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17 Blocks

You wouldn’t expect extreme hardship a mere 17 blocks from the US Capitol, but the Sanford family, who live just under a mile away from the vaunted halls of power, struggle with epidemics of poverty, addiction, and gun violence that most of us could never understand. Emmanuel Sanford began documenting his life via camcorder at only nine years old back in 1999, following a chance meeting with Michigan filmmaker Davy Rothbart (founder of FOUND Magazine and frequent contributor to This American Life). This film is a result of Rothbart's incredibly unique 20-year collaboration with the family. Assembling the footage into an intimate portrait of a family struggling to survive, you get a raw glimpse into their joys, sorrows, and unexpected tragedies and come to see a family bonded by love and brave enough to share their story with the world. In Person: Director Davy Rothbart and the Sanford Family.
Film Info
Section:Documentary
Release Year:2019
Runtime:96 min.
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Davy Rothbart
Produced by:Alex Turtletaub
Michael B. Clark
Marc Turtletaub
Rachel Dengiz
Davy Rothbart
Screenwriter:Jennifer Tiexiera
Cinematography:Zachary Shields
Editing By:Jennifer Tiexiera
Cast:Cheryl Sanford
Emmanuel Durant
Jr.
Akil "Smurf" Sanford
Denice Sanford-Durant
Justin Sanford
Carmen Payne
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3 Days 2 Nights

Mark and Andy Godfrey are linked by more than blood—the brothers were the sole survivors of a Colorado plane crash in 1974, when their plane flew into the mountains during a family ski trip. At ages 11 and 8, the two lost their mom, dad, and two siblings instantly. Alone, scared, and traumatized, the boys then survived in the wreckage for three hellish snow-bound days on a mountainside before a heroic and unbelievable rescue. For decades following the event, the brothers rarely discussed the experience with anyone, not even with each other. But as the 40th anniversary approaches, they embark on a cleansing journey to finally talk openly about their memories, their feelings, and the trauma that has haunted them for decades. Scheduled to Appear: Director John Breen and Mark Godfrey.
Film Info
Section:Documentary
Release Year:2019
Runtime:100 min.
Premiere Status:Midwest Premiere
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:John Breen
Produced by:John Breen
Cinematography:Jojo Pennebaker
Editing By:Shannon Kennedy
Cast:Andrew Godfrey
Mark Godrey
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After So Many Days

You’ll want a front row seat to this intimate and endearing music documentary from singer-songwriter duo Jim and Sam. Recent newlyweds, Jim Hanft and Samantha Yonack, were feeling somewhat stuck in their musical career and wanted to do something bold to make one final go at finding breakout success. So they make an impulsive pact to spend a year out on the road attempting to play a concert every single day (that's 365 concerts, FYI). Not knowing where their adventures would lead them they filmed it all, capturing the joys of playing to packed houses and the soul-crushing defeats of disinterested audiences, all against the picturesque backdrop of the cities and byways from the 14 different countries they visited along the way. The resulting film is an enchanting love letter to music and marriage, and an exhilarating example of putting your heart on the line for the thing (and the one) you love. In Person: Directors/Subjects Jim and Sam.
Film Info
Section:Documentary
TCFF Rocks
Don't Miss
Release Year:2019
Runtime:87 min.
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Jim Hanft
Samantha Yonack
Produced by:Natalia Anderson
Jim Hanft
Kyle Weber
Samantha Yonack
Screenwriter:Natalia Anderson
Jim Hanft
Kyle Weber
Samantha Yonack
Cast:Jim Hanft
Samantha Yonack
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Almost Home

The struggles of homeless youth in America takes center stage in this heartbreaking and empowering story based on the novel by Jessica Blank. After Tracy sticks up for bullied girl Elly, the two embark on a harrowing journey amongst the homeless youth on the streets of Los Angeles as they form an unlikely family while trying to survive the harsh, unforgiving realities of the city. After the screening, stick around for a community discussion and an acoustic performance from hometown heroes The Accidentals -- who wrote a song for the film. Tickets are $20, and $5 of each ticket will be donated to TCAPS’ Students in Transition Empowerment Program (STEP).
Film Info
Section:Fiction
Release Year:2018
Runtime:90 min.
Premiere Status:Midwest Premiere
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Jessica Blank
Erik Jensen
Produced by:Jessica Blank
Ross Putman
Steak House
Screenwriter:Jessica Blank
Erik Jensen
Cinematography:Arlene Muller
Editing By:Gordon Grinberg
Cast:Hannah Marks
Rachel Zimmerman
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American Factory

