Hidden Gems

MillionNight-4 (1)As you prepare to enjoy the arrival of the moveable feast of film that is the Traverse City Film Festival, let me highlight a few wonderful, hidden gems you’ll find within the guide. Very often it’s the films you’ve never heard of, the films you don’t think you’ll enjoy while you are being dragged into them, that make the most lasting impressions. I hope you will leave your comfort zone and take the risk to see a brillant movie at this year’s festival. Here are a few of my special picks– but there are many, many more! Check them all inside the guide. And I’ll see you at the movies!

still summer of bloodBREAKING A MONSTER — An amazing doc about a group of African American kids from Brooklyn who form a heavy metal band–and what happens when the music industry gets its hands on them.
still manuscripts20 YEARS OF MADNESS — A charming look at some Oakland County boys who had their own cable access show in the 1990s. Now they’re grown up, hoping lightning will strike twice. Yes it’s pure Michigan.
still stil lifeTHE ARMOR OF LIGHT — The story of an anti-abortion preacher who is devastated by the murder of an abortion doctor and decides to focus on the NRA and preventing easy access to guns.
still bending the lightTHE STATE-MAFIA PACT — Sabina Guzzanti’s latest comes to TC: a scathing look at the connection between the Mafia and the Italian government.
still newburgh stingTHE TRIALS OF SPRING— Gini Reticker has created THE definitive film on the Arab Spring Revolution in Egypt. An amazing record of what happened as seen through the eyes of three different women.
still stations crossFEAR NOT THE PATH OF TRUTH — One of the most uncomfortable films you will see at this year’s fest: a veteran of the Iraq War picks up a movie camera and decides to go see what Americans know about the war he fought in. You won’t be able to take your eyes off of it. “Thank you for your service!” Yeah, right.
still al helmTHE BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD — The filmmaker’s dad was a Kennedy Democrat until one day, he turned on AM radio, and, um, he “changed.” It’s the universal story about a white guy in everyone’s family who has something he wants to get off his chest at Thanksgiving dinner.
still fishing without(T)ERROR — Homeland Security has to stay in business, so here’s a powerful film about how they need to create “terrorists” so they’ll have someone to arrest. Whoa.
still dont leaveTHE CHINESE MAYOR — Imagine somebody says, let’s build a US-31 bypass around TC, or build a high-speed rail line between TC and Detroit. If this was China, and the star of this film was our mayor, both jobs would be done by December. Double whoa!
still the one i loveTHE DIPLOMAT An intense and beautiful look at one of the most important US diplomats in modern times, Richard Holbrooke. Filmmaker David Holbrooke, his son, will be in attendance.
still rubberCHALLAT OF TUNIS — A fiction film shot in documentary style about a (supposed) assailant who targets Tunisian women who don’t dress in religious clothing. One of the best foreign films I’ve seen this year. 
still i wont come backHOLBROOK/TWAIN — Hal Holbrook travels the country in his 90s as Mark Twain, bringing Twain’s scathing, hilarious turths to the American public– all of them still so relevant, 120 years later. Don’t miss this one! 
still blindTANGERINE  A compelling indie shot entirely on an iPhone, and it’s every bit as good as one shot for $100 million bucks.
still the huntTANGERINES  (plural) Nominated for a Best Foreign Film Academy Award this year, and a favorite of mine!
stills jackieHOT TYPE: 150 YEARS OF THE NATION — The great Barbara Kopple returns to Traverse City with her engaging film about The Nation magazine and the people who made it the top journal of the left. Staff members of The Nation will be in attendance for a lively discussion afterward.
still the huntROSEANNE FOR PRESIDENT  A great, funny film by Eric Weinrib (the first State Theatre manager when we reopened it in 2007!). Given unprecedented access to Roseanne Barr, you will see a side of this remarkable artist never seen before anywhere. And that’s saying a lot.
still manuscriptsLISTEN TO ME MARLON — There’s nothing like this in the festival. Marlon Brando kept an audio diary throughout his life, so he himself narrates this fascinating documentary. It’s on my shortlist for best doc of the year.
still manuscriptsPOVERTY, INC — Once you see it, you won’t look at poverty or the Third World the same way again.
—Michael Moore