Update 8/3/18, 6:30 p.m.: In a written response provided to IPR, the Traverse City Film Festival writes, "In December 2017, after a unanimous vote by the Traverse City Film Festival Board of Directors, the executive committee of the board met with Deb Lake in-person to inform her that her employment was terminated."
The former executive director of the Traverse City Film Festival says Michael Moore is lying regarding her termination last year.
Deb Lake left the job in December after 13 years. At the time it was reported that Lake resigned from her position. But yesterday at a town hall event during the 2018 TCFF, Michael Moore said the festival board terminated her, and referred to both ethical and legal obligations in making the decision.
“We did what any group like this has to do when faced with a situation that we were faced with,” Moore explained. “And we had a responsibility to this institution and its longevity so that it exists long beyond us.”
Moore didn’t offer specifics, saying that he wanted to respect Lake’s privacy. But he did say he expects to be able to offer a complete explanation of what happened in the coming months.
“There are certain things we are not able to talk about now but we will talk about,” he said. “I think those will be resolved by the end of this year.”
However, Deb Lake says Michael Moore's statement is false, and that he alone made the decision to fire her.
In an email to IPR, she writes, "I believe that the decision was made unilaterally by Michael, as almost all decisions made by TCFF were during my 13 years with the festival."
Lake also says the implication that the board had an ethical or legal duty to terminate her employment with TCFF is "also false.” She says she looks forward to discussing the circumstances surrounding her departure from Traverse City Film Fest at a later date.
Attempts to reach the Traverse City Film Festival were made, but no comments were given at the time of this article.