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I hate to admit I am feeling pretty beaten down and discouraged after this year’s trip to the Traverse City Film Festival, mainly because of the massive amounts of fear-mongering, condescending, political propaganda that, unlike other years, was everywhere I turned–especially at the panel discussions. It was sad to have some of the greatest creative minds in Hollywood come all the way to a small town in Michigan to preach an agenda that proved to me they will fuel the culture divide in this country for years to come. (If you would like to become better educated on the Hollywood worldviews of the moviemakers behind some of your favorite movies, go to Interlochen Public Radio’s website, as they have archived all of the panel discussions.)
But on the bright side, I did see a few good films I wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise. So here are my recommendations for movies you should try to seek out as they play in limited release. (Placing the titles in your Netflix queue is also always a good idea so you’ll automatically know when the movie is being released on DVD.)


“Pray the Devil Back to Hell”: This is the one documentary you must find a way to see. It’s the story of a group of Liberian women–both Christian and Muslim–who join together to stop the corruption and violence in their country by prayer and peaceful protests.
“Man in the Chair”: Actually, I didn’t see this movie but I wish had. A friend and fellow critic did and said it was an excellent, life-affirming story featuring the magnificent actor Christopher Plummer as an elderly man who mentors an angry teen and helps the boy make a movie.
“Anvil: The Story of Anvil”: This was the surprise hit of the festival. It’s a hilarious, touching, raucous, behind-the-scenes look at the heavy metal band Anvil. I’m no metal head and knew nothing about them before this movie, but this clever real life “Spinal Tap” exposes the farce of fame and celebrates the beauty of following a dream.
“The Deal”: William H. Macy has been trying to get this comedy released for a quite a while now, and it deserves exposure. There have been many movies that poke fun at the movie business, but this one has a smart twist: It’s by a suicidal producer who makes a movie to help his nephew. Too bad it’s about the first and only Jewish stateman in U.K. history and he’s played by LL Cool J.

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