In 2014 a shuttered GM factory in Dayton, Ohio became the home of the Chinese billionaire-owned Fayou Glass America. Suddenly American factory workers deeply rooted in the Rust Belt found themselves hopeful for a chance to pull their community out of financial despair, but challenged by the seemingly insurmountable cultural differences of the Chinese counterparts now working alongside them. With surprising access to the humanity and xenophobia on both sides, this fascinating and masterful documentary reveals the complicated nature of global endeavors. Culture clashes go from humorous to tense, especially when the dirty word “union” is uttered, and an even grimmer fate looms over all of those on the factory floor: automation. A powerful reminder of the values that connect us—the need to provide, the desire to feel useful, the struggle to change—as well as the ideals that drive us apart, this must-see film sits at a crossroads of so many key issues it is bound to spark important conversa
Film Info
Section:Documentary
Don't Miss
Release Year:2019
Runtime:115 min.
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Steve Bognar
Julia Reichert
Produced by:Steve Bognar
Julia Reichert
Jeff Reichert
Julie Parker Benello
Cinematography:Steve Bognar
Aubrey Keith
Jeff Reichert
Editing By:Lindsay Utz
Music By:Chad Cannon
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Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

It’s hard to disagree with the idea that humans aren’t the driving force behind the planet’s changing natural order when you’re presented with the imagery in this startling documentary. From the world’s largest excavating machines devouring farmland in Germany, to the flaming pyres of ivory tusks seized from poachers who slaughtered thousands of endangered elephants and rhinos in Nairobi, the human desire for conquest and acquisition has never been laid bare in such a visually stunning way before. Canadian filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and photographer Edward Burtynsky have assembled a film of startling beauty and quiet dread that will convince you that action must be taken to help our planet; that we can not go back to how things used to be, but we have to try our best nonetheless for the good of all.
Film Info
Section:Documentary
Release Year:2018
Runtime:87 min.
Rating:NR
Production Country:Canada
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Jennifer Baichwal
Nicholas de Pencier
Edward Burtynsky
Produced by:Nicholas de Pencier
Screenwriter:Jennifer Baichwal
Cinematography:Nicholas de Pencier
Editing By:Roland Schlimme
Cast:Alicia Vikander
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Arctic

When a man (Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal) is left stranded in the Arctic after his plane crashes, and then his long-awaited rescue plane crashes as well, he must make an impossible decision: sit idly by and hope for rescue or leave the relative shelter of the downed aircraft and try to journey across the Arctic with his impaired partner on a sled. With an intense will to survive, the unknown man tackles each obstacle the unforgiving terrain throws at him with a calm proficiency, reflected in the serenely barren Arctic landscape. Facing exhaustion, frostbite, starvation, and polar bears, the breathless and near dialogue-free 98 minutes fly by as this stark and swift survival story leaves you utterly transfixed.
Film Info
Section:Fiction
Release Year:2018
Runtime:98 min.
Rating:PG-13
Production Country:Iceland
Original Language:Danish
English
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Joe Penna
Produced by:Bryn Birgisdóttir
Noah C. Haeussner
Christopher Lemole
Tim Zajaros
Screenwriter:Joe Penna
Ryan Morrison
Cinematography:Tómas Örn Tómasson
Editing By:Ryan Morrison
Music By:Joseph Trapanese
Cast:Mads Mikkelsen
Maria Thelma Smáradóttir
Tintrinai Thikhasuk
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Artifishal

