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by Brian Brooks
March 10, 2010 4:53 AM
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85 Features for 9th Tribeca Fest; Competition Rosters Revealed

Tribeca Film Festival founders Robert DeNiro (center) and Jane Rosenthal (right), with executive director Nancy Schafer (left) and Spike Lee (background), at last year's event. Photo by indieWIRE

Eighty five feature films will screen at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival, on par with the size of last year's leaner roster, but its half the number that screened in the festival just four years ago. Today, organizers are unveiling a list of 33 films, including two dozen competition titles, for this year's event. The festival will be held in New York City from April 21st - May 2nd.

Planners are touting a full roster that showcases work from 38 different countries. They reiterated that the lineup include 45 world premieres this year, selected from a record total of 5,055 submissions. 38 of this year's 85 features are directorial debuts.

As was previously announced, the festival will open with the 3D sequel to the animated tent pole, "Shrek." Mike Mitchell's "Shrek Forever After" will open the festival at the Ziegfeld Theater in Manhattan with an after party at MoMA.

This year's Tribeca Film Festival will feature nine sections: World Narrative Competition, World Documentary Competition, Cinemania, Discovery, Encounters, Spotlight, Showcase, Galas and Special Events. The rest of the fest's feature film lineup will be announced on March 15, 2010, while gala screenings will be announced in the coming weeks.

Consistent with how other recent major festivals have characters larger themes in their lineups, Tribeca Film Festival executive director Nancy Schafer and director of programming David Kwok said that stories revolving around close relations are consistent topics in Tribeca '10s batch.

"In the narrative competition, there are a lot of family stories, but I don't want to make that sound rosier then it is," Schafer told indieWIRE on yesterday. "[These films] are about blood relatives and the people around us getting through life. But they're not all 'The Jeffersons.'"

Tribeca's lineup also includes a few films manipulating their respective forms in order to tell a story from a non-traditional perspective, with two films in particular using opposite approaches, melding fiction and non-fiction approaches.

"Some films are playing with form such as in [narrative competition film] 'Snap' (written and directed by Carmel Winters) which uses the film in a documentary style," Kwok said. "'The Arbor' (a doc competition film directed by Clio Barnard) uses narrative devices in telling a non-fiction story. I think it will be interesting to see how people will react and how they question [their approaches]."

Also breaking with convention, according to Schafer and Kwok, is Jay Anania narrative competition feature, "William Vincent." "It stars James Franco and Josh Lucas [and] it's not just traditional filmmaking," added Schafer. "It's not experimental, but he's playing with the form to carry the narrative." Geoffrey Alan Rhodes and Steven Eastwood's "Buried Land" also defies the norm, using documentary style to carry the story.

Also of note in the lineup is a work-in-progress of Alex Gibney's latest, which is using the working title, "Untitled Eliot Spitzer Film." Gibney was most recently in Sundance with "Casino Jack and the United States of Money." In this film, the Oscar-winning filmmaker turns the camera on disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer. Some had anticipated Spitzer would aim for the White House, until his daliance with a prostitute brought down his administration. "It's not just about the scandal, it's more comprehensive so it's not just a focus on the sensational," said Kwok.

Tribeca's initial list of titles today comes on the heels of a major announcement by the festival's for-profit counterpart, Tribeca Enterprises, announcing the launch of its distribution platform, Tribeca Film, and its online festival counterpart, Tribeca Film Festival Virtual. Schafer said response has been strong so far, with sales for TFFV's premium offering "strong," though no actual numbers were given.

"We've obviously made these big announcements, but the focus that David [Kwok] and senior programmer Genna [Teranova] have done is to have this great lineup," said Schafer. "The heart of the festival is to have great films, and that's what we've done. So regardless of what people have seen on the other front, they see that that's what we're still doing."

-- the complete list of competition films, as well as some non-competitive titles, are on page two --

World Narrative Feature Competition

"Buried Land," directed by Geoffrey Alan Rhodes and Steven Eastwood, written by Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, Steven Eastwood, and Dzenan Medanovic. (USA, UK, Bosnia and Herzegovina) – World and TFF Virtual Premiere.
The small town of Visoko heralds to the world a remarkable discovery: A valley of ancient pyramids predating Egypt exists under the hills of central Bosnia. Tourists flood the war-scarred region, and locals are caught between the real and the imagined (mirroring the film’s vacillation between documentary and fiction). With the help of a young man returning to his homeland, an American film crew determines the role of faith in capturing what cannot yet be proven. In English, Bosnian with English subtitles.

