The 2006 Tribeca Film Festival has announced the line-up for its International and NY, NY Competition categories for its Fifth Annual Festival, taking place April 25 – May 7, 2006. The International Narrative Features and International Documentary Features Competitions reflect the vitality of the world arts community and include 33 films, eleven of which are World Premieres.
International Narrative Feature Competition
From outspoken explorations of societies in crisis to ironic portrayals of the perils of fame, the films selected for this section represent a broad range of work, primarily by debuting directors, with a few titles by more established international film artists. Includes 17 films, four of which are World Premieres:
The Architect, directed and written by Matt Tauber (USA) – World Premiere. A Magnolia Pictures Release Based on Scottish playwright David Greig’s The Architect, Tauber’s debut feature pits an architect (Anthony LaPaglia) against a female community resident who lives in a dangerous housing project that he designed. By contrasting two Chicago families in divergent economic circumstances, The Architect ably explores political, sexual, and class issues. Also starring Isabella Rossellini.
Backstage, directed by Emmanuelle Bercot, written by Bercot and Jérôme Tonnerre. (France) – U.S. Premiere. An adolescent groupie (Isild Le Besco) zeroes in on her Blondie-like idol (Emmanuelle Seigner) after the singer chances to cross her orbit on a publicity tour. Gradually their lives intertwine as, with near-operatic intensity, the film delves into the emotional dependency on both sides of celebrity culture.
Blessed By Fire (Iluminados por el Fuego), directed by Tristán Bauer, co-written by Bauer, Edgardo Esteban, Gustavo Romero Borri, and Miguel Bonasso (Argentina/Spain) – North American Premiere. A former infantry mate’s overdose sparks wartime memories for Esteban, who tries to reconcile his life today with the part of him that died along with his ideals and comrades in the war for the Falkland Islands. The harrowing account from Argentine director Bauer, based on a memoir, reminds us that survivors keep fighting long after leaving the battlefield.
Brasilia 18%, directed and written by Nelson Pereira dos Santos (Brazil) – International Premiere. A star medical examiner is called to Brasilia, the administrative capital of Brazil, to confirm the identity of a beautiful, young congressional aide’s dead body. But his scientific rigor soon leads him to details of a multi-layered political scandal. This wild thriller by Cinema Novo pioneer Nelson Pereira dos Santos is a hallucinatory meditation on governmental corruption.
Choking Man, directed and written by Steve Barron (USA) – World Premiere. The social anxiety of a morbidly shy Ecuadorian dishwasher working in a Queens diner provides the psychological engine that powers this intense blend of drama and magical realism from famed music video director Steve Barron. Newcomer Octavio Gómez Berríos gives a quietly effective performance in the “title” role. Also starring Mandy Patinkin.
Colour Me Kubrick, directed by Brian Cook, written by Anthony Frewin (UK, France) – International Premiere. John Malkovich gives a hilarious tour-de-force as Alan Conway, a conman who successfully passed himself off as the famed and notoriously reclusive director for the last decade or so of the filmmaker’s life. Combining breathtaking chutzpah undeterred by a barely fleeting knowledge of Kubrick’s work, Malkovich’s Conway switches accents, costumes and mannerisms with sly delight.
The Free Will (Der Freie Wille), directed by Matthias Glasner, written by Glasner, Judith Angerbauer, and Jürgen Vogel (Germany) – North American Premiere. This sometimes shockingly graphic German film delves into the dark and complex world of Theo, a convicted rapist released from prison and readjusting to civilian life. The path he follows is rarely straight, and when he makes an attempt at a romantic relationship, the film expands into a compelling, multi-layered exploration of uncharted psychological territory.
Holiday Makers (Ucastnici Zajezdu), directed by Jiri Vejdelek, written by Vejdelek and Michal Viewegh (Czech Republic) – World Premiere. A vacation based on a tour package to a seaside hotel in Croatia turns into a wild party when an eclectic mix of Czech tourists arrive by bus at the hotel. Slapstick humor and heartwarming moments abound in this classic Czech style comedy.
