Should We Be Surprised?

Idealism don't pay the bills too well, do it?

Several years ago, crockumentary maker and liberal activist Micheal Moore said “I think I will start a film festival in Traverse City”

As a part of the effort, it required renovation of the downtown State Theater, so Moore found people willing to cough up money to do so.  Mind you it wasn’t HIS money, but rather the folks who thought that it would be cute to have the old decrepit theater fixed up and operational again.

In addition to Moore and Wilson, Richard and Diana Milock of Torch Lake, The Herington Fitch Foundation, and a person wishing to remain anonymous have collectively contributed $600,000 in recent months. Moore expects another $100,000 to come in from the opening weekend ceremonies. And he remains busy seeking out another couple of angels who might be willing to contribute the final $150,000 to complete the renovations, in what will be only $850,000 in restoration costs versus the three to nine million dollars people kept telling Moore it would be.

Note that the “In addition to Moore” reference was to how he was acquiring free things from those who thought he was bringing them something.

The theater renovated, and then a briefly raised question of the non profit being able to run new releases in competition with the other local movie houses.  It was full steam ahead, and the film festival was on.

Amazingly, the Traverse City State Theater had enough draw to fill more than its own house.  The movies one could find in the 50 cent a week section of the video store found new life in several venues as the first few film fests opened.

I seem to recall Moore was helping the Traverse City Schools push for a $100 million dollar bond so it could build it’s own plush show house. Other people’s money would continue as great way to continue a dream coughed up over a bad latte in 2005.

No such luck for TCFF, as we crushed that boondoggle 60 to 40.

Of course such resounding success could not face any competition.  Especially if it shares one (common) word in the name, uses celluloid, and is in the same general geographical location.  In 2011, Moore would have no part of anyone horning in on his baby.

Moore Speak: If you are going to watch crappy movies in the summer, by God, it will be in OUR VENUES!

The film festival recently sued Daniel and Laura Martone, co-directors of the Traverse City Shorts Festival, in U.S. District Court. The suit alleges federal trademark infringement, federal false designation of origin and unfair competition and trademark infringement under Michigan common law.

“Have the event, that’s great, but don’t call it something that’s so confusing,” said Deb Lake, executive director of the film festival. “They just need a different name. It’s as simple as that.”

The Traverse City Film Festival ran July 26-31. It screened more than 150 films and totaled about 128,000 admissions. The Traverse City Shorts Festival was scheduled to take place the same week, but the Martones pushed it back to last weekend at the Park Place Hotel.

“We moved because we were trying to play nice,” Daniel Martone said. “We weren’t trying to fight with them about this. We were trying to bring in 38 great films.”

OK, three words.  Eminently copy-writable “Traverse City” included.

Seriously.  The level of ‘infringement these folks represented was comparable to the kid pulling a iced soda cart down a parade route while the parade was going on. Confusion?

Hardly a threat to the program.

So we fast forward.   This year brought some interesting news, with a newly hired director for the TC Film Fest resigning only a month after starting.

Joe Beyer announced his resignation this week after being hired on April 17th.

In a written statement, Beyer said he discovered challenges for the organization he felt his experiences and expertise couldn’t address.

“Discovered” is a nice word.

Usually in an organization there is a problem in with money when this word is used.  And apparently some things are consistent, especially when organizations are operated by those with a shallow concept of financial responsibility.

Today’s fish wrap makes it clearer. This is a lefty run operation, and surprise surprise, the bills ain’t getting paid.

Boston Light & Sound, Inc., a 13-year Film Fest partner, filed a lawsuit against the festival this month over a $159,055.72 balance the company claims Film Fest failed to pay in 2017.


But no worries.  Lawyers beget lawyers

“The Film Festival has a dispute with Boston Light & Sound and, instead of working it out amicably, they went and filed a lawsuit, so we’ll respond in kind,” Dancer said.

Because THAT is where the money needs to be spent.

But Mr lawyer?

Boston Light & Sound Principal of Operations Chapin Cutler claimed that former Film Fest Director Deb Lake told him last summer that the festival wasn’t able to pay the balance.

“It became apparent the festival had overextended,” Cutler said. “The festival’s eyes were a bit bigger than their finances could handle, and we were the people left standing, holding an invoice.”

Didn’t the former director acknowledge there was a debt before she cut an ran?

Never mind that however.  Instead of Mikey Moore reaching into his own  pocket he pens a letter to ‘the friends’

The festival operated at a loss for the first time last year, founder Michael Moore previously told the Record-Eagle. In an April 2018 email to Friends of the Film Festival, he wrote “We ran a rare deficit last year.”

That’s what they always say at the end.





You Betcha! (11)Nuh Uh.(0)

  3 comments for “Should We Be Surprised?

  1. KG One
    June 30, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    So tell me again why this "big time" filmmaker couldn't make up for this inept management, er I mean, unforeseen "deficit" by any other means (sans taxpayer dollars)?

    Oh, that's right.

    Just look at who he "leads"...

    You Betcha! (2)Nuh Uh.(0)
  2. Sue Schwartz
    June 30, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    Last Year's film festival was filled with alternative sex movies, dull artsy-fartsy crap. Nobody rushed to review these films.

    After two years of being a most loyal volunteer and lots of my suggestions were incorporated into the initial reconstruction, I have not stepped foot in the theatre once Michael Moore backed BHO. When the first Oscar party went on, he brought his Oscar in a glass container to display. We brought our bowling, kids soccer participation, best mom and dad, etc trophies and surrounded his Oscar. Moore got mad and knew I was behind it. When he divorced, I knew there would be financial problems. His ex-wife owned half of his documentaries. Then there's the BATA bus, bringing movies-goers to and fro for free--well not free $24 a rider (thank goodness we passed a millage). Didn't Deb Lake get fired? Somebody should maybe check her finances for some of that missing money. So, you can Bet Hanoi Jane isn't gonna help things seeing as though her brother threatened the lives of the Trumps. Hanoi Jane is not a draw and shows just how out of touch Miky and Janey are.

    You Betcha! (3)Nuh Uh.(0)
    • KG One
      July 1, 2018 at 10:37 pm

      Ms. Schwartz,

      This was sent to me this weekend.

      The timing couldn't be more appropriate.

      You Betcha! (1)Nuh Uh.(0)

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