Thirty-six new titles have been announced by the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, including the event’s Showcase section, spotlighting films that have screened at other festivals, including Christine Hegedus and Nick Doob‘s “Al Franken: God Spoke,” which had its world premiere at the recently concluded SXSW Film Festival. Also in the section are Sundance 2006 titles “Madeinusa,” by Claudia Llosa, “Viva Zapatero!” by Sabina Guzzanti and Patrick Creadon‘s “Word Play.”
The festival’s Restored/Rediscovered section will highlight seven films that have been restored or preserved from film archives, and is co-curated by Martin Scorsese and Tribeca Film Festival head, Peter Scarlet. Nine films will take part in Tribeca’s Midnight sidebar, and two additional titles were added to the fest’s previously announced Spotlight section, including Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross‘ “The Road to Guantanamo,” which Roadside Attractions picked up recently. Tribeca announced its competition sections last week.
The list of films and explanations follow with descriptions provided by the Tribeca Film Festival.
“Akeelah and the Bee,” directed and written by Doug Atchison (U.S.A.) –
New York Premiere. A Lionsgate Release. Akeelah is a precocious 11-
year-old from south Los Angeles with a gift for words. Despite her
mother’s objections, she enters several spelling contests, and with
the support of a special tutor and the entire neighborhood, she earns
a spot at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This uplifting film
stars Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Curtis Armstrong, and Keke
“Al Franken: God Spoke,” a documentary directed by Christine Hegedus
and Nick Doob (U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. This hilarious doc about
one man’s unceasing battle against the Right tracks Al Franken’s
transformation from mild-mannered comedy writer to full-on political
player. Featuring appearances by Ann Coulter, Michael Moore, Al Gore,
John Kerry, and Henry Kissinger.
“Black Sun,” a documentary directed by Gary Tarn (U.K.) – New York
Premiere. Where there is no vision, does the artist perish? In this
haunting, original first-person narrative, NYC-based French painter
and filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert, who lost his sight after a
mugger threw paint thinner in his eyes, narrates his journey into
sudden blindness and out of despair, as composer-turned-filmmaker
Gary Tarn’s mesmerizing web of sounds and images recreates the world
from his point of view.
“Brothers of the Head,” directed by Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton,
written by Tony Grisoni (U.K.) – New York Premiere. An IFC Release.
London, 1975. Conjoined twins with a creepy, crypto-erotic bond take
the burgeoning glam/punk scene by storm in this eerie mockumentary-
style adaptation of Brian Aldiss’ novel. Luke and Harry Treadway
deliver searing performances as two very different parts of one
fatally compromised whole, and the film and its music will stick with
you for days.
“Close to Home” (Karov La Bayit), directed and written by Dalia Hager
and Vidi Bilu (Israel) – New York Premiere. In this critically
acclaimed study of Israeli women and compulsory military service, two
diametrically opposed women are thrown together on patrol in
Jerusalem: Mirit is respectful of her military superiors, while
Smadar barely conceals her desires for rebellion. When a bomb
explodes, the two reconcile their differences, and a tenuous
friendship is forged.
“Eden,” directed and written by Michael Hofmann (Germany) – North
American Premiere. In this charming culinary comedy, Gregor is a
distinguished chef who specializes in aphrodisiac dishes but can’t
seem to work his sensual magic on women. When the portly chef meets
the delectable but married Eve, he gets a taste of true love. But can
their shared gastronomical passions turn into something more
“Hanging Garden” (Kuutyuu Teien), directed and written by Toshiaki
Toyoda (Japan) – New York Premiere. Meet the Kyobashis, a model
suburban Japanese family. Or are they? In director Toshiaki Toyoda’s
skillful examination of contemporary domestic malaise, a mother’s
plan for the perfect family initially seems to be working, but we
soon learn that her perceived perfection is a lie that each family
member chooses to believe at the expense of reality.
