Tribeca

Tribeca Film Festival

Bad movies come in many varieties. There are catastrophic, painful failures like 5 to 7. There are the glorious, seemingly impossible charmers like Winter’s Tale, so inept that they quickly transcend their mistakes to become raucous comedies. Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum is a genre often ignored and usually misunderstood. Dumb plots, bad acting and silly monsters make up part of the formula for what we might call the “made-for-Netflix” B-movie. This year, the Tribeca Film Festival gave audiences a rare treat by showing two of these formulaic gems on the big screen. Indigenous and Zombeavers were the two most absurd films in the Midnight section, brashly silly “creature features” that don’t have an ounce of sense between them. The first involves a surfing trip to Panama that winds up in the Darien Gap on the border with Colombia. What’s hiding in the jungle? The Chupacabra, of course! Zombeavers, meanwhile, is a bit easier to figure out from the title. There’s a sudden attack of beavers that are also zombies in the idyllic countryside of Indiana!

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Tribeca Film Festival

This year there were well over 50 shorts screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. That’s quite a lot. Spread across nine programs, they’re a diverse bunch both in form and quality. They come from all over the world, too, though there’s a significant emphasis on home-grown New York City filmmakers. This variety makes any attempt at synthesis a little daunting, so instead of drawing any sort of overarching thematic conclusions I’ll just go ahead and tell you which ones are the best. Here are 12 of them, in alphabetical order.

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Tribeca Film Festival

Boulevard, the fifth feature from director Dito Montiel, is an intimate character study. As such, it is but one among many. At festivals, in particular those with a bevy of American independent films, you can’t swing a cat without hitting an intimate character study. And so they try to differentiate themselves, sometimes through gimmicks and sometimes through good old-fashioned artistic vision. In the case of Boulevard the elevator pitch is this: Robin Williams is 60, married to a woman, and secretly gay. His name is Nolan and he has a well-paying but dull job in a small bank. Fair enough. The dramatic conflict, therefore, is his discovery and subsequent acceptance of his homosexuality. It is perhaps tiring at this point to see yet another movie in which being gay is the primary, driving narrative force. It is no longer as interesting as Love Is Strange, for example, a drama that gets to establish the sexual orientation of its characters in the first scene and then move on to subtler themes. There’s still some room left for a film like Boulevard to say something new and interesting, but not much.

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Tribeca Film Festival

Some movies do not seem possible. Their very existence is an absurdity of hubris, their production something of a financial miracle. Or, rather, a financial eccentricity. The largest projects are the ones with the most to prove, disastrous flops like the Korean War epic Inchon financed by the Unification Church or that time Richard Burton played Yugoslav president-for-life Josip Broz Tito. Yet there’s a smaller version of this bizarre passion project, fantasies designed not to stroke the egos of cult leaders or dictators but Hollywood moguls. This time around we are in the hands of writer/director Victor Levin, Emmy-award winning co-executive producer of Mad Men and screenwriter of Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! The film is 5 to 7, a romance of almost unfathomably terrible proportions. The hero is Brian (Anton Yelchin), a young man without any sense of his own enormous privilege. Sure, he’s currently a failed writer. He’s also 24 years old, the son of very wealthy New Yorkers who presumably pay for his Manhattan apartment and, as we learn later on in passing, have already put away enough money for law school just in case. He sits at home all day re-writing his short stories and pasting rejection letters from literary magazines to his wall. The film gives him the luxury of near-constant voice over as the story begins, the first sign that Levin is entirely complicit in the narrative excesses that follow. Brian is the most inherently irritating protagonist of the year, but neither he nor his creator has any inkling thereof.

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Most Anticipated Tribeca Films

Hey, look, it’s film festival time again! (It’s always film festival time, much like it’s always awards season time.) This time around, the films are unfurling at New York City’s own Tribeca Film Festival, and two of our very own NYC-based scribblers are on the ground to cover the best of what the festival has to offer. As ever, the festival offers a robust programming slate of brand-new premieres, holdovers from other festivals around the world (we recommend titles like In Your Eyes, Chef, and Begin Again, if you’re looking to play catch up), and some uniquely compelling titles just daring you to try them out (one word: zombeavers). The festival kicks off tonight with the premiere of the Nas documentary, Time Is Illmatic, and runs until Sunday, April 27th. For these next few days, Lower Manhattan will be jumping with the festival and its many offerings, and we dare say that our own Kate Erbland and Daniel Walber have picked out some of the best.

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Tribeca Film Festival

Now that the Tribeca Film Festival has rolled out their impressive feature slate and their massive shorts program, the fest has revealed the complete lineup for their seventh annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Per the fest, “this year’s film program features a selection of sports and competition-themed films that celebrate competition, passion and teamwork, and reflect the diversity of filmmaking in this genre,” which includes nine films, four of which are a part of ESPN Films’ “Nine for IX” series (a new series focused on celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Title IX, which consists of a full nine documentary films about women in sports directed by outstanding female filmmakers). The world premiere of Kevin Connolly‘s Big Shot  (yes, that Kevin Connolly) will kick off the fest-within-a-fest with a gala screening on April 19th. Connolly’s latest explores John Spano’s fradulent purchase of the New York Islanders in 1997, which ended up being “the biggest fraud in hockey history.” Check out the full lineup for the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival after the break.

