5th Annual Tribeca Film Festival
5th Annual Tribeca Film Festival
Source: Edward Douglas
April 24, 2006
On April 25, the 5th Annual Tribeca Film Festival will be kicking off in New York City, and in its five years, the festival has grown so big that it will be branching out into other areas of Manhattan, with some screenings going as far north as 68th Street, right across from Lincoln Center, home of the New York Film Festival.
This year, the Tribeca Film Festival is showcasing a lot more movies that will be seen in theatres across the country in the next few months, both from major studios like Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures to local indies like IFC Films.
The festival kicks-off with the opening night gala premiere of United 93, Paul Greengrass' drama about the events of September 11. It's quite an appropriate choice, since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center were pivotal in the formation of the festival, when founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff decided to help businesses in the area surrounding Ground Zero with a full-scale film festival. Of course, the premiere is going to be held in midtown at the Ziegfield Theatre.
The festival's fifth anniversary will also feature special invite-only screenings of two of the first big movies of the summer, Mission: Impossible III, starring Tom Cruise, and Wolfgang Peterson's boat disaster remake, Poseidon.
Needless to say, the festival's fifth anniversary will feature more stars than ever with some of the actors appearing in films at the fest including John Travolta, Ralph Fiennes, Laura Linney, Brendan Fraser, Salma Hayek, James Gandolfini, Brittany Murphy, Cynthia Nixon and many others.
(Note that there would be no way to preview every single movie showing at the festival since there are over 250 films, but what follows are a few of what should be standouts.)
Filmmaker Edward Burns returns with The Groomsmen, which gives the male point of view on the typical wedding comedy, Burns' groomsmen being played by John Leguizamo, Jay Mohr, Matthew Lillard, and Donal Logue with Brittany Murphy as his pregnant fiance. It will be one of the first releases from new indie distributor Bauer-Martinez after playing at the festival.
Robert Edwards' satiric political drama Land of the Blind, another Bauer-Martinez release, stars Ralph Fiennes and Donald Sutherland as a soldier and a political prisoner who strike up an awkward and illicit friendship. It will get a limited theatrical release on June 9.
The prolific Michael Winterbottom returns with The Road to Gantanamo, about three British men of Pakistani descent sent to Afghanistan on a aid mission, who are rounded up by U.S. forces and put in the famous political prison, where they're tortured. British actor Richard E. Grant makes his directorial debut with Wah-Wah, based on his childhood in the British controlled Swaziland. Both films will be released by Roadside Attractions in the coming months.
Chen Kaige's historical epic The Promise will have its New York premiere, before getting a limited release by Warner Independent Pictures on May 5.
Driving Lessons is a coming-of-age story directed by screenwriter Jeremy Brock (Mrs. Brown) . It stars Rupert "Ron Weasley" Grint as a 17-year-old living in the British suburbs whose ultra-religious mother, played by Laura Linney, refuses to give him driving lessons, so he gets the help of an eccentric woman played by Julie Walters.
Although it was released last year in France, the dark comedy Colour Me Kubrick, starring John Malkovich as a man who successfully takes over the famed director's life, has yet to find a U.S. distributor, something it will hope to rectify at the festival.
First Time For Everything
Although a lot of the movies playing at Tribeca already have distribution or have been doing the festival rounds, a number of prominent films will be getting their World Premieres at the festival this year.
Brendan Fraser, Catalina Sandina Moreno (Maria Full of Grace) and Mos Def star in Eric Eason's Journey to the End of the Night a crime drama set in the seedy side of Sao Paulo, Brazil, stated to be one of the most dangerous cities on earth. Eric Eason's previous film, Manito debuted at the festival in 2001, and it will get a special screening as part of the festival's 5th Anniversary celebration.
In Lonely Hearts, John Travolta and James Gandolfini are '40s homicide detectives following the case of a notorious couple, played by Salma Hayek and Jared Leto, wanted for murder. Kelli Garner and Justin Theroux star in Return to Rajapur, the debut feature from Nanda Anand, about a Western girl living in India, who uncovers a secret love affair involving a mysterious stranger.