“The Heart of the Game,” a documentary directed and written by Ward
Serrill (U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. A Miramax Release. In the
tradition of Hoop Dreams, this heart-pounding documentary about
girls, race, and basketball follows a talented if occasionally self-
destructive teenage star and her coach over the course of six years
as she, her team, and her coach suffer crushing defeats and soaring
victories on and off the court.
“Kill Gil (Volume 1),” a documentary directed by Gil Rossellini (Italy)
– New York Premiere. Gil Rossellini (son of Italian filmmaker Roberto
and brother of actress Isabella) documents his battle with a rare and
devastating bacterial infection, which made him a paraplegic. Shot in
a charmingly low-tech, off-the-cuff manner, Kill Gil (Volume 1)
conveys a tremendous sense of hope and perseverance, while avoiding
pat feelings of pity and morbidity. In English.
“loudQUIETloud,” a documentary directed by Steven Cantor and Matthew
Galkin (U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. The Pixies reunite 12 years
after their inauspicious split and set out to re-conquer the world,
and their own demons. This dazzling concert doc eschews rock-god
cliches and goes straight to the heart of four people who need music-
and one another-more than they ever knew.
“Madeinusa,” directed and written by Claudia Llosa (Peru, Spain) – New
York Premiere. The title heroine of this stunning debut work lives in
a remote Andean village where, every Easter weekend, the villagers
live sinfully without fear of celestial reprisal. When our ostensible
hero blows into town from the big city and meets the heroine, what
could spin into a classic fairy-tale takes a surreal, satisfying turn.
“The Sacred Family” (La Sagrada Familia), directed and written by
Sebastian Campos (Chile) – New York Premiere. In this keenly observed
debut feature, architecture student Marco brings Sofia, his new and
impulsive girlfriend, home to meet his parents over Easter weekend.
Sofia’s flirtatious, manipulative ways soon crack the veneer of
Marco’s bourgeois family, turning the entire household upside-down.
“The Shutka Book of Records,” a documentary directed by Aleksandar
Manic (Serbia and Montenegro) – New York Premiere. In the Balkan
town of Shutka, the Romani (Gypsy) population is thriving and
everyone is considered a champion at something. This droll film
introduces us to a variety of Shutka’s colorful, comically self-
assured champions, from the boxer and the lovemaker to the grave
robber and the vampire hunter.
“Sound of the Soul,” a documentary directed by Stephen Olsson (U.S.A.)
– New York Premiere. In a world where religions often drive people
apart, Sound of the Soul offers a joyfully welcome reminder that
spirituality can also bring us together. The film explores Morocco’s
historic heritage of tolerance, and showcases a stunning array of
brilliant musicians at the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, whose
profound expressions of love and longing are unforgettable.
“Taking Father Home” (Bei Ya Zi De Nan Hai), directed by Ying Liang,
written by Ying Liang and Peng Shan (China) – New York Premiere.
Filled with bitterness and a thirst for revenge, a 17-year-old boy
leaves his rural Chinese village to seek out the father who abandoned
him 6 years earlier. But once the boy arrives in the big city of
Zigong, the long-awaited encounter with his father leads him to make
a dramatic decision. In Mandarin.
“Viva Zapatero!,” a documentary directed and written by Sabina Guzzanti
(Italy) – New York Premiere. When Italian comedienne Guzzanti’s
satirical TV show was canceled after Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi’s media corporation filed a 20-million-euro lawsuit, she
got serious, sort of. Following in the footsteps of Michael Moore
(only far more talented at imitating her target), Guzzanti exposes
the seedy underbelly of Berlusconi’s Right-wing regime in this
viciously funny work.
“Wah-Wah,” directed and written by Richard E. Grant (U.K.) – New York
Premiere. A Roadside Attractions Release. Partially based on
childhood of this first-time director (and well-known actor) in
British-controlled Swaziland, Wah-Wah paints a picture of colonialism
on the wane and frames it with the story of a boy’s awakening to the
wider world. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, and Emily
“Word Play,” a documentary directed by Patrick Creadon (U.S.A.) – New
York Premiere. An IFC Release. Tag along with Will Shortz, the
legendary crossword editor of the New York Times, as he and his
fellow word enthusiasts construct the newspaper’s brainteasers and
the annual American Crossword Tournament, which Shortz founded. Also
featuring interviews with crossword-puzzle devotees Bill Clinton, Bob
Dole, Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, the Indigo Girls, and others. Co-
presented by the New York Times.
