With more than 150 features, some have criticized the 6th Tribeca Film Festival for offering a roster that is too eclectic and of mixed quality. But, by the end of the lengthy fest, a number of top-notch new movies had risen to the top despite the daunting lineup of screenings spread all around town. So to wrap up TFF ’07, we are putting aside criticisms about the festival and its ticket-prices to single out some of the best movies that this year’s festival had to offer. indieWIRE’s ten best hotlist today highlights some of the movies that struck our fancy. Some made their world premiere at the festival, while others arrived with buzz from screenings at other international film festivals. We invite indieWIRE readers to consider our favorites and offer, in the comments section at the end of the article, their tips on other Tribeca festival films worth watching.
“We Are Together” (Thina Simunye), directed by Paul Taylor
The uplifting story of South Africa’s Agape orphanage for children abandoned by parents stricken with AIDS, Taylor’s “We Are Together” follows the group of kids while the train as members of a choir, amidst ongoing hardships and tragedies. The film, from HBO and the Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation, won the audience award at IDFA in Amsterdam and won the same prize in Tribeca where it stirred audiences.
“The Gates,” directed by Antonio Ferrera and Albert Maysles
Tightly packed into about 90 minutes is an expertly assembled verite look at Christo and Jeanne-Claude, culled from some 600 hours of footage dating back to 1979, when Albert and David Maysles first began following the artists’ battle to install some 7,500 metal gates draped with brightly colored fabric throughout New York’c Central Park. “The Gates,” which closed the Tribeca festival over the weekend, is another HBO production eyeing a potential theatrical release ahead of its TV debut on the cable network.
“2 Days in Paris,” directed by Julie Delpy
A sort of “Meet The Parents” set in Paris, Delpy’s sharp, entertaining low-budget comedy offers both hilarious and poignant elements after lead character Marion (played by Delpy) brings her liberal yet neurotic New Yorker boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) to visit her loud, sometimes brash family in Paris (played by Delpy’s own parents) at the end of a vacation in Venice. Delpy wrote, directed, edited, stars in and even composed music for the film, set for a release later this year Samuel Goldwyn Films and Red Envelope Entertainment.
“Shotgun Stories,” directed by Jeff Nichols
An American indie produced by filmmaker David Gordon Green (“Snow Angels,” “George Washington”) and his longtime collaborator Lisa Muskat, Jeff Nichols widescreen feature debut is a thriller about a powerful feud that flourishes among two groups of half brothers in rural Arkansas. The film debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival and is marked by a roster of strong performances.
“In Search of a Midnight Kiss,” directed by Alex Holdridge
Described by indieWIRE writer Howard Feinstein as, “The story of a sad slacker and a troubled gal wandering through downtown L.A.,” Alex Holdridge’s “In Search of a Midnight Kiss” is further praised as, “an affectionate paean to the ‘City of Angels’. Solicited to offer his top picks from the festival today, Feinstein called the film a, “brilliant black-and-white road movie through Los Angeles, addding that it, “reveals a great new talent and was by far the best American feature in Tribeca.”
“Rebirth of a Nation,” by DJ Spooky
A reimagining of D.W. Griffith’s ‘Birth of a Nation’, Paul D. Miller (AKA DJ Spooky) uses his DJ skills to remix and deconstruct the controversial film, with a new soundtrack by Kronos Quartet. Backed by Starz Media, the unique event screened for more than 2,000 people at two festival showings over the weekend and will be released later this year after an additional run of special event screenings.
“Chavez,” directed by Diego Luna
Described by Howard Feinstein as, “A dynamic doc about lightweight boxing champ Julio Cesar Chavez that applies the aesthetics of the classical boxing film,” actor Diego Luna’s directorial debut parallels the rise and fall of Chavez with the promise and dashed hopes of Mexico. Executive produced by Luna’s business partner Gael Garcia Bernal, the film had its world premiere at the festival.
“I Am an American Soldier: One Year in Iraq With the 101st Airborne,” directed by John Laurence
“These grunts speak freely and what they say and do scares the hell out of me,” explains Howard Feinstein, “It stays with you after the self-consciousness of [festival award-winner] ‘Taxi to the Dark Side’ is forgotten.”
“Half Moon,” directed by Bahman Ghobadi
“Once again, Ghobadi gives screen time to his fellow Kurds, this time and aging musician and his motley pack of would-be performers on a magic bus trying to outwit Iranian officials on the road to a concert n Kurdistan,” writes Howard Feinstein.
“Times and Winds,” directed by Reha Erdem
Howard Feinstein calls the film, “A spiritual odyssey set in a mountain village focusing on three adolescents,” adding, “This was the best film in the festival.”
And a few more TFF films worth checking out: Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern’s “The Devil Came on Horseback,” Li Yu’s “Lost in Bejing,” Ozer Kiziltan’s “Takva: A Man’s Fear of God,” and Jia Zhang-ke’s “Still Life,” as well as award winners, including, David Volach’s “My Father My Lord” (Hofshat Kaits), Nouri Bouzid’s “Making Of” (Akher Film), and Esther Robinson’s “A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory.”
[Howard Feinstein and James Israel contributed to this article.]