Wild salmon are on the verge of extinction despite a herculean effort by government agencies, big business, and tax payer-funded schemes. While it was originally thought that farm-raised salmon were the cure, it turns out that a myriad of issues (including weakened genetic makeup and aggressive farm-raised fish who battle and overtake their naturally-raised brethren for territory) have been a bigger disruption to the ecosystem than ever imagined. Now the alarm is being raised by environmentalists, tribal elders, and fishermen: the issues and frustrations facing fishing communities worldwide can no longer be ignored, and action must be taken before it's too late. As a town that is also confronting issues of watershed restoration, the topics tackled here are alarmingly relevant to Traverse City's own waterways.
Film Info
Section:Documentary
Release Year:2019
Runtime:75 min.
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Josh "Bones" Murphy
Produced by:Laura Wagner
Josh "Bones" Murphy
Dylan Tomine
Sarah Makarwicz
Screenwriter:Collin Kriner
Josh "Bones" Murphy
Cinematography:August Thurmer
Devin Whetstone
Editing By:Collin Kriner
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Ask Dr. Ruth

A controversial, pint-sized, Holocaust-surviving woman who once embarrassed David Letterman by saying “penis” and “vagina” on air—who could that be? Why Dr. Ruth Westheimer, of course, America’s most famous sex therapist! Director Ryan White takes this already very popular and deeply loved figure and shows us just how much more there is to know about our favorite nonagenarian dispenser of carnal knowledge. White reveals the multiple stories that make up her life, just one of which would be worthy of a feature length film (from fleeing the Nazis, studying at the Sorbonne, training as a sniper in the Israeli Defense Force, and working for Planned Parenthood... this woman really has done it all). No wonder so many value her opinion and life advice, the most potent of which might just be the frank phrase: “There’s no such thing as normal.” Timely and comforting, this film is a must-see. Scheduled to Appear: Director Ryan White.
Film Info
Section:Documentary
Release Year:2019
Runtime:100 min.
Premiere Status:Midwest Premiere
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Ryan White
Produced by:Jessica Hargrave
Chris Leggett
Rafael Marmor
Ryan White
Cinematography:David Paul Jacobson
Editing By:Helen Kearns
Rejh Cabrera
Music By:Blake Neely
Cast:Ruth Westheimer
Joan Rivers
Susan Brown
Jonathan Capehart
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Balloon (Ballon)

Set during the Cold War and based on a daring true story, Balloon follows two families in communist East Germany who are fed up with life under an oppressive regime. Together, they work to secretly create a hot air balloon that will carry them and their children to the promise of a better life in West Germany. Over the course of 18 months, the families must figure out how to purchase and assemble over a thousand square meters of fabric (without seeming suspicious), track weather patterns, deceive neighbors, and avoid the Stasi Police, who grow closer to discovering their plans with each passing day. With some truly nail-biting scenes set to a larger-than-life score and against an uncanny recreation of the late 1970s, this thrilling international hit presents a captivating case of the extraordinary lengths ordinary people will go to in order to seek freedom across borders.
Film Info
Section:Fiction
Release Year:2018
Runtime:125 min.
Rating:NR
Production Country:Germany
Original Language:German
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Michael Herbig
Produced by:Michael Herbig
Screenwriter:Kit Hopkins
Thilo Röscheisen
Michael Herbig
Cinematography:Torsten Breuer
Editing By:Alexander Dittner
Cast:Friedrich Mücke
Karoline Schuch
David Kross
Alicia von Rittberg
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Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine

By 1969, American rock and roll was in danger of belonging solely to California, and it was high time some Detroit muscle brought the music back to the people. Enter Barry Kramer's CREEM magazine, the down and dirty rebel of the counterculture. Created in the heart of Detroit, CREEM first brought local music legends like Bob Seger, The Stooges, MC5, and Alice Cooper to national attention, it provided the ideal platform for seminal critic Lester Bangs, and it even first coined the term “punk rock.” Boy Howdy! both tells the story and recreates the debauchery, with firsthand accounts from stars like Joan Jett, Gene Simmons, and Cameron Crowe. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of CREEM’s launch (and the 30th anniversary of its unceremonious end); let’s bring the party back and celebrate this legendary Michigan institution. Scheduled to Appear: Director Scott Crawford, JJ Kramer.
Film Info
Section:Documentary
TCFF Rocks
Release Year:2019
Runtime:75 min.
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Scott Crawford
Produced by:JJ Kramer
Jaan Uhelszki
Screenwriter:Scott Crawford
Jaan Uhelzski
Cinematography:Jim Saah
Editing By:Scott Crawford
Jim Saah
Patrick Wright
Cast:Jeff Ament
Alice Cooper
Cameron Crowe
Kirk Hammett
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Brittany Runs a Marathon

