Thank You for a Festival Filled with Passion, Humor, and 11th Hour Drama!


Thank you for being part of an amazing celebration of film in beautiful Downtown Traverse City! Whether you volunteered, attended a free panel, listened to music in Clinch Park, went to one of our parties, or watched as many films as your schedule allowed, you played an important role in the transformation this city undergoes for one magical week — a transformation that leaves it mark long after the last film comes off screen and we roll up the red carpet.

This year’s festival included some of the best films we’ve ever brought, and more filmmakers to share the stories of those films than ever before. Over 100,000 admissions attended 250 screenings of 123 feature films and 121 shorts across 13 different venues this year — record high numbers! 

Everyone I’ve spoken with has their own special moment from the festival — for me, it was being able to sit on the stage with the man from Detroit (Roger Corman) who discovered James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Jack Nicholson, and Francis Ford Coppola…and then be regaled with stories from Geraldine Chaplin about her and her father’s (Charlie Chaplin) careers…and then listen to Kathryn Altman, the widow of Robert Altman, discuss the making of “Nashville” after we showed it on the giant screen at the State. She said, “Thanks to your beautiful projection and screen, I saw things in the film I had never seen before.” Needless to say, I felt proud of the work we have all done to create one of the top cinemas in the world and have her experience this moment.  

We saw the return of festival favorites like Movies on a Boat, free movies all day and night at The Buzz, and Movies Around the Bay, now featuring the Cherry Bowl Drive-In of Honor! 

Our improved showcase of new media, rechristened “The Woz,” wowed people with its virtual reality technology like Oculus Rift and its interactive games like the world’s only 10 player arcade game, “Killer Queen.”

Our program also focused on a few new special areas including #Tween, The Sidebar: Food on Film, and a celebration of LGBTQ cinema — part of which included me officiating the first legal gay marriage on the stage of the State Theatre with a local couple, Derek and Brandon, on Closing Night! We’ve come a long way in TC since those controversial rainbow bumper stickers, eh?!  

We paid tribute to this year’s esteemed award winners, including Visionary winner Robert Altman, Michigan Filmmaker honoree Roger Corman, and Lifetime Achievement award winner Geraldine Chaplin. We also honored this year’s incredible class of films and filmmakers with Founders and Audience Awards, including our Grand Prize for Best Film, which went to the riveting “Listen to Me Marlon,” and the Audience Award for Best Documentary, which went to “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.”  You can read the full list of award winners here

And we couldn’t end our 11th year without a little 11th hour drama, which came in the form of a devastating storm that cancelled Sunday’s Closing Night Bash and our Open Space Screening of “The LEGO Movie.” I’d like to personally thank the amazing volunteers and world-class tech crew who reacted quickly to ensure everyone’s safety and got us back on track to make sure that we didn’t have to cancel any indoor screenings. 

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank every single one of the 3,000 volunteers who donated over 150,000 hours of time — during festival week alone! — to the festival this year. They make this festival possible for everyone, and give it its indelible, unique spirit. 

But even though the festival is over, it doesn’t mean the moviegoing has to stop. Join us at the State and Bijou this week to see the funniest and smartest romantic comedy in years, “Trainwreck,” the Brian Wilson biopic “Love & Mercy,” and one of the very hottest tickets at this year’s festival, Gillian Flynn’s “Dark Places,” starring Charlize Theron. 

And…you can always start planning for next year’s festival, July 26 – 31! (Please note the slightly earlier start date in 2016!)

Most important, please help support what we do here at the film festival by becoming a Friend. You can join for as little as $40. Even if you’re already a volunteer or a sponsor, your Friendship truly makes everything we do possible. If you believe in the Traverse City Film Festival and the good it can do 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. (You’ll also get lots of great benefits — Friends get their tickets first!)

Finally, please complete our post-festival survey here. We really listen. Some of our best ideas come from YOU!

See you in 2016! 

Michael Moore