Friday, April 13, 2018

The Tribeca Film Festival Is No Longer Just About the Business, It Is Also About Serious Art and Is Being Taken Serious-ser and Serious-ser

Ilhan Omar is the subject of “Time for Ilhan,” a documentary that chronicles the campaign of the woman who would make history when she was elected to the Minnesota Legislature. Photo from Time for Ilhan website.


works that have an African theme should have strong appeal.

In “Tanzania Transit,” a train ride reveals various facets of contemporary life in that part of Africa. Scientists undertake a 1500-mile journey in an effort to understand why Botswana's Okavango Delta wilderness is shrinking in National Geographic's “Into the Okavango.” Inspiration awaits the viewer in “Time for Ilhan,” a look at how a Somali-American Muslim woman made history when she was elected to the Minnesota legislature.

Muslims also figure prominently in “Terminal 3.” In the virtual reality piece - part of Tribeca Immersive - the viewer is asked to interrogate Muslims at the airport to determine whether they should be admitted into the country

All of the aforementioned are documentaries and are part of the 17th Annual Tribeca Film Festival (18-29 April 2018).

Over the last few years, festival organizers have invested their energies in curating some of the most interesting docs out there, and this year is no different.

Other notable documentaries to watch for: “Blowin’ Up”: a Queens court is a place where young women and men charged with prostitution aren’t treated like criminals;
“The Fourth Estate”: In the festival closer, a team of reporters from The New York Times covers the first year of the Donald Trump Administration:
“Love Gilda”: The festival opener is a love letter to comedian and trailblazer Gilda Radner;

San Diego Chargettes doing their thing, circa late '70s. Photo by Jack Schwaesdall.

“Sidelined”: The story of cheerleaders from the-then San Diego Chargers football team who were fired for appearing in “Playboy”;
“Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1”: How Air Jordans went from banned to spawning sneaker culture and its massive economy;
“McQueen”: The rise of uber talented designer Alexander McQueen;
“Studio 54”: The rise and fall of the world’s most famous disco;
“Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes”: The story of the record company that launched jazz greats and gave talent 100 percent artistic control.

Meanwhile, one of the signposts that marks a film festival as serious is the number of world premieres. That means that directors are taking a pass on Berlin, Toronto, Sundance and other prestigious festivals.

With that in mind, the Tribeca Film Festival has entered a new sphere. Among its 96 feature films, a staggering 75 are having world premieres. Fewer than 20 have been seen elsewhere first. Do note that this does not include programming in other categories; world premieres abound across categories. Tribeca is no longer just a festival with a major Hollywood star behind it and a strong financial imperative behind the disproportionate amount of Hollywood fare with a bankable star attached.

A case in point is “Diane” starring Mary Kay Place as a woman living a mundane life as penance for past misdeeds. Sex on the hour may be the undoing of two frustrated women in “Duck Butter.” A retelling of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” is set on a lakeside estate. Among the stars are Annette Being, Mare Winningham and Brian Dennehy. In "Dry Martina," a singer begins to get her groove back when she leaves Argentina for Chile, prompted by a visit from her "sister."

The festival centerpiece, “Zoe,” is an entry with a more Hollywood feel. The futuristic drama about technology-produced love stars Léa Seydoux, Ewan McGregor, Christina Aguilera and Rashida Jones, among others.

Sir Ben Kingsley and Liam Neeson in "Schindler's List." Archive photo.

This year, three films will have anniversary screenings: "Schindler's List"(25th) "Scarface" (35th) and "In the Soup"(25th).

Shorts-wise, a one to watch is "The History of White People in America," an animated affair that explores the invention of race in this country. It is one in the Whoopi Goldberg category. In the Bold Moves category, geopolitics might complicate a joint concert by musicians from North and South Korea in "9 at 38."

“Homeless: The Soundtrack”
in the Home Sweet Home shorts category follows a woman who finds her long-lost father homeless. And a musician, like herself. The Lighten Up! category offers “So You Like the Neighborhood.” If you want to stay and not be evicted, some mafia members might be able to help. Two sisters must rethink their building plan in “Paper Roof,” a Loose Ends entry.

As the digital revolution continues to blur the lines of how and where content is consumed, Tribeca is trying to keep up with the times. Part of its response is both the Tribeca TV and N.O.W. (New Online Work).

Ones to watch on TV include Jay-Z’s (executive producer) “Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story” and “Bobby Kennedy for President,” coming to Netflix.

On N.O.W. is “Snugglr,” or a young woman who cuddles strangers as an income-generator to make rent. A guy in “Driver Ed” hopes to impress a racecar enthusiast gal by getting his driver’s license. Drug counseling gets a twisted treatment in “Cleaner Daze.”

Jacob A. Ware as the title character in "Driver Ed." Photo courtesy of "Driver Ed" production.

“Tribeca Talks” offers post-screening chats with Brian De Palma, Sir Ben Kingsley, Liam Neeson, Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and more. Those in conversations include Alec Baldwin, Edward Burns, Claire Danes, Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Nancy Meyers and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Visit to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.


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