Will Be Missed by All

After an incredible 13-year run, Deb Lake is stepping down as executive director of the Traverse City Film Festival.

“With sadness in our hearts and joy for her anticipated future success, Deb is moving on to other opportunities,” said film festival founder and President Michael Moore.

Lake has helped build with Moore what is considered by many filmmakers to be one of the best film festivals in the United States. Her legacy includes the restoration of the State Theatre, the opening of the Bijou by the Bay cinema, and service on numerous community projects.

“Words cannot express the deep gratitude we all feel toward Deb,” Moore said. “She has provided brilliant and dedicated service to this community. She is a modern-day arts pioneer, not just here in TC, but for all in the film world who know her and love her.”

Lake is looking forward to the next phase in her life and the good she can do. “The Traverse City Film Festival will always be the crown jewel of my life’s work,” said Lake. “I will be able to admire its success from here and from afar — but I plan to always be available to help Michael and the staff continue their amazing work.”

“I encourage all who are involved with the festival and the State and Bijou to redouble their efforts to make these cornerstones of our community even more successful than they already are,” Lake added.

Plans to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Deb Lake will be announced later.

“There’s no doubt, these are some mighty big shoes that are going to be filled,” said Moore. “Fortunately, she built a great core staff of smart, strong women (Susan Fisher, Meg Weichman, and others) who between them have nearly 20 years of festival experience. We are in very good hands for this transition, and, needless to say, I am here.”

Moore, who returned home to Traverse City last month after a successful run on Broadway, will personally oversee the transition and search for a new executive director.

“We have big plans for 2018 for the TCFF and the theaters and will be making some exciting changes to ensure the sustained longevity of what we have created here,” Moore said. “We are a critical piece of our local economy and the arts scene in general,” Moore added. “We take our responsibility for our role in Traverse City’s rebirth quite seriously. All of our work is about improving the quality of life for all here in Northern Michigan. We invite all like-minded people to join us.”

The Final Product from the Young Filmmakers Workshop

Watch the truly inspired work of claymation artistry that this year’s participants in our Film School‘s Young Filmmakers Workshop came up with it. The future of moviegoing looks bright! Special thanks to Blackbird Arts.

There’s No Place Like TCFF. Thank You for Amazing Week!

The 13th Traverse City Film Festival is now one for the books. It may be the first TCFF that isn’t “the best festival yet”™ since Michael Moore was away, opening a show on Broadway(!), but we sent him Break a Leg messages, and enjoyed the incredible films he picked and the times he was able to call in and introduce movies.

But we hope you had a good festival nevertheless, whatever that means to you: marathoning 25 movies without a break, taking the family to an Open Space film, being introduced to virtual reality by your teen at The Woz, enjoying your first dinner and a special movie night out in far too long, volunteering 40 hours and meeting some of the best people you’ll ever know, or meeting interesting people from all over the world at the festival.

Whatever TCFF was for you, we hope you experienced some of the magic and unique spirit that TCFF Volunteers, Sponsors, and Friends create by so freely giving of themselves. Our phenomenal volunteer photographers and videographers captured it in still and moving images so you can relive the festival.

And it’s always interesting to review the stats, because each year, they are jaw dropping. Over 120,000 admissions attended 229 screenings of 115 feature films and 66 shorts in our 13th year. A volunteer force of 1,600 volunteers, led by 360 volunteer managers, sold 80 percent of available tickets to these screenings and events, of which 142 were sold out and only three were significantly delayed.

We drank 9,838 drinks, ate 8,650 popcorns, 3,984 candies, and 1,747 sandwiches in beautiful, historic venues that this year included two new temporary theaters: Central High School Auditorium and Kirkbride Hall at the Village.

We hope you were able to attend some of the films in the Travel Ban series and hear from filmmakers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, including Asghar Farhadi, who won an Oscar this past year for “The Salesman.” Maybe you bumped into America’s favorite film critic and historian, Leonard Maltin, on Front Street. Or perhaps you spoke with Mariska Hargitay about the Audience Award winning Best Doc, “I Am Evidence,” at one of the most powerful Cinema Salon sessions we have ever hosted, or saw one of the festival’s other brilliant and unforgettable award winners. And if you missed the great Gilbert Gottfried, look for his handprints in the TCFF Walk of Fame, coming soon.