"Dog Pound," directed by Kim Chapiron, written by Kim Chapiron and Jeremie Delon. (France) – World Premiere
In North America more than 100,000 children are held in detention centers. Sixty percent are destined to become repeat offenders. Director Kim Chapiron (Sheitan, TFF ’06) takes a searing look at three incarcerated teenagers fighting for their lives and for hope. An electrifying cast delivers blistering performances packed with intensity and emotional power in this story of unlikely friendships in the midst of a brutal and deficient correctional system.

"Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti)," directed by Ferzan Ozpetek, written by Ivan Cotroneo and Ferzan Ozpetek. (Italy) – North American Premiere
Ferzan Ozpetek (Facing Windows, A Perfect Day) sets this playful family comedy in the picturesque city of Lecce in the deep south of Italy. Tomasso, a reluctant soon-to-be-partner in his wealthy family’s pasta business, has plans to come out—and hopefully get out of his familial obligation. But when his plans are thwarted by his brother, Tomasso gets stuck on the path that he was desperately trying to avoid. In Italian with English subtitles.

"Lucky Life," directed by Lee Isaac Chung, written by Lee Isaac Chung and Samuel Gray Anderson. (USA) – World Premiere
When one of them falls ill, a group of friends takes one last trip to the beach, desiring a meaningful farewell. Years later, as one of the couples plans to have a child, the trip lingers as a haunting memory. Lee Isaac Chung’s follow-up to his award-winning Munyurangabo is equal parts graceful, warmly acted relationship drama and beautifully shot visual poem.

"My Brothers," directed by Paul Fraser, written by William Collins. (Ireland) – World Premiere
When 17-year-old Noel accidentally breaks his dying father’s most prized possession—a cheap wristwatch—he and his two cheeky younger brothers “borrow” the boss’ bread van for a clandestine quest to replace it. But what begins as a quick road trip soon turns into an emotional odyssey for the boys. A longtime writing collaborator of Shane Meadows (Somers Town, TFF ’08 award winner), Paul Fraser makes a stellar feature directing debut with this poignant and bitingly funny family journey.

"Open House," directed and written by Andrew Paquin. (USA) – World Premiere
Brian Geraghty gives a haunting performance as prim and taciturn David, forced for years to watch over his sexually predatory partner Lila and her violent urges. David longs for human connection and a less violent existence, and when a would-be victim becomes a chance at redemption, he is torn between his humanity and the only life he’s ever known.

"Paju," directed and written by Chan-ok Park. (South Korea) – North American Premiere
Joongshik and Eunmo live in Paju: a gray town where the urban landscape is as bleak as the fate of its residents. In writer/director Chan-ok Park's emotionally intense follow-up to award-winning Jealousy Is My Middle Name (TFF ’03), the personal travails of two antiheros are delicately unveiled through an anachronistic period of eight years, demonstrating how easily the lines of development and destruction are sometimes blurred. In Korean with English subtitles.

"Gainsbourg, Je t'Aime... Moi Non Plus," directed and written by Joann Sfar. (France) – International Premiere.
From a young man in Nazi-occupied Paris to the sultry crooner who bedded Brigitte Bardot and married Jane Birkin to the vulnerable poet hidden behind a shroud of provocation—Serge Gainsbourg’s is a life large enough for grand treatment on film. One of France’s greatest mavericks is brought back to life (uncannily, by Eric Elmosnino) in this imaginative and visually flamboyant film debut from one of France’s greatest cartoonists. In French with English subtitles.

"Snap," directed and written by Carmel Winters. (Ireland) – World Premiere
With a fresh and intense style, playwright-turned-director Carmel Winters composes a gripping psychological drama about three generations of a family poised to repeat the mistakes of the past. Aisling O’Sullivan (The War Zone) commands the screen as a calloused mother who will do anything to protect her son—even deny her own past. From the producers of TFF award winner Eden and the Academy Award® winner Once.

