As unseasonably warm weather brought most New Yorkers out of their apartments to enjoy temperatures not usually seen until Summer, film buffs were gladly holed up in lower Manhattan's air-conditioned movie theaters as the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival continued this weekend.
Covering the festival for indieWIRE, film critic Eric Kohn offers his take on Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s “Soundtrack for a Revolution." Kohn writes: "The concept behind 'Soundtrack for a Revolution' is both a means and end at once. In this competent survey of African American folk music in the civil rights movement, directors Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman pair reminiscences with recreation, but it’s never quite the transcendent aural experience suggested by the two-pronged premise... Washington protests, police riots and King’s assassination all unfold with palpable sensitivity, but the music doesn’t drive the narrative as much as it should. The result is yet another run-of-the-mill historical document. If nothing else, it’s got a killer soundtrack."
Cinematical's Eric D. Snider has also been keeping on top of the festival and offers his takes on several of the films that premiered this weekend, including: "The Swimsuit Issue" ("Hard to believe this and Ingmar Bergman came from the same place."), "Fear Me Not" ("...a slow-burning psychological thriller... The director, Kristian Levring, sets up a number of potentially disturbing situations, always exercising patience, never going for cheap, sudden thrills."), "Departures" ("It probably wouldn't have been my vote for the Oscar, but it is a respectable and lovely film."), and "Outrage" ("engrossing, revelatory").
indieWIRE's Peter Knegt was on hand for the premiere of "Outrage" where Dick explained his motivations for making the documentary. “I want this to add to the effort to get 100% rights for all citizens of this country,” said Dick following the screening, which was attended by one of the film's subjects, former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey who, Knegt reports, "was subjected to an audience member criticizing his decision to resign, and not trying to make a difference in office post-coming out." However, despite this report from Queerty that McGreevey "stormed out of the premiere," Knegt, sitting two rows in front of the politician, reports that McGreevey did not, in fact, walk out of the screening.
Also stirring discussion, are Simon Houpt's comments in the Toronto Globe and Mail. "It's been more than seven and a half years since the Sept. 11 attacks," writes Houpt, "but you'd never know from the way some people keep serving it up like home fries at an all-night diner. At last week's opening press conference for the Tribeca Film Festival, a pleasant but minor affair that New Yorkers hold to be a major event by dint of it taking place in their city and the fact that its pitchman is Robert De Niro, the actor's producing partner and festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal looked mournfully out at the assembled reporters and evoked, for perhaps the thousandth time in her life, those dark days after the twin towers fell." He goes on to call Tribeca "the Rudy Giuliani of film festivals, reflexively and shamelessly trotting out the attacks to bolster its claims of legitimacy."
Back at indieWIRE, Peter Knegt has a pair of interviews with two directors whose films are screening at the festival: “Moonlight” director Cheryl Hines and Barry Levinson whose latest, “PoliWood,” premieres later this week. Hines' film is based on a script by the late "Waitress" director Adrienne Shelly. “It’s interesting, I mean, people are going to take away different ideas from this film, which is one of the reasons I loved the script,” Hines told indieWIRE. “A lot of people will just be entertained by it and have a good time watching it. Then, other people will really be asking the question, ‘If you manipulate someone, and get them to be true to themselves, was it a bad thing that you did?’" Levinson's “PoliWood” examines the role Hollywood celebrities play in the political process. “In the most simplistic way, it’s really about the collison of politics, celebrity and the media,” he told indieWIRE. “Basically, how they collide and how they feed off one another. That’s the theme of the piece.”
Also this weekend, the festival announced the winners of the sixth annual Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Awards. Miguel Aviles won the narrative section prize for “Somnium,” Andrew Bui won the emerging Narrative section prize for “Bronxopolis,” while George Reyes won the documentary section prize for “La Muneca Fea (The Ugly Doll).” The screenwriting section prize went Jinho Ferreira aka “Piper” for “Walter’s Boys,” while honorable mentions were given to Jennifer Phang for “Look For Water” (in Narrative), Hugo Perez for “The Immaculate Conception” (in Emerging Narrative), and Stephen Maing for “High Tech, Low Life” (in Documentary). You can read more about the winners here.
On the acquisitions front, ESPN acquired “Lost Son of Havana," Jonathan Hock's documentary about Cuban pitcher Luis Tiant’s return to Cuba after 46 years of exile and 19 seasons playing professional baseball for the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians.
Finally, indieWIRE and Apple's series of filmmaker talks continues tonight. Stop by the Apple Store this evening to hear Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Carlos Cuarón discuss "Rudo y Cursi" (5 p.m.), Gabriel Noble talk about his documentary "P-Star Rising" (6:30 p.m.), and Atom Egoyan on his latest, "Adoration" (8 p.m.).