Friends –

Happy 5th of July! I’ve always wondered what the day after was like for the Founding Fathers. Did they party all night and then spent today sleeping it off? I mean, they just founded a whole new country! There was work to do! They had to pick out a logo, print some stationary, create the by-laws and take minutes, someone had to deliver the mail — and what about all that horse manure up and down the streets! Who was going to clean that up? Did they decide just to take the whole weekend off? Did anyone have to call in sick — and what about those who had already used up all their sick days?

They just don’t teach those things in the history books anymore. Fortunately for us, we’re only 48 hours away from the tickets going on sale to this year’s 15th Traverse City Film Festival! If you are one of the nearly 3,000 “Friends of TCFF” you get your chance to buy your tix in person this Sunday, July 7, starting at 9 am at our brand new box office just around the corner from the State Theatre (120 Park St., between Front St and State St. (Online ticket sales begin at 6 pm!)

Whether you’re joining us in person (the early morning line starts at the State Theatre!), or logging on to starting at 6 pm, for the complete lowdown on how Friends Ticketing day works, please visit our blog.

To see the list of films we’re bringing, click here (or to get a printed version, you can pick one up at at the State and Bijou or many of the locations throughout TC and Antrim and Leelanau counties where you get your Northern Express.)

And read on for some special new additions you’ll want to make sure you read about before finalizing your schedule picks!

We’d been hoping for months to include the long-anticipated new film from mysterious provocateur Chris Morris (TCFF 2011’s Four Lions, HBO’s Veep), and we just received special permission to include his latest hilarious and biting satire “based on a hundred true stories” in the lineup. Starring Anna Kendrick and wonderful newcomer Marchánt Davis (along with a lot of other great and hilarious people including Jim Gaffigan and Denis O’Hare), “The Day Shall Come” has as much absurd and enjoyable lunacy as it does searing insights. Don’t miss it.

One of America’s most popular comedy and politics podcasts, Chapo Trap House, is coming to Traverse City! They’ll be doing a special livestream of the Democratic Primary Debates on Wednesday, July 31 (admission is free), and then will be hanging around to do their podcast live, with yours truly as the guest, on Friday, August 2, both at the Old Town Playhouse.

Our good friends and hometown heroes The Accidentals wrote a great new song that is featured in a new film about teen homelessness. And they’ll be presenting the film, “Almost Home,” along with a community discussion and special acoustic performance live at the Old Town Playhouse.

Finally, we are so thrilled to be honoring Lily Tomlin at this year’s festival, that we spoke to her about showing some additional titles from her incredible body of work, and she has personally selected her Golden Globe nominated work in “Grandma,” as well as the film of her Tony-winning play, “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” (which is the perfect companion piece to see before our screening of the rarely-seen behind-the-scenes doc Lily Tomlin). Check them out, tickets are only $5 for these Tribute screenings at the Old Town Playhouse.

As you know, there’s a mad rush for tickets on Day One and some films will sell out. But over half of them don’t! My suggestion: Take some risks. Buy tickets to something you normally wouldn’t. You’ll be happily surprised. By now you know I do not bring the mediocre boring movies here to TC. I do not bring the same old tired Hollywood remakes/sequels/brainless fare. Ok, I did bring “Twister,” twice.

But other than that, you know that you cannot go wrong with anything you select from this program guide! There’s NO ticket price increase this year(!) — so load up on this wonder-burst cornucopia of cinema! Fill your days up with these amazing movies! This festival only comes around once a year. This will be your only chance to ever experience many of these films  — because they are so good, so smart, so giddily dangerous that the big studios wrongly believe they won’t make any money off them. So this is your only chance to see the next (“Kenny” or “Troubled Water” or “Tiny Furniture”). Don’t miss it!

If you’re not a Friend yet there’s still time to get in on the early action (plus get FREE tickets to both of this year’s wonderful Friends Exclusive movies). Visit the website to sign up.

If you have any questions about any of the films, write me here at this address and I’ll do my best to answer as many of you as possible. AND I’ll be there at the box office in person on Sunday to chat with you about all things movies and, um, well, you know — thanks!

See you Sunday!

All my best,


PS. I do believe that George Washington threw a cherry tree festival every year. I don’t know if there was a big blown-up Budweiser can at the entrance but, dang, that woulda been cool! Traffic I hear, though, even back then, on 8th Street — it sucked.