University of Michigan faculty will take center stage serving as jurors and panelists at the Traverse City Film Festival, which opens July 27 and runs through Aug. 1.

The university’s expanded participation in the annual international gathering of filmmakers marks the first year of an educational partnership between U-M and the festival.

In addition, two short films by UM students will premiere at the Traverse City Opera House at noon July 29. The films — “Camp Chapel” and “Margaret and Izzy” — are the first acts of three-act scripts developed in UM’s advanced screenwriting course. The films are written, directed, produced and acted by UM students.

“Camp Chapel” is directed by Bhanu Chandu, produced by James Alsobrooks, and written by Michael Burke. “Margaret and Izzy” is directed by Ben Ellmann; produced by Mercedes Holguin; and, written by Erin Whittemore. Each film is approximately 25 minutes.

The sixth annual Traverse City Film Festival is held in downtown Traverse City, blocks from Grand Traverse Bay. The festival has gained a reputation for attracting the world’s best independent narrative and documentary films. 

While providing a venue for the appreciation of new and classic films, the festival also spotlights the state of Michigan as a place gaining wide recognition as friendly to filmmakers, and making major strides in developing its own film industry.

UM faculty will be featured in the following panel discussions and workshops:

* “Film Literacy: How to be smart by going to the movies in a dumbed-down society.” Several UM film professors join visiting filmmakers in a lively discussion at 9:30 a.m. July 28 at City Opera House, 106 E. Front Street, downtown Traverse City.
* “Screenwriting: The art of the screenplay,” taught by Jim Burnstein, head of UM’s screenwriting program, at 3 p.m. July 28 at TCFF Film School, Northwestern Michigan’s Scholar Hall, 1701 E. Front Street, Traverse City.
* “Acting for the Camera,” taught by UM’s Robert Rayher, experimental filmmaker and senior film production lecturer; and, UM grad Pamela Guest, an actor/casting director, at noon July 30 at TCFF Film School, Northwestern Michigan’s Scholar Hall, 1701 E. Front Street, Traverse City.
* “Making (and Financing) Your Film in Michigan,” a discussion about how to get film made with emphasis on locations in Michigan (including University of Michigan and Ann Arbor), and the benefits of the state’s film incentive package at 3 p.m. July 30 TCFF Film School, Northwestern Michigan’s Scholar Hall, 1701 E. Front Street, Traverse City.

No application is needed for the Traverse City Film Festival Film School. Interested participants can purchase tickets for $5 online at, by phone (231-922-8903) or at the box office and store on East Front Street near Park, downtown Traverse City. Sales limited to four tickets per person.

University of Michigan faculty participating in this year’s festival include Markus Nornes, Hugh Cohen, Sheila Murphy, V. Prasad, Colin Gunkel, Terri Sarris, Mary Lou Chlipala, Jim Burnstein, Robert Rayher, and Pamela Rack-Guest.

For a full schedule of events and more information on the festival, please contact the Traverse City Film Festival office at (231) 392-1134 or visit

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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