By Cameron Sinz | Indiewire March 5, 2013 at 1:59PM
Now in its third year, Tribeca’s Viewpoints section is a panorama of the freshest voices in independent film and contemporary documentary from around the world, this year presenting 14 narrative features and 8 documentaries. Featuring an exciting range of stories, the films of this year’s Viewpoints section demonstrate a particular interest in telling stories from distinctly male and female perspectives. Films like Wadjda, Patience Stone, and Run and Jump immerse the viewer in the emotional journeys of strong central women, while The Moment and Farah Goes Bang imbue their female stories with a genre bent, one a thrilling mystery and the other a comic road trip. The men of this year’s Viewpoints section find themselves the center of crime thrillers What Richard Did and Northwest, or more subdued stories like that of one-time basketball prodigy Lenny Cooke and aspiring strongman Chris “Wonder” Schoeck of Bending Steel, both with something to prove.
- A Birder's Guide to Everything,
directed by Rob Meyer, written by Luke Matheny and Meyer. (USA) – World
Premiere, Narrative. On the eve of his widowed father’s second wedding,
fifteen-year-old David Portnoy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) leads the stalwart
members of his local Young Birders Society on rollicking, interstate
search for an extremely rare duck. Marvelous supporting performances by
Ben Kingsley and James LeGros color Rob Meyer's feature film debut, a
poignant, funny and ultimately winning look at the moments that change
even the most intensely focused lives.
- Bending Steel, directed by Dave Carroll, written by Ryan Scafuro and Carroll. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. The Cyclone, The Freakshow, The Mermaid Parade: all Coney Island icons. But Chris “Wonder” Schoeck has always preferred the Coney Island Strongman. Bending Steel follows the sweet, unassuming Schoeck as he parlays his extraordinary strength into the pursuit of his lifelong dream. Training with an elite group of men whose hands bend, drag, twist and shred metal, he tackles an enormous physical and mental challenge, taking a surprisingly emotional journey as a result.
- BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton, directed by Stephen Silha, Eric Slade, and Dawn Logsdon. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. A charismatic and visionary poet and filmmaker who emerged in the artistic renaissance of post-WWII San Francisco, James Broughton led a completely unconventional existence in his lifelong quest for creative artistry, sexual and spiritual love and an evolved state of happiness. BIG JOY is a celebratory mosaic of Broughton¹s deeply intertwined creative and personal lives, vividly depicted through his involvement with a wide array of artists, activists and spiritual guides.
- Bridegroom, directed and written by Linda Bloodworth Thomason. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Bridegroom gives an intensely personal edge to the ongoing debate over the legal rights of same-sex couples. Interviews, photos and video footage all testify to the uncommon connection that drew together Shane and Tom. For six years they remained united despite extreme challenges from both family and society, until a tragic accident tears apart their dreams. Now one must fight to be recognized as his soulmate’s legitimate counterpart.
- Cutie and the Boxer, directed by Zachary Heinzerling, written by Ada Bligaard Søby. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. Once a rising if unruly star in the ’70s art scene, eighty-year-old “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara now struggles to establish his artistic legacy. His wife Noriko is now widely renowned for her “Cutie” drawings, depicting their chaotic, forty-year marriage. Under Zachary Heinzerling’s guidance, this candid New York story about troubled lives united by a dedication to art becomes a touching portrait on the eternal themes of love, sacrifice, disappointment and aging. A RADiUS release.
- Dancing in Jaffa, directed by Hilla Medalia, written by Philip Shane and Medalia. (Israel, USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulain stars in this charming documentary that offers a unique perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Three diverse Jaffa-based schools host Dulain’s Dancing Classrooms program. Ballroom basics are taught to an ethnically mixed group of children, the most passionate members of which are trained for a citywide competition. What results is a sweet and incredibly moving tale filled with moments of truth, poignancy and hope. In Arabic, English, Hebrew with subtitles.
