A Message from Michael Moore on the 100th Birthday of the State Theatre

Tomorrow, July 4th, 2016, the State Theatre of Traverse City turns 100 years old. On its opening day on the 4th of July in 1916, hundreds showed up on Front Street to walk inside the brand new movie palace built by the Fitzpatrick-McElroy Company of Chicago. Then called the "Lyric Theatre," it sat over 900 people (this was before the invention of Cheetos), featured a "grind organ" which resembled a miniature pipe organ, and was home to a candy store (the concessions stand opened years later). The movie they watched that day was "The Iron Strain" starring Dustin Farnum.

The Traverse City of 1916 was both different and similar to what it's like here today. The waterfront back then was not one long park and beach -- it was lined with the smokestacks of lumber mills and factories. The mayor was not an openly gay man (as is today's mayor, Jim Carruthers), nor did the city's residents vote for a democratic socialist in the primary as they did here in March (70% for Bernie Sanders). But by all accounts the people themselves were compassionate and friendly and cared about things like conservation and good schools, much like they do today. And they loved going to the movies -- Front Street alone had three large movie houses.

We are fortunate that over the years the State Theatre was cared for by those who were its stewards, most recently by Rotary Charities, which cared for the building while it was closed in the 1990s and 2000s. And now, all of us have brought it back to life -- and there's no reason it shouldn't last another 100 years.

We're planning a number of Centennial celebrations at this year's film festival, and I hope you'll avail yourselves of these once-in-a-lifetime screenings. Also, we'll be having more cinematic events throughout this centennial year at the State.

Tomorrow, on the theater's actual birthday, I want to invite you to stop by for some free birthday cake and free admission to two incredible screenings: the very first "Snow White" -- made in 1916! -- at 10:30 am, and a marathon screening of "The Story of Film " beginning at 12 noon. This epic documentary by TCFF board member and Irish filmmaker Mark Cousins is the best thing I've ever seen when it comes to looking at the 100+ year history of this art form. It's done in 15 hour-long segments (we'll be showing 10 of them), and the beauty of it, other than the poetic narration of its filmmaker, is that it is NOT in chronological order. It's organized by themes, so you can come and go during the day and find yourself mesmerized at any point. I highly encourage you to ignore the Cherry Fest traffic and make your way to the State on its birthday for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Thanks again to all of you who have made this movie theater the best in the world.

Happy 100th, State Theatre!

Michael Moore