The Tribeca Film Festival 2011 has unveiled the 12 films in competition for both the World Narrative Features and Documentary prizes, as well as 20 films from their new Viewpoints program, offering looks at the state of cinema from around the globe.
Taken at Tribeca Cinemas (TC). 10th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.
Angel's Crest: In the working-class Rocky Mountain town of Angels Crest, young father Ethan (Thomas Dekker) is doing his best to raise his three-year-old son Nate. He has no choice—Nate’s mother (Lynn Collins) is an alcoholic. But one snowy day Ethan’s momentary lapse in judgment results in tragedy, catapulting the town’s tight-knit community into strange new directions as they try to decide where the blame lies. With Jeremy Piven, Elizabeth McGovern, Mira Sorvino, and Kate Walsh.
Artificial Paradises (Paraisos Artificiales): This beautifully rendered atmospheric story captures a young woman addicted to heroin trying to get clean at a rundown resort on the Mexican Gulf Coast. There she meets a local character and the two begin a unique rapport. First-time narrative filmmaker Yulene Olaizola subverts the conventional addict story and imbues her main characters with a complexity and honesty that inspires this delicate and resonant journey of two old souls. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Black Butterflies: Poetry, politics, madness, and desire collide in the true story of the woman hailed as South Africa’s Sylvia Plath. In 1960s Cape Town, as Apartheid steals the expressive rights of blacks and whites alike, young Ingrid Jonker (Carice van Houten, Black Book) finds her freedom scrawling verse while frittering through a series of stormy affairs. Amid escalating quarrels with her lovers and her government-censor father (Rutger Hauer), the poet witnesses an unconscionable event that will alter her life’s course.
Blackthorn: Legend has it notorious American outlaw Butch Cassidy was killed in Bolivia in 1908. Mateo Gil’s classic Western, however, finds Cassidy (Sam Shepard) 20 years later living on in hiding under the identity of James Blackthorn—and yearning for one last sight of home. Joining forces with a Spanish mine robber named Eduardo, Blackthorn sets out on one final adventure across the sublime landscape of the Bolivian frontier. In English, Spanish with English subtitles.
Cairo Exit (El Korough): When 18-year-old Amal becomes pregnant, she struggles with the choice between absconding to Greece with her beloved Muslim boyfriend and staying in Cairo with her Coptic Orthodox Christian family. But when her motorbike gets stolen and she’s fired from her job, Amal must reevaluate her future options as an unmarried young mother in Egypt. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Grey Matter (Matière Grise): When his grant falls through a few days before production, a young filmmaker hides the bad news from his team and continues preparations on his film The Cycle of the Cockroach without financing or equipment. Reality blurs as scenes from the script suddenly begin to materialize—can this film exist only in his dreams? Assured direction is bolstered by strong and creative visual imagery in one of Rwanda’s first feature-length narrative films. In Kinyarwanda, French with English subtitles.
Jesus Henry Christ: Precocious doesn’t even begin to describe Henry James Hermin, a petri dish child who writes rabble-rousing manifestos on the nature of truth… at age 10. This boy-genius misfit’s world turns upside down when—to the dismay of the doting single mother who raised him—he embarks on a search for his biological father. Toni Collette and Michael Sheen star alongside bright newcomers Jason Spevack and Samantha Weinstein in this charming comedy that beams with off-the-wall humor and visual flair.
The Kite: A family saga set against the colorful spectacle of the Uttarayan, India’s largest kite festival, The Kite is a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of energy, romance, and turmoil. A businessman arrives in Ahmedabad for a surprise visit to his once grand family home, bringing with him his daughter and some unexpected news for the family’s future. Amongst the flurry of preparations and the energy of the festival itself, the transformative and intersecting tales of six characters unfold. In English, Hindi with English subtitles.
The Last Rites of Joe May: Small-time Chicago hustler Joe May (the incomparable Dennis Farina) always felt like a great destiny awaited him, but with his health ailing and his age advancing, he’s never looked more like a bum. Broke and evicted, he’s taken in by a troubled young mother and daughter, in whom he finds one last shot to be a hero. Pulsing with the spirit of classic urban dramas, The Last Rites of Joe May is a subtle, sophisticated tale of redemption.
Romantics Anonymous (Les Émotifs Anonymes): Two pathologically shy neurotics connect through a love of chocolate in this delectably witty romantic comedy. For Angelique and Jean-René, the social world is one big emotional minefield best avoided. She’s a reclusive candymaker looking for a job, and he runs a chocolate factory in dire need of her savant-like skill. Fate may bring them together, but they’ll need to overcome their common fears to find fairy-tale love. In French with English subtitles.