- Deep Powder,
directed by Mo Ogrodnik. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Natasha is a
reckless boarding school senior tabbed by her exclusive club to make
its yearly cocaine run to Ecuador. Coming along for the ride is Danny, a
twenty-year-old aspiring hockey player from the other side of the
tracks, who may just discover that he has fallen for the wrong girl.
Starring up-and-comers Haley Bennett and Shiloh Fernandez, this ’80s-set
love story based on true events is a sexy, fast-paced and intense
- Farah Goes Bang, directed by Meera Menon, written by Laura Goode and Menon. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Farah hits the road with her buddies to stump for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, hoping the trip will be her opportunity to finally shed her unwanted virginity. She soon finds her efforts on both political and sexual fronts continuously thwarted. Comically balancing that moment’s climate of intolerance with a universal coming-of-age tale, Farah Goes Bang paints a comic portrait of the overdue growing pains of a group of girlfriends and the country itself.
- Flex Is Kings, directed by Deidre Schoo and Michael Nichols. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Journey to the edge of Brooklyn and of street performance itself in this sparkling portrait of the freeing power of art. Reem is the savvy promoter, Flizzo the undefeated local legend, Jay Don the innovator with the talent to carry him far away from home. Uniting them is a competitive dance form of dramatic contortions, simulated violence, flowing footsteps and the occasional humorous touch. Welcome to the world of Flex.
- Floating Skyscrapers (Płynące wieżowce),
directed and written by Tomasz Wasilewski. (Poland) – World Premiere,
Narrative. Kuba attends an art opening with his girlfriend of two years
and bumps into Mikal. The connection between these two young men is
instantaneous and intoxicating, and despite opposition from all sides,
he allows Mikal into his life. The results go beyond anything he could
have imagined. This intimate and bold second feature from Polish
director Tomasz Wasilewski captures the often-complicated consequences
of finding love where others do not want it. In Polish with subtitles.
- Harmony Lessons (Uroki Garmonii), directed and written by Emir Baigazin. (Kazakhstan, Germany, France) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Symbolism and striking cinematography help us navigate the complicated landscape of a teenager’s mind in this insightful Kazakh film about violence among children. After enduring frequent humiliation at the hands of the class bully, thirteen-year old Aslan snaps, triggering an intense psychological reaction. Emir Baigazin artfully explores the strength of the survival instinct when public life pushes us beyond our limits. In Kazakh with subtitles.
directed and written by Reha Erdem. (Turkey) – North American Premiere,
Narrative. Reha Erdem relays in radiant detail the effects of the
decades-long Turkish-Kurdish conflict. Seventeen-year-old freedom
fighter Jîn abandons her post and crosses between the opposing forces,
navigating a beautiful mountain range made brutal by gunfire and random
bombings. Her courage is repeatedly tested, until she finds comfort
among unexpected allies. Erdem creates a soul-stirring odyssey that
reflects on the permanent damage to humanity and the natural world
caused by unremitting war. In Turkish with subtitles.
- Kiss The Water, directed by Eric Steel (USA, U.K.) – World Premiere, Documentary. Travel to Scotland’s far northern highlands and explore the life and remarkable influence of Megan Boyd, fishing fly-maker extraordinaire. Self-taught in this enigmatic, artful craft, Boyd became an internationally renowned artisan and supplier to, among others, Prince Charles. Interviews, animations and images of the stunning Scottish countryside define Eric Steel’s lyrical tale of solitary celebrity and the joy of making your mark, even when it was the last thing you planned to do.
- Lenny Cooke, directed by Benny Safdie and Joshua Safdie. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In 2001, Lenny Cooke was the most hyped high school basketball player in the country, ranked above future greats LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. A decade later, Lenny has never played a minute in the NBA. In this quintessentially American documentary, filmmaking brothers Joshua and Benny Safdie track the unfulfilled destiny of a man for whom superstardom was only just out of reach.
