The Tribeca Film Festival has announced its out-of-competition feature film selections in the Encounters, Spotlight, Showcase, Restored/Rediscovered and Midnight sections. This comes after the Competition and Discovery section announcements earlier this week when organizers discussed plans for a leaner roster of 84 features this year. The move, driven by financial concerns according to organizers, continues a trend of tightening the TFF roster, which offered 174 features three years ago.
Films in the five freshly announced sections include new work from Steven Soderbergh, Michael Cuesta, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Ti West, doc team Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, and the directorial debut of actor Eric Bana. Also included are Sundance favorites “In The Loop” by Armando Iannucci, Duncan Jones’ “Moon,” and Carlos Cuaron’s “Rudo y Cursi,” as well as “Serious Moonlight,” a script by the late Adrienne Shelly turned into a film by “Waitress” actress Cheryl Hines.
“One of the interesting aspects about Encounters this year is the actors and directors who are trying new things,” said David Kwok, Director of Programming, in a statement. “There are actors directing for the first time, as well as directors working in new genres. I think people will be surprised with what they’ve accomplished and enjoy what they see. Those seeking thrills or wicked comedy will find it in our Midnight section. Audiences are going to have a great time experiencing these innovative genre films created by a fantastic group of wildly imaginative filmmakers.”
“Showcase brings a blend of thoughtful and often intimate stories that work to transcend cultural, personal and familial divides, as well as the traditional boundaries of cinema,” said Genna Terranova, Senior Programmer, in a statement. “Spotlight offers New Yorkers an exclusive look at this year’s already buzzing contemporary independent voices, while Restored/Rediscovered reminds us of our own diversity and cinematic roots.”
The festival will take place from April 22 to May 3, 2009 in Manhattan and will feature not only film screenings, but also an array of free community events “designed to share the Festival experience with as many New Yorkers and visitors as possible.”
The 2009 Tribeca Film Festival’s Encounters, Spotlight, Showcase, Restored/Rediscovered and Midnight line ups, with descriptions provided by the festival:
“Blank City,” directed by Celine Danhier. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Celine Danhier’s kinetic doc mirrors the urgent, anything-goes energy of her subject: the DIY independent film movement that emerged in tandem with punk rock in late ’70s downtown New York. New interviews with a impressive array of artists including Amos Poe, Bette Gordon, Debbie Harry, Eric Mitchell, Jim Jarmusch, Lydia Lunch, Steve Buscemi, John Lurie, and Nick Zedd flow into clips from landmark No Wave films, and the still-thrilling music of the era floods the soundtrack.
“City Island,” directed and written by Raymond De Felitta. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Vinnie’s been secretly taking acting classes, his daughter’s moonlighting as a stripper, his son’s got a weighty fetish, and mom’s eye is wandering… the Rizzos might get along a lot better if they weren’t keeping so many secrets. Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Emily Mortimer, and Alan Arkin star in this smart and poignant dysfunctional-family comedy, set in unassuming City Island.
“Don McKay,” directed and written by Jake Goldberger. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Don McKay (Thomas Haden Church) should have followed the old cliche, “You can’t go home again.” After 25 years, he returns for the first time to his hometown at the out-of-the-blue bidding of his cancer-stricken ex-girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue). But a lot of time has passed, and an old secret crashes into new ones in this pitch-black comedy, also featuring Melissa Leo.
“An Englishman in New York,” directed by Richard Laxton, written by Brian Fillis. (UK) – North American Premiere, Narrative. John Hurt astounds as he revisits the role that made him a star (in 1975’s The Naked Civil Servant): real-life writer, actor, and gay icon Quentin Crisp. This smart, sensitive drama, marked by Hurt’s bravura handling of Crisp’s razor-tongued wit, focuses on the flamboyant 72-year-old star’s move to New York in 1981, and the fallout from a reckless comment about the burgeoning AIDS epidemic. Features Cynthia Nixon, Jonathan Tucker, and Swoosie Kurtz. Executive Producers are Joey Attawia, Susie Field and James Burstall. A Leopardrama Film for ITV1.
