If only New York had a film festival — one to match New York City itself, with a blinding array of big names, almost too many attractions to navigate, an appeal across all demographics, and one eye always on the rest of the world. What? Oh. Ohhh! From April 23 to May 4, the 7th annual Tribeca Film Festival will show 121 feature films at a dozen locations throughout Lower Manhattan, along with enough special events to dominate the cultural calendar of a small city, which Tribeca sort of is. We’ll be reviewing films throughout the festival at thelmagazine.com, but in the meantime, to help you plan (which you can do at tribecafilmfestival.org), here are a few suggestions for further research.
Previous winners of Tribeca’s narrative feature competition include Roger Dodger, Blind Shaft and, last year, My Father My Lord. For what it’s worth.
57,000 Kilometers Between Us
(Delphine Kreuter) Seeking escape online, a teenager evades real-life problems (a transsexual dad and a serial-blogging stepdad) in favor of her second life.
(Declan Recks) Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage
with Irish actors substituted for Swedes? A husband and wife prepare their tenth anniversary while said marriage decomposes.
Let the Right One In
(Tomas Alfredson) Speaking of Swedes… An adolescent bullying victim in suburban Stockholm finds strength to fight back after falling for the vampire girl next door. Wait, what?
(Zhang Yibai) A single mom and her teenage son shelter a young woman after an accident. Beautifully filmed sexual and emotional development ensue.
A Pakistani father and son accidentally cross into India, putting them in the wrong place at the wrong time. They’re jailed in India for five years, while the mother copes however she can.
Trucker (James Mottern) A long-haul truck driver’s lifestyle of nomadic hedonism (replete with skuzzy bars and casual sex) is seriously jeopardized when she’s forced to care for her estranged son. Bummer.
Remember: If the film addressing the social cause closest to your heart doesn’t win, it’s because your cause isn’t important enough.
Guest of Cindy Sherman
(Paul H-O, Tom Donahue) Neurotic status-wrangling in the New York art scene and a friendly-close look at Sherman. Fun drinking game: every time someone says “the male gaze” make a mental note to do a shot afterwards, as it’s difficult to sneak hard alcohol into a movie theater. Though not impossible.
Kassim the Dream
(Kief Davidson) Kassim Ouma was a Ugandan child soldier, and is now a boxing champion, which is partly uplifting and partly ironic and partly scary.
My Life Inside
(Lucía Gajá) Gajá profiles young illegal Mexican immigrant Rosa Jimenez, currently serving a 99-year sentence in the Texas penal system for the murder of a toddler in her care — a crime of which Gajá believes she is innocent.
An Omar Broadway Film
(Omar Broadway, Douglas Tirola) Incarcerated Bloods member Broadway documents conditions at Newark’s Nothern State Correctional Facility in this latest Scared Straight! spin-off.
War, Love, God & Madness
(Mohamed Al-Daradji) If the documentary about the production of your feature film has a title like War, Love, God & Madness, you probably did not have fun making your feature film, especially if your feature film was Ahlaam, shot in Iraq in 2003.
Be the first on your block to see Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg and other forthcoming films hotly anticipated by residents of your oddly Guy Maddin-obsessed block.
Bigger, Faster, Stronger
(Christopher Bell) Bell uses his scarily bulked-up brothers as a point of entry into his consideration of steroids as road to the American Dream.
(José Padilha) After City of God and City of Men, call this one City of Cops. Now that filmgoers are familiar with Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, this Berlin Golden Bear-winner introduces the corresponding corrupt police force.
(Peter Tolan) Fear and Loathing
re-made with Matthew Broderick? Doubtful, but this story of a drug-, alcohol- and gambling-addicted TV writer going to Vegas to help his similarly-afflicted niece could be just as engrossing.
(Guy Maddin) A fantasy-documentary-autobiography about Maddin’s prairie hometown — expect snowy black-and-white dreamscapes, quirky characters and expressionist sets. Because, at this point, it would be really weird if he made anything that wasn’t typically weird.
