Founded by Robert DeNiro as a post-9/11 economic boost to a
traumatized neighborhood, the Tribeca Film Festival has succeeded by
striking a chord of populism without sacrificing its integrity (too
much.) Though at press time we hadn’t seen any of the offerings, we’ve
done our best to sort out the celluloid wheat from the cutting room
chaff. And because Tribeca’s not the only film festival that can
attract a self-important crowd, we’ve done our best to mock the
stereotypical festival-goers of the other major film gatherings.
Because we can. Go to tribecafilmfestival.org for info on tickets,
venues, panel discussions and special events.
And (some of) the features competing for the coveted Golden De Niro (or whatever they call it) are:
(Bahman Ghobadi, Iran, Iraq, Austria, France)
Kurdish director Ghobadi (Turtles Can Fly) returns
with the tale of a Kurdish musician from Iran giving a concert in Iraqi
Kurdistan, in another one of those politically charged social-realist
dramas that are fast becoming the Middle East’s second-biggest export.
(Pascale Ferran, France, Belgium)
Mmm, D.H. Lawrence… Sex-ay.
The Last Man
(Ghassan Salhab, Lebanon, France)
A serial-killer thriller set in war-ravaged Beirut. Except — not to be
insensitive or anything — isn’t the most effective way to kill somebody
in Beirut to just, you know, wait for the next round of bombings?
PICK Napoleon and Me
(Paolo Virzi, Italy, France)
In another one of those
movies, a librarian moves to Elba to serve Napoleon, played
(deliciously, no doubt) by Daniel Auteuil.
(Jia Zhang-Ke, Hong Kong, China)
Zia’s much-anticipated (well, by some of us, anyway) fifth feature is
set in a Chinese town that’s about to be overrun by the Three Gorges
Dam. Long takes and provincial stagnation will, we suspect, ensue.
Two in One
(Kira Muratova, Ukraine)
A double-decker narrative of backstage intrigue and fraught
father-daughter relations, from the volatile director Jonathan
Rosenbaum calls “the greatest living Russian filmmaker.”
(Michael Kang, U.S.A.)
A cops-and-robbers story set in New York’s Korean underworld, starring John “Today White Castle, Tomorrow the World” Cho.
Miss Universe 1929
(Péter Forgács, Austria)
The life of Liesl Goldarbeiter, the titular between-the-wars beauty, is
related through home movies shot by her cousin and assembled by
Forgács. In related news, apparently they had the Miss Universe
competition in 1929.
A Slim Peace
(Yael Luttwak, U.K.)
Fourteen West Bank women from Israeli, Palestinian, Arab, and American
backgrounds bridge their cultural differences as they embark on a
shared mission to lose weight. Kumbayfuckingya.
PICKTaxi to the Dark Side
(Alex Gibney, U.S.A.) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room director Gibney
investigates the death of an Afghan taxi driver from injuries incurred
from a beating at the hands of American soldiers, and concludes that
the incident, while tragic, in no way reflects upon the dignity,
integrity and importance of the Bush Administration’s Middle East
policy. No, really. It really does. No, it — wait. Yeah, you were
right. It doesn’t so much conclude that.
PICKA Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and The Warhol Factory
(Esther B. Robinson, U.S.A.)
Williams, Robinson’s uncle, was Andy Warhol’s collaborator and lover
during the Exploding Plastic Inevitable days, walked out of a family
dinner in 1966 and was never seen again. Inquiring minds want to know:
just where was Valerie Solanas that night?
The marquee out-of-competition category is the fest’s repository for focus-pulling big names.
2 Days In Paris
(Julie Delpy, France)
Delpy’s directorial debut — which she also wrote, produced, edited, and
composed music for — is a 96-minute version of her Nina Simone
impression from the end of Before Sunset, or possibly a witty
(Zak Penn, U.S.A.)
Quick, before the gambling boom runs completely dry: Woody Harrelson
smashes the piggy bank and enters the “Grand Championship of Poker” in
a mockumentary also starring, how did we not see this coming, Werner
Herzog. Just keep the crazy coming, Werner, eventually we’ll grasp your
The Lost World
(Ken Jacobs, U.S.A.)
The experimental collage artist debuts a new digital work.
The Road to St. Diego
(Carlos Sorin, Argentina)
An Argentine hick discovers a tree root that he thinks looks exactly
like national hero and noted handballing cokehead Diego Maradona, and
travels to the Buenos Aries hospital where Maradona is convalescing
(after gastric bypass?) to deliver it in person.
