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Mike's Letter

May 7, 2021


A Mother's Day Gem
— DUTY FREE —
from The Virtual State

Friends —

I have a fun, moving film for you this Mother's Day weekend!

Movie poster for Duty Free

Thanks to long-time TCFF volunteers — Detroit-native Thom Powers and filmmaker Raphaela Neihausen (who founded DOC NYC) — for discovering a movie called DUTY FREE, the story of 75-year old Rebecca Danigelis who is fired from her job as a hotel housekeeper because, well, although in perfect shape, she's "too old." With only $600 to her name, she begins to consider ending it all. That's when her son steps in and decides to make a documentary on how much he dearly loves his mother.

But before you say, "I've seen this documentary three dozen times," the son has an idea. He asks his mother to make a list of a dozen things she'd love to do that she's never done. He then takes her on an adventure of a lifetime — and we get to witness all the joy and heartbreak of one woman out of the some 25 million elderly Americans who, even though they have social security, pitiful pensions and, believe it or not, must still work at age 75! And they still do not have enough money to eek out a respectable existence.

From watching Rebecca milking her first cow, to visiting her first home as an immigrant in 1960s Detroit, to reconnecting with her long-lost daughter, DUTY FREE skips the syrupy sentimental stuff and reveals the complex life of a woman who spent 40 years changing sheets and cleaning toilets in a Boston Hotel. Not the stuff of Hollywood drama? This film will do everything you wish most movies would do — bring you an authentic story that'll at times make you cry, then laugh, then finally be furious at what we call a "civilized society." At the very least, by the end of DUTY FREE, if your parents are still alive, you'll want them to make that bucket list with you! So you can take them skydiving in Hawaii.

DUTY FREE begins today at the TCFF Virtual State — our At Home streaming cinema. Click here to easily beam it into your living room. And here's the trailer. I hope you have 73 minutes to watch this beautiful film.

THANK YOU to all who wrote me with your support of our decision to postpone this year's festival. Waiting for the virus to leave the state of Michigan was already months overdue, and we couldn't outlast the numerous orders to open and close. So we're joining in to help get a couple million more Michiganders vaccinated. It's our only hope. We encourage you to do the same.

We will get there. The movies will return — and only the good ones! Many of which will be ready by the holidays. We can't wait!

But we can. That's what adults are able to do. And when profit is not the driving force, the people are always safer. Nothing against making money — after all, I'm in my 33rd year of showing my movies in those for-profit cine-malls — I just can't come up with a good reason to sell you a ticket that will land you in Munson Hospital. No one has yet to ask us filmmakers what we think a safe way is to re-open. Kinda weird, huh? I'll bet they asked Goldman Sacks how they'd like to reopen. Oh wait — they're still at home! AND they're still open!

Worry not, my friends. We'll be watching movies again, safely, in 2021.

Thanks for letting me say these things. I'll go back now to the romantic comedy I'm writing.

Happy Mother's Day!

Michael Moore
"Never a mother, always your brother"



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