“The Good Guy,” directed and written by Julio DePietro. (US) – World Premiere, Narrative. Tommy Fielding (Scott Porter) is a rising young star on Wall Street who has it all: good looks, good friends, and a budding romance that could finally be the real thing. But when a seemingly hapless co-worker (Bryan Greenberg) befriends his new girlfriend (Alexis Bledel), Tommy becomes the unwitting agent of his own downfall–or so it seems. Set in modern, ultra-hip New York City, “The Good Guy” is a fun, fresh take on love and trust, friendship and betrayal.
“Lost Son of Havana,” directed and written by Jonathan Hock. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Cuban pitcher Luis Tiant never anticipated spending a half-century in exile. Torn between his career and his homeland, he went on to become one of baseball’s best, heating up the mound for (among others) the Red Sox and Yankees. Director Jonathan Hock follows Tiant on his return to Cuba for the first time, capturing an inspiring and profound portrait of one of the game’s greatest heroes. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
“Love the Beast,” directed by Eric Bana. (Australia) – International Premiere, Documentary. Eric Bana’s directorial debut is a love story. The object of the actor’s affection? A Ford XB Falcon Coupe, his “beast,” the car he’s had since he was 15. Tracing Bana’s lifelong obsession with cars to his participation in the ultimate auto race–the five-day Targa Tasmania–this impassioned doc is fueled by family, friendship, and the bonds that form through a common passion. Part of the ESPN/Tribeca Film Festival.
“Serious Moonlight,” directed by Cheryl Hines, written by Adrienne Shelly. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. High-powered attorney Louise (Meg Ryan) arrives at her country nest for a little R and R only to discover that her husband (Timothy Hutton) has been cheating on her with the hotter and younger Sarah (Kristen Bell). Enraged, she sets out to derail their plan to go to Paris. Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) skillfully directs Adrienne Shelly’s (Waitress) wry and often hilarious script.
“Soundtrack for a Revolution,” directed and written by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. A timeless film about the American civil rights movement told through the soul-stirring music that birthed and fortified the fight from picket lines and mass meetings to paddy wagons and jail cells. This powerful doc, crafted by Oscar(R) winner Guttentag and Sturman (Nanking), pairs modern renditions of freedom songs by Wyclef Jean, John Legend, Joss Stone, The Roots, and others with a retelling of this important moment in history.
“Tell-Tale,” directed by Michael Cuesta, written by Dave Callaham. (UK, USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Inspired by the classic Edgar Allan Poe horror story, Michael Cuesta’s (L.I.E., Twelve and Holding) chilling tale follows Terry (Josh Lucas), a single father whose recently transplanted heart leads him on a frantic search to find the donor’s killer before he meets a similar fate. This unsettling psychological thriller features Lena Headey, Brian Cox and Dallas Roberts.
“Wonderful World,” directed and written by Josh Goldin. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Matthew Broderick is Ben Singer, the world’s most negative man. When his roommate, Ibou, falls ill, Ben is forced to host his Senegalese sister, Khadi (Sanaa Lathan). What starts as an awkward living arrangement soon turns into something more, and Ben’s usual self-destructive nature gives way as he begins to find inspiration in the most unlikely of places.
“Black Dynamite,” directed by Scott Sanders, written by Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, and Sanders. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. All you suckas gather round. This glorious ’70s blaxploitation throwback is fist-full of chase scenes, gunfights, kung fu, pimps, and hos. In this satire, Michael Jai White plays Black Dynamite, the smoothest, baddest mother to ever pick up a pair of nunchucks. When the CIA gives back his license to kill, Black Dynamite makes it his mission to keep smack out of orphanages at any cost in this hysterical comedy. Can you dig it? A Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group (SPWAG) release.
“Departures” (Okuribito), directed by Yojiro Takita, written by Kundo Koyama. (Japan) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Winner of the Academy Award(R) for best foreign language film, Departures is the eccentric, lushly scored, movingly funny tale of a cellist who returns to his picturesque rural hometown with his adoring wife following the breakup of his Tokyo orchestra. A cryptic want ad for work in “Departures” leads him into an unexpected but strangely rewarding new job as an undertaker. In Japanese with English subtitles. A Regent Releasing release.