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Tribeca Film Festival

Now that this year’s Tribeca Film Festival has unveiled their feature slate (to remind you of the great lineup, check out HERE, HERE, and HERE), the fest has now rolled out their ironically huge short film slate, which includes a massive sixty films, including thirty world premieres (a new record for the festival), along with one special screening. This year, Tribeca has divided their giant shorts program into eight thematic programs – including five narrative categories, two documentary categories, and one experimental category – with sections dedicated to New York City and vampire and werewolf themes (juicy). Some of the shorts also include performances by such recognizable talents as Lauren Ambrose, Kevin Corrigan, Elle Fanning, Jessica Hecht, Nastassja Kinski, Julian Sands, Jay O. Sanders, Dominic West, and Elijah Wood. With such a depth of theme and talent, Tribeca looks to be offering a short for everyone. And, hey, if you don’t like them, they’re, well, short. Check out the full listing of all the just-announced shorts (and their respective categories) after the break.

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S-VHS

On the heels of yesterday’s announcement of the festival’s World Narrative, World Documentary, and Viewpoints sections, the Tribeca Film Festival has now unveiled the rest of their (quite exciting) feature line-up. Announced today are picks from the Spotlight section (featuring 21 narratives and 12 documentaries), the Midnight section (formerly known as Cinemania), Special Screenings, and the brand new Storyscapes section (a “multi-platform transmedia program celebrates new trends in digital media and recognizes filmmakers and content creators who employ an interactive, web-based or cross-platform approach to story creation”). There is a lot here to get amped about, including the New York premiere of Ramin Bahrani‘s Zac Efron-starring At Any Price, the New York premire of Before Midnight, the U.S. premiere of lady vampire drama Byzantium, the U.S. premiere of Greetings from Tim Buckley, the Zoe-Kazan-in-a-dual-role The Pretty One, the New York premiere of the apparently-retitled V/H/S/2, and lots more. The complete list of films selected for Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings, and projects in Storyscapes is available after the break.

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Tribeca Film Festival

New York’s own Tribeca Film Festival has previously announced its Opening Night Film, rock doc Mistaken for Strangers, and now the fest has begun rolling out the rest of their slate, including today’s announcement of their World Narrative and Documentary Competition titles and their Viewpoints section. As part of newish Tribeca tradition, each section will also have its own “Opening Night” film, with Big Men opening the World Documentary competition, Bluebird opening the World Narrative competition, and the documentary Flex is Kings kicking off the Viewpoints section. All three films will premiere on April 18th. Guess which one features Adam Driver. Check out the full listing of all the just-announced titles after the break.

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Mistaken for Strangers

Last year’s Tribeca Film Festival opened with the world premiere of the Judd Apatow-produced and Jason Segel-starring The Five-Year Engagement, a big studio film with big studio names, but this year’s Opening Night film seems to signal a return to the more indie-minded roots of the festival. Tom Berninger‘s Mistaken for Strangers, a tour documentary about Berninger’s time on tour with his brother’s (Matt Berninger) band The National, will open the festival on the evening of April 17. The film will, of course, be followed by a special performance by the band, which means you should probably get your lighters ready now (is that still a thing?). The film “follows The National on its biggest tour to date. Newbie roadie Tom (lead singer Matt Berninger’s younger brother) is a heavy metal and horror movie enthusiast, and can’t help but put his own spin on the experience. Inevitably, Tom’s moonlighting as an irreverent documentarian creates some drama for the band on the road. The film is a hilarious and touching look at two very different brothers and an entertaining story of artistic aspiration.” The festival’s feature film slate will be announced next week. The Tribeca Film Festival runs in New York City from April 17th until April 28th. [Press Release]

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This contest is now closed. All winners will be receiving an email. Thanks! In filmmaker Lee Kirk‘s directorial debut, The Giant Mechanical Man, a love story unfolds between two directionless thirtysomethings whose unhappy lives are only exacerbated by their professional failures. Jenna Fischer‘s Janice has just taken on yet another dead-end job selling concessions at a local zoo, where Tim (Chris Messina) has also recently had to take a job as a janitor, seeing as how his main job (being that titular “giant mechanical man” as part of a street performance) doesn’t pay the bills. The film recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and we’re pleased to present an exclusive clip from the film here on FSR. In this scene, the two cross paths on the job and begin to form a bond. In celebration of The Giant Mechanical Man‘s Tribeca premiere and subsequent theatrical release, we are also giving away five (5) signed posters from the film. To win one (1) signed poster, all you have to do is jump down into the comments section and let us know about the worst job you’ve ever had. Please also provide your email address in your comment so that we can email winners. This contest is only open to U.S. residents. The contest will close Sunday, April 29th, at 9:00PM EST. The winners will be chosen at random from those who reply in the comment section, and they will receive a signed poster from The Giant Mechanical Man, as described […]