Land of the Blind, directed and written by Robert Edwards (U.K.) – A Bauer Martinez Release. “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton’s dictum applies neatly to this compelling, satirical political drama. Ralph Fiennes stars as a soldier who switches sides to help dissident political prisoner Donald Sutherland overthrow a brutal dictator. But will power still manage to trump morality?
Love for Share (Berbagi Suami), directed and written by Nia Dinata (Indonesia) – International Premiere. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and polygamy is a deeply rooted and controversial tradition. This film addresses the tradition and its malcontents by interweaving the stories of three very different women, each of whom has developed her own living response to polygamy.
Men at Work (Kargaran Mashgoul-e Karand), directed and written by Mani Haghighi (Iran) – North American Premiere. This subtle and comic political allegory focuses on four middle-class guys who pile into their car for a ski weekend (already a jolt to Western expectations about Iranian movies). A brief stop at a picturesque vista leads to their chance discovery of a prominent rock formation it seems would be oh so easy to tip over, but…
The Mist in the Palm Trees (La Niebla en las Palmeras), directed by Carlos Molinero and Lola Salvador, written by Molinero and Salvador Maldonado (Spain) – International Premiere. A wealth of extraordinary images culled from archives in Cuba, France, Germany, Spain, and the U.S. trace a Spanish photographer’s involvement in the Manhattan Project. At the same time, the film movingly demonstrates how photographs substitute for memories, how memories substitute for love, how war destroys memory, and how science becomes a double-edged weapon.
A Perfect Day, directed and written by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (France, Lebanon, Germany) – U.S. Premiere. In this portrait of a character and a society, Malek and his mother struggle with an insidious inertia 15 years after the Lebanese civil war in which thousands disappeared, including Malek’s father. The title and situation recall the poignant optimism of Lou Reed’s classic song, and the film’s own award-winning original music is unforgettable.
Shoot the Messenger, directed by Ngozi Onwurah, written by Sharon Foster (UK) – International Premiere. Joe, a successful but naive black man, quits his job and becomes a teacher. But when his “enforced education” methods get him fired, his rage towards the black community almost drives him insane. Eventually, he encounters a group of people who help him heal his broken heart and teach him to love and accept the very individuals who frustrate and hurt him the most.
The TV Set, directed and written by Jake Kasdan (USA) – World Premiere. Mike Klein has just sold his pilot to a network. Little does he know that, once it passes through the hands of one incompetent network executive after another, it may no longer bear any resemblance to his original concept. Jake Kasdan’s comic look at the world of network television development stars Sigourney Weaver and David Duchovny.
Two Players from the Bench (Dva Igraèa S Klupe), directed and written by Dejan ©orak (Croatia) – International Premiere. A Serb and a Croat, who share only a mutual loathing for each other and a love for volleyball, find themselves kidnapped together and under severe pressure to deliver false testimony before the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. A typically Balkan black comedy with a sardonic edge.
The Yacoubian Building (Omaret Yacoubian), directed by Marwan Hamed, written by Wahid Hamed (Egypt) – North American Premiere. A record budget, an all-star cast, a script based on a best-seller: Most 28-year-old novices aren’t handed this kind of project, especially in Egypt, where the novel’s subjects-government corruption, Islamic fundamentalism, homosexuality-are taboo onscreen. But the gamble pays off in this sprawling, compelling, and watchable epic set in a downtown Cairo building that’s a symbol of modern Egypt.
International Documentary Feature Competition
The International Documentary Competition has an equally broad range, including two films shot in post-invasion Iraq -from Iraqi and American perspectives, respectively – offering an unusual number of cinematically inventive in-depth explorations of a wide range of headline-making issues. Includes 16 Films, seven of which are World Premieres:
37 Uses for a Dead Sheep, directed by Ben Hopkins (UK) – North American Premiere. To preserve their culture, the Pamir Kirghiz people have migrated across Central Asia from the U.S.S.R to China to Afghanistan to Pakistan and finally to remote eastern Turkey, but now they face the most serious threat to their traditions, globalization. Using a variety of techniques, this fascinating, at times comic doc, is as enjoyable as it is informative.
