Sydney Avey

Dynamic Woman — Changing Times

The Traverse City Film Festival

Aug 2, 2017 | Adventure, Theater, Travel | 0 comments

Traverse City Film FestivalThe Traverse City Film Festival, founded by Michael Moore, celebrates its thirteenth year. More than 100 films screened over a period of a week in about ten different indoor and outdoor venues.

My sis, a film festival friend, has a pied-a-terre walking distance to the vibrant downtown dotted with historic theaters and fine dining establishments. Our regime began each day standing in line at 8:00 am for 9:00 am showings. But standing in line is part of the fun. You get to know your fellow film goers and compare scores. Protein bars in our pockets, movie ballots in hand, we saw three films a day. We moved quickly from venue to venue, on foot or the well managed, free shuttle service.

Plan a film festival vacation

Bemoaning the limited menu of thoughtful films with emotional resonance at your local movie theater? Get tickets to your local film festival. Better yet, Visit relatives or friends in a city that cozies up to sparkling lakes and bays the week their acclaimed film festival plays.

Sis is a seasoned film-goer. She and my brother-in-law often see five full-length movies a day.  Midwesterners have stamina! One day, after ending our viewing at 4:30 pm, we tacked on wine tasting at Brys vineyard on the Mission Penisula. We followed that with a visit to the lavender gardens, an art gallery tour, and dinner at Tavern restaurant.

Rating the films

The lol film that got a 5 rating from us was one of the All the World’s A Stage shorts. A superbly edited documentary, a camera captured the reactions of hapless people preparing to jump off a 30-meter high diving board into an Olympic-sized swimming pool. We gasped and guffawed for twenty minutes.

Film documentaries

  •  Long Strange Trip (four hours long) about Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead gave us a closer look at hallucinogens than was on my radar during my U.C. Berkeley days. I pretty much ignored that scene because I wanted to study literature with a clear head.The acoustics in the State Theater allowed us to hear the music without being assaulted by it. Thoughtful conversations followed.
  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail provided a look at the travails of a small Chinese family bank the government scapegoated in the 2008 bank scandals. Again, thought-provoking.
  • Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman looked at industries that formed the American character and have come under attack by environmentalists. Small groups made progress on a compromise by employing creative thought, patience, and open mindedness, and communication.  If the large effort at small success puts us on a better course, these are the folks we want in Congress.

Film fiction

  • The Wedding Plan from Israel told the story of a young woman whose fiance ditches her a month before the wedding. Rather than cancel the hall, she trusts God to supply her with a new groom. Funny, poignant, satisfying.
  •   Ice Mother tells the story of a Czech Republic widow with slacker sons who joins a new friend (male) in competitive swimming in icy waters. The spirit of this aging woman who quietly defies expectations is truly uplifting.
  • Things to Come is. so. French. Isabelle Huppert navigates the waters of aging with philosophical grace and acceptance. Realistic to the point of existentialism, nevertheless there are satisfying moments of friendship and hope.
  • Paris Can Wait features the luminous Diane Lane in a performance at once subtle and stunning. She plays a taken-for-granted wife who comes into her own on a road trip with a lusty Frenchman without betraying her husband. The last scene will take your breath away. In a world that would strip us of sexual identity, Lane portrays a woman in full command for her feminity, and we are glad for that.

The Film Festival Experience

Even though we are movie aficionados, we’ve never attended a film festival. The Berkeley graduate in me applauds alternatives to market-driven entertainment. Film festivals display the efforts of talented, up-and-coming film makers. They feature actors at the top of their careers who choose projects for love rather than money and document our present dilemmas in ways that encourage dialogue.

A review from my sis,  Cheryl von Drehle

People have true convictions about many different beliefs. One is that our justice system must stop convicting innocent people. The depiction of this injustice in the documentary True Conviction left me stunned. The story behind the film is heartbreaking: three ex-prisoners are exonerated after serving 13 to 26 years each for crimes they did not commit. After release and while coping with trauma, they form an investigative agency to pursue freedom for other inmates wrongly imprisoned. The main protagonist of the film, Christopher Scott, attended the screening.  He left us in tears of joy and anger as he dispassionately shared more of his story.

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