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Michael Moore: Traverse City Film Fest Tops $500,000 Fund Goal

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TRAVERSE CITY (AP) - Michael Moore says the year-end fundraiser for the theater that hosts the annual Traverse City Film Festival has topped its $500,000 goal with days to spare.

The Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker and festival co-founder held a news conference Thursday and talked about the progress of the campaign that started in November. So far, he said, the drive has taken in $40,000 more than its goal.

“We see now that we’re not only going to be able to fund all community programs for 2012, we could possibly do it for 2013 if a wave of money comes in over the next five days or so,” said Moore.

The nonprofit film festival owns the 534-seat State Theatre, first opened in 1916, and has said it needs money to balance its budget and upgrade the landmark venue’s facade. About $250,000 will cover a new facade and other repairs, with the remainder going to the State’s community fund.

Moore said that if the campaign raises $75,000 more, it can ensure community programming for two years, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

The campaign got a big boost with matching grants of $125,000 from CMS Energy Co.’s Consumers Energy unit and $50,000 from Rotary Charities, Moore said.

“It was a good combination of those who can afford to give large grants such as Consumers, Rotary and myself, and those who can give $5,” said Moore. “We raised $5,000 just on the canister on the counter. That’s a lot of quarters.”

He said the success of the fundraising effort validates the community’s support for the theater.

“It’s sort of become the town square of Traverse City,” said Moore. “Considering the economy, it’s amazing, and to happen in such a short period of time. I’m surprised only because the economic situation in northern Michigan, but I’m not surprised because I know the community’s feelings toward this theater. There’s a real sense of ownership.”

The Flint native moved to the Traverse City area in 2003 and made the State Theatre the primary venue for his first film festival, which later acquired the building.

Moore won an Academy Award for the 2002 documentary “Bowling for Columbine.” His other films include “Roger & Me,” “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Sicko” and “Capitalism: A love Story.”

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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