“Easy Virtue,” directed by Stephan Elliott, written by Sheridan Jobbins and Elliott. (UK) – USA Premiere, Narrative. Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Jessica Biel, and Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian) star in the comical tale of a young Englishman who brings his glamorous American bride home to meet his stuffy British parents. Based on the Noel Coward play. Always sublime, Scott Thomas scored nominations from the British Independent Film Awards and the London Critics Circle. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
“Fear Me Not” (Deb Du Frygter), directed by Kristian Levring, written by Anders Thomas Jensen and Levring. (Denmark) – New York Premiere, Narrative. In this intensely chilling psychological thriller, a run-down middle-aged workaholic (Ulrich Thomsen) enrolls in a clinical trial for a new antidepressant without telling his family. When the trial is abandoned because of dangerous side effects, he continues to take the medication, triggering a hellish descent into madness. In Danish with English subtitles. An IFC Films release.
“The Girlfriend Experience,” directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Brian Koppelman, David Levien. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Director Steven Soderbergh follows five days in the life of a $2,000-an-hour Manhattan call girl (adult film star Sasha Grey) who thinks she has her life totally under control. She even has a devoted boyfriend who accepts her lifestyle. But when you’re in the business of meeting people, you never know who you’re going to meet. A Magnolia Pictures release.
“In the Loop,” directed by Armando Iannucci, written by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche and Iannucci. (UK) – New York Premiere, Narrative. A fiery political satire that would be frightening if it weren’t so funny, In the Loop expands on director/co-writer Iannucci’s BAFTA-winning BBC satire The Thick of It. With allies the US and Britain secretly on the road to war with a hostile nation, a timid British cabinet member’s (Tom Hollander) vague public comments about the prospect of an invasion create a firestorm of controversy. The terrific ensemble cast also includes James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan. An IFC Films release.
“Moon,” directed by Duncan Jones, written by Nathan Parker, story by Duncan Jones. (UK) – New York Premiere, Narrative. A thoughtful character study wrapped in a hi-tech sci-fi flick, Moon stars Sam Rockwell as the sole operator of a lunar mining base, living with only a computer robot (voiced by Kevin Spacey) to keep him company. Three years living on the surface of the moon, far from the touch of his wife and young daughter, has taken its toll–he’s starting to hallucinate, touching off a thrilling chain of events that will shake his sense of identity to the core. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
“Rudo y cursi,” directed and written by Carlos Cuaron. (USA, Mexico) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna and producers Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel), through their groundbreaking new company Cha Cha Cha, present a splendid, riotous film about a pair of thickheaded stepbrothers whose rivalry takes them from their jobs on a small-town banana ranch to star spots on opposing soccer teams. In Spanish with English subtitles. Part of the ESPN/Tribeca Sports Film Festival. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
“Soul Power,” directed by Jeff Levy-Hinte. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. Kinshasa, 1974. As Ali and Foreman fought their legendary “Rumble in the Jungle,” an equally epic music festival united the hottest African American and native African soul musicians for an electrifying display of ethnic empowerment. Cameramen charted everything from the life on the streets to the haps backstage, but the footage sat unedited… until now. In English and French with English subtitles. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
“Still Walking” (Aruitemo Aruitemo), directed and written by Hirokazu Kore-eda. (Japan) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Years of tension kept barely below the surface threaten to run over when two middle-aged children visit their elderly parents on the 15th anniversary of their older brother’s accidental death. Patient, real-time pacing and a delightfully muted wit from the curmudgeonly old-timers highlight acclaimed director Kore-eda’s (Nobody Knows) domestic drama. In Japanese with English subtitles. An IFC Films release.
“All About Actresses” (Le bal des actrices), directed and written by Maiwenn. (France) – US Premiere, Narrative. Maiwenn sets out to resolve her tortured actress identity by making a faux-documentary around a bevy of famous French actresses–only to transform into the treacherous position of the director, falling in love with her subjects and subjected to their starlet-driven wrath. Indulging in the interior insecurities of divas and has-beens, she blurs reality through real-world-like footage and fantastical musical sequences. In French with English subtitles.
“Antoine,” directed and written by Laura Bari. (Canada) – US Premiere, Documentary. Antoine was born 100 days premature and became blind from the effects of his incubator. Now five years old, he uses a mini boom microphone to discover and capture the sounds around him. Through this visually striking portrait, expertly crafted by Laura Bari, we share both the everyday and imaginary worlds Antoine lives in and learn how he overcomes adversity by creating his own alternative universe of beauty. In French with English subtitles.
