Help support our organization during the COVID-19 shutdown with a donation that goes to supporting our essential operations costs. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s safe to make a 100% tax-deductible donation.

To my friends and fellow supporters of the Traverse City Film Festival,

This was to have been our week! The 2020 Traverse City Film Festival! Our 16th year in a row of bringing “Just Great Movies” to Northern Michigan.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you how utterly sad I am right now that we are not watching amazing films at The Kubrick in the historic Central Grade School, attending exciting and hilarious panels at the Old Town Playhouse, and laying out under the stars watching “Casablanca” with loved ones (and 5,000 strangers) in the Open Space by the bay. I know you’re with me on this. It’s a bummer, pure and simple. And if anything, it steels my resolve to not let this festival die. No way.

It has now been five long months since the Governor rightly closed all movie theaters and cancelled all festivals in Michigan. (She has now allowed some cinemas to re-open, but with only very limited attendance. That’s not us.) This shut down of our theaters has been a disaster for TCFF. It has cost us a whopping $500,000 in lost revenue. And by not having our festival, that’s another $500,000 of lost funds we normally raise to help run the theaters year-round. This is a blow we won’t recover from without your help, without the government’s help, without our vendors and partners giving us a generous break.


So let me try to offer some hope. Most important for all of us is to remember that this is not a forever pandemic. It WILL end. It could end (or be contained) within the year — as it seems to have in nearly every other developed nation in the world. Or it will take us three to four years. That’s entirely up to us and our friends who are partying out on the Torch Lake sandbar.

This is not our first encounter with adversity. Powerful forces tried to stop the Traverse City Film Festival before we even unspooled our first film back in 2005. The State Theatre has twice had big fires in the past 97 years, but that didn’t stop the movies from being shown. World Wars, the Great Depression, the Flu of 1918 — none of that stopped us. Only Covid-19 did. In just five months it has left us at the festival and at the State and Bijou broke, in debt, and our entire staff without a job.

Friends of mine have died in New York City. Everyone I work with in the film industry has lost their job. And across the country, another 50 million Americans have also lost their jobs. As of midnight yesterday, their federal unemployment benefits vaporized. Now massive foreclosures and evictions will begin. We are in a nationwide panic of epic proportions.

The only silver lining in all of this has been you. 309 of you responded to our crowdfunding campaign in June. You saved us from totally going under in June and July. Even in lockdown, we still have significant monthly bills to pay: fire, theft, liability and building insurance, security systems, warehouse rental, utilities — the list goes on. We currently have five sump pumps that run continuously, 24/7, to shove the Boardman River out of the basement of the State Theatre.

We had hoped we could reopen by now, but the Hollywood studios are shut down and are not making movies. They have decided not to release any major new films for perhaps the rest of the year. And the spread of the virus in our area just got worse. There is no way we’re risking anyone’s life in order to show a movie.

Here’s what I’m doing with my time. First off, I’m well. And I’m alive! I meet daily on the phone and on Zoom with the festival board’s exec committee and with our task force which has been charged with getting us through this and creating our post-pandemic relaunch. We are putting together a great and sensible plan for our return.

I’m also working hard on many other initiatives to help end this pandemic and to stem the forces that are only making it worse. I’m also writing my next film and I’ve started a podcast where each week I interview, among others, brilliant scientists and provocative thinkers to help us sort ourselves through the mess we’re in. There are some things you and I simply have no control over. But saving this festival and its theaters and making sure they re-open? THAT is something that WILL happen because you and I will accept no other alternative.

Your contributions have resulted in us getting through these first five months. Thank you for that!

But now we desperately need to get through the next five to ten months, keeping our theaters maintained and safe and our infrastructure intact. Please help us do that by clicking here.

Thank you for your support over the years. None of this exists without you. Please stay safe and stay kind. And don’t despair. The virus may mess with us, but it can’t kill art. It can’t kill the movies. Here’s to turning our marquee on once again and to lighting up the silver screen!