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Inspired by an moving true story, Travis Fine‘s Any Day Now may be set in the ’70s, but the story’s elements feel like a story ripped from today’s headlines. The film stars Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt as Rudy and Paul, a happy (though closeted) couple who discover something truly unexpected in their neighbor’s apartment – teen Marco (Isaac Leyva), abandoned by his drug-addicted mother and left to his own devices. Even worse? Marco has Down syndrome, and no one else in his life is able or equipped to handle his needs. Except Rudy and Paul. The pair eventually take in Marco and begin to form a happy and stable family together. But when their arrangement is discovered, and Rudy and Paul’s relationship is outed, it kicks of a legal battle that will decide just who Marco really belongs with. With a compelling story and an extremely talented cast (that also includes Frances Fisher), Any Day Now should emerge as one of the highlights of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. After the break, check out the exclusive poster debut for Any Day Now, along with a batch of new stills from the film.

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It’s back to the Big Apple with another batch of some of the most compelling titles that this year’s Tribeca Film Festival has to offer. This time around, we’re zinging over to Thailand for an eye-opening spin on the crime noir (no other film this year will make you want to invest in a helmet more), before zipping back to the U S of A and over to the left coast for two films about life in Los Angeles, relationships on the rocks, and cinematic twists that both surprise and sustain. Which one of these films marks the voice of an exciting new independent director and which will leave audiences begging for more, of all things, gimmicky behavior? As is the best part of all film festivals, let’s discover something new. Check out our latest batch of mini-reviews for Headshot, Caroline and Jackie, and Double or Nothing after the break.

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In 2010, the Republican-leaning Texas Board of Education approved a new set of standards which either 1) re-corrected the balance of historical education away from the liberal bias it tends to or 2) created a new tool for teaching young children that Creationism and a Conservative agenda are correct. The trick here is that a small group of people define what they want to see in textbooks, and the textbook writers have to abide or risk not selling millions of books. Since Texas buys so many, it often (alongside California) informs what the rest of the nation will be learning. At the heart of all of this, was a dentist. The new documentary The Revisionaries – which played Tribeca last week – focuses on Dr. Don McLeroy, the dentist and Creationist in question who is seeking re-election to the board. McLeroy, who recently went on The Colbert Report to discuss his views, is frank about his opinion that Liberals have taken over colleges and that evolution should be questioned while Creationism is giving equal footing in science classrooms. It’s an arrow that hits right into the heart of a cultural divide in America, and it’s one that ensures this doc has a deeply compelling subject. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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What’s always most exciting about film festivals is the range of different films available for watching and enjoying – all within the same period of time, and often in the same venues. That’s just as evident as ever in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival line-up, a festival that has kicked off with The Five-Year Engagement, will end with The Avengers, and will show over 200 films in between. Our first round of Tribeca reviews only highlights that variety of films, as it include a French actioner, an true American independent, and a dramedy about ladies of the night. After the break, check out mini reviews for Sleepless Night, Supporting Characters, and Elles – all very different Tribeca Film Festival films, and all films likely to find their own unique audiences in the Big Apple and beyond.

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With the Tribeca Film Festival kicking off today, it’s high time we dove into our coverage of New York City’s hometown fest. To that end, it’s our great pleasure to debut the first poster for writer-director-producer Jenny Deller‘s Future Weather, the multi-hyphenate’s first feature, which will have its world premiere next week. The film centers on young Lauduree, a lonely teenager who has a serious interest in environmentalism and nature and who is already worried about the effects of environmental disaster on the world at large. But it’s Lauduree’s world that is about to be turned on its head, when her shiftless single mom leaves her for sunshiny California. Abandoned, alone, and terrified, Lauduree comes under the care of her grandmother, who comes with her own pack of issues that shouldn’t serve much comfort to the already fragile Lauduree. The film stars a wonderful cast of known and new talent, including Lili Taylor, Amy Madigan, Perla Haney-Jardine, and Marin Ireland. The film has already racked up the accolades, having received a grant from Women in Film in 2011 for post-production, three grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the 2009 Showtime Tony Cox Award for Screenwriting from the Nantucket Film Festival in 2009. You can learn more about the project and watch a few clips from the film at their Kickstarter page. Check out the full poster for Future Weather after the break, along with a batch of new stills from the film.

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Meeting Evil writer/director Chris Fisher joins us to talk about how necessary movie stars are to getting financing in the indie world (and how to talk to Samuel L. Jackson on set). Plus, we go beyond the headlines to explore the Alamo Drafthouse‘s expansion into New York City with CEO Tim League and to push the envelope of film festivals with Tribeca Executive Director Nancy Schafer. Download Episode #129

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A mental patient pretending to be an alien, a gullible town and the director of ‘Once’: ‘Zonad’ offers some goods.

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Michael Winterbottom’s ‘The Killer Inside Me’ has attracted a lot of controversy for its savage violence. But worse than that, it’s spectacularly boring.

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I have no idea what’s going on here. That’s probably the point.

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