"When We Leave (Die Fremde)," directed and written by Feo Aladag. (Germany) – North American Premiere
When young Turkish-German woman Umay can no longer stand her husband’s ill-treatment, she flees from Istanbul with her five-year-old son into the arms of her family in Berlin. But love, affection, and loyalty soon become irrelevant as they struggle to reconcile Umay’s willful self-determination with the social system that governs their lives. This passion piece on female flight from oppression builds its considerable dramatic intensity to a glowing payoff. In German, Turkish with English subtitles.

"The White Meadows (Keshtzar haye sepid)," directed and written by Mohammad Rasoulof. (Iran) – North American Premiere
Poetry, mythology, metaphor, and the absurd are expertly woven to tell the fable-like story of Rahmat, who sails from island to island off the coast of Iran to collect tears. Moody and elegant, The White Meadows is acclaimed writer/director Mohammad Rasoulof’s (Head Wind, TFF ’08) mesmerizing cinematic statement on conformity, social norms, and the collective condition of Iran. In Persian with English subtitles.

"William Vincent," directed and written by Jay Anania. (USA) – World Premiere.
The versatile James Franco (Milk, Spider-Man) stars in the story of William Vincent, a quiet and peculiar criminal uninterested in the fruits of crime. When he falls for a gangster’s (Josh Lucas) favorite call girl (Julianne Nicholson), William is forced to flee New York. But after four years in exile, William secretly returns, intent on rescuing the woman he loves from her dangerous fate.


World Documentary Feature Competition

"American Mystic," directed by Alex Mar. (USA) – World Premiere.
Set against a vivid backdrop of American rural landscapes, Alex Mar’s meditative documentary artfully weaves together the stories of three young Americans exploring alternative religion: a Wiccan in California mining country, a New Ager in upstate New York, and a Native American father and sundancer in South Dakota, all yearning for fulfilling spirituality in disparate but often strikingly similar ways.

"The Arbor," directed by Clio Barnard. (UK) – World Premiere.
Brilliantly blending the borders of narrative and documentary filmmaking, artist-cum-director Clio Barnard beautifully reconstructs the fascinating true story of troubled British playwright Andrea Dunbar and her tumultuous relationship with her daughter. Working from two years of audio interviews, Bernard uses classic documentary techniques, actors, theatrical performance, and Dunbar’s own neighborhood to generate a unique cinematic feast while unraveling the truths of a dark family past.

"Budrus," directed by Julia Bacha. (USA, Palestine, Israel) – North American Premiere.
In one of the most conflicted parts of the world, a Palestinian family man unites rival parties Fatah and Hamas, Western activists, and even groups of progressive Israelis in a nonviolent crusade to save his village from being destroyed. Award-winning documentarian Julia Bacha (Encounter Point, TFF ’06) captures with rawness and galvanizing intensity the power of ordinary people to peaceably fight for extraordinary changes. In Arabic, English, Hebrew with English subtitles.

"Earth Made of Glass," directed by Deborah Scranton. (USA) – World Premiere.
This powerful investigative documentary by the Oscar®-nominated director of The War Tapes (best doc, TFF ’06) skillfully weaves interviews with President Kagame of Rwanda and Jean-Pierre Sagahutu, a survivor of the horrific 1994 genocide. When a president and a citizen—bound together by a profound love of country and an unquenchable desire to see the truth revealed—fight to expose the truth behind a murder and France's hidden role in the Rwandan genocide, their stories will inspire and uplift. In English, French, Kinyarwandan with English subtitles.

"Feathered Cocaine," directed by Thorkell Hardarsson and Örn Marino Arnarson. (Iceland) – World Premiere.
Behind drugs, people, and weapons, falcon smuggling has become the world’s most mysterious and profitable illegal trade. Held in highest esteem by the wealthy elite throughout the Persian Gulf, the sporting birds have earned the label “feathered cocaine” as thieves race to ransack them from all parts of the world. This bold investigative documentary unspools the surprising links between the falcon trade and royal dynasties, the CIA and KGB, the oil industry, and Al Qaeda….

