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Tribeca Online Film Festival and TFI New Media Fund

Tribeca Online Film Festival and TFI New Media Fund

The Tribeca Film Festival may be over, but the on demand titles, such as “The Bang Bang Club” and “Last Night” are available until June 23. Time Warner Cable in Manhattan charges $5.99 for these films through Movies on Demand on channel 1000. I wrote about the on demand section of the festival as part of a larger story on the Tribeca Online Festival.

Below are excerpts from that piece:

This year, everything is free at the newly named Tribeca Online Film Festival, where you can follow the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival from the comfort of home. Jon Patricof, chief operating officer of the festival, spearheaded the multi-faceted digital strategy. The initiative includes online streaming of films, web access to events, Q&As with key players, an industry blog and live social media updates by filmmakers.

A stand-out short on the streaming list is “The Dungeon Master,” written and directed by brothers Rider and Shiloh Strong, who are recognizable from their many television acting credits. The film takes on Dungeons & Dragons, a game often favored by geeky obsessives, in a tale of friends revisiting the role-playing pastime of their youth….Similar to the “Quora” or “Yahoo! Answers” models, Tribeca Q&A offers online visitors the opportunity to ask questions to a selection of filmmakers and festival brass….Writer/directors Rider and Shiloh Strong have responded to a number of questions, such as “Is writing/directing/photography full-time jobs for each of you? Do you do other things to make ends meet between projects?” Shiloh answered, “Full-time job for me is the endless mission to get a job in acting/writing/directing or photography. I guess my ‘day job’ is photography. I get some gigs shooting events, or portraits at my studio here and there. I also assist and digital tech (work the computer) on some high-end commercial photography jobs to pay the bills. Somehow it seems to work itself out every month, but I never know what is coming next. The life of the freelancer.”

I saw some good films at the festival. Below are excerpts from a few of my published capsule reviews:

The Bang Bang Club
At TIME Magazine (where I worked in production during the 1990s), the combat photographers were rock stars. Were they as handsome as actor Ryan Phillippe? Oh, yes. Were the photo editors attractive like actress Malin Akerman, and romantically entangled with their charges? Absolutely. Did the reporters who sat behind desks all day live in envy of the men who could walk between bullets? You betcha. It’s no wonder “The Bang Bang Club” gets it right. Director Steven Silver based the film on the memoir of two photojournalists and their experiences in South Africa, capturing turmoil in the final days of apartheid. What the film lacks in pacing and historical clarity, it makes up for in feel and inspiration. It evokes the thrilling cauldron of a photo department like the one I cross-trained in at TIME.

The Trip
Michael Winterbottom’s uproarious British highbrow comedy “The Trip” follows comics Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on a culinary tour of northern England. Elite dining and literary references inform the humor in the six-episode British television series that has been edited into a feature film. The two men play semi-fictionalized versions of themselves in a continuation of their performances in Winterbottom’s “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” (2005) — where they joked, bickered and jockeyed for superiority….The two embark on a midlife male bonding road trip, like “Sideways” on English Lit.

Cairo Exit
I tend to be biased in favor of movies with characters named Rania. The Queen of Jordan shares my name — one that is very common in the Middle East. In “Cairo Exit,” Rania is a secondary character who makes sacrifices to secure a husband. The drama revolves around her friend, Amal, a Coptic Orthodox Christian girl who is living in the slums of Cairo like herself….Writer/director Hesham Issawi’s sophomore effort focuses on the hardscrabble day-to-day lives of the underclass. The film is a gritty counterpart to last year’s “Cairo Time” — starring Patricia Clarkson as an American woman who experiences the Egyptian city as sensuous and exotic….The Tribeca Film Festival has an exceptional track record for screening new work from Egypt, from Marwan Hamed’s epic soap opera, “The Yacoubian Building” in 2006 to Yousry Nasrallah’s enigmatic “The Aquarium” and Engi Wassef’s informative “Marina of the Zabbaleen” in 2008, to Ruba Nadda “Cairo Time” in 2010.

Speaking of Egypt, I was invited to the TFI New Media Fund lunch where the standout presentation was “18 Days in Egypt,” a dynamic crowdsourced documentary by Jigar Mehta and Yasmine Elayat, that tells the story of the Egyptian revolution through videos and social media created by local citizens during the protests in Tahrir Square.

What is this fund? The TFI New Media Fund will provide support to filmmakers who combine traditional filmmaking with newer media platforms including video games, mobile apps, social networks and micro-blogging. Projects will receive $50,000 to $100,000 in funding to directly support the cross-platform storytelling. The application deadline is May 25, 2011.

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