The Blood of My Brother: A Story of Death in Iraq, directed by Andrew Berends (USA, Iraq) – North American Premiere. A LifeSize Entertainment & Releasing Release. Thoughts of revenge are tempered by more practical concerns in The Blood of My Brother, which shows the war in Iraq from the perspective of an Iraqi family grieving the loss of a son who was killed by an American patrol as he stood guard at a mosque.
Blue Blood, directed by Stevan Riley (UK) – World Premiere. The boxing film is hit with a fierce uppercut in this clever, genre-tweaking documentary about the training regimen and sparring contests of Oxford University students who step out of the ivory tower and into the boxing ring to settle matters with their Cambridge rivals. In underlining the freedom to not care about failing, or about what other people think, Blue Blood paints a winning portrait of the spirit of the underdog.
The Bridge, directed by Eric Steel (USA) – World Premiere. In this bold and thought-provoking documentary about suicide and its complex aftermath, Steel spends from dusk until dawn filming the Golden Gate Bridge everyday for a year, capturing nearly two dozen suicides that occurred in 2004. Intercut with these frightening leaps are interviews with the family and friends of the deceased.
Dear Father, Quiet, We’re Shooting… (Avi Hayakar, Sheket yorim…), Directed by David Benchetrit and written by Benchetrit and Senyora Bar David (Israel) – North American Premiere. When war crimes are carried out under orders from officers, military commanders, and political leaders who is responsible? This film allows former members of the Israeli Defense Forces-now conscientious objectors-to recount their experiences in both Lebanon and Palestine, and to question the limits of state power.
The Dignity of the Nobodies (La Dignidad de los Nadies), directed by Fernando E. Solanas – U.S. Premiere. Following his analysis in A Social Genocide (TFF 2004) of globalization’s role in Argentina’s economic disaster, this master of the social documentary takes a more optimistic stance here. By celebrating the small, daily victories of thousands of “nobodies,” he shows that individual and collective acts might be able to change the world after all.
East of Paradise, directed by Lech Kowalski (France, USA) – North American Premiere. Underground documentarian and TFF vet Kowalski completes his Wild Wild East trilogy with East of Paradise, in which he attempts to draw a difficult parallel between his mother’s post-WWII tenure in a Siberian gulag and his own stint of pornography and hard drugs in 70’s New York City. In English and Polish.
From Dust, directed by Dhruv Dhawan (Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates) – International Premiere. Filmed in post-tsunami Sri Lanka, From Dust follows two survivors and an aid worker, who face a new Sri Lankan law restricting the rebuilding of homes. This sensitive and hard-hitting documentary asks why a natural disaster can create opportunities for some and suffering for others. In English and Sinhala.
Jesus Camp, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (USA) – World Premiere. The makers of Boys of Baraka turn their cameras on an evangelical Christian camp of rare devotion. With unprecedented access, the children and parents show how their faith dictates everything from their daily lives to politics. This fascinating doc about a rarely seen world where faith trumps everything else is sure to provoke debate.
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, directed by Stanley Nelson, written by Marcia Smith (USA, Mexico) – World Premiere. Featuring never-before-seen footage, Nelson delivers a startling new look at the Peoples Temple, headed by preacher Jim Jones who, in 1978, led more than 900 members to Guyana, where he orchestrated a mass suicide via tainted punch. You may think you know the story, but Nelson uncovers fresh information that will leave you spellbound.
MAQUILAPOLIS: City of factories, directed by Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre (USA, Mexico) – North American Premiere. Just over the border in Mexico is an area peppered with maquiladoras: massive sweatshops often owned by the world’s largest multinational corporations. Carmen and Lourdes work at maquiladoras in Tijuana, and it is there that they try to balance the struggle for survival with their own radicalization in this hard-hitting and ultra-relevant documentary.