All my best,

Michael Moore

P.S. I’ll email you again in the next couple weeks to report on our progress. We’ve paused our virtual home cinema as we have no staff to run it. If you would like to share with me any ideas or ask any questions, please write me at my private email address: I read all my own email and only I have access to it. I’d love to hear from you.

WE ARE YOUR COMMUNITY THEATER! WE ARE YOUR FILM FESTIVAL! We are only able to do what we do thanks to your investment and belief that these theaters make Traverse City a more vibrant and wonderful place to live. Please consider a donation to help continue this legacy and ensure we are able to resume operations following our COVID-19 closure. 

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Help support our organization during the COVID-19 shutdown with a donation that goes to supporting our essential operations costs. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s safe to make a 100% tax-deductible donation.


Membership gives you great perks and discounts every time you visit the theaters. And, best of all, State and Bijou members also give back to the community by allowing our nonprofit theaters to offer reasonably-priced concessions, educational programs, 25¢ matinees twice a week, and free community events year-round! 

We bring over 365 different films a year to Downtown Traverse City. From classic holiday celebrations to cult favorite late nights, we bring the best programming we can find to anchor a thriving downtown. And, we host free screenings for kids from preschool to high school, a crucial part of our mission. Members nurture and protect two valued treasures of Downtown Traverse City, our historic buildings, with continual updates and renovations.

That’s reason enough to support the State and Bijou with your membership! But members also get great benefits all year round:

  • Access to members-only events, early ticket availability to select special events and a weekly email highlighting upcoming films.
  • $2 savings on regularly priced admission and $1 savings on matinee admission.
  • Premium members get FREE admission to regularly priced movies on the FIRST THURSDAY of each month. 
  • All Access members get FREE admission to all regularly priced screenings for up to two people.

Memberships are good for two people at the same address and come with a limit of two tickets per visit.


Sponsoring a State Theatre seat supports our ongoing mission in a powerful and lasting way, and that’s just one reason to consider having your dedication text affixed to one of our ultra-plush, Michigan-made seats.

• Leave a legacy for loved ones
• Celebrate a special event or achievement
• Memorialize someone special
• Honor your business, organization, or cause
• Celebrate your family name
• Give the perfect gift for movie lovers in your life

Seat sponsorships are $1,000, and over 150 great seats remain to be sponsored.


Buy a brick and leave a legacy! Your donation is 100 percent tax deductible, and provides essential funds for completing the Bijou’s renovation, while serving as a lasting tribute to the person, cause, or occasion of your choice. Donate $500 by clicking the button below. We’ll follow up to confirm your dedication and to let you know when your brick will be installed in the Bijou entranceway.


Give the gift of movie magic. State and Bijou gift cards work like cash for movie tickets, concessions, merchandise, and memberships at both theaters, and they never expire. Buy them in six different amounts with delivery of your gift card by US mail. Thanks for supporting the State and Bijou!


Your Friends membership support makes it possible for the festival to bring great films and filmmakers to Traverse City while keeping ticket prices affordable for the entire community. You’ll receive exclusive early ticketing access, party discounts, and tickets to the Friends Only Screening Parties at the festival.

• Buy your tickets to next year’s festival ONE WEEK BEFORE the general public.
• Get two free tickets to the Friends Only Screening Party films.
• Special levels for Students and Seniors (65+)


Sponsorship positively impacts arts and culture, and it’s a powerful marketing tool, too. We invite you to join our event and our diverse, passionate, cultured community of film lovers. Our sponsors make it possible for us to keep the festival and theaters grassroots, focused on the art and love of movies. We’re committed to finding the donation option that works best for you. Ask us about custom and package sponsorships, in kind donations, advertising opportunities, and special experiences, suitable for any budget. We hope you will join our sponsor family! Become a TCFF Sponsor and get exclusive festival access including early ticketing, early theater access, and special parties.

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