TCFF founder makes plans for summer 2021 festival, 'With hope in my heart'
Saying he tends to "sit up and listen when Mother Nature decides to give us a wake-up call," Michael Moore announced the cancellation of the 2020 edition of his Traverse City Film Festival as a result of the novel coronavirus.
"I’m very, very sorry to announce that we cannot come together this summer to participate in our 16th Traverse City Film Festival," Moore, TCFF's founder and president, wrote on the festival's website Monday. "We doubt that the Governor’s order closing our theaters and the festival will be lifted any time soon — and we agree it shouldn’t."
In his announcement he added a dig on President Trump.
"We’ve waited as long as we can, hoping against hope that this pandemic would disappear like a miracle someone once promised," he noted. "I do fear what this pandemic portends for the future. Of course, it’s nothing we all can’t pull together and beat back — and then work to create an even better world than the one we had before."
We’ve waited as long as we can, hoping against hope that this pandemic would disappear like a miracle someone once promised.
Moore, who celebrated the 15th anniversary of the festival last summer, promised TCFF would be back next year and even set aside the dates -- July 27 to August 1, 2021.
"I can guarantee you, with hope in my heart, it will be unlike any other film festival we’ve had," Moore wrote. A press release from the festival added, "It is hoped that much of what was being planned for this year’s fest will be transferred to next summer."
TCFF operates two theaters year round in Traverse City -- the State and the Bijou by the Bay. After Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on March 16 ordered theaters across the state close to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all TCFF staff were furloughed, according to the festival.
“We want to assure our community that we will work with medical professionals to open our theaters when we are allowed to do so and will follow all safety and sanitation measures, including reconfiguring our ticketing and seating to conform to the social distancing protocols," Moore commented. "First and foremost, we will work together to keep our community safe.”
The festival did not minimize the financial threat facing TCFF in light of the 2020 cancellation.
"Like any other theater, TCFF relies on ticket sales for its income. Every month that the theaters are closed, TCFF faces staggering losses and mounting debts," the festival stated. ”'We have cut back everywhere we can,' said TCFF Managing Director Susan Fisher. 'Even with the theaters closed there are still the bare bones monthly costs in the thousands just to maintain the buildings, equipment, and organization. The loss of year-round theater revenue and the significant loss of proceeds from this summer’s now-canceled film festival leave us in a precarious financial position.'”
Moore said the festival has not embarked on a fundraising campaign, "understanding that a lot of people made priority to give to health care organizations." That said, donations are being accepted (click here) and a concerted fundraising effort is likely to follow.
'We’re working up a 'Reboot and Re-Open' plan that we’ll present to you shortly," Moore said.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.