"Freetime Machos," directed by Mika Ronkainen. (Finland, Germany) – North American and TFF Virtual Premiere. Matti and Mikko play for Finland’s worst amateur rugby team. Overworked and domesticated, the two men long for a space to revel in their masculinity and bond with other men. Following the two friends and their teammates on a quest to end the season with just a single win, award-winning writer/director Mika Ronkainen (Screaming Men) crafts a genuine and disarmingly funny love story of modern male friendship. In Finnish with English subtitles. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

"Into Eternity," directed by Michael Madsen. (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Italy) – International Premiere.
Three miles below the earth, the people of Finland are constructing an enormous tomb to lay to rest their share of humans’ 300,000 tons of nuclear waste. To avoid disaster, it must remain untouched for at least 100,000 years. In this poetic, hauntingly beautiful, and thought-provoking doc, Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen ponders how to warn future civilizations that the buried treasure of our nuclear era—unlike the pyramids and great tombs of pharaohs—must never, ever be discovered.

"Monica & David," directed by Alexandra Codina. (USA) – North American Premiere.
Monica and David are in love. Truly, blissfully in love. They also happen to have Down syndrome. Alexandra Codina’s affectionate and heartwarming documentary is an intimate, year-in-the-life portrait of two child-like spirits with adult desires. Supported (and, for more than 30 years, sheltered) by endlessly devoted mothers, Monica and David prepare for their fairy tale wedding and face the realities of married life afterward.

"Sons of Perdition," directed by Jennilyn Merten, Tyler Measom. (USA) – World Premiere.
In the polygamist community cultivated by the notorious (and now incarcerated) “prophet” Warren Jeffs, women are a commodity, children are reared to be ignorant, and free thought is surrendered. For a group of teenage boys, the desire for autonomy means banishment from their homes and families. This fascinating documentary explores the heartbreaking losses and hopeful determination of these exiles as they struggle to make new lives in mainstream America.

"Thieves By Law (Ganavim ba Hok)," directed by Alexander Gentelev. (Israel, Germany, Spain) – World Premiere.
In an unprecedented insider first look, Thieves by Law is a front-row invitation into the living rooms and offices of some of the most controversial and elite head honchos in the Russian mafia. Rising through the criminal ranks, the balance of what’s legitimate versus what’s illegal, and the meaning behind those tattoos made so famous by Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises… it’s all out on the table. In Russian, Hebrew with English subtitles.

"The Two Escobars," directed by Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist. (USA, Colombia) – World Premiere.
Born in the same city in Colombia but not related, Andrés Escobar and Pablo Escobar shared a fanatical love of soccer. Andrés grew up to become one of Colombia's most beloved players, while Pablo became the most notorious drug baron of all time. While adeptly investigating the secret marriage of crime and sports, Michael Zimbalist and Jeff Zimbalist (Favela Rising, TFF ’05) reveal the surprising connections between the murders of Andrés and Pablo. An ESPN Films release. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

"The Woodmans," directed by C. Scott Willis. (USA, Italy, China) – World Premiere.
The Woodmans are a family united in their belief that art-making is the highest form of expression and an essential way of life, but it’s only photographer daughter Francesca who achieves worldwide acclaim—after a tragedy that would forever scar the family. With unrestricted access to all of Francesca's works and diaries, The Woodmans paints an incisive portrait of a family broken and then healed by its art. In English, Italian with English subtitles.


Showcase

"Blood and Rain (La sangre y la lluvia)," directed by Jorge Navas, written by Carlos Henao, Alizé Le Maoult, and Jorge Navas. (Colombia, Argentina) – New York Premiere.
In Jorge Navas’ beautifully composed neo-noir, taxi driver Jorge begins his night shift bent on revenge after his brother’s murder at the hands of a violent gang. But when an accident brings him unexpectedly closer to his party-girl fare Angela, the damaged pair must struggle against forces already set in motion, drawing them inexorably into the rain-soaked underworld of Bogotá. In Spanish with English subtitles.

"A Brand New Life (Yeo-haeng-ja)," directed and written by Ounie Lecomte. (South Korea, France) – New York Premiere.
When her father offers to take her on a trip, nine-year-old Jin-hee happily sings him a love song, the bittersweet notes inaudible to her own ear, until she realizes he has abandoned her at a Catholic orphanage. Celebrated from the Cannes to Berlin film festivals, Ounie Lecomte’s directorial debut, a semi-autobiographical portrait of 1970s South Korea, masterfully captures the emotional journey of loss, friendship, and starting anew. In Korean with English subtitles.