PICKThis Is England
(Shane Meadows, U.K.)
Set in northern England circa 1983 and named after the last good Clash song, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands director Meadows’s latest follows an 11 year old who falls in with the local skinheads.
(Wang Quan’an, China)
The Golden Bear winner at this year’s Berlinale follows a herder in
Inner Mongolia as she tries to find a suitable (second) husband.
TRIBECA/ESPN SPORTS FILM FESTIVAL
A collection of docs and features about the games men, women and horses play.
The First Saturday in May
(John and Brad Hennegan, U.S.A.)
Documentary about the race that trumps them all — The Kentucky Derby.
Expect lots of shots of elaborate headwear, mint juleps and slow-motion
footage of Barbaro.
-img2- Planet B-Boy
(Benson Lee, U.S.A.)
Hey, guess what, break-dancing’s back! This doc takes an international approach, attending the “World Cup of B-Boying.” PICKThe Power of the Game,
(Michael Apted, U.S.A.)
Documentary god Michael Apted (49 Up)
takes on the 2006 Soccer World Cup, telling six intertwining stories
with actual footage from the tournament that made the globe love Zidane
a little more and like the Italians a bit less.
(Rob Klug, U.S.A.)
Being billed as the Spellbound of the junior tennis circuit, this is a doc that’s sure to revive traumas of overzealous sports dads for lots of viewers.
Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and aspiring cult classics.
(Jonathan King, New Zealand)
It’s been 129 years since the Muybridge experiment, 112 years since Workers Leaving the Factory,
104 years since The Great Train Robbery, and 80 years since The Jazz
Singer, and, in all that time, there has never been a movie about an
evil genetically engineered strain of sheep terrorizing the
countryside. Thank you, Jonathan King, for fulfilling the promise of
(Teng Huatao, China)
A woman is possessed by the spirit of her husband’s dead first love in
1920s Shanghai. If a person were to lay odds on the likelihood of
Hollywood remaking this movie, we would not bet against it.
(Jim Mickle, U.S.A.)
One summer night, New York is overtaken by a virus that turns people
into vicious ratlike things; a few uninfected souls try to escape. We
were all set to write “Escape from New York meets 28 Days Later…?” like “ha ha how derivative,” but then we realized that Escape from New York meets 28 Days Later… sounds awesome.
Rise: Blood Hunter
(Sebastian Gutierrez, U.S.A)
This movie will not be good, but it stars Lucy Liu as a vengeance-obsessed vampire, and we will see it.
Scott Walker – 30th Century Man (Stephen Kijak, U.S.A./U.K.)
A doc on the unclassifiable cult fave rocker. Among the admirers interviewed are Eno, Jarvis, and, inevitably, Bowie.
Martin Scorsese co-curates this section, showcasing newly restored films from national archives and elsewhere.
(Cinda Firestone, U.S.A., 1974)
A year before Al Pacino and Dog Day Afternoon
turned it into a decontextualized icon, Firestone investigated the 1971
inmate uprising at Attica State Prison, and the shockwaves it sent
through the penal system.
The Letter Never Sent
(Mikhail Kalatozov, Russia, 1959)
A geological adventure yarn set in harshest Siberia (ah, Soviet genre
movies!) that Kalatozov and his electrifyingly untethered
cinematographer Sergey Urusevskiy made in between The Cranes Are Flying and I Am Cuba; one of two Urusevskiy-lensed features to be revived this year.
Night of the Hunchback
(Farokh Ghaffary, Iran, 1965)
A backstage black farce derived from one of the 1,001 Nights, by the recently deceased critic and godfather of the Iranian New Wave.
Films directed by actors? Documentaries about artists? Movies based
on true stories? Random forthcoming Hollywood dramas? This category
makes precious little sense.
The Animated World of John Canemaker
A career-spanning program highlighting the short works of locally based
indie animator John Canemaker, whose The Moon and the Son won the
Animated Short Oscar in 2006.
(Eytan Fox, Israel)
Walk on Water director Fox presents another story of attraction running
up against sexual and political taboos — in this case a gay
Israeli-Palestinian love story.
(Emanuel Crialese, Italy, Germany, France)
Attention, ladies and gents, we have a Charlotte Gainsbourg sighting —
she stars as a mysterious outsider in Respiro director Crialese’s saga
of a Sicilian family who immigrate to New York at the turn of the last
PICKIn the Beginning Was the Image: Conversations with Peter Whitehead
(Paul Cronin, U.K.)
