Founded by favorite local son Robert De Niro as a way to stimulate the economy of lower Manhattan following 9/11, Tribeca has morphed into a many-headed behemoth of art, commerce and cultural exchange. That the restaurants and boutiques surrounding the Tribeca Cinema charge extortionary prices to overstuffed Eurotrash, faux socialites and proto-models may seem laughable to those of us struggling in our squeezed outer-borough studios, but let’s try to remember how things were for the city back in ‘01. The fact that the rehabilitation of our burg somehow rests on the shoulders of a cult-loving action movie star is another story.
Al Franken : God Spoke
This is a profile of comedian-turned-politico Al Franken and his decision to make a movie because “God spoke to me” in a an obvious broadside at our Commander in Chief. As spot-on as Franken can be, especially in print, I can’t help thinking that lefties deep down wish they had a spokesman who was a little less…you know, annoying.
American Cannibal: The Road to Reality
Survivor meets Punk’d. Oddball doc about an experiment in gullibility and venality. A couple of movie producers (one with a background in porn, fittingly) join forces to create a “fake” reality show that tests the limits of what’s acceptable and assembles the usual talking heads to comment and contribute to the American public’s stupidity.
“Penetrating insight… debasing obsession”.
The Case of the Grinning Cat
Cult filmic essayist Chris Marker’s latest is ostensibly an investigation into the appearance of stenciled grinning felines all over Paris. Somehow in his inimitable way he weaves that through meditations on May 68, idealism, politics, art and the love for his own cat.
Fictional account based on the sometimes medieval workings of the Iranian justice system where the victims families have a say in the sentencing of murderers. Mansour is one such convict who has been left in limbo by the victim’s kin and has to wait agonizingly to see if he’ll be pardoned or executed.
PR buzz words:
Judging by the preview, it’s characterized by amateurish acting, really funny dialogue and that darkly heartwarming vibe of misfit love still occasionally found in true indie films. Features a role by Jonathan “Tarnation” Caouette.
Follow My Voice: With The Music of Hedwig
The story of an album made by the creators of Hedwig and The Angry Inch for the benefit of Harvey Milk High in the East Village, the first gay and lesbian school in the country. Includes performances by Yoko Ono(!), They Might Be Giants, Cyndi Lauper, Jonathan Richman and Rufus Wainwright.
Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank
Filmmaker (Pull My Daisy), photographer and Swiss expatriate Frank has produced some of the most iconic images of Americana ever. His perspective as outsider seemed to inform shots of lonely diners and dusty filling stations. He also chronicled the beats and in this doc he and filmmaker Gerald Foz bicker about whether to focus on the present or the past.
LoudQUIETloud: A Film About The Pixies
The Pixies are the rarest of bands — one that speaks to Gen-Xers and Y’s (and probably a couple of baby boomers too) but has stubbornly held on to its street cred even as they approach (pass?) the big 5-0. It helps that they disbanded for awhile then reformed for a reunion tour which is the subject of this doc.
The Mist in the Palm Trees
Santiago Bergson was a photographer and physicist who was involved in the Manhattan Project, helped Orson Welles on War of The World and dies fighting in the French Resistance. Keep in mind this is playing in the Narrative section.
My Dad is 100 Years Old
It’s inevitable perhaps that the overused word “unique” will be attached to filmmaker Guy Maddin, but perhaps inescapable. In this sumptuously shot black-and-white subjective biography, Isabella Rosselini pays homage to her dad, Roberto, the filmmaker. Isabella even plays her dad, her mom, Hitchcock and Fellini.
The One Percent
Jamie Johnson is heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and makes a habit of pissing off his fellow heir-heads. The maker of Born Rich which scandalized his rich friends, this latest doc explores the fact that 1 percent of America’s wealthy controls about half its resources, and how that’s kind of a problem.
“Hard hitting, hilarious”.
Shukta Book of Records
Oh those crazy Balkans! Doc about a Gypsy community where everyone is a champion at something and myths are dispelled while others are given life. Members of the community give insights into making love, vampires, American televison and melodic babies
“Strange and endearing”.
Three Days in September
Documentary about the taking of over 1300 hostages at a grade school by Chechen rebels leading to a tragic end in the city of Beslan. Narrated by Julia Roberts, naturally.
This is a promising-sounding doc about legendary restaurateur Toots Shor. There was a time when the after party was always at Toots place in New York. Expect lots of grainy black-and-white footage of Sinatra, DiMaggio, mobsters and molls. It’s made by Shor’s granddaughter.
A frustrated, recently dumped schoolteacher starts seeing a strict Freudian therapist. When he meets a beautiful woman and falls in love, his controlling shrink makes for a bizarre love triangle.
“Miasmic stew of anxiety”.
The War Tapes
Was I the only one struck by the characteristicly callous statement by W about he and outgoing Press Secretary Scott McLellan reminiscing about the “good old days” sometime in the future? Those good old days are recounted firsthand by soldiers in Iraq given cameras to tell their own stories which offers a rare unadulterated agenda-less look at war.
“Beautiful and shocking”.
This is an intriguing-sounding feature with a gimmick — albeit a cool one. Nine single shot scenes all shot through various windows — of homes, cars, and even through a prison cell. Probably a hit-or-miss kind of thing, but any film that invites compariosons to Michael Snow and Hitchcock deserves consideration.
For complete film schedule and times see tribecafilmfestival.org
Images Courtesy Tribeca Film Festival.