TRAVERSE CITY — Michael Moore and other Traverse City Film Fest officials may find themselves on the stand in an ongoing lawsuit between the festival and former longtime vendor Boston Light & Sound, Inc.
The parties both submitted witness and exhibit lists Thursday to 13th Circuit Court in preparation for a Feb. 26-28 jury trial. Each listed Fest Founder Moore as a likely witness, along with Boston President Chapin Cutler, former festival directors Deb Lake and Joseph Beyer, festival board members and volunteers, contractors and staff on both sides.
Mediation between Boston and Film Fest, ordered by Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, is ongoing, Cutler said.
Film Fest plans to call other Boston employees, according to court documents, and any necessary expert witnesses. They also plan to submit bills and invoices between the two entities, correspondence between Boston and former festival representatives and documents regarding 2013 Bijou By the Bay renovations.
Boston’s witness and exhibit list is incomplete — Attorney Brian Lick claimed ongoing case-building as the reason for that. A drafted list includes financial agents familiar with Film Fest accounts, fundraising records, invoices, loan documents and bank records.
It’s the latest action in the dispute over $159,055.72 Boston claims Film Fest failed to pay the company for work at the 2017 festival. Festival officials paid a $100,000 deposit on the total $256,500 sum, but failed to meet a September 2017 deadline for the rest.
Cutler said communication between the parties broke down soon after.
Film Fest claims the pair had no 2017 contract and the debt is not legally binding. The nonprofit filed a counterclaim last month for $25,000 over 2013 work it claims Boston did not complete on the Bijou.
Lake and Moore in 2013 provided conflicting accounts of the budget for that work — Moore claimed the full budget was only $800,000, compared to Lake’s initial statement of $1.5 million.
Cutler said Film Fest officials cited financial issues as the reason for the 2017 lack of payment.
The festival operated at a loss for the first time last year, founder Michael Moore previously told the Record-Eagle.
Moore, Lake and attorneys for both parties did not return requests for comment.