FESTIVAL: Reclusive Authors, Alien Brains and Female Condoms: Competition Highlights from Tribeca

by Brandon Judell

(indieWIRE: 05.13.02) -- You know a film festival is on the right track when you start experiencing multiple-catharses while screening its competition offerings, which I did with Tribeca's. competition line-up. My first such climax occurred during Alex Halpern's first-rate documentary "Nine Good Teeth." Halpern, who trained as a juggler in Italy and wrote the screenplay for "Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb," here chronicles the life of his feisty grandmother Mary. Mary, according to a fortuneteller, was to be dead at 96. At 102, she's still kicking.

Halpern: Do you believe in heaven?

Mary: Nah, heaven and hell are here.

As for having sex before marriage when she was a teen: "We were virgins -- and how!"

This glorious encounter with an unforgettable soul will have you embracing life and pooh-poohing fear of your own demise.

As for Dow Mossman attending, who knows? Dow is the author of "The Stones of Summer," a 1972 novel that received great reviews and changed the life of one of its readers, director Mark Moskowitz. Suddenly Moskowitz needed to know why Dow only wrote one book and then disappeared off the face of the earth. As with all filmmakers, he had to film his search for this elusive genius. Would he find Dow alive? This is a literary mystery story that will have you on the edge of your seat while it thrills you with an inside look at writing, publishing, and survival for creative types. Not only is "Stone Reader" one of the best documentaries of the year, it is also one of the year's best films. An added bonus: Not since Oprah's late book club will you have felt so inspired to run to the library and read a dozen novels.

Less bookish is Grace Lee's ripping short, "Barrier Device," which gracefully tackles a modern problem: What to do when you are heading a study on the use of female condoms, and one of the subjects in the study is dating your ex-fianc