“Big Combo,” directed by Joseph H. Lewis, written by Philip Yordan
(U.S.A., 1955) – World Premiere Restoration. The UCLA Film &
Television Archive’s new restoration of this memorably nasty film
noir is especially good news since it was shot by the master of noir
lighting, John Alton, and the prints available in recent years didn’t
do justice to his art. Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy,
and Lee Van Cleef give standout performances in this cult classic.
“Burning Patience” (Ardiente Paciencia), directed and written by
Antonio Skarmeta (Portugal and Germany, 1983) – North American
Premiere Revival. A postman’s life is forever changed when Pablo
Neruda, the famous Chilean poet and diplomat, is exiled to the
postman’s remote village. Writer/director Skarmeta’s charming, sexy,
and largely overlooked film was the original screen adaptation of his
own popular novella, which was also the basis for the 1994 film, Il
Postino. In Spanish
“Fair Wind to Java,” directed by Joseph Kane, written by Richard
Tregaskis (U.S.A.) World Premiere Restoration. This 1953 South Seas
adventure, starring Fred MacMurray and Vera Ralston, is the essence
of Republic Pictures’ “B” movie style, and it’s been lovingly
restored to its TruColor glory by the UCLA Film and Television
Archive. Climaxing with a volcanic explosion that must be seen to be
disbelieved, it’s the ultimate Saturday matinee experience.
Introduced by Martin Scorsese.
“On the Bowery,” directed by Lionel Rogosin, written by Richard Bagley
and Lionel Rogosin (U.S.A., 1957). World Premiere Restoration. On the
heels of its lovely restoration of Lionel Rogosin’s Come Back, Africa
(1960), which premiered at TFF last year, the Cineteca di Bologna has
just finished restoring Rogosin’s first film, the Oscar(R)-nominated
documentary about the harsh and often shocking realities of life on
what in the ’50s was New York’s Skid Row.
“Prix de Beaute,” directed by Augusto Genina, written by Rene Clair and
G.W. Pabst (France). As her final starring role, the legendary
Louise Brooks plays a typist who wins a beauty contest in this French-
shot feature. We are screening the rare silent version, which is
somewhat different from the sound version that is usually shown.
Preceded by Giovani Pastrone’s one-reeler, The Fall of Troy (1911).
Both films with live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin and live
translation of French and Italian intertitles.
“The River,” directed by Jean Renoir, written by Rumer Godden and Jean
Renoir (India, U.S.A.). A not-to-be-missed screening of a recent
restoration, which returns one of the most memorable and lovely color
films of all time to its original glow. A group of English colonials
on the banks of the Ganges gradually succumb to India’s eternal
perspectives. Renoir’s images flow with the same languor as the
metaphorical river. In English.
“Tribute to Nam June Paik,” A collection of work by Korea-born, New
York-based video art pioneer Nam June Paik, who died in January.
Presented in collaboration with the Nam June Paik Studio, Electronic
Arts Intermix, and John Hanhardt, Senior Curator of the Film and
Media Arts department at the Guggenheim Museum.
“Air Guitar Nation,” a documentary directed by Alexandra Lipsitz
(U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. Fueled by pure rock energy, this doc
chronicles the unlikely birth of the U.S. Air Guitar Championship and
the intense rivalries that develop on the way to the event in
Finland. Also featured are jam sessions and interviews with notable
air guitarists and the “airheads” who follow them.
“Alone with Her,” directed and written by Eric Nicholas (U.S.A.) –
World Premiere. In this skin-crawling, fact-based thriller partially
shot on surveillance equipment, Doug (Colin Hanks) sets his sights on
a young woman, slyly inserts himself into her life, and plants hidden
cameras in her apartment. But when another man comes on the scene,
Doug must take desperate measures.