The Play (Oyun), directed by Pelin Esmer (Turkey) – North American Premiere. When nine peasant women from a mountain village in southern Turkey decide to write and perform a play based on their life stories, aspects of their personalities emerge that they never knew existed. Esmer’s documentary observes the creative stages leading up to the production of the play, and shows us how nine subtly but significantly different women emerge after its staging.
Shadow of Afghanistan, directed by Suzanne Bauman and Jim Burroughs (USA) – World Premiere. The first in-depth look at the tragic history of this war-torn land and its relationship to today’s headlines. The people responsible for this film, one of them a journalist who died in the effort, did their homework, put their lives on the line, and uncovered much of the complex truth about decades of betrayal.
Sounds of Silence (Sot-e Sokut), directed by Amir Hamz and Mark Lazarz (Iran, U.K., Germany) – World Premiere. In Iran, where half the population is under 30, Western music is banned and the solo female voice has not been heard singing in public since the Revolution. But as this films reveals, young men and women in burgeoning underground bands are defying the system by using the Internet to get their music heard. In Farsi.
The War Tapes, directed by Deborah Scranton (USA) – World Premiere. Since Homer’s time, artists have struggled with the challenge of how to describe the experience of war. Called up for service in Iraq, several members of the National Guard were given digital video cameras. This astonishing film, edited from their footage, provides an unimaginably vivid perspective on an extremely complex and troubled conflict.
Voices of Bam, directed by Aliona van der Horst and Maasja Ooms (Netherlands) – U.S. Premiere. The earthquake that struck the ancient city of Bam in December 2003 killed over 43,000 people and left twice that number injured or homeless. This sensitive doc reveals the thoughts of the survivors and their eloquent hopes for the future, according them an all-too rare dignity. In Farsi.
NY, NY COMPETITIONS
The NY, NY Competitions have matured into a launch pad for filmmakers with New York roots – just like the festival – and for films from the New York City area that present a diverse range of perspectives.
NY, NY Narrative Feature Competition
The NY, NY Narrative Feature Competition presents New York Stories ranging from the creation of a cult, to familial re-connection, to urban follies, to films that use experimental ideas and push the boundaries of technology. Includes thirteen films, all of which are World Premieres:
Brother’s Shadow, directed by Todd S. Yellin, written by Yellin and Ivan Solomon (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. A family’s black sheep (Scott Cohen), once imprisoned and now on parole, returns home to Brooklyn after 15 years. But his return home packs more surprises than he bargained for. His brother has died, his father (Judd Hirsch) and sister-in-law don’t trust him, and the family business is on the brink of being sold.
East Broadway, directed by Fay Ann Lee, written by Fay Ann Lee and Karen Rousso (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Grace is a Chinese American who longs to be a part of New York’s high society. At a socialite event, she is mistaken for a Hong Kong heiress and meets her Prince Charming. Nothing is as it seems absorbing drama. What will happen to this Cinderella when the clock strikes midnight? Featuring Fay Ann Lee, Margaret Cho, Gale Harold, and Christine Baranski. In English and Cantonese.
Fifty Pills, directed by Theo Avgerinos, written by Matthew Perniciaro (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. College student Darren (Lou Taylor Pucci) has just lost his scholarship because of his partying roommate’s antics. Now, in order to make his tuition payment, he needs to sell 50 tablets of Ecstasy-graciously supplied by his roommate-over the course of just one day. Avgerinos’ directorial debut features Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars as Darren’s girlfriend.
H.C.E., directed and written by Richard Sylvarnes (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. In this rapid-cut, experimental, tragicomedy collage of mythology, history, literature, and comic books, Sylvarnes bounces us through a fragmented, impressionistic history of the world from Napoleon to Jesus, from Socrates to Superman and back again with a 6-year-old girl as our guide.
