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Foreign Official Selection: Documentary
Foreign Official Selection: Narrative
Free Movies at the Buzz
Friends Only Screenings
July 28, 2016 - A Day in History
Lost Gems of 2015
Men Make Movies - The Struggle Continues
Michiganders Make Movies
Movies Around the Bay
Movies for Smart People
Movies on a Boat
The Documentary Branch
The Sidebar: Food on Film
US Official Selection: Documentary
US Official Selection: Narrative
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Bay Theatre - Suttons Bay
Bijou by the Bay
Century 21 Northland Lot
City Opera House
Dutmers at the Dennos Museum
Elk Rapids Cinema
Garden Theater - Frankfort
Lars Hockstad Auditorium
Milliken at the Dennos Museum
NMC Scholars Hall
NMC Scholars Hall
Old Town Playhouse
Open Space Outdoor Cinema
The Woz @ Hotel Indigo
Traverse City Film Festival
Vogue Theatre of Manistee
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Let’s say you’re a kind woman who lives in Palestine and you give a ride to a boy in need of help. Later, the boy is accused of being a terrorist, and you’re accused of aiding and abetting. Do you lie on the stand and incriminate him in order to avoid punishment? This is the agonizing dilemma facing Layla, a newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher whose well-intentioned deed has tragic consequences. Refusing to say the boy threatened her, she is sentenced to prison—and once there, discovers she’s pregnant. Pressured to have an abortion, she instead makes the very risky choice of giving birth and raising her child behind bars. Documentary filmmaker Mai Masri uses her keen eye for realism to bring riveting nuance to her first feature, a stirring celebration of courage in the face of injustice, and a testament to the power of a mother’s love in the darkest of circumstances.
Even if you know every detail of the Chilean gold mine collapse that trapped 33 miners underground in 2010, you’ll be riveted to the edge of your seat by Patricia Riggen’s captivating and rousing depiction of the real-life events. Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips, Juliette Binoche, and Cote de Pablo star in this suspenseful crowd-pleaser that shifts between the claustrophobic and unimaginable ordeal of the miners 2,300 feet underground, and the struggles on the Earth’s surface, where family members helpless-ly wait, the government pushes for action, and the mining company flounders. Riggen skillfully and po-tently builds the tension—a feat all the more remarkable considering the ending is a foregone conclu-sion—in this tear-jerking, heart-squeezing, ultimately uplifting testament to the strength of the human spirit.
They just don’t make smart romantic comedies like this any more—but maybe they would if more women wrote them, as Oscar-winner Ruth Gordon (Maude in “Harold & Maude”) did in 1949. Sparkling, sophisticated, and ineffably entertaining, this ultimate battle-of-the-sexes tale is told with a fiery feminist savvy that was decades ahead of its time. A prosecutor (Spencer Tracy) finds himself on the opposite side of the aisle from his defense lawyer wife (Katharine Hepburn) when she takes on a client charged for the attempted murder of her philandering husband. The courtroom conflict soon becomes a source of marital discord as the headline-making case turns into a battleground for sexual equality. Hostilities arise, chauvinism is exposed, barbs are traded, and zingers crackle in this razor-sharp script that created this very best of Tracy-Hepburn vehicles. The only thing we’d object to? You missing it.
Adult Life Skills
Anna’s mother and grandmother aren’t impressed. She’s living in the shed out back, making videos starring her thumbs, working as a summer camp counselor, and microwaving her bras instead of remembering to do laundry. But when you’re a quirky British woman, about to turn 30 without your twin brother who died recently in a tragic accident, your best school friend is due in town for a visit, and you’re dogged by a handsome but terrifically awkward real estate agent and a troubled 8-year-old camper with a dying mother, maybe you can be forgiven for taking a while to earn your Adult Life Skills badge. Winner of the Nora Ephron prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, Jodie Whittaker stars in this disarming, unapologetically brash, and refreshingly unsentimental comedy about growing up and moving on.
In Person: Director Rachel Tunnard.
All This Panic
What’s it like to come of age in the city that never sleeps? Shot over the course of three years, this warm and intimate documentary follows teenage sisters Ginger and Dusty and their friends as they navigate New York City during the tenuous time surrounding the high school to college transition. The film’s dreamy cinematography perfectly captures the beauty and truth of these young women, who candidly and vulnerably discuss struggles with family, identity, friendship, and everything that inspires panic—from what to wear on the first day of junior year to mentally unstable parents who lose their jobs. The strength, resilience, and strange wisdom of these brave teens will instill you with new hope for the next generation. Scheduled to Appear: Director Jenny Gage.