“Dazzle” (Oogverblindend), directed by Cyrus Frisch. (Netherlands) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Cyrus Frisch, the enfant terrible of Dutch cinema, returns to the Festival with his latest feature that challenges classic modes of storytelling. A fragile, long-distance telephone relationship develops between a younger woman (played by Georgina Verban, a Dutch soap opera star), and an older gentleman (played by Rutger Hauer, star of Blade Runner).
“FILM IST. a girl & a gun,” directed and written by Gustav Deutsch. (Austria) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Gustav Deutsch, the maestro of found footage filmmaking, excavates silent movies from archives worldwide (including the Kinsey Institute) to weave together a stunning vision of the natural and mythological order of the universe, love between the sexes, and weapons of mass destruction. Recommended for adults only.
“Fish Eyes” (Yu Yan), directed and written by Zheng Wei. (South Korea, China) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Set during the 2008 Olympics on the outskirts of Beijing, first-time filmmaker Zheng Wei’s beautiful and poetic portrait of modern China tells a simple but poignant story about a father, son, and mysterious young woman that subtly explores the physical and psychological tensions that exist in a land where emerging capitalism and accelerating modernization are rapidly overtaking traditional values. In Mandarin with English subtitles.
“Masquerades” (Mascarades), directed by Lyes Salem, written by Nathalie Saugeon and Salem – (France, Algeria) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Mounir desperately puts on some big-shot swagger for his small Algerian village by spinning a fantastical fib that involves his narcoleptic sister Rym’s engagement to a European business mogul. As things unravel into a tangled mess of jealousy and irrepressible desire, surprising alliances form that fundamentally shift the way of life for his entire community. In Arabic with English subtitles.
“My Dear Enemy” (Meotjin haru), directed by Yoon-ki Lee, written by Eun-yeong Park (South Korea) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Lee Yoon-Ki’s (This Charming Girl) deadpan comedy trails a pair of former lovers–he’s a romantic and she’s a realist–who bump into each other one year down the road. She wants back a hunk of cash she lent him, so they spend the day winding through downtown Seoul on a hilarious mission to collect his old debts. In Korean with English subtitles.
“Pandora’s Box” (Pandoranin Kutusu), directed by Yesim Ustaoglu, written by Sema Kaygusuz and Ustaoglu. (Turkey, France, Germany, Belgium) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Yesim Ustaoglu’s (Journey to the Sun) latest is a gorgeous, expertly developed cross-generational dramedy. When an aging matriarch (90-year-old Tsilla Chelton) starts showing signs of dementia, her dysfunctional family in Istanbul must navigate a minefield of unresolved issues to care for her. Sun took the top prize and Chelton was named best actress at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. In Turkish with English subtitles.
“Rachel,” directed by Simone Bitton. (France, Belgium) – North American Premiere, Documentary. An insightful and provocative exploration into the complexities of political solidarity, Rachel is the story of Rachel Corrie, a 22-year-old American member of the International Solidarity Movement, who died trying to prevent an Israeli army bulldozer from destroying Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Director Simone Bitton interweaves excerpts from Corrie’s diary with interviews with activists and Israeli army personnel. In English, Arabic, Hebrew with English subtitles.
“Salt of this Sea” (Milh hadha al-bahr), directed and written by Annemarie Jacir. (Palestine) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Brooklyn-raised Soraya (spoken-word artist Suheir Hammad) travels to Palestine to retrieve her grandfather’s savings, frozen in a Jaffa bank account after his 1948 exile. Frustrated by unwieldy official policies, she sets out with friend/love interest Emad on a road trip for poetic justice into Israel–after which there is no return. In English, Arabic with English subtitles.
“Making the Boys,” directed by Crayton Robey (Making the Boys) (USA, 2009). A feature-length documentary directed by Crayton Robey and produced by 4th Row Films, traces the behind-the-scenes drama and lasting legacy of the groundbreaking play and film The Boys in the Band. In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, “Making The Boys” will be screened in conjunction with the original film adaptation of The Boys in the Band from 1970, directed by William Friedkin.