British documentarian Whitehead’s body of work (recently revived here and including Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London,The Fall, etc.) is so wrapped up in its cultural moment it’s hard to tell where the 1960s end and he begins.
(Diego Luna, Mexico)
Luna, aka The Guy In Y Tu Mamá También Who Wasn’t Gael Garcia Bernal, makes his directorial debut about the life and times of boxer Julio César Chávez.
(Marc Klein, U.S.A)
Replace The Devil Wears Prada with The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing,
Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alec
Baldwin, and glossy fashion mags with the publishing industry, and
whaddaya get? Box. Office. Gold.
The Showcase is like a “best from the fests” kinds of thing,
highlighting films that have had success in other contexts. Sort of
like a Champions League tournament.
PICKThe Devil Came On Horseback
(Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, U.S.A.)
Former US Marine Captain Brian Steidle spent six months in Darfur as an
observer and took thousands of photographs that are testament to the
ongoing atrocity there.
A Dirty Carnival
(Yoo Ha, South Korea)
A low-level gangster gets in over his head and gets the proverbial
“more than he bargained for” as he goes on a high-risk mission to earn
enough to pay the bills for his widowed mom and hungry siblings. The
Korean title Biyeolhan Geori, means “mean streets.”
The King of Kong
(Seth Gordon, U.S.A.)
A documentary look into the geek-fuelled world of competitive gaming.
Watch as masturbatory dorks vie for the title of “King of Kong,”
attempting to conquer notoriously difficult classic Donkey Kong.
(Mohammed Naqvi, Pakistan, U.S.A.)
In 2002, Mukhtaran Mai, a woman living in a remote Pakistani village,
was publicly gang raped to atone for a crime her brother allegedly
committed. Her subsequent campaign for justice has become an
Why didn’t anybody tell me it would become this bad in Afghanistan?
(Cyrus Frisch, Netherlands)
So-called enfant terrible filmmaker Frisch stars as the protagonist of
a feature film shot entirely through a cell phone. Almost dialogue
free, it’s an abstract vision of trauma.
THE FAMILY FILM FESTIVAL
We’d say this section features films for “children of all ages,” but then you’d lose all respect for us entirely.
(Koichi Chigira, Japan)
When 11-year-old Wataru is told he can change his destiny by entering a
magic gateway into another world, he jumps at the chance; who
wouldn’t? Ages 10+
(Greg Lanesey, U.S.A.)
Two homesick brothers — one of whom has muscular dystrophy — decide to
drive from LA to Pittsburgh at the end of the 1972 baseball season for
the chance to see Roberto Clemente get his 3,000th hit. Based on a true
story. With Ray Liotta. Ages 10+
PICKGumby: The Movie
(Art Clokey, U.S.A.)
He’s back damn it, in this 1995 claymation classic, remastered and re-edited, but hopefully not ruined. Ages 4+
The Hairy Tooth Fairy
(Juan Pablo Buscarini, Argentina, Spain)
“When Lucía loses a tooth, she is consoled to know that the Hairy
Tooth Fairy, Pérez, will bring money in exchange.” Hairy? Oh, by the
way, Pérez is a mouse. Phew.
This is the section for so called “up-and-coming directors,” and
includes B+ and A-list talent like Eva Mendes, Elijah Wood, Lucy Liu
and Anna Paquin as well the long-anticipated debut of Limp Bizkit
frontman Fred Durst (wtf?).
Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother
(Matthew Barbato, U.K.)
Documentary about Roseanne and Patricia’s character-actor little
brother as she becomes their little sister. Sound zany? Don’t worry the
press release assures us it’s “actually a serious movie about
transgendered life.” Drag.
PICKAutism: The Musical
(Tricia Regan, U.S.A)
The title really says it all, doesn’t it? We defy you to find a better
(and frankly more critic-proof) subject for a documentary: following a
group of autistic L.A. kids as they write and rehearse an original
The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez
(Kieran Fitzgerald, U.S.A)
Classical sounding lefty humanist doc that investigates the death of an
18 year old by US Marines in the context of “The War on Drugs.” And
it’s narrated by Tommy Lee Jones.
(Jerry LaMothe, U.S.A.)
Remember the big blackout of 2003? Remember how fun it was and how
everyone got along so well and how there were hardly any incidents of
crime? Obviously you didn’t live in East Flatbush. This is a drama
based on that neighborhood’s violent reaction to the incident,
featuring Melvin Van Peebles and Jeffrey Wright.
