DISPATCH FROM TRIBECA: Hollywood, South Africa, Parties and More
by Eugene Hernandez
The 3rd Tribeca Film Festival again drew big crowds to lower Manhattan, kicking off this weekend with a broad mix of movies, from crowd-pleasing Hollywood fare to issue-oriented docs and experimental offerings. Of course a roster of parties have already kicked downtown.
Opening Night (and The Night Before)
Garry Marshall's "Raising Helen," a summer release from Disney's Touchstone Pictures, starring Kate Hudson, kicked off the fest with a star-studded Tribeca Performing Arts Center screening that spilled over to a second screening at Stuyvesant High School across the street. While after the showing, guests made their way over to the Winter Garden for a gala South African-themed bash party celebrating ten years of democracy in the country.
Marshall, who famously showcases performances by women in his films, remains a master of the light-hearted, crowd-pleasing studio comedy, having directed such films as "Pretty Woman," "Beaches," "Frankie & Johnny," and "The Princess Diaries". His latest film was just as satisfying for audiences, screening to applause on Saturday night.
Earlier in the day, as part of the South African celebration, fest founders Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, along with fest director Peter Scarlet, were joined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a morning press conference; he likened the revitalization of Lower Manhattan to the rebuilding of South Africa. "Lower Manhattan will be a bustling, lively place, and it will be an inspiration to many," Tutu was quoted as saying at the news conference. "You might destroy structures, but you can't destroy people."
Partying kicked off one day early this year, with The New York Times and the Tribeca Film Festival toasting New York Filmmaking and the festival's local filmmakers with a Friday night party at the nicely revamped Tribeca Cinemas (formerly known as The Screening Room). The festive and fun celebration, with sponsor libation SKYY Vodka flowing at both the upstairs and downstairs bars, drew a big crowd of partiers with many of the festival's staff celebrating the arrival of this year's event. A nice way to launch this massive (and at times daunting) new festival.
A Weekend of Movies
A group of classics screened over the weekend in the Restored and Rediscovered section, which was again co-curated by festival supporter Martin Scorsese. Elia Kazan's "East of Eden," the 1955 film starring James Dean, was shown on Saturday, along with Stanley Kramer's 1947 movie "So This Is New York" and John Cassavetes' "Shadows" from 1961. Among the other movies that will screen in the section are Peter Glenville's "Becket" (1964) and Melvin Van Peebles' "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song" from 1971.
Among the new docs that screened in Tribeca this weekend include Joe Fab & Elliot Berlin's "Paper Clips", about a unique Holocaust memorial, Jim DeSeve's gay marriage film "Tying the Knot", and photographer Bruce Weber's "A Letter To True." Tonight, Lilibet Foster will unveil her doc "Brotherhood", about the day-to-day lives of New York City firemen. A large group of local firemen are anticipated at the event, which will be followed by a party in Lower Manhattan. Equally festive will be the debut screening of Roger Paradiso's "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding". The screening tonight will begin with the live wedding of two people who won the "Tony N' Tina's Free Wedding Giveaway" contest. After the ceremony and showing, the combined wedding reception and movie premiere after party will celebrate the union as well as the film's debut.
And More to Come
Among other parties, the Tribeca All Access program will kick-off today with a lunch and orientation for participants. While tomorrow Kodak will host two events for the local film community and fest participants (including a party for registered filmmakers and industry, co-hosted by indieWIRE), Vanity Fair's annual bash is also on tap. Wednesday will see a number of celebrations, including Wellspring toasting its three festival films (Andre Techine's "Strayed", Cedric Kahn's "Red Lights" and Liz Mermin's "Beauty Academy of Kabul"), United Artists celebrating Jim Jarmusch's latest with a late-night gathering, and parties for the films "America Brown" by Paul Black, and Ruth Leitman's "Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling." On Thursday, Discovery Docs and Camera Planet honor their first doc, Peter Gilbert's "With All Deliberate Speed," while on Friday, Sony Classics will celebrate "Carandiru" and Showtime Independent Films will celebrate its festival titles (Tim Daly & Clark Mathis' "Bereft", Lisa Cholodenko's "Cavedweller", Chris Eyre's "Edge of America", and Mario Van Peebles' "Baadasssss!") and entertain guests at a famous Tribeca hotspot.