Audrie & Daisy
Audrie and Daisy are like most teenage American girls: They come from loving families, go to good schools, spend time on social media. And sometimes, at parties with their friends, they drink. After nights of binge drinking, both Audrie and Daisy were assaulted by boys they knew—assaults that continued the morning after on social media, where they were accused of having somehow been responsible for the crimes. Sadly, the similarities between Audrie and Daisy end here. This alltoo- common nightmarish scenario drove Audrie to hang herself, while Daisy survived her suicide attempt. The film’s unpacking of the complexities surrounding cases like these is required viewing for parents of teenagers, and may inspire open conversations about tough issues and safe havens in dire circumstances.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Like a thunderbolt in the wake of current events and the Black Lives Matter movement comes this searing documentary that is one of the most important films of the past year. Often marginalized for their public image of anger and violence, the Black Panthers are given a more complex, fully realized voice by veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson, who explores the group’s grassroots community efforts alongside the armed citizens patrols that gave them their gun-toting reputation. Juxtaposing archival footage, contemporary interviews with group members, and opposing insight from wary police officers, Nelson creates a 360-degree portrait of the Panthers. Set to a soundtrack of electric soul and funk, this film is a blistering look at the explosive rise and sudden fall of a movement as relevant today as it was fifty years ago.
The Doug Benson Movie Interruption: A Donald Trump Favorite - Bloodsport
In the interests of equal time, we offer you a TC exclusive: one of Donald Trump’s favorite films, a Jean-Claude Van Damme FIGHT TO THE DEATH: “Bloodsport!” This preposterously violent 1980s classic has it all: Blood. Van Damme Crazy Eyes. Training montages. More blood. Illegal kung-fu tournaments. Snake-skin jackets. Literally all the blood. The Muscles from Brussels milks his helicopter- jumping, roundhouse-kicking debut for all it’s worth in this loosely-plotted story about an AWOL American soldier who joins an anything-goes martial arts ring. Especially brutal and casually racist, you could read it as 90 minutes of insight into Donald Trump’s mind. So stretch out those hammies (side-splitting can hurt), and get ready for a hilarious round on the mat with Benson and buddies as they provide a running commentary on “Bloodsport,” live from the front row.
Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni’s first English-language feature, “Blow-Up” follows a trendy fash-ion photographer (David Hemmings) in mod-era London who may have inadvertently photographed a murder. Both an erotic thriller (glamorous stars like Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, and Jane Birkin are never too far away) and a portrait of the joyless decadence, casual sex, and ennui of life in London in the 60s, this artful, Oscar-nominated cinematic masterpiece unfolds as a captivating spectacle of sights and sounds. As much about a lonely man as it is about the essential nature of imagery, this true turning point in the history of cinema helped pave the way for many of the great films of the late 60s and 70s.
The Brand New Testament
Imagine God as an overbearing crank, shuffling around in a bathrobe, yelling at his family, and plotting ways to torment humanity, and you’ll get an idea of Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael’s wicked sense of humor. What if the “Son of God” story we’re used to hearing was suddenly about the “Daughter of God”—and what if she was a bratty, rebellious 10-year-old living in Brussels? Strap yourself in for this wildly inventive satire that follows God’s daughter, Ea, as she hacks her dad’s computer and sends a text to everyone on Earth giving them the exact date of their death. As humans grapple with the fallout of “DeathLeaks,” God must leave his comfort zone to restore order...or at least His version of it. Toying with ideas of fate and free will with a cheeky smirk, this smart, irreverent comedy is a rare treat for slapstick fans and the philosophically inclined alike.
By Sidney Lumet
A few minutes into this luminous chronicle of the astonishing career of director Sidney Lumet, it’s clear that this is no stuffy biopic. One of the giants of American cinema, Lumet’s vast body of work spanned 44 films over the course of 50 years—including “Twelve Angry Men,” “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” and “Network.” Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Nancy Buirski spins clips together with never-before-seen interview footage from the end of Lumet’s career to present a veritable master class on the art of filmmaking and living life to the fullest. He’s the dinner guest you always wished you had at your parties, as masterful a storyteller in front of the camera as he is behind it. This brilliant film will leave you feeling like you’ve just had one of the best conversations of your life.
In Person: Director Nancy Buir-ski.
The C Word
Cancer: Few words are more feared. But in her sharply researched, deftly humorous message of hope, survivor Meghan O’Hara (Oscar-nominated producer of “Bowling for Columbine, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and “Sicko”) changes the way we think about this terrifying disease, showing that it’s time to stop being afraid of cancer and time to make cancer afraid of us. Following her diagnosis, O’Hara met neurologist Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, who was diagnosed with brain cancer while doing cancer research. Together they explore daily Western behaviors that are linked to 70% of cancer deaths: smoking, processed foods, stress, contaminants, and lack of exercise. Narrated and executive produced by Morgan Freeman, “The C Word” is an unflinching look at our complacency with cancer culture, the vibrant cast of characters who are changing the game, and the tools we already have to beat the dreaded scourge of our time.
