Two wonderful weeks of movies and events that made up the Tribeca Film Festival have just ended (April 12-26) ~ what will I do with myself now?!
This year saw the recently opened Spring Street studios on Varick Street become the hub for the many talks and events that served to make this festival not just about movies anymore. A staggering 30 female directors featured and 40 out of the total 119 films shown were first time directors.
Here is a glance of what I saw over the two weeks.
There was a dearth of Irish movies at this year’s festival. Only three in total, two features – “The Survivalist” (already reviewed on this site), “Jimmy’s Hall” , and one short feature, “Personal Development.”
From Mugabe’s Zimbabwe (“Democrats” a worthy award winner) to Castro’s Cuba (“Havana Motor Club” worth seeing for a glimpse into rarely seen Cuba, but story wise lacked punch), documentarians looked at the stranglehold these leaders have on their countries.
Back in the US, David Holbrooke documented his
father, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s life in “The Diplomat”, managing to balance exploring their fraught personal relationship alongside the Ambassador’s political contributions and personal ambitions.
Still closer to home, “The Wolfpack” followed the lives of a family of six who were raised in a tiny East Village apartment and allowed outside sometimes only once a year. They fed their imaginations by watching and then re enacting movies. A fascinating look at dysfunction that somehow functions.
Features of note included the Icelandic/Danish co production “Virgin Mountain” and “Being 14”, from France, both festival award winners. Subtly emotive pieces with powerful messages in the coming of age genre, (though sometimes the age isn’t the age you would expect), and offered rare glimpses into mostly undocumented, and not so pretty sides of life in their respective countries. Watch out for “Virgin Mountain”, which won Best Feature, Best Actor, Gunnar Jónsson, and Best Screenwriter, Dagur Kári, a beautiful film that surprises gently throughout and will no doubt will get picked up for distribution.
Indie produced US romantic comedies starring big names such as Jason Sudeikis (“Sleeping With Other People” and Taylor Schilling (“The Overnight”) were crowd pleasers at the festival. There was lots of snappy dialogue and pop culture references in the former and it will probably become one of those romantic comedies that repeatedly interrupt your scroll for something meaty to watch on TV. “The Overnight’, also starred Jason Schwarz and Adam Scott, is well cast and nicely acted, and draws you into it’s storyline, but goes down a road that seems to come directly from screenwriter and director, Patrick Kack-Brice’s sexual fantasy world, and as such is wildly disappointing for the anyone outside of that fantasy world.
Other features included Cillian Murphy, who starred alongside Jennifer Connelly in “Aloft” as a mother and son who reunite (yes, there is a time lapse involved to make this happen), and Richard Gere as a down on his luck philanthropist with Dakota Fanning in “Franny”. In spite of such a good casts, these were two of the more disappointing films I saw this year.
The best party of the festival was yet again provided by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE. This year, along with gin infused cocktails from open bars, they produced an interactive digital array of activities to amuse the gin fueled guests.
“Karen” by Blast Theory, developed in partnership with National Theatre Wales, proposed to be your personalized AI life coach,which you could interact with publicly while quaffing the gin that caused all inhibitions to wander aimlessly as you answered deeply private questions in front of a room full of strangers. Other exhibits included “Door into the Dark”, (the winning entry), “The Machine to be Another” and “Enemy”, all of which proved to be so popular that they were continually booked out when I visited.
Silent screen star Harold Lloyd’s movie, “Speedy” accompanied by DJ and producer, DJ Z-Trip filled the house at Spring Street for one of the final events of the festival. Amazing soundtrack provided by Z-Trip for the 1928 silent feature fused old New York streetscapes with contemporary New York house music. And provided the opportunity for those of us who no longer go to clubs an the experience of club music, while sitting watching a movie. Win, win.
This festival is getting more diverse each year and I, for one, am already looking forward to what may turn up next year.