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16 Shots

In 2014 Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in the middle of the street. The official ruling from Chicago PD was that it was justified, that McDonald was attempting to attack the officers with a knife. The public, however, was not convinced, and both activists and journalists began the work of demanding evidence be shared, especially as more and more clues pointed to a cover-up. When dash cam footage of the incident was ultimately released a year later, it clearly showed the young man walking away when he was first shot, and lying on the ground through rest of the gunshots. Balancing objectivity with the raw and simmering anger that rippled through the city, filmmaker Rick Rowley (Dirty Wars, TCFF 2013) mixes news coverage of the case with interviews from parties on both sides, delivering a complex and emotional exposé about an all-too-familiar scenario.
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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.
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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.
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After Parkland

One of the hardest truths to face in the wake of tragedy is that life goes on. After Parkland confronts that truth and all of the raw emotion attached, as it takes us into the aftermath of the horrific shooting at Stoneman Douglas that rocked the nation. Following subjects—both teen survivors and parents who lost children—just after the shooting, the film tracks their adjustment to a jarring new normal. By framing the explosive activism spawned by the event as a means of coping with grief, and also showing how once exciting high school happenings (prom, graduation), now take on new meaning, the filmmakers generate a deep compassion for its subjects. But the film resonates most in its quieter moments, revealing an incredible resilience and strength no one should have had to confront. Scheduled to Appear: Parkland Student Activists.
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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.
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After the Wedding

Adapted from Susanne Bier's Oscar-nominated foreign favorite, this dynamic and spellbinding drama not only builds beautifully upon the original but also gives it an innovative spin by flipping the gender of the two leads (portrayed in powerhouse performances by Oscar-winner Julianne Moore and four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams). American expat Isabel (Williams) is completely dedicated to the Indian orphanage she oversees, but when a multimillion dollar grant is contingent upon her meeting with the benefactor she reluctantly packs her bags and heads to New York. There she meets the successful Theresa (Moore), and the harmless invitation Theresa extends to her daughter’s wedding out of kindness suddenly forces Isabel to confront secrets from her past that could jeopardize everything. A rich and emotionally gripping story of motherhood and strength that is wrapped in a labyrinth of mystery and intrigue, the chance to catch Moore and Williams go head-to-head (how are they both so in
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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).
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Award Winner Screening

Guarantee that you get to see one of the very best films at the fest by getting a ticket to our award winner screening. Award winners and the film that will be screening in this slot will be announced in the evening of Saturday, August 3. Last year at an award winner screening, audiences were able to enjoy the audience award winning delight that was Streaker! See what's on the docket this year, and grab your ticket today. You can't go wrong.
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Back to the Future

This is heavy, Doc: not only must Marty McFly (national treasure Michael J. Fox) somehow make his way back to good old 1985 from the year 1955 (where he's become stranded, having visited accidentally in a time-traveling DeLorean DMC-12), but he’s also inadvertently caused his own teenage mother (Lea Thompson) to fall in love with him! Can McFly make his mother fall in love with his father (Crispin Glover), defeat school bully Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), and race a bolt of lightning, generating the 1.21 gigawatts needed to get back to the future? Feel the Power of Love, and maybe get your photo with an actual DeLorean (fingers crossed), at this Open Space screening of your People's Choice Winner!
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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.
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Benson Movie Interruption: Teen Wolf

In 1985, Michael J. Fox starred in one of the most successful and beloved sci-fi comedies ever made (our Open Space People's Choice Winner), and he's also in this one, playing a teenage werewolf. That’s right, while most kids his age are sprouting body hair and dealing with cracking voices, he’s got it even worse; he’s a werewolf (not nearly as glamorous as adventuring with Doc Brown in a DeLorean, is it?) And as a total nobody in his small Nebraskan town, it’s the worst thing that could happen to him… No, wait, it's actually the BEST thing that could happen, because now his lupine features and behaviors have not only made him the most popular guy in school, but also star of the basketball team (wolves are naturally good at basketball, duh). Join us and perennial TCFF favorite Doug Benson as he and some of his comedy pals give a live sendup of this decidedly 1980s take on the high school experience. And be sure you stay through to the end for the BIG reveal! Don’t worry, Doug will expl
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The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales... (Le Grand Méchant Renard et autres contes...)