She Monkeys (Apflickorna): When 15-year-old Emma lands a competitive spot on the equestrian acrobatics team, she is taken under the wing of a pretty, slightly older teammate, Cassandra. The two begin an intense relationship where the rules of the game blur as psychological stakes get higher and higher. Lisa Aschan’s award-winning directorial debut explores the all-consuming world of teen female friendships through naturalistic direction, evocative imagery, and engrossing performances. In Swedish with English subtitles.
Turn me on, goddammit (Få meg på, for faen): Alma is a small-town teenager with an active imagination and an even more active libido. After a titillating but awkward encounter with school heartthrob Artur turns her into a social outcast, Alma is desperate to move out of town and on with her life. Turn me on, goddammit is an offbeat coming-of-age comedy with a deadpan sense of humor, enlivened by its rich sense of fantasy and frank but sweet approach to teen sexuality. In Norwegian with English subtitles.
Bombay Beach: The rusting relic of a failed 1960s development boom, the Salton Sea is a barren California landscape and symbol of the failure of the American dream. Using a stylized amalgam of cinema verité and choreographed dance set to the music of Beirut and Bob Dylan, Bombay Beach revisits this poetically fruitful terrain to find a motley cast including a bipolar seven-year-old, a lovelorn football star, and an octogenarian poet-prophet—creating a moving, distinctive, and slightly surreal documentary experience.
The Bully Project: More than 18 million young people in the U.S. will be bullied this year. This alarming documentary takes us into a disquieting year in the life of several students joining this staggering statistic. As teachers and parents struggle to find the answers, the students do what they can to survive a school day. Rare access and emotionally charged footage offer a never-before-seen exploration of America’s bullying crisis and a necessary call to action.
The Carrier: Young mother Mutinta is a Zambian subsistence farmer in a polygamous marriage who has just learned she is HIV positive. Newly pregnant, Mutinta does everything she can to protect her unborn baby while navigating complicated family dynamics and village politics. Newcomer Maggie Betts sculpts a sensitive observational portrait of one woman’s struggle leading up to her newborn’s birth. In Tonga with English subtitles.
Cinema Komunisto: For 32 years, Leka Konstantinovic was the personal film projectionist for Yugoslavian president and noted film enthusiast Josip Broz Tito. Comprised of interviews with Konstantinovic and other important figures in the brief but glowing history of Yugoslavian cinema, as well as archival clips from more than 60 films, Cinema Komunisto is a vibrant, fascinating celebration of a film industry—and a nation—that no longer exists. In Serbian with English subtitles.
Despicable Dick and Righteous Richard: Richard has been pissing people off for 50 years. A recovering alcoholic from North Dakota, he finally musters the courage to complete the eighth and ninth steps of the 12-Step Program. With a list of everyone he’s wronged—from ex-wives to ex-mistresses, abandoned children to slighted pals—Richard tries to make amends. But has he really changed? Soulful folk music and rich characters bring levity and humor to an emotional story of redemption.
Give Up Tomorrow: In 1997, Paco Larrañaga was arrested for the murder of two teenage sisters on a provincial island in the Philippines. Over the next 13 years, his case became the highest profile in the nation’s history, and the focal point in a far-reaching exposé of gross miscarriage of justice. At once an engrossing murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and a stunning indictment of national corruption, Give Up Tomorrow is an enraging true crime chronicle. In English, Spanish, Tagalog with English subtitles.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi: An appetizing documentary in every sense, Jiro Dreams of Sushi follows 85-year-old master sushi chef Jiro Ono, paying lushly photographed homage to the process of preparing the artisan sushi that earned Ono’s esteemed Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant three Michelin stars. From the complicated relationship between Jiro and his sons to the ins and outs of the tuna auction, this spirited film profiles all aspects of Jiro’s craft in tantalizing style and detail. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Koran By Heart: The world’s preeminent Koran-recitation competition takes place each year in Cairo, drawing Muslim children from as far as Tajikistan and the Maldives to perform in front of a panel of prominent judges. Following these talented youngsters from their intense preparation regimes through the rigorous rounds of the tournament, Koran By Heart is both an inspirational competition film and an engaging survey of the unique experiences of Muslim children throughout the world. In Arabic, Dhivehi, English, Tajik, Wolof, Buck with English subtitles.
Love During Wartime: Jasmin and Assi are newlyweds, but building a life together seems impossible: She’s an Israeli, he’s a Palestinian. When their homelands turn their backs on them, they choose to live in exile. This tender tale of a love infiltrated by politics follows a real-life Romeo and Juliet on their odyssey from the Middle East through an inhospitable Europe. As their hopes rise and then fade with each bureaucratic hurdle, will their love survive? In Hebrew, Arabic, English, German with English subtitles.
