Tribeca Parties and Events; “Nola” Picked Up by Fireworks; And Amazon CEO On Jury Duty
by Eugene Hernandez and Wendy Mitchell
While local audiences have been drawn to the Tribeca Film Festival’s screenings at numerous Lower Manhattan venues, participating filmmakers and members of the film industry have been gathering nightly at a slew of evening parties and receptions. On Thursday alone, there were more than 15 parties held at a variety of Manhattan venues, most of which were downtown.
In some cases, New York-based film distribution companies have used the fest as a launching pad for new films and capitalized on the attention that the fest has commanded. Focus Features party for Tribeca entry “The Shape of Things” on Wednesday was an intimate gathering at The Independent. Film stars Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz (who also co-produced the film), Frederick Weller, and Gretchen Mol, as well as writer/director Neil LaBute, mixed with friends and lovers at the soiree. Weisz’s main squeeze, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (“Requiem for a Dream,” “Pi”) was on hand along with his producing partner Eric Watson as well as Focus Features co-president David Linde and a few journalists and others. While the company premiered the film at Sundance, the Tribeca Fest debut was well-timed in advance of the upcoming theatrical release of the picture. Wednesday’s fete was a stark contrast to the unwelcoming frenzy over at the The Breakfast Club on Seventh Avenue where large crowds gathered at the post-premiere bash for Damon Dash’s “Death of a Dynasty.” There were also bustling crowds at Plexifilm’s bash for “Style Wars” at Bauhaus on the Lower East Side.
In a dizzying social schedule for Thursday, there were fetes for German films at the German consulate, for “Nola,” just acquired by Fireworks Pictures, for the IFC Productions “Kill the Poor,” “Paperchasers,” and “This So-Called Disaster,” as well as for “Devil Talk,” “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly,” “The Eye,” “Capturing the Friedmans,” “Ghostlight,” “The Look,” “Particles of Truth,” “Justice,” “Sunset Story,” and “Evenhand.”
The partying continues on Friday and Saturday with parties for United Artists’ “Together,” the rock flick “Prey for Rock & Roll,” local cineaste doc “Cinemania,” “Duke’s House,” “A Good Night To Die,” and ThinkFilm’s “The Event.”
[indieWIRE is publishing reports from some of this week’s parties in today’s edition of indieWIRE: Buzz, with more reports expected in next week’s column. Photos from Tribeca Festival celebrations are published in indieWIRE’s iPOP Tribeca photo section.]
FIREWORKS SET WITH “NOLA”
New York-based Firework Pictures announced that it will release the Tribeca Film Festival movie “Nola.” The movie, by attorney Alan Hruska, is the story of an aspiring signer/songwriter (played by Emmy Rossum) who leaves her home in Kansas to find her father in New York City. The actress, who also performs original songs in the film, will also be on screen in Clint Eastwood’s Cannes entry, “Mystic River,” and Roland Emmerich’s “Tomorrow.” Costar Steven Bauer (“Scarface”) also performs original songs in the film. It was produced by local Archer Entertainment.
FROM CEO TO JUROR
He’s better-known as a Fortune 500 CEO and a former Time magazine person of the year, and now Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos is racking up a new title: film festival juror. Bezos is on the jury judging first- and second-time directors of feature-length documentaries.
Bezos is of course cautious to reveal his early favorites among the docs, but he did tell indieWIRE that he’d “already seen a couple of things that were fantastic.”
Bezos isn’t a film expert per se (although he quickly points out that Amazon carries 150,000 DVD and video titles), but he is something of a film aficionado. “My wife and I are geeky enough that we’ll do something like watch ‘Indiana Jones’ over the course of six hours and plot the whole structure, scene by scene,” he said with a guffaw. Other evidence of his film geekiness, he explained: “I have DVD parties at my house where people come with a DVD and we only watch one scene. It’s absolutely hilarious. I often show the war room scene in ‘Dr. Strangelove.’” He says his favorite docs include “Hoop Dreams,” “The War Room,” and “Nanook of the North.”
While it remains to be seen what his fellow doc jurors favor, Bezos told us what he thinks make a great non-fiction film. “The best documentaries transport you into another world, the more alien the better,” he said. “They create empathy for the characters in that world. Also, a good documentary needs to have some kind of narrative structure to create some suspense.”
The jury is headed by controversial doc filmmaker Nick Broomfield, and also includes a diverse group: Bezos, Jordan’s Queen Noor, fashion designer Miuccia Prada, director R.J. Cutler, and actors Youssra and Parker Posey. Bezos, who lived in New York for eight years before heading to Seattle, said he’s long been a fan of Tribeca, and is excited to be part of the festival’s progression. “I think it started last year as a way to help merchants downtown, and ultimately that’s not what it’s going to be remembered for,” Bezos said. “I love things that are new because you can see them in flux. It’s fun to be here in only the second year.”