Tribeca Film Festival Wraps On The First Nine

The 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, the ninth annual, has wrapped to mixed reviews winning very high marks for the variety of solid, entertaining and informative film offerings.

Kim Chapiron's Dog Pound winner Best New Narrative Filmmaker.

The Festival, co-founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff and America Express is, clearly, still, a success for the community as the total attendance for the twelve day festival reached over 400,000.  The theater attendance for the 396 film screenings were often at capacity. The old adage of “the show must go on” seemed to be a through line as external elements brought the need for last minute venue changes and an unexpected two day deluge.

Kim Chapiron's Dog Pound.

Of the fifty or so films reviewed, out of the eight-five features from thirty-eight countries, collectively they were gripping, gusty, informative, fascinating, riveting attention-grabbing, charming, interesting,  absorbing and intriguing.

With that here’s my top ten world list for this year’s 2010 Tribeca Film Festival:

A scene from Dog Pound.

Dog Pound/Canadian. Director, Kim Chapiron’s gripping, gritty portrayal of a youth offender facility in Montana. While not a feel good film; It is shocking in its portrayal. It will leave you stunned, haunted. Every performance is Oscar worthy. It is certainly a must see. Masterfully written with character arc’s that were hit with precision. The spectacular performances were explosive and reminiscent of a young Bobby De Niro.  The story resonates for days. Winner of the festival’s Best New Narrative Filmmaker Award.

Richard Schiff and Omar Djalili in The Infidel.

The Infidel/UK – Director Josh Appignanesi creates this delightful contemporary British comedy of religious magnitude as death leads to new life with the discovery by a devout Muslim, played superbly by British comedian Omid Djalili, that he is really Jewish. Calling what follows an identity crisis is mild. The pilgrimage toward understanding is guided by The West Wing’s Richard Schiff. Together they create wonderful screen chemistry with great comedic moments as they traverse religious traditions. Set in contemporary Britain with its hodgepodge of opinion, culture and lifestyle. This is really a must see!

Christy Turlington Burns in Tanzania.

No Woman No Cry/USA - The directorial début of Supermodel Christy Turlington Burns, is surprisingly compelling as she, on her own journey of transition, details the horrific fact still faced by countless of childbearing women around the world: Women still die, even in the richest and most progressive countries in the world, from childbirth.

Christy Turlington Burns, filming, No Woman, No Cry, in Bangladesh.

Her narrative begins with the little known fact that during her birthing process she hemorrhaged which is the direct cause of death for women giving birth and the subject of the film. The documentary begins with home movies courtesy of Ed Burns and depict Ms. Turlington-Burns in her home setting with an ever increasing belly.   She has partnered with Planned Parenthood Worldwide. Ms. Turlington-Burns’ No Woman No Cry  should get limited national release and other major festival spots. See it during doc week.

Sons of Perdition details the religious cult led by Warren Jeffs.

Sons of Perdition/USA - This documentary opened the door into the contemporary world of religious mind control and cults. Warren Jeffs, who is serving two consecutive terms for sexual crimes, led a cult that believed in mixing traditional biblical doctrine with his own fetishes, predilections and sexual deviances.  The escapees, are followed and documented as they attempt to re-gain their lives.

The people's exhibit against cult leader Warren Jeffs.

The females are routinely raped, forced to marry as young as ten. The family units are comprised by one husband/father with multiple “sister” wives and multiple children. The emotional reactions of the females followed are normal: anger, rage, loneliness.  The external elements that allowed this to continue are depicted as the same corruption that allows any mega church, diluted religious order, store-front or super dome, to act as an entity; to take cash to cover-up; to adopt the policy of corruption over the sanctity of human life. See it during doc week.

Micmacs, director L. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's comeback.

Micmacs/French - Director L. Jean-Pierre Jeunet makes a comeback with this engaging hysterical look on life after near death. A bullet lodges in the brain of a video store employee whose penchant for classic films is his soul. He meets a group of misfits on his way to discovering the makers of the bullet the nearly killed him. As with all misfits, they each possess a special talent and skill that assists in the journey. This is a delightful film, funny, engaging, with great moments and a fun cast! See it if you can. French in subtitles.

Director Ferzan Ozpetek's, Loose Cannons.

Loose Cannons/Italian. Director Ferzan Ozpetek's tale of two brothers each struggling with expressing their sexual orientation in a predominately strong, masculine heterosexual community. The Italians, known as strong lovers of women, well, not in this case. The scenery is beautiful and the story of the struggle between what is expected and what one desires creates a classic tug of war with a real message of living the life one wants to live. Italian in subtitles.

Road, Movie.

Road, Movie/India. The film begins of course with a pre-GPS road trip through India’s desert region in an old overhauled, cinema truck, think Ice Cream Truck for Cinema. As the driver picks up passengers the group of travelers get lost in desert, run out of water, steal from the local water warlord, get arrested and depend on Cinema for survival. The film is all about the joy of  experiencing cinema!  The joy of forgetting ones troubles for a moment!