Marathon Boy: Gemma Atwal’s fascinating and dynamic epic follows Budhia, a four-year-old boy plucked from the slums of India and trained as a marathon prodigy by Biranchi Das, a larger-than-life judo coach who runs an orphanage in the eastern state of Orissa. But over the next five years and dozens of marathons, Budhia’s roller-coaster journey turns from an uplifting story of promise and opportunity to one of greed, corruption, and broken dreams. In Oriya, English, Hindi with English subtitles.
Our School (Scoala Noastra): Our School follows three Roma (commonly known as Gypsy) children in a rural Transylvanian village who are among the pioneer participants in an initiative to integrate the ethnically segregated Romanian schools. Touching on issues ranging from institutionalized prejudice, public education, and the intractability of poverty, but always firmly rooted in the hypnotic rhythms and profound reality of the Roma community, Our School is a deeply affecting, often infuriating, and ultimately bittersweet story of tradition and progress. In Romanian with English subtitles.
Semper Fi: Always Faithful: Iraq war veteran Jerry Ensminger’s loyalty was always to the Marine Corps. But after his nine-year-old daughter died of a rare type of leukemia, Jerry’s relentless search for answers leads to a shocking discovery exposing of the largest water contamination sites in U.S. history. Living by the Marine creed, this drill sergeant-turned-activist puts his own pain aside and takes on the top brass in an impassioned struggle for justice on behalf of his fellow soldiers and family.
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye: Filmmaker and TFF alum Marie Losier, who has created engaging short films on avant-garde artists like George Kuchar and Guy Maddin, makes her feature documentary debut with a mesmerizing and deeply romantic love story between pioneering musician and performance artist Genesis P-Orridge and soul mate Lady Jaye. Breaking new ground in its depiction of gender identity, Ballad chronicles the physical and spiritual merging of two beings into one.
Donor Unknown (Documentary): JoEllen Marsh grew up knowing her father only as Donor 150. As one of the first generation of “test-tube babies,” she yearns for connection with potential siblings, and turns to the Internet to track them down. As JoEllen slowly broadens her family tree, in the process she forges a fascinatingly modern model of family. After connecting with dozens of siblings across the country, JoEllen decides it’s finally time to seek out Donor 150.
Flowers of Evil (Fleurs du Mal) (Narrative):nParis-Tehran. A rootless story of young love between Gecko, an Algerian-French hotel bellman and parkourer, and Anahita, an Iranian student forced to leave her country for her own safety after the controversial elections in 2009. Obsessed with tracking the political movement, Anahita’s friends broadcast through YouTube and coordinate via Twitter. Romance and the Internet become the ground to explore histories lost and identity yet to be found. In French, Farsi with English subtitles.
Gnarr: You’ll never see politics the same after this raucous documentary. Following his country’s economic meltdown, acerbic Icelandic comedian Jon Gnarr launches his own political party, The Best Party. His platform? Free trips to Disneyland, more polar bears in the zoo, and refusing to work with anyone who doesn’t watch The Wire. But when support for Gnarr’s wacky mayoral bid surprisingly snowballs, what started out as a joke quickly captures the imagination of a nation desperate for a change. In Icelandic with English subtitles.
Gone: What would you do if you got a call that your grown son had mysteriously vanished while living abroad? In this riveting, confessional documentary, retired New York cop Kathy Gilleran describes her heartrending journey. In her search for her missing gay son in Vienna, Austria, Gilleran encounters a homophobic police force, unexpected discrepancies in the investigation, and suspicious circumstances. This is her story—a mother’s determination to find truth or simply an answer.
The Good Life (Det gode liv) (Documentary):nHow do you cope with being broke after having lived a life of luxury and privilege? This is the fundamental question facing spoiled Anne Mette and her mother, a once-rich family now living off a small pension and struggling to adapt to their new situation in a coastal Portuguese hamlet. A Grey Gardens for the current financial era, The Good Life is a character study at turns touching and frustrating, but ultimately poignant. In English, Danish, Portuguese with English subtitles.
Journals of Musan (Musal Il-gi) (Narrative): Park Jungbum’s stunning and much-lauded debut is the story of a North Korean defector forging a life in capitalist South Korea. As both director and actor, Park (assistant director of Lee Chang-dong’s stirring Poetry) fully realizes a disarmingly beautiful vision of loneliness, disconnect, and ethical ambiguity in this story of a lost soul’s struggle to connect. In Korean with English subtitles.
Lotus Eaters (Narrative): The bright young things of London’s social elite lead an existence as languorous and lavish as it is self-destructive. At the center is Alice, a stunning ex-model unable to keep up with the high standards of living her peers feverishly chase. Alexandra McGuinness’ directorial debut presents a contemporary black-and-white portrait of overlapping cliques of friends struggling to get their lives under control before they fall numb to it all.
