The Traverse City Film Festival has announced what founder Michael Moore says is "the best movie lineup in its five-year history." The 2009 edition of the festival - which runs July 28 through Aug 2 - is set to screen 71 features and short films representing more than 30 countries and five continents.
"Last year we had over 80,000 admissions and we expect even more this year," Moore said. "We're bringing the absolute best in new films from around the world and here at home."
The festival will open with Erik Poppe's "Troubled Water," and close with Nora Ephron's "Julie & Julia." The former is from Norway (which plays a prominent role in the overall programming) and details a young man's reorientation into life after spending eight years in prison. The latter stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and is about both the early days of Julia Child's career, and Julie Powell's attempt -- more than 40 years later - to cook and blog her way through all 524 recipes in Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."
Numerous titles that have had heavy play in the festival circuit will also screen in Traverse City, including "Valentino: The Last Emperor," "Waltz with Bashir," "Which Way Home," "Outrage," "Learning Gravity," "The Answer Man," "The Girlfriend Experience," "The Greatest," "Humpday" and Sugar."
The festival also features three titles out of Austin, Texas (which Moore refers to as "the new hotbed of American Independent Cinema") in "Winnebago Man," "Registered Sex Offender" and "Harmony and Me," and will celebrates the 40th anniversary of Woodstock with a screening of never-before-seen footage from the concert and special guests who performed at Woodstock live on stage at the State Theatre.
"Greetings from Tehran" and "Palestine and Vine" are two sections of the film festival featuring works from the Middle East, including the new documentary, "Rachel," about the life and death of Rachel Corrie, an American who sacrificed her life to help the Palestinian people.
"We're bringing at least one, maybe two, Palestinian filmmakers," Moore said. "At this time in history, more than ever, we need to hear voices from that part of the world that are not filtered by the Western media."
Other highlights from the schedule include: Film Festival board member Larry Charles presenting a one-time-only screening of outtakes from "Bruno," starring Sacha Baron Cohen; Comedian Jeff Garlin will give a sneak preview of a surprise title; And Moore himself will host a special 20th anniversary screening of his first film, "Roger & Me." Special guests from the film will attend as well.
The full schedule is available on the festival's website.