Thursday, July 31, 2014

Traverse City Film Festival: Just Great Movies!

I'm deep in the fun of the TCFF (Traverse City Film Festival), which is celebrating its tenth year of movie awesomeness. No doubt there are better ways to describe the TCFF than "movie awesomeness," but it's really one of those things you have to experience to understand just how great this festival is for our city. 

I've volunteered at eight of the ten festivals, and I'm proud and excited to be a part of this event every year. My husband and I are managers at the City Opera House for our second year (if you recall, we are also managers there during the Winter Comedy Festival). While we normally manage the concessions stand, we are hospitality managers this year and get to help the film, venue, and festival sponsors to their seats for each film. I like being in the front-of-house and working more with the patrons who come to the movies, but I do miss nibbling on popcorn non-stop...

The TCFF is an extraordinary event. This year, the festival is touting over 160 films (not including multiple screenings of films!) playing at ten venues around Traverse City non-stop from 9 a.m. until midnight for five days. Oh, and that doesn't count Opening Night or all the movies that played in nearby towns before the festival started. Or the months of planing that went into making this years' event happen. WHEW! Just thinking about that kind of orchestration exhausts me.

The festival is so much more than just movies, though. They have a free all-day festival for kids, late-night movies outside on a giant screen at the Open Space, international and local musicians, parties galore, free movies, a film school, conversation panels with awesome people, and for cryin' out loud MOVIES ON A BOAT. I don't care who you are, you will find something to get geeked about at this festival (and plenty of eco-friendly ways to navigate it).

One of my favorite parts about TCFF are the film makers, actors, directors, musicians, producers, and other special guests coming to Traverse City to participate in panel discussions, Q&As after movies, or just to sit town and chat with locals in restaurants or waiting for films to start. There is something indescribably special about watching a great movie and then having a conversation with someone who helped the film come together. Maybe it's the inherent human need we all have to connect and understand each other that makes meeting these people so special to me; I can honestly say it never gets old. I love their stories, and I love the art they create and share with the world. The Film Fest makes these experiences possible for hundreds (probably thousands) of people every year, and that's truly remarkable.

I also love chatting with the patrons about what movies they loved, where they live and how far they traveled to get here, and about their experience at the festival. I know many locals that take the whole week off work to either volunteer and make things happen or watch loads of movies and orchestrate their schedules to squeeze in as many films as possible.

Me, I'm a volunteer through-and-through. I like making things happen and I always make new friends (or get to see lots of familiar faces when people come to see the movies). There is great camaraderie at all the festival venues, and since the very first festival I've loved being a part of everything TCFF stands for and what it gives back to the people in this town. If you're interested in being a part of all this goodness, shifts are still available...and we'd love to have you volunteer! Please sign up!

Already I've seen two wonderful movies, but truth be told, I'm a documentary person. We have tickets to see two documentaries this year and I'm so excited for them! I'm missing a few films I'd like to see due to either working my regular job or working my volunteer position (yes, it is an exhausting week for everyone), but I've faith that these films will be available sometime soon. Oh, that's another perk of having a local film festival: foreign, experimental, and/or indie movies make it to our local library and video rental stores when they're released, and everyone in town wants to see them! People recognize titles from the TCFF and want to see films they otherwise wouldn't get the chance to see (because of schedule conflicts or sold-out shows), and that's really cool. There is a fantastic sense of community built into these films and the power they have to bring disparate groups of people together.

Ok, I think that's enough blabbering. The facts are this: TCFF is awesome. Movies are awesome. You are you should volunteer, or watch some great movies, or chow down on popcorn, or do all of the above. Just make sure you come check out this amazing festival in Traverse City...and enjoy the show!

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