#24. Traverse City
Our take: What started five years ago as a Michael Moore curiosity (what was he thinking launching a film festival? could it possibly last?) has proven to be a legitimate and very successful summer fest in the upper midwest. Last year, the Michigan festival claimed nearly 100,000 admissions over the course of just 6 days, with strong programming of both docs and indie narratives mixed with nightly parties, panels, concerts and a costumed 5K run. It's also filmmaker friendly - generous hospitality once you're there and an invitation only policy (you can send a DVD - they don't charge any submission fees but they also won't guarantee that it will get watched). Developed a program with local libraries where the fest will donate DVD copies of festival films once they become available, a nice way for the films and the festival to have a life that extends long after the fest ends.
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: WINNEBAGO MAN, VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR, FOOD, INC., THE COVE, WHICH WAY HOME, CRUDE, WILLIAM KUNTSLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE
Our coverage of Traverse City here
Filmmaker: "Wonderful hosts. Love the way they assign a designated
host to you. Amazing audiences for a small town. People who have
seen your film and Q&A keep coming up to you for days and talking to you."
Filmmaker: "awesome fest. money for all and great accommodations; great staff. amazing audiences. good connection between filmmakers. if it had a direct flight from L.A. I would try to go every year."
Industry: "I enjoyed this festival more than I would have imagined. The vibe is sort of Telluride meets True/False, but small enough that it seems more starfuckery than those two combined. Once you're there, the hospitality is top notch. But between the exorbitantly priced flight into the local airport and hotel, it can easily cost $1000 just to be there for a weekend. Not worth it, for me at least."
Industry: "Well-attended. Fabulous support. The filmmakers are taken care of and Michael's invitation is a stamp of approval. It's a resort but, only for the folks in the Wolverine state. Press attendance is almost exclusively localized or regional at best."