Just Like the Son, directed and written by Morgan J. Freeman (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. A petty thief’s mentoring of an apparent orphan takes a profound turn when he kidnaps the boy from a foster home and drives him cross-country to his sister’s house in Texas. This charming road movie logs plenty of poignant moments without cloying sentiment. Starring Mark Webber and Rosie Perez.
Kettle of Fish, directed and written by Claudia Meyers, (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. A lifelong bachelor (Matthew Modine) confronts his intimacy issues when he sublets his apartment to a fetching biologist (Gina Gershon). His heartsick fish and his wise best buddy are on hand to provide perspective in this winsome feature debut that will appeal to romantics of any species. Presented by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Kiss Me Again, directed by William Tyler Smith, written by Smith and J.D. Hoxter (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Kiss Me Again is a witty and provocative portrayal of a married couple that decides to test the boundaries of their relationship with a seductive Spanish woman. When an unlikely relationship ensues, all three are forced to rethink their definition of love. Starring Jeremy London, Katheryn Winnick, Darrell Hammond, Elisa Donovan, Mirelly Taylor, and Fred Armisen.
“Marvelous”, directed and written by Siofra Campbell (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. A sharp and shrewd satire of the celebrity generation, Síofra Campbell’s “Marvelous” chronicles the rapid rise and fall of Gwen as an unlikely celebrity “healer,” and how her life and the lives of her sister and brother-in-law are slowly twisted, first into a publicity machine and then, unexpectedly, a cult. Starring Ewan Bremner, Martha Plimpton, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon, and Annabella Sciorra.
Metro, directed and written by Adolfo Doring (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Doring takes a rigorously observational approach to chronicling the relationships that a group of young, creative women form with one another over a period of months in New York City. By avoiding any trace of artificiality, he uncovers intimate character details that other films usually shy away from, making Metro truly unique.
New York Waiting, directed and written by Joachim Hedén (Sweden) – World Premiere. Hedén’s debut film sensitively illuminates the effects of lovesickness and wanderlust. After Sidney sends his lost love a plane ticket and a letter, asking her to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building, he unexpectedly meets a lovesick woman. Together they wander the streets of New York, lamenting their lost loves while secretly wondering if they’re falling in love with each other. In English.
The Treatment, directed by Oren Rudavsky, written by Daniel Housman and Oren Rudavsky (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Jake Singer is a frustrated, confused, and recently dumped New York schoolteacher who enters into therapy in an attempt to find guidance in his life. The treatment appears to be working, but when he suddenly falls in love with a beautiful widow, Jake is forced to battle his therapist’s alarmingly strong influence. Starring Chris Eigeman, Ian Holm, and Famke Janssen.
A Very Serious Person, directed by Charles Busch, written by Busch and Carl Andress (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Actor/writer/drag performer Charles Busch makes a disarmingly effortless transition from high camp to conventional comedy-drama with this sweet-natured coming-of-age tale about a showtunes- and old Hollywood-obsessed boy and his effete Danish mentor. The two bond and teach each other lessons about self-acceptance over the course of one magical summer on the Jersey Shore.
Windows, directed and written by Shoja Y. Azari, (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Azari weaves together a loosely-constructed narrative based on 10 choreographed, single-shot scenes framed by windows. Preceded by 25 Letters, Grahame Weinbren’s interactive project based on his one-minute films that generate the letters of the alphabet.
NY, NY Documentary Feature Competition
The NY, NY Documentaries Feature Competition section includes stories about immigration, reality TV flops, and the birth of a New York charitable institution. Includes thirteen films, all of which are World Premieres:
American Cannibal: The Road to Reality, directed by Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. In this unflinching, behind-the-scenes look at a doomed reality show, a pair of novice TV writers team up with the distributor of the Paris Hilton sex tapes to create a reality show in which contestants are starved on a desert island. More than just gripping entertainment, this documentary poses important questions about how far people will go in pursuit of fame and fortune.