"Heartbreaker (L'arnacoeur)," directed by Pascal Chaumeil, written by Laurent Zeitoun, Jeremy Doner, and Yoann Gromb. (France) – New York Premiere.
Alex (Romain Duris) and his sister (Julie Ferrier) break up couples for a living. They have a 100 percent success rate and only two rules: Never split a healthy couple, and never fall in love. But with a week to break up beautiful Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) and her seemingly perfect boyfriend, the rules start to bend, and soon the heartbreakers risk having their own hearts broken. This charming and glamorous romantic comedy veers from laughs to tears to tears of laughter. In French with English subtitles.

"Lola," directed by Brillante Mendoza, written by Linda Casimiro. (Philippines, France) – New York Premiere.
Two elderly matriarchs bear the consequences of a crime involving their grandsons: one is murdered, the other is the suspect. Frail, poor, but resolute, they individually traipse around to the prisons, funeral homes, and courtrooms of a stormy Manila in hopes of raising the funds necessary for the victim's burial, and the suspect's bail bond. Brillante Mendoza, named best director at Cannes for Kinatay (2009), is one of the strongest cinematic voices from the Philippines. In Filipino, Tagalog with English subtitles.

"Metropia," directed by Tarik Saleh, written by Fredrik Edin, Stig Larsson, and Tarik Saleh. (Sweden, Denmark, Norway) – New York Premiere.
In the year 2024, all of Europe is united by a vast web of underground railways, populated by an army of downtrodden worker bees. When one such cog starts hearing voices and encounters a femme fatale shampoo model who seems to hold some answers, he finds himself unearthing a vast Orwellian conspiracy in this visually arresting animated noir. With the voices of Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgård, and Alexander Skarsgård. A Tribeca Film release.

"Moloch Tropical," directed by Raoul Peck, written by Jean-René Lemoine, Raoul Peck. (Haiti, France) – New York Premiere.
Haitian auteur Raoul Peck meticulously drapes the poetic across the political in his reflection on the universal malady of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Inspired by the last days of 19th-century Haitian king Henri Christophe, but set in the 21st century in the palace of Port-au-Prince, Moloch Tropical unnervingly resonates in the contemporary moment across different leaders and nations—from Saddam Hussein to Bill Clinton. In English, French, Creole with English subtitles.

"Road, Movie," directed and written by Dev Benegal. (USA, India) – US Premiere.
Loath to take over the family hair-oil business, young Vishnu jumps at the chance to drive his uncle’s beat-up Chevy truck across India to its new owner. The young runaway, wandering old entertainer, and beautiful woman he picks up along the way make for a magical journey that will change Vishnu’s life. With the sumptuous landscape of India as his canvas, director Dev Benegal paints a delightfully original road movie. In English, Hindi with English subtitles. A Tribeca Film release.


Special Events

"Doctor Zhivago," directed by David Lean, written by Robert Bolt. (USA, UK, 1965)
David Lean’s romantic Russian Revolution epic, adapted from Boris Pasternak’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, captured five Academy Awards® (including Best Adapted Screenplay) and five additional nominations after its 1965 release. In honor of its 45th anniversary, we welcome a magnificent state-of-the-art restoration of Doctor Zhivago, shown theatrically for the first time at Tribeca and available from Warner Home Video on Blu-ray disc May 4. Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness and Tom Courtenay star. In English, Russian with English subtitles.

"Untitled Eliot Spitzer Film," directed by Alex Gibney – Work in Progress screening.
Academy Award® winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, TFF ’07) takes an in-depth look at New York governor and ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ Eliot Spitzer, who many believed was on his way to becoming president. Then, shockingly, Spitzer's meteoric rise turned into a precipitous fall when he was caught seeing prostitutes. And as the Sheriff fell, so did the financial markets. With unique access to friends and enemies of the ex-governor, this documentary explores the hidden contours of this tale of hubris, sex, and power.

"The Western Front," directed and written by Zachary Iscol. (USA) – Work in Progress screening.
In 2004, writer/director Zachary Iscol fought as a US Marine in Al Anbar, Iraq’s most violent province. Five years later, Anbar has been transformed into one of the safest, but not because the insurgency was defeated. When Zach returns, he begins to confront the awful dilemmas he faced fighting an enemy that hid among civilians. Profoundly honest, this documentary explores these dilemmas from all sides to reveal a simple but surprising truth about the nature of war and peace.

[Andy Lauer and Eugene Hernandez contributed to this article]

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