MOVIES | Tribeca Film Festival 2010: From Shrek to Rush

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NEW YORK CITY—As MSPIFF builds momentum to its fantastic opening week down at St. Anthony Main, I’ll be heading off to New York City to cover the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival for five days (the full festival runs for 12 days). Jane Rosenthal, Robert DeNiro, and Craig Hatkoff founded Tribeca in 2002 to help revive the TriBeCa neighborhood in Manhattan following 9/11. Now in its 9th year, TFF has become a premier stop on the festival circuit, bringing in a wide variety of films from around the world. Most of the 120+ titles in the 2010 festival are world or U.S. premieres. While independent films is what the festival specializes in, the festival’s opening night film, Shrek Forever After, will be having its world premiere—about a month before it opens nationwide.


Along with the film screenings, there are plenty of other events going on—including a panel celebrating Christopher Nolan’s breakout hit Memento, where actors Guy Pearce and Joe Pantoliano, New School professor of psychology Dr. William Hirst, and MIT professor of behavioral neuroscience Dr. Suzanne Corkin will be talking about the film and the science of memory; the panel will be moderated by NPR’s Robert Krulwich. Two other panels of interest are a Freakonomics panel with acclaimed documentary directors Alex Gibney (who has three films in the festival: My Trip to Al-Qaeda, an untitled Eliot Spitzer documentary, and Freakonomics), Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Seth Gordon (The King of Kong), and Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp), will discuss the documentary based on the 2003 book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Within the past week, Freakonomics was picked up by Magnolia Pictures, so expect a fall release in Minneapolis for what looks to be a fascinating documentary. Saturday Night, a new documentary directed by actor James Franco (Spider-Man, Howl), has Franco going behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live and following the writers, actors, and producers of the show as actor John Malkovich serves as host; after the screening, Franco and SNL cast members will be participating in what is sure to be a hilarious and insightful commentary on what really goes into the making of the classic sketch comedy show.


For those who can’t travel to see what is screening at Tribeca, similar to what Sundance did earlier this year, they are offering two different services: Tribeca Film Festival Virtual and Tribeca Film Movies on Demand. With TFFV, you can purchase a pass for $45 and for eight days, April 23-30, you can stream films that are simultaneously premiering at the festival. Some of the highlighted films available from TFFV are: the latest film from writer/director Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen), Nice Guy Johnny; triple threat writer/director/star Omar Rodriguez Lopez’s (one-half of the rock band The Mars Volta) psychedelic story The Sentimental Engine Slayer, and in its North American premiere, the South Korean horror film Possessed. With the online option, you can get exclusive footage from the festival, chat with other filmgoers and watch interviews during the festival.


You can also check with your local cable provider to see if you can order one of fifteen films available on demand. A couple of titles of interest are Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll, the new rock biopic by Mat Whitecross (The Road to Guantanamo) on legendary British eccentric frontman Ian Dury; and the identity-crisis Muslim/Jewish comedy The Infidel by Josh Appignanesi.


While I’ll be missing the opening night excitement, there is still a plethora of films worth seeing in a short span. Here are a few I’m looking forward to seeing and reporting back on.


Micmacs, the new surrealist fantasy by French director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the co-creator, along with Marc Caro, of French classics Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. Jeunet’s solo effort Amelie is the all-time most successful French film worldwide.


When We Leave, from Germany. When a young mother can no longer help her husband with his treatments, she flees to Berlin with her five-year-old son and soon life becomes complicated. The film features actress Sibel Kekilli, who shined in German director Fatih Akin’s 2004 film Head-On.


Soul Kitchen. Speaking of Fatih Akin (The Edge of Heaven), Akin’s newest film will have its U.S. premiere at Tribeca and will be released in late August by IFC Films. Soul Kitchen is the first comedy from Akin, whose films are usually heavier fare. In this film, a man who owns a restaurant must deal with his girlfriend taking a job in China, while his recently paroled brother needs a job.


Feathered Cocaine, a feature documentary from Iceland, follows the most mysterious and profitable illegal trade, falcon smuggling. Directors Thorkell Hardarson and Orn Marino Arnarson investigate connections between falcon trading among the CIA, KGB, the oil industry, the American government, and Al-Qaeda.


Open House, from writer/director Andrew Paquin, features Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker, Easier with Practice), who plays David, a mysterious house hunter who, along with his partner Lila, invades the life of Alice, a newly single woman trying to sell her house. Unfortunately, Alice becomes a prisoner in her own house when David and Lila begin living in the house.


Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage will have its world premiere screening at Tribeca. It’s a documentary about the insanely successful rock trio from Toronto whose career has spanned four decades. Expect plenty of “Tom Sawyer” questions posed to, and answers from, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neal Peart.