By Vanessa McCray, firstname.lastname@example.org
TRAVERSE CITY —
A group of ticket seekers clustered outside the Traverse City Film Festival box office in the drizzling morning rain and waited patiently until a volunteer opened the door.
The sidewalk gathering Friday on Park Street is one indicator of solid ticket sales for the festival, which this week announced a few last-minute additions and a visit from a high-profile director.
The latest flash: Jay Roach, director of the Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis comedy "The Campaign," will be in town and his new movie will screen Aug. 4 at the State Theatre. Roach directed the Ben Stiller hit "Meet the Parents" and its sequel "Meet the Fockers" as well as several Austin Powers movies.
The festival announced "The Campaign" screening Thursday night, and it sold out within hours.
"There is just the one screening. (It's) quite a coup for Michael Moore to be able to get that here in Traverse City because it doesn't open until Aug. 10," said Linda Koebert, box office manager.
Moore, a documentary filmmaker and Oscar winner, founded the festival. The eighth annual event runs Tuesday through Aug. 5 at venues throughout Traverse City.
Ticket sales are strong, but seats are still available at many films, said festival officials. Two movies nabbed extra screenings after early buzz led to sell outs.
Movie-goers snapped up all the seats to two screenings of the Brendan Fraser film "Whole Lotta Sole," so the festival added a third screening Aug. 5 at noon at Milliken Auditorium. The film "Bernie," about a real-life Texas mortician, shows again Aug. 3 at noon at Lars Hockstad Auditorium.
David Ginsberg, of Traverse City, was shut out the first time he tried to buy "Bernie" tickets. He went to the box office Friday morning to purchase four tickets after receiving a festival email that announced the new timeslot.
"I've got other tickets as well, and I saw this was a new screening," Ginsberg said.
He's a fan of the film's star Jack Black and called cast mate Shirley MacLaine an "American icon." Ginsberg volunteers for the festival and has tickets to six other movies. He enjoys the event because of "the atmosphere" and the "unique, special and bold" people who attend.
Dana Sitzler, of Livonia, supports the festival as a "friend," which allows her to buy tickets early. But, she stopped by the box office Friday to purchase more tickets to the documentary "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists" and the short film program. Sitzler enjoys connecting with movie-goers while waiting for festival films to start.
"The other thing that impressed me last year is how much the community supports it," she said.
Roach joins a celebrity lineup this year that includes actresses Susan Sarandon and Kristen Bell. Roach will introduce the sold-out screening of "The Campaign" and answer questions after the movie, said festival Public Relations Manager Katy Gwizdala.
Film festival tickets can be purchased online at www.traversecityfilmfest.org or at the box office, 125 Park St. in Traverse City.