Film News Roundup: Michael Moore’s Traverse City Festival Drawing Kathy Griffin, Lily Tomlin

In today’s film news roundup, Michael Moore’s film festival will include appearances by Kathy Griffin and Lily Tomlin, a gerrymandering documentary gets sold and pop singer Meredith O’Connor gets cast.


Kathy Griffin and Lily Tomlin have signed on to appear at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, now in its 15th year.

Griffin will appear at a screening of “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story,” which explores how a photograph of the comedian holding a fake severed head of Donald Trump led to an FBI investigation. Tomlin, who co-stars in “Grace & Frankie” with Jane Fonda and is a Detroit native, will receive a lifetime achievement award.

The festival runs from July 30 to Aug. 4 with the theme “cinema saves the world.” More than 200 movies will be screened. “When the world spins madly out of control, leave it to the artists to respond, to inspire, to operate with this crazy belief that one great movie can change the planet,” Moore said.

“Brittany Runs A Marathon” is the opening night film. Jillian Bell portrays a woman who decided to change her life by training to run the New York City Marathon. The film won the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival.


Magnolia Pictures has bought North American rights to the documentary “Slay the Dragon,” which focuses on the issue of gerrymandering, from Participant Media.

The deal was announced Friday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject placing limits on partisan gerrymandering. Directed by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance, the film world-premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Magnolia is eyeing a spring 2020 theatrical release.

Participant and Magnolia partnered on “RBG,” which grossed more than $15 million worldwide and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said, “Gerrymandering is one of the biggest threats to our democracy and ‘Slay the Dragon’ is a fantastic primer to what’s at stake, in addition to an incredibly cinematic, emotional film. Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance have done a marvelous job telling this story.”

The news was first reported by Deadline.


Pop singer Meredith O’Connor has joined the independent film “Crushed It!,” currently filming in Los Angeles, Variety has learned exclusively.

The film centers on a skateboarder played by Nikita Orlov who moves out to Los Angeles to live with his older brother, portrayed by Tip Scarry. He dreams of becoming a professional skater and gets sidetracked when he meets a young woman played by newcomer Mara Michelle. O’Conner will be playing a friend of Michelle’s character in the film, which also stars Cole Carter, Brandon Hollman, Kamilla Alnes and Ellie Patrikios.

Alexander Garcia is directing from his own screenplay and is producing under his Multi-Valence productions banner alongside producing partner Anne Stimac, Chad Fernandez, Eric Sandoval, Ellie Patrikios and Michael Abrams.

O’Conner will also be performing on the soundtrack for the song “Keep Pushing” co-written by Alexander Garcia and Brian Vodinh.


Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Spider-Man Far From Home

    'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Gets Re-Release With New Scene

    Sony Pictures is re-releasing “Spider-Man: Far From Home” with a new action scene. Starting Aug. 29, a new extended cut, featuring four minutes of a never-before-seen action sequence, will be released in theaters in the United States and Canada. The film will also be available in IMAX and large formats in select locations. “Spider-Man: Far [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Supporters Back Matthew Modine After Clumsy Joke at SAG-AFTRA Meeting

    More than 100 women, including Ellen Barkin and Allison Janney, have voiced support for Matthew Modine’s campaign for SAG-AFTRA presidency, following a joke at a SAG-AFTRA meeting that some decried as misogynist. With voting set to conclude on Aug. 28, the campaigns have featured vitriolic attacks between supporters of Modine, secretary-treasurer Jane Austin and incumbent [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

  • WGA Agents Packaging Fight Placeholder

    Writers Guild Withdraws State Suit Against Agencies, Refiles in Federal Court

    The Writers Guild of America has withdrawn its state court suit against WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners alleging packaging fees are illegal and re-filed suit in federal court. The WGA also responded to antitrust claims brought against the guild by the three agencies. Those agency suits alleged that the WGA abused its power in [...]

  • Tim Roth to Receive Honorary Heart

    Tim Roth to Receive Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award

    British actor Tim Roth is to receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award in recognition of his “exceptional contribution to the art of film.” The ceremony at the Sarajevo Film Festival will be held on Tuesday. He will hold a masterclass on the same day. His first screen role was the lead in the controversial [...]

  • Isabelle Huppert, receives the Honorary Heart

    Isabelle Huppert on Fateful Encounters, the Nature of Acting and Judging a Good Script

    Celebrated actress Isabelle Huppert, speaking at the Sarajevo Film Festival on Sunday, looked back on her illustrious career in a candid discussion that touched on her acting, the many renowned directors with whom she’s worked, and the importance of dialogue. The festival honored Huppert with its Honorary Heart of Sarajevo award “in recognition of her [...]

  • Inauguracion SANFIC 2019

    15th Sanfic Touts Attendance Rise, Hosts Gael Garcia Bernal, Wagner Moura

    SANTIAGO — Chile’s Santiago International Film Festival (Sanfic) launched its 15th edition Sunday Aug. 18 with three of Latin America’s best-known actors, Gael Garcia Bernal, Wagner Moura (“Narcos”) and Graciela Borges (“La Cienaga”), to which it bestowed career recognition awards. “It’s been 15 years in which we have presented more than 1,400 films,” noted Francisca [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content