Clash/Chinese. Clash, a contemporary fast action, attention grabbing, Martial Arts film that includes elements of tradition and modern with high flying martial arts do-not-try-this-at-home moves; a dynamite female lead, a kick-ass undercover, the slime warlord leader, all create a lethal combination for a Chinese export that ends with a explosive night fight scene! Includes a Tango that scores a ten. Chinese in subtitles.


Zonad/Irish. The luck of the Irish has it with this sleeper hit! Zonad is a spoof on the 1950’s June Cleaver lifestyle mixed with the contemporary Irish humor that lands everyone in the local pub for every occasion!

Katherine Kenner with Sarah Steele in Nicole Holofcener's, Please Give.

Please Give/USA. This mainstream narrative feature stars Oliver Platt and Katherine Keener as married, successful, Upper East Side Manhattanites who are both in the midst of a mid-life reevaluations. Each attempts to fill some missing element by the traditional mid-life crisis expressions, having an affair, and through the non-traditional, the frantic altruistic exhibitions while feigning guilt from the manipulative pursuits associated with befriending an elderly neighbor after buying her apartment and then waiting for her to die with the same anticipation as a child would wait for the school year to end and summer recess to begin. With Amanda Peet. In theaters now.

The Chinese export, Clash.

Outside the festival young filmmakers are making their mark. Meeting Lily Francis Henderson, and Shani Hashaviah of Fantasia Films, whose film, Lessons For The Living, a fifty five minutes documentary, is enjoying its first public screening during the festival. We spoke about her documentary which tracks ten Hospice volunteers during their season as volunteers. “It seems,” she stated, “that people walk away with greater sense of meaning to their own lives.”

A scene from the French film, Micmacs.

When asked what her most memorable moment of the film process, she  added, “I would have to say when we interviewed a retired rabbi at the Hebrew home in Riverdale. It is a beautiful setting and when we got there, it was five o’clock and there was this golden light pouring over the lawn, visually there were all these chairs left in the positions on the lawn each chair was set in a conversation, in little isolated  conversations, the traces of people’s lives. After that happened I started looking for those visual metaphors in everything.” The film is available for distribution and the trailer can be seen at Fantasia Films. It is a closer look at the dignity of the dying that is often overlooked by the overwhelming emotions by the survivors  This won’t be the last we hear of Lily Francis Henderson and Shani Hashaviah.

Zonad, the hilarious spoof!

Kodak, an official sponsor of the Festival and host of the annual Filmmakers and Industry Wrap Party usually held at the ultra trendy, M2 Ultra Light Lounge, lived the “show must go on" experience as it was left to find another venue with only two days before the concluding event.

The Italian Film, Loose Cannons.

Good Units, a newly minted trendy club, at the neighborhood boundary between  Clinton and the Upper West Side, saved the evening for the Festival’s filmmakers, press and industry participants.

Road, Movie.

Citing drug use and other commonly used scare tactics the NYPD shut down the heavily favored night spot of large parties during the traditional spring fete season. Tribeca’s Kodak party, a non hip-hop themed event fell victim to the NYPD closure.

Loose Cannons.

While they must receive kudos for the quick venue change Good Units, a bar-lounge is reminiscent of New York’s early punk days where one would expected Sid & Nancy to suddenly show with spiked hair and accessories to match.

Christy Turlington Burns filming in Guatemala.

The hollowed out, no frills, space is in sync with this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, the exposed raw pipe at the Press Lounge is not trendy to many and seen as a clear indication that as one industry insider added, “the festival is running low on money.”

Bowlmor Lanes.*

Whether or not that is true, the no frills theme was very present at all large events and venues as was the absence of the fondly remembered sponsor Target. The more specific events, The SAG Industry Party at Bowlmor Lanes, always a fun time, was again this year overflowing with fun, food and filmmakers!

The SAG Industry Party at Bowlmor Lanes.*

The Tribeca Film Festival has worked for almost a decade to revitalize lower Manhattan after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks that obliterated The Twin Towers and left a gaping hole in the hearts and lives of millions. Some attendees don’t have that reference. Others, including myself, have criticized this or that element of the festival as it may be less than the perfection one has come to expect from Mr. De Niro. While I won’t judge myself too harshly for my critiques of the festival I sincerely hope that you don’t either; I remember that day and am thankful you did too.

Writer David Baddiel, Omar Djalili and Richard Schiff at the World Premiere of The Infidel.

And with that the Festival, The Ninth Annual Tribeca Film Festival, has wrapped.

For more information on the Tribeca Film Festival:

Pictures where noted by Janet Walker courtesy of Pulse Point Productions, Inc.

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