Lily Tomlin in Grandma
Lily Tomlin in Grandma

Detroit’s own Lily Tomlin will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) founded by Oscar®-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. The award will be presented to Tomlin during the festival’s 15th annual edition, running July 30 to August 4. Jane Fonda received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Cinema Saves the World.”

The festival will host a screening of a rarely-seen documentary going behind the-scenes of Tomlin’s Tony®-winning play and Tomlin will engage with Michael Moore for 90 minutes on the stage of the historic State Theatre.

“We are thrilled to have Lily Tomlin join us on the 15th anniversary of our festival. As a native Detroiter, she helped to define American comedy in the 20th century,” said Michael Moore, TCFF’s founder and president. “We are proud to present her with our annual Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Tomlin will be invited to add her hand prints and signature to the TCFF Walk of Fame joining luminaries and stars including Madonna, Oscar® winner Susan Sarandon, Oscar® winner Christine Lahti, Oscar® winner Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory, Matthew Modine, Kristen Bell, and others.

From her start on the groundbreaking Laugh-In, through roles in Nashville and feminist mainstay Nine to Five, to finding streaming success with Grace and Frankie, the Detroit-born Lily Tomlin has shown the world what it is to be a legendary actress, comedian, and humanitarian. In 2015, Tomlin she starred in filmmaker Paul Weitz’s film Grandma, which the director said was inspired by Tomlin. That critically-acclaimed film earned Tomlin a Golden Globe® Award nomination.


LILY TOMLIN 1986 | USA | NR | 90 min.
Directed by Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill
See legendary comedian Lily Tomlin onstage, backstage, at home, and on the road in this rarey-seen doc (TCFF will host the very first screening of the newly digital restored film. that goes behind-the- scenes of her Tony Award-winning one woman show, The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. With her long-time collaborator and director, Jane Wagner, Tomlin tackles a variety of topics such as radical feminism, depression, sex work, and homelessness with her signature comedic satire and grace. Following her across all aspects of her process (writing, performing, and refining), directors Joan Churchill and Nick Broomfield capture an incredibly intimate look at a renowned talent at work.

THE LATE SHOW 1977 | USA | PG | 93 min.
Directed by Robert Benton
Private Investigator Ira Wells, played by Oscar-winner Art Carney (Harry and Tonto), feels as though he’s on his last legs. He’s not getting any younger and his detective business is on the fritz. So when his former partner is shot to death while working on a mysterious case, Ira vows to get to the bottom of his friend’s murder. While back in action, Ira is introduced to Margo (played by Lily Tomlin in a Golden Globe nominated performance), a kooky, pot-selling woman who hires Ira to help find her cat she believes has been kidnapped. Lily Tomlin shines in this little-known whodunit that lives up to its original ad tagline: “The nicest, warmest, funniest, and most touching movie you’ll ever see about blackmail, mystery, and murder.” This special screening is $5.


Many of the festival’s most memorable moments have been the amazing conversations our fearless leader, Michael Moore, has had with notable personages onstage live in Traverse City. And we already know what is bound to be one of the most talked about moments at the festival this year as national treasure and comedian extraordinaire Lily Tomlin joins fellow Michigander Michael Moore in the hallowed State Theatre to sit down to talk about her life, her career, her activism, and her profound impact on entertainment and culture. Be there to hear this singular conversation and see Tomlin as she accepts the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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