It’s rare for a movie to be described as smart and edgy as well as genuine, feel-good, and inspirational, yet somehow this hilarious and heartfelt debut film by award winning playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo checks all those boxes and more. The long-overdue-for-star-status Jillian Bell (Workaholics) is the witty Brittany, a twenty-seven-year-old with a job that barely pays the rent and a New York party girl lifestyle that’s starting to take its toll. When she sees a doctor to help with her “focus,” she instead gets a wake up call about the damage she’s doing to her body. Determined to get in shape she starts to run the city streets literally one block at a time. It sucks, of course, but along the way she finds friendship with unlikely new running partners, who set their sights on running the 26.2 mile NYC Marathon, and begins to realize it may be more than just weight that’s dragging her down. Winner of the Audience Award at Sundance, this honest and affectionate comedy follows an
Film Info
Section:Fiction
Galas
Release Year:2019
Runtime:103 min.
Rating:R
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Paul Downs Colaizzo
Produced by:Matthew Plouffe
Screenwriter:Paul Downs Colaizzo
Cinematography:Seamus Tierney
Editing By:Casey Brooks
Music By:Duncan Thum
Cast:Jillian Bell
Jennifer Dundas
Patch Darragh
Alice Lee
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Capernaum (Capharnaüm)

The highest-grossing Middle Eastern film of all time, which earned both an Oscar nomination and a 15-minute standing ovation at Cannes (fifth-longest in the history of the festival, our founder holds the #2 spot), has now come to TCFF. This immensely powerful story opens with Zain, a 12-year-old boy serving a five-year sentence in a Beirut prison for stabbing someone. Zain has decided to sue his parents, and when a judge asks him to explain why, he says, “Because I was born.” Then in flashback, Zain’s stunning tale unfolds, showing his life of neglect in the Beirut slums, and his failed attempts to save his young sister from being given away in marriage to a much older man. Capernaum, which translates to “chaos” in Arabic, is not the easiest watch, but it is a captivating and unforgettable one, moving audiences to tears and applause all over the world.
Film Info
Section:Fiction
Release Year:2018
Runtime:126 min.
Rating:R
Production Country:Lebanon
Original Language:Amharic
Arabic
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Nadine Labaki
Produced by:Michel Merkt
Screenwriter:Nadine Labaki
Jihad Hojeily
Michelle Keserwany
Cinematography:Christopher Aoun
Editing By:Konstantin Bock
Laure Gardette
Cast:Zain Al Rafeea
Yordanos Shiferaw
Boluwatife Treasure Bankole
Kawsar Al Haddad
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C'est La Vie! (Le sens de la fête)

From the same absurdly talented writing and directing team that brought you the feel-good megahit The Intouchables (and by extension it's recent remake The Upside), comes an unabashedly crowdpleasing comedy full of hijinx, misunderstandings, and one spectacular mess of a wedding! Follow Max, the owner of a hospitality company in France, as he attempts to successfully mount a massive wedding reception at a 17th century chateau with the ragtag family of colorful characters (a showboating singer, a photographer on the hunt for food and not photos, and a waiter who dated the bride, to name only a few) that make up those in his employ. As a master planner, he's totally unfazed by the fact the lamb goes bad or that the power went out—but that his girlfriend may be breaking up with him, well, that's another story. With an impossibly satisfying ending, and more laugh-out-loud moments than you can count, this breezy romantic romp is a total joy to behold.
Film Info
Section:Fiction
Movies Around the Bay
Release Year:2017
Runtime:115 min.
Premiere Status:Midwest Premiere
Rating:NR
Production Country:France
Original Language:French
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Olivier Nakache
Éric Toledano
Produced by:Nicholas Duval Adassovsky
Laurent Zeitoun
Yann Zenou
Screenwriter:Olivier Nakache
Éric Toledano
Cinematography:David Chizallet
Editing By:Dorian Rigal-Ansous
Cast:Jean-Pierre Bacri
Jean-Paul Rouve
Gilles Lellouche
Vincent Macaigne
Eye Haidara
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Chapo Trap House Democratic Debate Stream