Now we need to ask you to help us one last time this year, because it truly takes a village to make something as special and meaningful as this festival.

1. If you have not already done so, please renew or become a Friend of the Film Festival. It’s so important to the festival — if you renew before September 1, you can join for half price and get to purchase tickets a week before the public next year, plus lots of other great benefits. But best of all, for as little as $40, you will become part of the festival’s essential financial backbone.

We could not do all of the free and low cost things we do without our Friends program. Friends give us Open Space, the Kid Fest, The Woz, $5 Film School Classes, $12 tickets, visiting filmmakers, great films from all over the world, and the best venues of any festival around. If you believe in what the festival does for our area, and for the world of cinema that extends far beyond our borders, please vote with your membership. Just click here to join or renew.

2. Please help us continue to improve the festival by filling out our post-festival survey. Every year, our best ideas come from you. We need your thoughts, and we do read each and every survey.

Thank you for your support, and for enjoying Traverse City and the movies with us this year. We hope to see you next year, July 31 – August 5, 2018.

TCFF Facebook Live Filmmaker Interviews

Here are our 2017 Live Filmmaker interviews, presented with the support of the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office and broadcast from the MyNorth Tickets Studio. We would also like to extend our special thanks to Jordan Anderson and Interlochen Arts Academy instructors Lesley Tye and Michael Mittelstaedt for serving as interviewers.

Cause of Death: Unknown Director Anniken Hoel and producer Andrew Grant
2017 Audience Award: Best Foreign Documentary

Interview with acclaimed film critic Leonard Maltin! We love hearing from Leonard just as much as we love movies (which is a lot), so make sure to listen in.

Into the Who Knows! Director Micah Barber

INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls./] Director Adam Khalil

Flames Director Zefery Throwell

Enjoy our live sit-down with comedy legend Gilbert Gottfried! We talked about the new film, Gilbert, and also took questions from our Facebook audience.

Quest Director Jonathan Olshefski and film subject Quest (Christopher) Rainey

Drone with Director Jason Bourque

TCFF XIII by the Numbers

TCFF XIII Instagram Roundup 7/30

And that’s a wrap! Another festival has come and gone, and it couldn’t be more bittersweet. Here are some of our favorite pics from a successful closing night. See you all for the 14th festival come July 31 – August 5, 2018!

🎥our first movie on the bay✨ #tcff #afterbedtimeadventures

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Just a FaceTime conversation with MM. @mmflint #tcff

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2017 Bumper Contest Winners

Every year TCFF and 13-year sponsor FIM Group holds a contest for bumper videos made by some talented movie lovers that play before festival films. Here are all of this year’s wonderful winners!

First Place $1,000

“Big on Film” by Anders Kelto, Megan Kelto, and Caroline Kim

“Travel” by John Plough

Runner Up $500

“Secret Life of Volunteers” by Tami Evans and Brenda Smith


“Are You Ready?” by Michael Afendakis


Honorable Mentions

“Fantasy” by Brody Steele


“Genre Leaping to TCFF” by Robert Langworthy


“Movie Date” by Don Blubaugh


“Popcorn Training” by Brian Steinberg


“The Power of Movies: A Documen-Tree” by Kathleen Jacobsen


 “The Syndrome” by Don Kuelhorn


“A TCFF Mini Doc” by Molly Jeszke




2017 TCFF Montage

MSU Filmmaking Camp Short Film

TCFF XIII Instagram roundup 7/29

Saturday at the Festival was so much fun — from the great movies to the Filmmaker Party to “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Force Awakens” playing on the Open Space. With only ONE day left in the festival, we are getting sentimental and excited to see your Instagram posts. Don’t forget to tag us or use #tcff!

Lakeside light saber battle #howispentmysummervacation #tcff #starwars #jedisintraining

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#clinchpark and#tcff kids festival

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On line at #TCFF this evening.

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