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DISPATCH FROM TRIBECA | Mexico, France and Africa In Focus on Tribeca Fest’s First Weekend

DISPATCH FROM TRIBECA | Mexico, France and Africa In Focus on Tribeca Fest's First Weekend

Alternating days of sun and rain greeted the first weekend of the 6th Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan and whether it was the fluctuating weather conditions or the significantly higher prices, the festival’s advance ticket sales were down, according to a number sources (and organizers recently slashed student prices). But, a Tribeca festival spokesperson told indieWIRE that Saturday sales were “surprisingly strong given the price increase,” including 3,200 tickets sold, just slightly down from the 3,400 sold in 2007. Acceptable, she said, given the drop in the total number of films this year. Despite a drop, there was no shortage of enthusiasm for a number of festival films. A new documentary about a Mexican boxing hero (“Chavez“) and a pair of titles making the trip to Tribeca from European festivals (“2 Days in Paris” and “We Are Together“) were among the buzz films during the fest’s opening weekend.

Revisting A Mexican Hero in “Chavez”

Among the new films premiering, Diego Luna‘s “Chavez” drew considerable attention in the first few days of the Tribeca festival here in New York. A portrait of famed Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, Luna’s directorial debut is in part a product of his business partnership with his “Y Tu Mama Tambien” co-star Gael Garcia Bernal. Two years ago, Luna and Bernal formed Canana Films with Pablo Cruz and last year (as indieWIRE reported in 2005) they launched Ambulante, a touring Mexican documentary film festival.

For his film, clearly an expression of national pride, Luna decided to explore the central relationship between Chavez and his son, a fast-rising boxer. “I wanted to show what he did as a profession, I wanted to show him as a father and more importantly I wanted to show what people think of him,” Luna explained during a Friday afternoon press conference at the festival, commenting on the choices he made for the film.

“The highs and lows of Chavez were similiarly mirrored by Mexico as a country and as a society,” added Gael Garcia Bernal during the press conference, an aspect also included in the documentary. As compelling as Chavez’ incredible rise and his strong relationships was his fall. He faltered in the ring in 1994, a fateful year in Mexican history marked by revolts, the devaluation of the country’s currency, and even a volcano eruption.

iW Video Link: In an iW: Video clip, director Diego Luna and executive producer Gael Garcia Bernal talk about “Chavez” and their traveling documentary film festival, Ambulante, during a recent Tribeca Film Festival press conference (posted on YouTube).

Restoring Chavez’ heroic stature was part of Luna’s plan for the film. “It was really sad to see how fast they forgot about Julio,” Luna said at the press conference.” He continued, “I also felt really sad when I realized how many people have taken so much from him. I was really really happy when I realized that he has a son that is going to give him so many many moments of happiness in his life.” Concluding, Luna added, “I felt really happy to be part of this moment in his life and to have the mic and the cameras to tell everyone that we should celebrate him.” “He is a legend and he is here, we should celebrate him more and thank him for what he has given us.”

Delpy On Both Sides of the Camera With “2 Days in Paris”

DIY filmmaker Julie Delpy, director of the new comedy “2 Days in Paris,” which debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival, will soon see the first domestic theatrical release of her own feature film. During an Apple/indieWIRE Filmmaker Talk at the Apple Store Soho, she explained that it took her years to recover from the artistic and business hurdles she met with the 2001 DV feature she now calls an experiment, “Looking For Jimmy.”

“2 Days in Paris” director Julie Delpy at the SoHo Apple store over the weekend talking about her film. Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

Her new feature, swiftly acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Netflix‘s Red Envelope Entertainment in Berlin, is launching with its North American premiere in Tribeca. As indieWIRE described it back at the Berlinale, the movie is a sort of “Meet The Parents” set in Paris, offering both hilarious and poignant elements after lead character Marion (played by Delpy) brings her liberal yet neurotic New Yorker boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) to visit her loud, sometimes brash family (played by Delpy’s own parents) at the end of a vacation in Venice. Cut to their two-day stay in Paris, the couple experience the good and bad of modern French life, and along the way run into a several of her ex-boyfriends and a noteworthy “fairy” terrorist, played by Daniel Bruhl.

iW Video Link: In an iW: Video clip, filmmaker Julie Delpy talks about her new movie, “2 Days in Paris” and discusses Richard Linklater and her upcoming project (posted on YouTube).

Delpy wrote, directed, stars in, co-produced, composed, and even edited the new movie. “It was a wonderful experience to direct the film,” noted Delpy during Saturday’s conversation at the Apple Store Soho, “I had a gear time editing it, I still laugh sometimes at some scenes.”

“Above all the film is a comedy,” she added, describing it for the Apple Store audience. She cited its romantic comedy elements but addded that her film also has a naughty side, with salty language even as it explores committment and relationships. Not to mention a look at politics and racism. “I like talking about politics in the middle of a love story, there are a lot of political references.” She concluded, “I try to always get to the subject but make it funny and crazy, more than very serious.”

African Orphanage Cheered in “We Are Together”

Paul Taylor‘s “We Are Together,” which debuted at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam where it won the audience award and HBO announced its acquisition of the film, has been a real crowd-pleaser. Backed by the Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation, the film is the story of Africa’s Agape orphanage for children abandoned by parents who have died of AIDS. The inspiring orphans band together to sing in a movie that HBO doc exec Nancy Abraham told indieWIRE back at IDFA includes, “some of the best documentary scenes that I have ever seen.”

Joined by and orphanage founder Grandma Zodwa, the kids from the Agape have stirred moviegoers in New York, singing for attendees at Tribeca’s opening night event on Wednesday and drawing well-wishers Bono and Alicia Keys to the film’s festival debut on Thursday night which was met with a standing ovation. Keys introduced the choir at a post-showing party and the children sang “Oh Happy Day” along with other songs. A film rep noted that an audience member was so moved that he immediately wrote a check to the Keep A Child Alive Foundation which funds the Agape orphanage.

indieWIRE’s daily reviews, dispatches, photos and buzz from the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival are included in a special section here at indieWIRE.com.

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