Scheduled to Appear: Director Meghan O’Hara.
Acclaimed documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson has spent her entire career behind the camera, unseen but ever present, making decisions to frame a shot a certain way in “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” or to zoom in on a subject at a particular moment in “Citizenfour” or “Fahrenheit 9/11.” For “Cameraperson,” Johnson assembled footage from her 25-year career to create a visual memoir collage that raises complicated questions about the nature and ethics of documentary filmmaking. While filming a Bosnian toddler who is trying to play with an ax, Johnson is heard muttering a terrified “Oh Jesus!” when his hands get perilously close to the blade—but she doesn’t interfere. She records what happens, good or bad. The balance between compassionately telling the stories of others and becoming part of the stories is explored with bracing intensity and insight in one of the year’s most buzzed-about films.
In Person: Director Kirsten Johnson.
Shortly after Israel’s decisive 1967 victory in the Six-Day War—while the country celebrated the seizure of the Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, and Gollan Heights which tripled Israel’s size—returning soldiers sat down to record their battlefield experiences. When authors Amos Oz and Avraham Shapira went to publish those interviews, the Israeli army censored all but 30 percent of them. Now, for the first time, the soldiers’ tortured words are finally being heard, and they tell a very different tale than had previously been reported. Oz and many of the men he spoke with, now grown old, revisit the anguish, guilt, and doubt they felt over their actions in the war that excised Palestine with such harrowing force. It seems that the march of time does not heal all wounds. “We were told not to show mercy,” says one. Asks another, “Are we doomed to live in the pauses between wars?” This momentous film casts new light on old ideas about the famous conflict, and stands as a clear-eyed reminder of a
No one can make quiet, small moments feel as cacophonously loud as American auteur Kelly Reichert. In her latest masterpiece, “Certain Women,” she makes them scream with emotion. Pulling you into the intersecting lives of three disparate Montana women—all yearning, all searching, all intoxicatingly complicated—we’re presented with a new vision of the American West, one told with refreshing elegance and grace. A morally-conflicted lawyer (Laura Dern) diffuses a hostage situation; a woman (Michelle Williams) struggles with marital discord unearthed by the process of building a new home; and an ambiguous relationship develops between a ranch hand (Lily Gladstone) and a lawyer (Kristen Stewart) who seems to be out of her league. Together these tales collide with the stark beauty of Reichert’s images, the depth of the phenomenal performances, and consciously low-key drama to form something uniquely marvelous. TCFF is delighted to present this Midwest premiere from one of America’s greatest
If you enjoy films that inspire as much as they educate, and enrich as much as they entertain, “The Champions” is simply a must-see. In 2007, Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick was convicted of running a vicious and illegal dogfighting ring. After serving jail time, Vick was able to return home to lucrative endorsements and a continued NFL career—but whatever happened to the 50+ deadly pit bulls he left behind? “The Champions” tells the amazing, little-known story of the people who stepped in to try and spare the abused canines from almost certain death. Determined to give the surviving dogs a chance at a happy life, this group of animal lovers risked everything to prove that even the most “dangerous” of dogs could live in harmony with humans, and surprised themselves by being transformed through the process. This heartfelt story about four-legged stars who were bred for violence, and then offered a second chance through love, is glorious proof that you absolutely can teach an old do
Chimes at Midnight
Stymied by the studio system from making his movies just 20 years after “Citizen Kane,” Orson Welles was so driven to make this long-gestating project he agreed to play Long John Silver in another movie just in order to secure financing. The result is a masterwork of staggering proportions, blending five Shakespeare plays to tell the epic story of Falstaff, a tragicomic scalawag perfectly aligned with Welles’ fixations. Caught for years in legal wrangling, the film was nearly impossible to see. But a brand new restoration has returned it to the big screen in all its majestic and mournful glory. Critic supreme Vincent Canby called it “the greatest Shakespearean film ever made, bar none.” But what gives us chills is the fact that Welles once said, if he had to offer up as a summation of his life’s work, just one film to get into heaven, “Chimes at Midnight” would be it.
In Person: Beatrice Welles, Orson Welles’ daughter, featured in the film.