From the creators of the Oscar-nominated joy Ernest & Celestine comes another hilarious, heartwarming tale of animal misfits that is destined to become a classic. The countryside isn’t always as calm and peaceful as it’s made out to be, and the animals on this farm are particularly agitated: a fox who mothers a family of chicks, a rabbit who plays the stork, and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus. If you think life in the country is a walk in the park, think again! A delightful triptych of beguiling interconnected stories, with a pacing and visual spontaneity that harkens back to classic Looney Tunes shorts and slapstick two-reelers of yore, this is a beautiful example of the wonders of classic 2D animation.
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Blinded by the Light

Writer/director Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) delivers another winning triumph with this exuberant crowdpleaser about the transformative power of music to inspire and connect. Javed yearns to be a writer, but for now he’s just a sixteen-year-old British Pakistani struggling through daily life in his small town of Luton in the late 80s. His traditional parents push him to do well in school, his friends push him to ask out that cute girl, and the local skinheads just push him around. When he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, everything changes. With the driving force of the melody and lyrics that seem to speak directly to his experience, The Boss helps Javed finally find the courage to fight for what he wants, and maybe even spark something new in the people around him. For anyone who has known the joy of listening to a song that connects to your very soul (and especially for those of us that have worn out our favorite cassette tape) this irresistible, toe-tapping
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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.
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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
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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.
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Captain Marvel

With an awesome 90s soundtrack, fantastic performances, serious girl power, and quirky comedy, this nostalgia epic from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (that has a cat in it!) is headed the Open Space. And not only is there a cat, but also a superhero. A lady superhero. And she just may be the most powerful superhero of all. She’s Captain Carol Danvers (Oscar-winner Brie Larson), an Air Force pilot who, thanks to an amnesia of sorts, finds herself fighting for an alien race that doesn't have humanity's best interests in mind. It's only after she lands on Earth (in 1995) that she learns the truth and decides to Fight the Real Enemy (that's a real 90s deep cut, y'all) and do her part to the advance the global Disney/Marvel brand…I mean, save the universe.
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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.
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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.
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Chapo Trap House Podcast Live

America’s most popular leftist comedy and politics podcast is coming to Traverse City! We could not be more excited to welcome this groundbreaking cultural force to our hallowed halls. Their brand of astute, unapologetic observations on our wacko political climate is a welcome change from what most of us experience in the mainstream media. And after you watch them send up the remaining Democratic presidential candidates at our Democratic Debate Stream on Wednesday night, join Will Menaker, Matt Christman, and Virgil Texas as they welcome our very own Michael Moore to the Trap for a lively discussion of the news and current events, live on the OTP stage. $20 live event.
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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.
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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
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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.
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Come As You Are

Based on a hit Belgian film, Richard Wong's heartfelt charmer Come as You Are is that rarest of remakes, a film actually improves upon its predecessor. Inspired by a true story, three young men with disabilities (Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto, Ravi Patel—Ravi of TCFF 2014's Meet the Patels fame) abscond from their overbearing and overprotective families to embark on a road trip to a brothel in Montreal that caters to people with special needs. Joining the trip is Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) as their nurse driver, who enables them to get a much needed taste of independence as their adventure takes some hilarious and poignant turns. A crowdpleasing buddy caper with lots of heart, this wonderfully compassionate dramedy travels refreshing new ground reminding us of the love we all need to get by. In Person: Dir. Richard Wong, Actor Grant Rosenmeyer.
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A Conversation with Lily Tomlin

Many of the festival's most memorable moments have been the amazing conversations our fearless leader, Michael Moore, has had with notable personages onstage live in Traverse City. And we already know what is bound to be one of the most talked about moments at the festival this year as national treasure and comedian extraordinaire Lily Tomlin joins fellow Michigander Michael Moore in the hallowed State Theatre to sit down to talk about her life, her career, her activism, and her profound impact on entertainment and culture. Be there to hear this singular conversation and see Tomlin as she accepts the festival's Lifetime Achievement Award.
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