Film Festival Co-Founded by Michael Moore Sued by Contractor for Nonpayment

Well, well, well. It looks like Michael Moore hasn’t been practicing what he preaches by sharing his wealth. The Traverse City Film Festival, of which Moore is founder, figurehead, and participant has found itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit for an unpaid bill of over $159,055.72.


Boston Light & Sound, Inc., which has been working with The Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) for 13 years, alleging that the organization paid part of their $256,500 contract, but failed to pay the remaining balance. Boston Light & Sound Principal of Operations Chapin Cutler said that former Film Fest Director Deb Lake told him last summer that TCFF was unable to pay the balance.

It became apparent the festival had overextended. The festival’s eyes were a bit bigger than their finances could handle, and we were the people left standing, holding an invoice.

Coincidentally, last year was also the first time in TCFF’s history that the event ran at a loss. In an e-mail to Friends of the Film Festival in April of 2018, Moore wrote “We ran a rare deficit last year.” The complaint by Boston Light & Sound states that:

TCFF does not dispute the contract balance – TCFF has simply failed and refused to make payments. Rather (than) paying the contract balance, or any part thereof, in response to demand letters, TCFF attempted to avoid fulfilling its contractual obligation and the debt incurred by threatening to distribute false and defamatory stories to harm Boston Light & Sound’s good name and business relationships.

With TCFF set to start on July 31, the two parties are headed into mediation next week to get the matter resolved. TCFF’s attorney believes that the timing is intentional, accusing Boston Light & Sound of filing at this time


to bombard TCFF with litigation at its busiest time of the year when board members and other persons of knowledge of the issues in litigation are literally finishing the plans, construction, and installation of the festival.

Parties have agreed to submit necessary statements and responses, and TCFF has agreed to submit a decision on whether or not to accept Boston Light & Sound’s offer, which is to be paid t$159,000 but to waive attorney’s fees, interest, and finance charges. They have also agreed not to change their assets until the lawsuit is resolved.

Strange things appear to be afoot with TCFF. The 2017 deficit, allegedly unpaid bills, a new director resigning after only 21 days, and what appears to be a publicity stunt for this year’s festival that has offended locals and veterans.


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