovino"); corporate malfeasance ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room") and terrorism ("11 de Septembre" and "Gunner Palace," about U.S. soldiers in wartime Baghdad).
Others are more lighthearted, including "date night" selections "My Summer of Love" and "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress."
"Broken Flowers" was grand prize winner at this year's Cannes International Film Festival. It stars Bill Murray as a ladies' man searching for a son he may have fathered, and features Sharon Stone and Jessica Lange.
"People will see it in Traverse City before the rest of America sees it later in the summer," Moore said.
Moore leads an organizing committee of filmmakers, artists and writers from the Traverse City area. Their mission is restoring quality to U.S. cinema, a homegrown art form that is suffering because large studios and theater chains obsessed with the bottom line are airing bad films and ignoring good ones, he said.
"Where are the films that have something important to say and entertain people at the same time? We think they exist," Moore said. "Unfortunately, they don't get the distribution they deserve, and so we're bringing them here."
The nearby Interlochen Center for the Arts, which is starting a motion picture program this fall, is managing ticket sales for the festival. Volunteers are sprucing up the historic State Theater, one of three downtown auditoriums where movies will be shown.
Solveig Gustafson, a local resident who regularly attends the Toronto Film Festival with friends, said she was grateful for a chance to see films of comparable quality at home. "This is really impressive - they've got some great films on the list," she said.