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traverse city film festival 2011The Seventh Annual Traverse City Film Festival is now in our rear-view mirror, and as always, I saw some excellent films. Now my real work begins — clean the ticket stubs and Cherry Stop wrappers off my desk and start writing about all the movies I’ve seen. I’ll weave in notes and reviews of the films and festival in the coming weeks, but here are a few highlights:

Seeing Where Soldiers Come From, a documentary about a group of friends in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who joined the National Guard and were shipped off to Afghanistan to look for IEDs. As director Heather Courtney said in a Q&A following the film, we “get” this film here in Michigan. It could have taken place in any small, tight-knit Michigan town with record snowfalls and large bodies of water close by.

Hearing the excitement of audiences as the Traverse City LipDub played before some of the films. Director Max Fisher of FishSoupFilms.com did an awesome job of capturing why this area is both a traveler’s destination and year-round home to those of us who live here. Kudos to Max! I just sent him a note requesting an interview, so more on how it all came together soon.

Michael Moore, Here Comes Trouble, Traverse City Film Festival 2011Hearing Michael Moore read from his upcoming book, Here Comes Trouble, due out Sept. 13, 2011. That was Mike’s Surprise this year — we never know what we’ll see until we get to the theater.

Hanging with other film lovers. Since I write a syndicated movie column, I see a lot of films during the year. But it’s a different feeling when you’re standing in line with other movie lovers, all of whom are here to see “just great movies.” Frankly, a lot of the commercial films I see at our local Carmike Cinemas aren’t all that great, so it’s a joy to soak in one great film after another for a week straight. I saw 14 films and eight shorts.

Seeing some of the folks I write about on this site — Mary Badham, who played Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird; Matthew Modine, currently filming The Dark Knight Rises;  Kevin Clash, the voice of Sesame Street‘s Elmo; family members of the great Roy Rogers; and many others.

If you attended the Traverse City Film Festival this year — or even if you didn’t — let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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