It has almost become a cliché—we take it for granted that “Citizen Kane” is one of the greatest films of all time. But when you stop and actually watch it, for the twentieth time or for the first, it’s truly like witnessing cinema being born anew. At the tender age of 25, Orson Welles crafted this towering masterpiece about publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane, a man who stopped at nothing in his ruthless pursuit of power—even when it cost him everything he loved. With its iconic deep-space cinematography, innovative use of sound and lighting, and intricately structured narrative, this is a film of such staggering genius, such ravishing brilliance, and such dazzling virtuosity that you owe it to yourself to experience it on the big screen, at the greatest theater in the world—with Welles’ daughter Beatrice in attendance, no less!
In Person: Beatrice Welles.
As far as silent big-budget spectacles go, D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance” may get all the glory, but in its time, this little-known treasure was so popular, and so influential, the Democratic National Committee credited it with helping to re-elect President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Remembered today as perhaps both the first anti-war film and the first film to depict the Son of God, it’s the story of Jesus Christ sending an order-defying submarine captain back to earth as a messenger of peace. Part powerful allegorical drama, part historic curiosity, part trippy triumph, “Civilization” is unlike anything you have ever seen.
The “club” at the center of Pablo Larraín’s subversive feature may be exclusive, but it’s not one you’d ever want to join. In a remote Chilean fishing village, a nun looks after a group of ex-priests, all of whom have been forced into early retirement for various unmentioned sins. Ostensibly a sanctuary of “prayer and refuge,” the villa provides a serene escape from the men’s dark pasts. But when the arrival of a new member draws the attention of a sharpeyed Jesuit investigator, the house’s many secrets threaten to come spilling out. Larraín’s pitch-black comic critique of the Catholic Church—and the barbed questions he raises about guilt, denial, and redemption—make this one of the most uncompromising, thought-provoking films of the festival.
Command and Control
One day in a storage facility in Little Rock, during a routine maintenance check, an airman accidentally dropped a six-pound socket wrench—and pierced a hole in a nuclear warhead. In this heart-thumping documentary, Robert Kenner (“Food, Inc.”) plunges viewers inside a U.S. missile facility in 1980, where the Titan II—a weapon more powerful than all the bombs dropped in WWII combined—sat idly, until all hell broke loose. Skillfully interweaving reenactments and riveting interviews with witnesses and former crew, “Command and Control” explores the devastating fallout of a simple accident, one that could easily happen any day of the year. It’s a bracing look at the potentially deadly consequences that can come from even the smallest of human errors as our everincreasing nuclear arsenal leaves us more exposed to disaster than ever.
In Person: Director Robert Kenner.
Concerto: A Beethoven Journey
Music lovers and thinkers will swoon over this dazzling documentary that follows one of the world’s top living pianists, Norway’s Leif Ove Andsnes, on a three-year journey around the world devoted to mastering Beethoven’s five piano concertos. The German composer’s brilliance explodes off the screen as Andsnes battles to get to the guts of the work and bring the concertos to full, vivid, emotionally-rich life. With each piece, Andsnes posits, another stage of Beethoven’s life is revealed, an approach that gives us incredible new insight into the legendary composer. And at each stage, we are treated to a running commentary on what Andsnes is learning and feeling, along with thrilling performances captured by a keyboard-mounted camera that gives us a bird’seye view of some of Earth’s most talented fingers. This smart, lush film will hum through your bones long after the final sonata.
In Person: Director Phil Grabsky; Subject Leif Ove Andsnes.
This utterly unbelievable and totally unauthorized account of a Guantanamo prisoner set to be extradited from the US to Switzerland is truly the kind of filmmaking that will make you stop, turn your head, and say “whoa.” Bringing the innermost workings of international politics to center stage are two anonymous student filmmakers following Caroline Gautier, Chief of Staff of the Security Department in Geneva, as she prepares to welcome a soon-to-be-released detainee and offer him a brand new life. But, wouldn’t you know it, the events surrounding this momentous occasion begin to quickly, and precipitously, unravel. Political protests, strained diplomatic relations, anxious ambassadors, and international misunderstandings force Gautier—with cameras rolling—to decide how far she’s willing to go to save her career and protect the prisoner. Slyly political, highly subversive, and wickedly funny, this cinematic experiment in docufiction makes a piercing point about human rights.
A Conspiracy of Faith
Fans of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “True Detective” will be first in line for this gritty thriller, which shattered Denmark’s 15-year box office record when it concluded the Department Q trilogy. Standing alone narratively and cinematically, “A Conspiracy of Faith” follows a Copenhagen cold case squad as they track a serial killer back to a tight-knit religious community after a message in a bottle, written in blood by children, is found 14 years after a kidnapping. Detectives Mørck and Assad uncover a horrific case involving a psychopathic murderer, religious fanaticism, and abducted siblings never reported missing by their parents. The film’s riveting—and utterly terrifying—villain, its expertly plotted twists, and the searching questions it poses about faith, God, and the nature of evil make this sophisticated thriller one of the best crime dramas of the year. Warning: scenes of extreme child endangerment.