(Marshall Lewy, U.S.A., Canada)
What if you had actually followed through and moved to Canada after W’s
latest election triumph? That’s the premise behind this comedy about a
guy who puts his politics where his big mouth is and marries Anna
Paquin. Filmed on location in Winnipeg, Manitoba — which gives you an
idea of the type of humor they’re after.
PICKThe Last Jews of Libya
(Vivienne Roumani-Denn, U.S.A.)
A personal memoir tracing the now-disappeared Sephardic Jewish
community of Libya. This family memoir recounts the history of an
uprooted North African community. Narrated by Isabella Rossellini.
Preceded by Shut-Eye Motel, Bill Plympton, (USA, 2007, 12 min)
The Man of Two Havanas
(Vivien Lesnik Weisman, U.S.A.)
Director Weisman has made a doc about his dad, that rarest of species —
a pro-Castro Cuban living in Miami — where he received death threats
and was monitored by the CIA.
Normal Adolescent Behavior
(Beth Schacter, U.S.A)
Amber Tamblyn stars as Wendy, a high-schooler who forms a teen clique
that claims “a more fluid sexuality.” File under darkly comic and
(Harris Goldberg, Canada, U.S.A.)
Matthew Perry stars as Hudson, a smitten screenwriter suffering from
acute depersonalization disorder, which we’re assured “makes clinical
depression seem like a walk in the park.” File under darkly comic and
(Jean-Pierre Darroussin, France)
Actor Darroussin’s directorial debut is about a wealthy Parisian
lawyer (played by the director) who attempts to rid himself of his
bourgeois prejudices and abandons his cushy world, moving into a
working-class multi-ethnic neighborhood.
Sons of Sakhnin United
(Christopher Browne, U.S.A)
An irresistible and timely subject for a doc — a multi-ethnic soccer
club working together in their quest to win Israel’s State Cup — latest
in long line of team sports as metaphor for life pics.
(Charles Oliver, USA)
Minnie Driver exists in that formerly-a-big-deal-kind-of who’s now half
a rung above whatever-happened to?-ness. Here she plays one half of a
pair linked by the proverbial tragedy.
PICKWatching the Detectives
(Paul Soter, U.S.A)
In what sounds like a sexier Gen-X/Y take on The Purple Rose of Cairo,
Neil (Cillian Murphy) is a “quirky cinephile” who wishes his life were
more like a detective movie. Lucy Liu plays the femme fatale. Wonder if
they use the Elvis Costello song.
Often given short shrift (sorry), what these films lack in running time they more than make up for in heart!
Archiving Identity, a program of experimental shorts, which use previously filmed footage to address issues of personal and cultural identity.
NYC Weights And Measures (Jem Cohen, U.S.A.); A Year, (Mark
Street, U.S.A.); Who By Water (Bill Morrison, U.S.A.); Loss ( Kristen
Nutile, U.S.A.); The Small Ones (Lynne Sachs, U.S.A.)
Desperate Measures, the characters in these shorts look for a way out, a way in, or a way to make sense of it all.
First Flush (Mikkel Munch-Fals, Denmark); A Moment To Breathe (Sara Colangelo, Italy/U.S.A.); Red & Blue (Mahmood Soliman, Egypt); The Shade (Mohammad Gorjestani, Canada); Good Luck Nedim (Marko Santic, Slovenia); Clear Cut, Simple (Vineet Dewan, U.S.A.); Refuge City (Wojciech Kasperski, Poland)
Mood Enhancer, a group of unusual (read wacky, unclassifiable) short films. Onion Underwater (Paul Yates, U.S.A.); The Water and the Milk (Celso García, Mexico); Heart of Whistler (Ken Hegan, Canada); Lawrence (Gregory Mitnick, U.S.A.); Tell It To The Fishes (William Sinclair, U.K.); Color Me Olsen (Darren Stein, U.S.A.); I Am Bob, (Donald Rice, U.K.)
We Are Here: New Shorts from Lebanon. Presented in collaboration with ArteEast, Ashkal Alwan (Beirut) and the Kevorkian Center at NYU.
Window (Rana Salem); No Connection (Myriam Sassine); Breaking News (Hisham Jaber); Tank You (Ziad Antar); To The Lebanese Citizens (Ali Cherry); Lebanon/War: Short Videos (Rania Stephan); Lebanon/War: Dailies Of The War (Rania Stephan); July Trip (Wael Noureddine)