TRAVERSE CITY -- View early and often this political season, as the State Theatre is presenting Election Fest '08; 21 films in 18 days.

The movies will screen from Saturday, Oct. 18 to election day, Tuesday, Nov. 4 and will cost $4, half the price of a usual ticket. They include comedies, dramas and documentaries. Among them are favorite classics, cult films and long-forgotten works.

"I think the common thread is the American experience; something we don't always turn our attention to until there's an election that comes around," said Michael Moore, the Oscar-winning filmmaker who chose the films to be shown.

Screenings will range from John Wayne in "Green Berets" to Robert Redford in "The Candidate."

"This election has grabbed people's attention," Moore said, citing polls showing overwhelming disapproval of the country's current direction. "I thought it would be a great time to turn to that great American art form the movies to take a look at the things we value as Americans."

Frank Capra's feel-good classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" will close it out on election eve and election day.

"Half the country is going to feel great on election night and the other half isn't going to feel so great," Moore said. "This is a chance for everybody to feel good."

The films deal with ideas like totalitarianism ("1984," "V for Vendetta"), war ("Coming Home," "The Green Berets"), race ("To Kill A Mockingbird") and politics and personality cults ("Being There," "Feed").

Moore will attend the showing of his little-known fictional film "Canadian Bacon" from 1995, starring Alan Alda and the late John Candy.

The 1995 satire about an unpopular president waging war on Canada to improve his polls never made the regular theater rounds. One of its stars, John Candy, died before the scheduled release and movie execs decided it would be in poor taste to release it right after the comic's passing.

"We live in a different time now," Moore said.

"I wrote the film on Torch Lake and I started writing it in 1991, right after the Gulf War," the Antrim County resident said. "I was amazed at how George (H.W.) Bush pulled that off. To convince the country to go to war in a place they'd never heard of. What if they named the enemy as the least likely place? Would they still fall for it?"

Another often-overlooked film is Warren Beatty's 1998 release "Bulworth."

"It's such a smart, funny comedy, about a senator who really decides to get on the straight-talk express and talks a little too straight and it's hilarious," Moore said.

This is not intended to be like the annual Traverse City Film Festival, which runs in August. For one thing, it's just movies -- no panel discussions or parties -- and all will show at the State.

"It's a little experiment to do it in the middle of the year," Moore said.

The TC Film Festival board is also looking at putting on a comedy festival and a book festival at various times of year, he added.

To find a link to the complete Election Fest '08 schedule, go to www.traversecityfilmfest.org/statetheatre.

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