Love Always, Carolyn(Documentary): They say behind every great man is a great woman. Carolyn Cassady was behind two. Wife of beatnik icon Neal Cassady and lover-muse of Jack Kerouac, Carolyn saw her life story and the memory of the men she loved hijacked by mythmakers. Love Always, Carolyn is the intimate, graceful portrait of a patient matriarch who could never escape the constant wake of her husband’s epic misadventures.
Magic Valley (Narrative): As one warm October day unfolds, the sleepy town of Buhl, Idaho will never be the same. A fish farmer finds his crop destroyed, a couple of kids are playing an unusual game in the sun-dappled fields, and after a wild party a sleepless teenager is harboring an awful secret…. First-time director Jaffe Zinn presents an atmospheric picture of small-town life with a keen eye and assured hand.
Maria My Love (Narrative): Disoriented by her mother’s death and resentful of her father’s mistakes, a twenty-something woman leaves Santa Barbara for Los Angeles to reconnect with her half-sister. Inspired by a new romance, she decides to help others through volunteer work, but soon gets entangled in an emotionally complex situation revealing more about herself than she might be ready for. Judy Marte (Raising Victor Vargas) and Karen Black star.
The Miners' Hymns (Documentary): Experimental filmmaker and frequent TFF alum Bill Morrison combines newly shot aerial scenes that he filmed himself with historic found-footage images of the mining communities of Northeast England that he culled from the British archives. Morrison creates a moving and formally elegant tribute to this vanished era of working-class life, enriched by an original score by avant-garde Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.
My Last Round (Mi Último Round) (Narrative): When successful boxer Octavio falls in love with kitchen hand Hugo, they move from their small-town homes in the south of Chile to capital city Santiago to protect their taboo relationship. But when Hugo feels unexpected desire for co-worker Jennifer, Octavio is left heartbroken and throws himself into a high-stakes boxing match against all odds. A handsome cast and evocative cinematography offer a sexy, subtle film that evokes hits like The Wrestler and Brokeback Mountain. In Spanish with English subtitles.
NEDS (Narrative): Directed by actor/director Peter Mullan (My Name Is Joe, The Magdalene Sisters), NEDS takes place in the gritty and savage world of 1970s Glasgow. On the brink of adolescence, John McGill is a bright and sensitive boy. He’s eager to learn and full of promise, but with no one willing to give him a chance, young John descends into a violent life of crime. NEDS is an intense and tragic portrayal of the loss of hope.
Rid of Me (Narrative): When she moves to Portland, Oregon, Meris does her best to fit in with her husband’s clique of old high school buddies—until she gets dumped. Her life trashed, she takes a job as a candy store clerk, opening unexpected worlds into the Northwest underground punk scene and Cambodian rock. A low budget is no barrier to creativity and cinematic innovation in this black comedy of embarrassments about sticking up for yourself no matter how messy.
Splinters: In the remote seaside village of Vanimo in Papua New Guinea, there are hardly any jobs—but there are infinite prime waves. Twenty years after the first board was introduced on the island, surfing has become a way of life. This spirited documentary, tinged by joyful music and fascinating glimpses into a rare culture, follows four local surfers competing in the country’s first-ever national surfing championships in the hopes their surfboards will carry them to a better life. In English, Tok Pisen with English subtitles.
Stuck Between Stations (Narrative): Casper, a young soldier home on leave, has a chance run-in with his childhood crush, now a grad student coping with conflicts of her own. In one night, the two traverse a striking Minneapolis cityscape, growing closer but knowing they will inevitably have to part ways at dawn. Featuring standout performances by rising indie stars Zoe Lister-Jones and Sam Rosen, and supported by cameos from Josh Hartnett and Michael Imperioli, Stuck Between Stations is a touching and authentic snapshot of a generational zeitgeist.
The Swell Season (Documentary): The world fell in love with Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova when their songwriting collaboration in the film Once culminated in a jubilant Oscar® win. But behind the scenes, where Glen and Mar’s on-screen romance became reality, a grueling two-year world tour threatens to fracture their fated bond. Gorgeously filmed in black and white, this music-filled documentary is an intimate look at the exhilaration and turmoil created by both love and fame.
Treatment (Narrative): When Leonard convinces his best friend Nelson to bankroll his stint at a glitzy L.A. rehab clinic so he can pitch a movie idea to mega-star Gregg D, his blind ambition begins to consume him. The producing team behind Humpday returns with this witty, ridiculous, and sincere tale of co-dependent friendship on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Indie darlings Joshua Leonard, Sean Nelson, and Ross Partridge star.