Bruce McCullough of The Kids in the Hall directs Comeback Season, starring Ray Liotta and Shaun Sipos as the unlikely duo of a cheating husband and an injured high school football star. Premiering in competition is the romantic comedy Kettle of Fish, starring Matthew Modine as a lifelong bachelor with intimacy issues whose opinion changes when he starts subletting his apartment to a biologist, played by Gina Gershon. William Tyler Smith's Kiss Me Again, a comedy about a married couple who bring a Spanish woman into a threesome to spice up their love lives, will be released theatrically on May 12 after its festival debut.
Documentaries always play a large part in the festival's success, and some of this year's highlights which already have distribution include Patrick Creadon's award-winning Wordplay, about New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shorts, which will be released by IFC Films on June 16. Following in the tradition of other great sports docs, The Heart of the Game, to be released by Miramax on June 14, is about the turbulent relationships between a black female basketball player and her coach over the course of six years of victories and defeats. Sketches of Frank Gehry, a Sony Classics release, tries to get into the head of the famed architect, who has designed some of the world's most intricate structures.
One of the more interesting political docs at the festival this year is Al Franken: God Spoke, which tracks the comedy writer's career as he makes the full transition to liberal icon. Filmmaker Deborah Scranton gave a few members of the U.S. National Guard digital video cameras to document the Iraq war from their own viewpoint, assembling the footage into The War Tapes, and Three Days in September, a documentary narrated by no less than Julia Roberts, deals with the tragic Beslan hostage situation which left 330 people dead in September '04.
New York has always been a great rock 'n' roll city, and every year, this is reflected in the festival's long history of premiering docs about great rock bands like the Ramones, the MC5 and others. This year is no exception as the Ramones return to the festival with Mandy Stein's Too Tough to Die, which is more about the 30th Anniversary Ramones Tribute that took place in Los Angeles mere days before the death of guitarist Johnny Ramone.
Two popular alternative rock bands also get the rockumentary treatment: loudQUIETloud, documenting the reformation of Pixies in 2004, and Tell Me Do You Miss Me, chronicling the last six months of the New York alt-rock band Luna, as they go their separate ways. Frank Black and Kim Deal from Pixies also appear in Follow My Voice: The Music of Hedwig, about the making of a benefit album to help the Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the first gay-lesbian high school in the country.
On a stranger note, Air Guitar Nation, airing as part of the festival's midnight screenings, is a documentary about the U.S. Air Guitar Championship and the fierce competition that develops between the competitors on the way to mock rock god victory.
Although it's not a real documentary, Brothers of the Head, another IFC Films release, shows what might happen if Ray and Dave Davies or Liam and Noel Gallagher happened to be conjoined twins, as it follows the rise and fall of just such a fictitious duo.
Hip hop gets due recognition in three of the festival's docs: Rock the Bells shows the chaos that ensues when L.A. promoter Chang Weisberg attempted to stage an all-day hip hop festival, headlined by the reunion of the elusive Wu-Tang Clan. The Hip Hop Project (AKA "Word.Life") is a documentary executive produced by Bruce Willis about homeless New York teens who turn their lives around through rap music, and rap founding father Russell Simmons is at the center of Lockdown U.S.A., a documentary about his attempts to repeal New York's Rockefeller Drug Laws.
The Tribeca Family Festival
For the last five years, Tribeca's Family Festival has made the film festival experience something that even younger kids might appreciate.
Two movies that open nationwide on April 28 will get earlier preview screenings at Tribeca: the Lionsgate spelling bee dramedy Akeelah and the Bee and Robin Williams' road comedy RV. DreamWorks Animation's latest computer animated masterpiece Over the Hedge, based on the comic strip of the same name, will be screened for lucky moviegoers on May 6 and 7, two weeks before its official release.
Other soon-to-be-released family films include the Miramax comedy Keeping Up with the Steins, directed by Gary Marshall's son Scott, about a boy trying to get through the outrageous bar mitzvah that his father (Entourage's Jeremy Piven) has planned for him, and Disney's Goal! The Dream Begins, about a poor Mexican-American immigrant who uses his soccer skills to play professional soccer on a British team.
The biggest surprise at the Family Fest may be the return of a canine legend in the British remake of Lassie, starring the heroic collie who proved so popular on television and film for over three decades. The latest collie in the Lassie bloodline may even make an appearance at the film's New York premiere.
Older teens might be interested in One Last Thing, a comedy starring Michael Angarano as a teen dying of a terminal illness, whose last wish is to go to New York and have a date with his favorite model, played by Sunny Aubrey.
The 5th Annual Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 25th to May 7th.
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