Cooking Up a Tribute
With chefs today regularly achieving rock star status in the eyes of the Western world, it seems only natural that they should also embark on world tours from time to time. After the famed Spanish eatery El Celler de Can Roca unseated Noma to be named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine, the three Roca brothers who run it decided to shut down their business for five weeks and take their entire staff on a six-city tour. Their ambitious goal: to expand their palettes and create 57 new dishes using local flavors and ingredients as a tribute to each region. As they globetrot to Lima, Bogota, Monterrey, Mexico City, Dallas, and Houston, the tantalizing food and drink of each city takes center stage. Part mouthwatering foodie doc, part sweeping travelogue, “Cooking Up a Tribute” demonstrates how a great meal can transcend cultural divides and connect us.
This unlikeliest of true stories begins when a barmaid and grocery store janitor in a depressed Welsh coal mining town decides that since she successfully bred birds and dogs in her younger days, she should be able to breed a race horse, too, and make a run in the Sport of Kings. Her barmates and neighbors believe she can do anything she sets her mind to doing, and the Dream Alliance is born when they pool their resources to buy a foal, train him, and set out to enter the Welsh Grand National. The filmmakers take us into their collaborative decision-making meetings, and treat us to the stares that Alliance members draw from aristocrats when they turn up at the races with boxed lunches. This inspiring Sundance Audience Award winning crowd-pleaser has all the elements of a great sports story: a system that favors the privileged elite, a long shot at victory, a devastating setback, and a heart-stopping conclusion that will keep you cheering in your seat all the way to the finish line.
Death by Design
What does it cost to upgrade to the newest iPhone every year? The price is likely higher than you think, because it’s not just financial, it’s social and environmental. Did you know that it takes 500 pounds of raw material to make just one 8-ounce iPhone? Sue Williams’ fascinating documentary traverses the globe to track the true cost of our ever-increasing addiction to devices that are deliberately designed for obsolescence, much as Detroit’s cars once were. As consumers, we constantly crave the latest laptops, tablets, phones, and gaming systems, lured by promises of faster speeds and more powerful technology. But the whole world pays a heavy price for our ravenous appetite. From Chinese workers laboring in unsafe conditions and families exposed to toxic materials to factories dumping their pollutants into our communities, Williams offers a no-holds-barred account of our technology churn—as well as some surprising ideas for fixing it.
In Person: Director Sue Williams.
If Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were forced to sit down together to write a new US Constitution, how do you think it would go? “Democrats” follows a real-life example of this scenario in Zimbabwe, where opponents from two rival parties were tasked in 2008 with writing the country’s constitution in the wake of a contentious general election. With both parties trying to secure maximum power, is the exercise just an absurd farce? Or can genuine compromise and agreement be reached? With unprecedented access to both politicians, director Camilla Nielsson makes the most of her penetrating, remarkable footage to reveal a country trying to leave behind its corrupt past—and take its first fumbling baby steps toward democracy.
“Dheepan’s” Palme d’Or win at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival shocked pundits, but it’s hard to imagine any other outcome after seeing this exquisitely crafted masterpiece that lodges itself in your soul like sand in an oyster. A veteran Tamil Tiger, Dheepan finesses his way into the French immigration system by forming a makeshift family with a woman and a young girl who are also seeking a way out of the refugee camp. But political asylum in a Parisian suburb and the uneasy alliance they form for survival is an exhausting, spirit-sapping daily grind. And when a neighborhood turf war puts them in the crosshairs, they are as unable to escape the simmering threat of violence as they were back home. Be sure to set aside time after the screening to discuss the dramatically controversial ending of this undeniable tour de force.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
This exuberant, bold film that audaciously refuses to apologize for the complexity of its 15-year-old protagonist may be one of the most honest and revolutionary depictions of adolescence ever put on screen. Minnie is a precocious, vivacious teenager on the cusp of a sexual awakening. Unfortunately, her bohemian mother (Kristin Wiig) is too absent to notice, and frequently leaves her alone with the ludicrously handsome man she’s dating, Monroe (Alexander Skaarsgård, “True Blood”). Minnie and Monroe fall into a precariously complex affair that director Marielle Heller handles with unparalleled skill, eschewing melodrama and victimhood for more complex questions about love, longing, and agency. This unerringly wise, achingly true film about the messiness of young adulthood fearlessly slides from toughness into tenderness, and hilarity into heartbreak.
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