The 9th year of the Traverse City Film Festival has come and gone. This was our 3rd year attending and in our usual glutinous fashion, we oinked it up by attending 11 films.
It all started last Saturday with the pre-festival “Friends” only screening of Sole Survivor. This documentary told the story of several of the only 14 sole survivors of major commercial airplane crashes. Sounds depressing as hell, right? It wasn’t though. The movie focused on a man named George. He was the sole survivor of a 1985 plane crash when he was 17 years old. This was the story of George’s survivor guilt and his journey to connect with some of the other survivors. He went so far as to fly to France to meet up with a 14 year old girl who had survived a plane crash and a 9 hour ordeal clinging to a piece of plane in the ocean until she was rescued. The coolest thing about these “Friends” screenings is that the director and some of the cast come onstage after the film and get to talk a bit and answer some questions from the audience.
What the heck is a Friend of the Film Festival? It just means that we shelled out a few extra bucks last year in exchange for the ability to buy tickets a week before everyone else and of course the free film screening that isn’t shown during the festival. I’m failing to mention the free popcorn, soda and cake at the film screening and the likelihood of running into the man running this whole show: Michael Moore. Not too shabby for a tiny little town, eh?
The real deal for us started Wednesday evening with a 6:00pm showing of the Big Easy Express. This was such a great way to start. I am even more in love now with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and why hadn’t I heard of Old Crow Medicine Show? And it goes without saying that Mumford and Sons is just great music. This was one of the best concert docs I’ve ever seen. I was smiling like a jackass by the end of it and tapped my toes over to our 9:00pm show that night: The Last Days. This is a Spanish twist on the apocalypse and while there were no zombies in it, those living in it tended to resemble zombies none the less. In an American style, though, there was hope at the end. I’m cool with hope.
Thursday at noon we saw a French absurdist movie called Superstar. What would it be like to suddenly be incredibly famous? Two words: total ass. I can’t believe that more celebs don’t end up having seizures because of the damn paparazzi. Having privacy is awesome.
Thursday night we went all pseudo Christopher Guest with Orenthal: The Musical. So this guy calls himself a playwright and gets some friends to cast a musical based on OJ. Yes, the white bronco, ill-fitting glove, Judge Ito dancing OJ.
A side note: about 100 birds just landed on my front lawn. God help me.
Friday finally came and my anxiety bloomed. What were we thinking? It wasn’t about the noon show though. We felt comfortable with a noon show. And honestly, it was one of my favorites: Into the White. It was filmed in Norway and told the story of 2 crews being shot down in WWII–one German and one British–and how these enemies managed to survive some wicked harsh conditions. I’m a total slut for Norewegian movies. This one also had a fair amount of German which I’m also a total whore for. Yay me.
So you might be wondering, what the heck is she so anxious about? Well it wasn’t about the Norwegian movie. It was about the fact that we were slated to see a 9pm and a midnight show. Ugh. I’m too old for this shit. That was my mantra during the day anyway. But with the help of a coffee after the 9:00pm showing of Room 237 and a sugar high sponsored by Sour Patch kids, I made it. Room 237 is a documentary about these total freaks who are obsessed with The Shining and have watched it over and over and then over again. One woman created maps of the hotel in order to show that there should not be a window in the GM’s office. Another had a theater play the film forward and backward–at the same time–to see what kind of superimposed images Stanley Kubrick placed in the movie. Because, afterall, Mr. Kubrick was a genius who studied sublimal images. He also, by the way, was contracted by the government to film what they called the Apollo landing. Ah, conspiracy theories. You gotta love it.
Room 237 was the perfect set up for the midnight showing of The Shining. And none other than the man himself, Mr. Michael Moore, sat right in front of N. Which, because of the laxity in the seat, meant that he was nearly sitting nestled in N’s lap.Ah, the perks of Traverse City.
I gotta say. The Shining is still scary as hell for me. I was lucky to sleep without any nightmares after the show.
Our noon show the next day was tough to get to given that we went to bed at 3:30am. Here’s what I found out: I really am too old for that shit. Now I know and I can work on acceptance. So the noon film was actually 8 short narratives. All of them were pretty fantastic. One was a love letter by the director to his real life wife who is/was pregnant (Lauran Ambrose–I heart her). The River. What a beautiful little movie.
We went home after the show and passed out for about 2 hours and had just enough time to eat some dinner and head out for our 9:00pm showing called Unhung Hero. This was hilarious. This poor guy proposed to his girlfriend at a UCLA game on the Jumbo-tron and she said no and fled the scene. She later told him one of the reasons she refused was due to the small size of his junk. Crickey! This led him to search the world for ways to enlarge his business only to figure out that it’s not really the size that matters. I’m not sure if he was convinced of that or not. I should have stuck around for the Q & A afterwards to offer my services. He could use some therapy. So could we all.
Fatigue set in severely by Saturday night. I somehow managed to rally for our last film on Sunday. A cool experimental documentary called Your Day is My Night. It’s about immigrants living in NYC’s Chinatown who live in tiny, tiny spaces and sometimes have to endure a shift-bed situation. One of my favorite things about documentaries is when you really get a feel for what a person and their world is like. With this movie, you could feel it for sure.
All in all a wild and crazy week for this typically extremely habitual lady. Now it’s time to go back to my regularly scheduled programming with a bedtime of 10:30pm. Ahhhh…..sleep!