- The Moment, directed by Jane Weinstock, written by Jane Gloria Norris and Weinstock. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. After a tumultuous affair between international photojournalist Lee (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and troubled artist John (Martin Henderson) ends in John’s disappearance, Lee lands in a mental hospital to recuperate. She strikes up a friendship with a fellow patient bearing an uncanny resemblance to her missing lover. The pair works to uncover the truth behind the disappearance, but Lee’s precarious sanity comes under threat when the clues lead to the last place she would ever expect.
- Northwest (Nordvest), directed by Michael Noer, written by Rasmus Heisterberg and Noer. (Denmark) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Territory, power and pride are the seismic forces in this adrenaline-fueled crime thriller. Living in one of the most impoverished areas of Copenhagen, Casper does what he must to survive. When organized crime grabs hold of the community, life becomes even more desperate. Casper digs in or risks being run over by gangsters sure to remove anyone in their way. From one of Denmark’s most celebrated directors comes a complex tale of criminal psychology and survival. In Danish with subtitles.
- Odayaka, directed and written by Nobuteru Uchida. (Japan) – North American Premiere, Narrative. The Great East Japan Earthquake has just struck, the waters of the ensuing tsunami finally rolling back into the sea. In the comparative safety of Tokyo, two wives and a child living in the same apartment building have nothing to do but wait for their husbands’ return. Nobuteru Uchida finds a striking emotional core to the shock of March 11, 2011, crafting a tender and intelligent narrative on the internal effects of an unspeakable national tragedy. In Japanese with subtitles.
- The Patience Stone (Syngué Sabour), directed by Atiq Rahimi, written by Jean-Claude Carrère and Atiq Rahimi. (Afghanistan, France, Germany) – New York Premiere, Narrative. A woman tends to her comatose husband, an injured rebel fighter in an unnamed, war-torn village, only whispering of her fear for their two young daughters' lives. Weeks go by, and as her desperation grows, she gives voice to previously unuttered thoughts and memories without regard for anyone’s reaction. In a mesmerizing performance, Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani portrays a woman who, under the most extreme circumstances, discovers the core of her identity. In Farsi with subtitles. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
- Run and Jump, directed by Steph Green, written by Ailbhe Keogan. (Ireland, Germany) – World Premiere, Narrative. After a stroke leaves her husband disabled and fundamentally changed, a spirited Irish wife struggles to keep her family members together. All the while they are under the microscope of an American researcher documenting their recovery process. From Academy Award®-nominated director and TFF alumna Steph Green comes an emotional journey of family and recovery featuring Saturday Night Live star Will Forte in an impressive dramatic debut.
- Taboor, directed and written by Vahid Vakilifar. (Iran) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. A lone motorcyclist travels the empty streets of Tehran at night. He wears an aluminum suit to guard against the electromagnetic waves that raise his body temperature. Yet he is determined to make his appointments to kill cockroaches and fumigate factories, the night placing many strange encounters along his route. Artfully shot cityscapes expound on the man’s solitude in this atmospheric take on science fiction from the heart of Iran. In Farsi with subtitles.
- Wadjda, directed and written by Haifaa Al-Mansour. (Saudi Arabia, Germany) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Meet Wadjda (Waad Mohammed), a feisty, funny and wholly unconventional ten-year-old girl determined to scrounge up enough money to buy a bicycle, despite the societal repercussions sure to follow. The groundbreaking first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female Saudi filmmaker, Wadjda offers a moving, rarely seen picture of everyday life in Riyadh: through the eyes of a girl unwilling to surrender what she wants. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
- What Richard Did, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, written by Malcolm Campbell. (Ireland) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Charismatic Richard leads a group of devoted friends through the rituals of their final summer break together: partying on the beach, hazing younger students, hooking up. But the good times will not last forever. When jealousy leads to a senseless act, Richard’s perfect life unravels amid self-doubt, shame, grief and guilt. What Richard Did is a gripping dissection of an action and its consequences, featuring a stellar lead performance by Jack Reynor. A Tribeca Film Release.