The Cats of Mirikitani, directed by Linda Hattendorf (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Jimmy Mirikitani is a fiercely independent, homeless 80-year-old Japanese-American artist who lost family and friends to both WWII internment camps in the U.S. and Hiroshima’s atomic bombing. In this intimate and funny portrayal of the healing power of art, Mirikitani makes peace with his past and journeys from homeless to home. In English and Japanese.
Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me A Saint, directed by Claudia Larson (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Leftist writer and activist Dorothy Day had an abortion, got a divorce, and bore a daughter out of wedlock. She also co-founded the Catholic Worker movement, leaving an important social legacy. This film explores the complex life of a woman who has already been placed on the official road to sainthood by the Vatican.
Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig, directed by Katherine Linton (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Jonathan Richman, Sleater-Kinney, Rufus Wainwright and a host of other musicians record a benefit album of songs from Hedwig and the Angry Inch for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk High School, the first LGBTQ high school in the nation. While the doc follows four students, the music creates a soundtrack for their lives.
Golden Venture, directed and written by Peter Cohn (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. The merchant ship Golden Venture was intercepted near New York City in 1993 with 300 undocumented Chinese immigrants onboard. Many of them went to jail for up to four years, and they’re still seeking amnesty today. An engrossing chronicle of immigrants and their struggles for recognition and a better life. In English and Chinese
Jack Smith & the Destruction of Atlantis, directed and written by Mary Jordan (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Jordan creates a mesmerizing collage of images and audio from the life and work of Jack Smith, the underground filmmaker, photographer, performance artist, and anti-capitalist, who worked in New York from the ’60s until his death in 1989. Highlights include the story behind the Supreme Court case over the banning of his 1963 classic Flaming Creatures.
Lockdown, USA, directed by Michael Skolnik and Rebecca Chaiklin (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. This powerful doc chronicles Russell Simmons’ quest to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws and how it effects the convicted’s families. Simmons gives it his all; from assembling a rally with celebrities like 50 Cent and Mariah Carey to help raise awareness with New York City’s youth, to meeting with New York Governor George Pataki.
The One Percent, directed by Jamie Johnson (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Money can buy everything except social justice in this hard-hitting and hilarious documentary. By examining the lives of the rich and the poor, Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, uncovers frightening realities. Featuring a full spectrum of interviewees: Steve Forbes, members of Johnson’s family, cab drivers, and victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Saint of 9/11, directed by Glenn Holstein (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. A loving tribute to Fire Department Chaplain Father Mychal Judge: parish priest, streetwise New Yorker, recovering alcoholic, and proud homosexual who gave his life on September 11 after administering last rites to a fallen firefighter. Saint of 9/11 traces the journey and struggles of a man whose compassion touched the world.
A Stadium Story: The Battle for New York’s Last Frontier, directed by Jevon Roush and Benjamin Rosen (U.S.A.) World Premiere. When a plan is unveiled to build a football stadium in Manhattan for the New York Jets, an epic battle ensues. The grassroots campaign against the stadium starts small, but when Cablevision, which owns Madison Square Garden, gets involved, what started as a David-and-Goliath battle soon becomes a clash of the titans.
Tell Me Do You Miss Me, directed by Matthew Buzzell (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. For over a decade, New York darlings Luna played lullabies for the indie set, but in 2004 they hung up their guitars for good. This documentary charts their bittersweet final tour as they travel around the world, down memory lane, and into the uncertain future.
Toots, directed by Kristi Jacobson (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. The ’40s and ’50s were a classic period in New York City nightlife, when the saloonkeeper was king and regular folks could drink with celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason. In this warmly nostalgic doc, Jacobson profiles her grandfather, the king of kings: Toots Shor of the eponymous restaurant and saloon, which was once the place to be seen in Manhattan.
When I Came Home, directed by Dan Lohaus (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Iraq War veteran Herold Noel suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and lives out of his car in Brooklyn. Using Noel’s story as a fulcrum, this doc examines the wider issue of homeless U.S. military veterans-from Vietnam to Iraq-who have to fight tooth-and-nail to receive the benefits promised to them by their government.
For more info, visit the Tribeca Film Festival website.