“Inherit the Wind,” directed by Stanley Kramer, written by Nedrick Young, Harold Jacob Smith. (USA, 1960). Nearly a half-century ago, an all-star cast (including Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, and Gene Kelly) and director brought this fictionalized version of the infamous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial to the big screen. Join us as we revisit this modern classic in recognition of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday as well as the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal (and to some, still controversial) On the Origin of Species. Sponsored by Alfred P Sloan Foundation.
“Variety,” directed by Bette Gordon, written by Kathy Acker. (USA, 1984). In Bette Gordon’s newly restored, pioneering indie narrative about voyeurism from a female perspective, a young woman (Sandy McLeod) works as a ticket taker in a porn theater, and her curiosity leads her to shadow a male patron. This film features an unparalleled collaborative team of downtown artists from the early 1980s, including composer John Lurie, cinematographer Tom DeCillo, writer Kathy Acker, photographer Nan Goldin, and actor Spalding Gray. Variety was shot on location in New York City at the now bygone landmarks of the Variety Theatre, Fulton Fish Market, and Yankee Stadium, as well as an edgier incarnation of Times Square.
“Cropsey,” directed by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, written by Zeman. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Urban legends–we either dismiss them or accept that they have some grain of truth. Directors Zeman and Brancaccio attempt to uncover one such urban myth as they investigate five missing children and the real-life boogeyman linked to their disappearance in Staten Island during their youth. Will this terrifying journey resolve what has haunted them since childhood?
“The House of the Devil,” directed and written by Ti West. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Set in the early ’80s on the night of a lunar eclipse (and all the more shocking for being “based on true unexplained events”), this simmering retro suspense thriller centers on a cash-strapped college girl who answers a babysitting ad only to gradually unravel the horrifying secret behind why she was truly hired. Featuring Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, and Greta Gerwig.
“Hysterical Psycho,” directed and written by Dan Fogler. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In this side-splitting horror send-up, a theater troupe takes a trip to a country cabin, but its nearby lake is full of lunar radiation, and one of the troupe members is straight-up crazy. Put them together and you get one psycho thespian! Full of bloody, fun-filled kills, a deaf-mute chick, and some big boobs, Hysterical Psycho is a helluva trip.
“Midgets vs. Mascots,” directed by Ron Carlson, co-written by Kevin Andourian. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Two teams risk life, limb, and maybe jail time while pushing the boundaries of decency to score the fortune of a deceased little person, a former mascot turned porn mogul. Outrageous outcasts and out-of-control antics abound in this bawdy Jackass-meets-Road Rules mockumentary, a cautionary tale in which milk does not do a body good and that features the long-awaited big-screen comeback of Gary Coleman.
“Newsmakers” (Goryachie novosti), directed by Anders Banke, written by Sam Klebanov and Aleksandr Lungin. (Russia, Sweden) – World Premiere, Narrative. In this fast-paced remake of Johnnie To’s Breaking News, the public confidence of the police force is compromised after they botch catching a gang of robbers and it gets captured on camera. In retaliation, the police chief and PR director decide to create a live reality show with a search-and-destroy operation against the gang they let get away. This crime thriller is loaded with loud gunfights and action that takes the term “media war” to a whole new level. In Russian with English subtitles.
“Paintball,” directed by Daniel Benmayor, written by Mario Schoendorff. (Spain) – World Premiere, Narrative. Eight strangers convene in a remote forest for an expensive experts-only paintball retreat. They enter the game at full throttle, but already something’s not right. The rules have changed and more is at stake than they expected. This frenetic thriller is akin to a live-action videogame, but getting to Level 10 doesn’t seem to guarantee anything. In English.
“The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia,” directed by Julien Nitzberg. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Shoot-outs, robberies, gas-huffing, drug dealing, pill popping, murders, and tap dancing — what do these all have in common? The White Family. From executive producers Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine comes a shocking portrait of Boone County, West Virginia’s most notorious and surly family. Nitzberg spends a year with multiple generations of the White family in this outlandish doc featuring the family’s dancing muse, Jesco White (star of the cult classic documentary Dancing Outlaw). Also with Hank Williams III.
This completes the features lineup for the 2009 fest, after the Competition and Discovery announcements earlier this week.