TRAVERSE CITY -- One of the biggest superstars in the entertainment industry will headline this year's Traverse City Film Festival.
Madonna, the international pop music star, actress, author and the heart behind the new documentary "I Am Because We Are," will visit Traverse City Aug. 2 to show the film during the Traverse City Film Festival. Event founder Michael Moore is scheduled to make the announcement today.
"She will present the film in person, watch it with the audience and conduct a question-and-answer session afterwards," Moore said. "It's a huge coup for the Film Festival, and for Traverse City."
Festival organizers called the event to be held at the downtown State Theatre a "gala screening." Tickets to the event will go on sale in June, a month earlier than tickets to the rest of the festival's films. There are about 540 seats at the State.
"I Am Because We Are" shows the orphans of Malawi and Madonna's reflections on their stories. The star produced, wrote and narrated the film, which features interviews with former President Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu. It made its worldwide debut last month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
"She spent the past couple of years filming what the people go through, and the efforts to help them," Moore said. "I saw the film about a month ago. It's a fantastic, powerful movie."
Madonna was born in Bay City and raised in Rochester. She studied dance at the University of Michigan before leaving for New York City to pursue her career.
Touted for her ability to reinvent herself as an entertainer, Madonna released a number of notable albums including "Like a Virgin," "Like a Prayer," "Ray of Light," "Music" and most recently "Hard Candy." She has sold more than 200 million albums and in March was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Festival officials said she's currently in rehearsals for an upcoming tour and will fly in for the screening.
Madonna's film career includes roles in "Desperately Seeking Susan," "Evita," "Dick Tracy" and "A League of their Own." For her role in "Evita," Madonna won a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
She's also authored a number of children's books. Married to director Guy Ritchie, Madonna has three children -- daughter Lourdes, son Rocco and David Banda, whom she's adopting in Malawi. Her father Tony Ciccone owns Ciccone Vineyard and Winery south of Suttons Bay.
She's also extensively involved in charity work. She heads up Raising Malawi, which helps orphans in poor countries with water, food, medical care and schooling. She's also helped the Afghanistan Relief Organization and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Moore describes her as "one of the most caring and generous people I've met."
The film festival, which runs July 29 through Aug. 3, also will offer a free showing of the baseball movie "A League of Their Own" at the Open Space on the same night Madonna's documentary is screened. It's the festival's fourth year and the first since the newly refurbished State Theatre re-opened in November, and Moore suggested there's more excitement to come.
"I've got a couple other surprises up my sleeve for the Film Festival," he said.