“Another Gay Movie,” directed by Todd Stephens, written by Stephens and
Tim Kaltenecker (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. TLA Releasing. In this
raunchy, gay spoof of teen movies, a group of high school grads swear
they will lose their anal virginity before going to college. And so
they spend their summer-and this movie-trying to get laid. Lypsinka,
Scott Thompson, and Graham Norton among others make some hilarious
cameos. Jokes, costumes, vomit, sex, and gerbils included. Mature
“Cocaine Cowboys,” a documentary directed by Billy Corben (U.S.A.) –
World Premiere. When brutal Colombian cocaine lords moved to Miami in
the early ’80s, they brought with them a form of decadence, drugs,
and debauchery that hadn’t been seen since the Prohibition days. This
stylized, high-energy film reveals how Miami went from a sleepy
southern city to a drug-and-murder capital, as told by the people who
put the vice in Miami Vice.
“The Gravedancers,” directed by Mike Mendez, written by Brad Keene and
Chris Skinner (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Three old college friends
visit their dead friend’s grave, where they find a strange song
printed on a condolence card. What they do next arouses a trio of
psychopathic ghosts who will stop at nothing to see that the friends
pay for their indiscretion. Starring Dominic Purcell, Josie Maran,
and Tcheky Karyo.
“Hatchet,” directed and written by Adam Green (U.S.A.) – World
Premiere. Green’s note-perfect homage to late ’70s and early ’80s
slasher movies pits a deformed, hatchet-wielding baddie against a
group of young Mardi Gras revelers on a “Haunted Swamp Tour.” Filled
with boobs, beer, beads, and buckets of blood, Hatchet is sure to
make you laugh and jump out of your seat at the same time.
“Sam’s Lake,” directed and written by Andrew Erin (U.S.A.) – World
Premiere. In this debut horror feature, a young woman brings some
friends to a lakeside house in an isolated area, where 40 years
earlier a deranged teenager murdered his entire family. Instead of
relaxation and fun, the group discovers that the murderer’s legacy
persists and that their own lives are threatened by the legend of
“Sheitan,” directed by Kim Chapiron, written by Chapiron and Christian
Chapiron (France) – International Premiere. Three buddies meet two
gorgeous girls in a Parisian nightclub and count themselves lucky
when the girls invite them to an isolated country house. Upon
arrival, they meet a bizarre caretaker (Vincent Cassel) with a
sinister smile, and it only gets freakier from there. Sheitan is sure
to shock with its envelope-pushing absurdity, high-energy suspense,
and first-rate bloody horror.
“Too Tough to Die,” a documentary directed by Mandy Stein (U.S.A.) –
World Premiere. On September 12, 2004, just two-and-a-half days
before Johnny Ramone’s death, a group of musicians and friends-among
them Deborah Harry, Eddie Vedder, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers-
staged a benefit concert to celebrate The Ramones’ 30th anniversary
and to raise money for cancer research. Mandy Stein’s touching
rockumentary captures that unforgettable evening.
Additional Spotlight Films:
“The Road to Guantanamo,” co-directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat
Whitecross. (U.K.) – North American Premiere. A Roadside Attractions
release . How four British Muslim boys’ wedding trip to Pakistan
wound up with one of them missing and the other three interned for
years as prisoners being subjected to horrific interrrogations at
Guantanamo. This gripping and disturbing film was awarded the Silver
Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival.
“The Gates” – excerpts from a work-in-progress by Antonio Ferrera,
Albert and David Maysles, Matthew Prinzing. (U.S.A) – World Premiere.
In 1979, legendary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles began shooting
The Gates as Christo and Jeanne-Claude began pursuing their dream of
adorning Central Park with miles of saffron-colored cloth-a massive,
controversial, and ultimately successful public art project. The
artists will join Albert Maysles in a discussion of the film. An HBO
documentary film. Excerpts from another Maysles work-in-progress, The
Dalai Lama in Central Park, will also be screened.