(Tom Kalin) Best biopic subject ever: Barbara Baekeland (Julianne Moore), one-time actress and model, was also a depressed, alcoholic letch. In a series of ill-conceived schemes to straighten out her gay son (who eventually murdered her), Baekeland hired female prostitutes, and, when that didn’t work, seduced him. If Julianne Moore were our mother and wanted to straighten us out… uh, never mind.
(Jonathan Levine) If the story of a college-bound kid dealing drugs over the summer after high school isn’t that original, check out casting of this mid-90s New York tale: Ben Kingsley, Mary-Kate Olsen and Method Man. We really hope this turns out to be a hip-hop musical.
Like Scott to the South Pole, like Cook to the Hawaiian Islands, like Henry Hudson to Ontario, so are you to these films by emerging directors.
Bitter & Twisted
(Christopher Weekes) This Australian dramedy tracks the impact of a young man’s death on his family and ex-girlfriend. No Ghost-style paranormal romance here, though, just the charm of indie realism.
(Isild Le Besco) The 400 Blows
revisited? An adolescent flees his foster home for the seaside. En route he moves in and begins an unlikely relationship with a young sex worker who, well, you know, “makes him a man."
The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (Dawn Logsdon) Logsdon looks at one of the nation’s oldest African-American communities just outside New Orleans’ French Quarter, and how it has coped since Katrina.
(Luis Piedrahita, Rodrigo Sopeña) The latest entry, this one from Spain, in the growing math-themed thriller genre (shall we call them “mathrillers”?) combines elements from forerunners π and Cube: four number-crunchers end up in a shrinking room and must, as Ice Cube says, check themselves before they wreck themselves.
Marina of the Zabbaleen
(Engi Wassef) Marina grew up on the outskirts of Cairo, in a small community that survives by sorting and selling the city’s waste. Wassef documents her dreams of escape.
Milky Way Liberation Front
(Yoon Seong-Ho) Yoon’s debut follows an aspiring Korean director whose relationship and first film collapse simultaneously.
(Simon Brand) A Colombian romantic falls for a seductive teen with big plans. When her desire for the American dream leads her to New York, our infatuated young man gives chase.
(Aleksei Popogrebsky) An anesthetist gets it all at once in this elegant Russian downer: his daughter runs away, his mistress wants out, his wife turns up pregnant, and a patient asks to be euthanized.
Sita Sings the Blues
(Nina Paley) A psychedelic animated Bollywood epic set to speakeasy-era jazz.
This is Not a Robbery
(Lucas Jansen, Adam Kurland, Spencer Vrooman) ’87 Bonnie and Clyde (well, just Clyde really), about an octogenarian who pulled off one of the nation’s most successful series of bank robberies.
(C. Karim Chrobog) Forced into the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army as a child, Emmanuel Jal has launched a hip-hop career as a means of exposing his nation’s plight.
(Daniela Zanzotto) One of those long-term investment docs where one case illuminates broader trends. Here, Zanzotto looks at how class and race affect education in the U.S. by following Daniel for nine years, from his Bronx high school to an Ivy League college.
People cracking wise, people getting stabbed, people cracking wise while getting stabbed, and other fun things to watch while staying up past your bedtime.
(James Westby) This meta-mockumentary about a fictional visionary porn director follows Arturo Domingo as he navigates (appropriately) a film festival and all its ridiculous attendees. Ron Jeremy and innumerable bushy mustaches make appearances.
(Jody Dwyer) Four Aussie mates go through horrors in the outback. The source of evil in this thriller from Down Under involves an extinct tiger and a mythic 19th-century cannibal.
(Thospol Sirivivat, Piraphan Laoyont) A dead patient’s ghost haunts a crew of naughty nurses (naughty because they harvest organs, of course, though we’re told they’re sexy too). Expect very colorful, excessive, beautifully shot and art-directed violence from this Thai gorefest.
(Zach Shaffer, Steve Saporito) Revisiting the early-90s underground poly-sex-positive club and weekly party that brought us Hedwig and the Toilet Boys.
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