By Andy Lauer | Indiewire May 1, 2009 at 5:50AM
The 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, heading into its final weekend, announced its winners last night at a ceremony in Manhattan. Asghar Farhad’s “About Elly” won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature and and Marshall Curry’s “Racing Dreams” (rather unsurprisingly) took the Best Documentary Feature prize. Other winners included director Rune Denstad Langlo (“North) who received the Best New Narrative Filmmaker nod, “The Eclipse” star Ciaran Hinds who received the Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film award, and Zoe Kazan whoe took the prize for Best Actress for "The Exploding Girl." Ian Olds, meanwhile, won the Best New Documentary Filmmaker prize for his film, “Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi."
In his review for indieWIRE, critic Eric Kohn says that "Fixer," which tells the story of Ajmal Naqshbandi, a young journalist working in Afghanistan who was executed by the Taliban in 2007, "smartly avoids trying to broaden Naqshbandi’s story to make a broader portrait of the war in Afghanistan, instead focusing on the particular details of the fixer’s kidnapping and why his government neglected to save him... Combining verite of Naqshbandi with the details of his capture and execution create a fascinatingly immediate reflection of the country’s misaligned priorities." Kohn is also a fan of Ti West's “House of The Devil” which he calls "a wet dream for horror fans" that "maintains a delightfully creepy aura throughout, while also functioning equally well as a low key study of youth alienation."
Cinematical also has some new reviews up, including Eric D. Snider's piece on Raymond De Felitta's "City Island," which he describes as "a merry comedy about one of those quarrelsome Italian-American families where everybody fights a lot but ultimately loves one another... Underneath the intentionally convoluted plot, this is a pretty simple comedy with simple goals: make us laugh, make us leave the theater smiling." Erik Davis writes that the Polish Brothers' latest, "Stay Cool" is "a film that leaps into your lap with its perky, original concept, but then slowly but surely fails to deliver ... well, pretty much everything... 'Stay Cool' definitely has its brief moments of laugh-out-loud nostalgia -- and how can it not when the Polish boys populate their cast with some of our favorite '80s movie stars, like Winona Ryder, Sean Astin, Chevy Chase, Jon Cryer and Michael Gross (who practically steals every scene he's in). The main problem with 'Stay Cool' isn't with its idea or intentions; it's with its execution."
In Spike Lee-related news, Variety reports that PBS has acquired Lee's adaptation of the musical "Passing Strange," and plans for it to air in 2010 with a possible limited theatrical release in the late summer or early fall. Meanwhile, "Kobe Doin' Work," the other film Lee has screening at Tribeca, has been garnering mixed reactions. Ethan Alter, in his review for the Hollywood Reporter, writes that "There have been a number of films about professional basketball made over the years, but none of them looks quite like 'Kobe Doin' Work,' Spike Lee's innovative and intense chronicle of one game in the life of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant." Reporting on a screening of the film for the LA Times, however, Scott Feinberg says that "For some of even the biggest sports fans -- and there were plenty of them in attendance, from a large ESPN contingent, to professional athletes, to professional-sports buffs like myself -- the film proved a tedious affair."
Back at indieWIRE, Peter Knegt reports on a panel of industry insiders who spoke recently about alternative distribution and marketing 2.0 where Tribeca Enterprises’ Chief Creative Officer and former Sundance head Geoff Gilmore had this to say about the changing distribution landscape: "The system that we’ve evolved from has been going through this enormous change without us really even understanding [it]. Thirty years ago, video didn’t exist. Pay television didn’t exist. Those two ancillaries became the safety net for independent film. Everybody went out there with the idea that even if we don’t make back theatrical we’ll get half our money back with a pay television sale or some sort of video release. It’s gone. After thirty years, that safety net is gone."
Knegt was also on hand for indieWIRE and Apple's Filmmaker Talk with Eric Bana at the Apple Store SoHo on Tuesday, where he spoke about his directorial effort, “Love The Beast,” a documentary about his love for his 1974 Ford XB Falcon Coupe, nicknamed The Beast. “We thought it would be very important for the film to play at festivals,” Bana said during the Q&A. “I’m very realistic about that. I mean, I know how lucky I am to be here because I’ve been in a lot of small films that have not gotten a chance to get into a film festival."
Finally, if you haven't had the chance to check out anything at the festival yet, the New York Daily News has a few suggestions on what you can catch this weekend, including the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired thriller "Tell Tale," closing night film "My Life in Ruins," starring Nia Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss, and Israeli sumo wrestling comedy, "A Matter of Size."