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Traverse City Film Festival: Cane Toads and Conversation

Witnessed more of what I’ve come to like so much about the Traverse City Film Festival last night when I went to see Cane Toads, the Conquest: great movie and rich conversation following. The film, possibly the first full-length feature documentary shot in 3-D, is about a variety of toad, the cane toad, that was introduced to Australia back in the 1930’s and has since grown from the original 112 toads to about 1.5 billion toads covering about a million square miles of the continent.

Lots of 3-D toad-level views of the world kept things quirky and interesting and somewhat gross at times—like when filmmaker Mark Lewis showed footage of thousands of toads gathered in a small mud pond all just kind of sliming around on one another.

We had discussed the film with Clark Bunting, executive producer on the film and president of Discovery Channel, for a short piece I did for Traverse Magazine, and he said that one of the things he most liked about the film was its sense of humor, though dealing with a serious subject, invasive

And no doubt viewers agreed. Vignettes of dogs that lick the toad to get stoned from the toad’s toxic secretions were perhaps the humor highlight, but by no means the only humorous moment.

Bunting was there for the showing and so was Mark Lewis, who flew 30 hours from Australia to see what Traverse City was about. I felt the film fest had one of its fine moments as I listened to Lewis, Bunting and Moore take questions after the movie—just that easy, informal, relaxed discussion that makes it all seem so accessible.

Well, if you get a chance to see Cane Toads, don’t miss it. Lots to like…like, watching toads the size of softballs shoot out that longsticky tongue to zap a beetle, but in 3-D. Slurp.

p.s.: if you are looking for great places to hangout in TC during the festival, check out the digital edition of our Filmgoer guide. Also available on newsstands around town.

-- Jeff Smith is editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine

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Tags: Cane Toads, Clark Bunting, Mark Lewis, Michael Moore, Traverse City, Traverse City Film Festival


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