In the lead up to the 2016 election, a small cadre of minor Twitter celebrities banded together to tell it like it is, resulting in this wildly successful and influential political podcast that tackles not only the doublespeak and proto-fascism of our current administration, but also addresses the anemic leftist movement in America. Using humor, honesty, courage, pedantry, and an unapologetically socialist stance, they’re the standard-bearers of the new “Dirtbag Left,” helping to ignite a growing outspoken activism among leftists in America and abroad. Join Chapo Trap House members Will Menaker, Matt Christman, and Virgil Texas, as they provide live running commentary for the second night of the Democratic Primary Debates on Wednesday, July 31. It’ll be like a Doug Benson interruption but with politics and swearing. Tickets are free.
Film Info
Section:Panel
Runtime:120 min.
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Chef's Diaries: Scotland

True rockstars of the culinary scene, the Roca brothers—of Spain's three Michelin starred El Celler de Can Roca—continue their edible world tour (see TCFF 2016's Cooking Up a Tribute), seeking inspiration in a place not traditionally revered for its cuisine: Scotland. Never ones to rest on their laurels, they journey in and around the highlands to challenge their palates, revealing a rich culinary tradition in the process. Encountering wood-smoked haddock in Shetland, meeting oyster fishermen off the Isle of Skye, sipping iconic barrel-aged whisky, and yes, even devouring haggis, you'll come away with a newfound appreciation for this unsung fare. And these three brothers, who all started their careers as working-class cooks, find a moving kinship with the beauty of this land and its people.
Film Info
Section:Food on Film
Release Year:2019
Runtime:75 min.
Premiere Status:Midwest Premiere
Rating:NR
Production Country:UK
Original Language:Catalan
English
Spanish
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Laura Otálora
Produced by:Lydia Martinez Fliquete
Screenwriter:Marti Roca
Laura Otálora
Cinematography:Alex Garcia Martinez
Editing By:Marti Roca
Laura Otálora
Cast:Joan Roca
Jordi Roca
Josep Roca
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Circus of Books

All families have secrets, but as this endearingly sweet and wonderfully funny documentary proves, the Masons have a secret that is a little more shocking than most. Karen and Barry are an adorable, straight-as-an-arrow married couple raising three children, taking them to the synagogue on Sundays, and managing a small business known as Circus of Books. Thing is, their quaint bookstore just so happens to be one of the biggest distributors of gay porn in the country. Told through the loving but honest perspective of their daughter Rachel, the film unabashedly explores the evolution of not just the business, which began as a small venture and grew to become an LA epicenter for gay culture, but also of her parents themselves. Striving to compartmentalize her faith with her growing involvement in the LGBTQ community, Karen is a complex and often hilarious subject as she nonchalantly sorts through boxes of adult toys and intimate apparel. Capturing the bittersweet emotional strife and contr
Film Info
Section:Documentary
Release Year:2019
Runtime:92 min.
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Rachel Mason
Produced by:Rachel Mason
Kathryn Robson
Cynthia Childs
Adam Baran
Camilla Hall
Screenwriter:Rachel Mason
Cinematography:Gretchen Warthen
Editing By:Kathryn Robson
Cast:Larry Flynt
Rachel Manson
Jeff Stryker
Alask Thunderfuck
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Cold Case Hammarskjöld

As any good detective knows, when you go to solve a mystery you usually end up uncovering more questions than answers, which is exactly the case for Danish journalist and filmmaker Mads Brügger in this fascinating and provocative documentary. The subject of his investigation is the mysterious 1961 plane crash carrying United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, a landmark event that has been dogged by conspiracy theories ever since. Intent on finding the truth, the charismatic Brügger manages to dig up compelling evidence, from witnesses to photographs, that point to a far-reaching assassination plot directed at a man who advocated for the Congo’s independence against the wishes of powerful Western governments. A deviously intriguing and sometimes disturbing trip down a rabbit hole, it will have you questioning the truth until the very last frame.
Film Info
Section:Documentary
Release Year:2019
Runtime:128 min.
Premiere Status:Michigan Premiere
Rating:NR
Production Country:Denmark
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Mads Brügger
Produced by:Peter Engel
Andreas Rocksen
Bjarte M. Tveit
Cinematography:Tore Vollan
Editing By:Nicolás Norgaard Staffolani
Cast:Mads Brügger
Göran Björkdahl
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