When my phone is on vibrate for two weeks and I check my email every other day as opposed to every other hour, then you know it is Tribeca Film Festival time. This is my second year attending and I loved the entire experience: seeing movies that might or might never make it to the big or the small screen, meeting directors/producers/editors, attending the ASCAP music lounge to network and discover so much up and coming talent… Out of the 150 movies in the program, this year I packed in 36 feature films and about 20 short films, running around town from theater to theater, watching 4 to 6 movies per day. You are bound to miss some things you wanted to see, but you have to try to prioritize (which is why I was at the music lounge every one of the four days, instead of watching more movies).
I saw a LOT of movies, a lot of good movies, some bad ones too (what was Aimee Jennings thinking?). Some of the best movies I have seen are: Benson Lee’s Planet B-Boy (a documentary about break-dancing that you are going to like whether you are or are not into those moves; so well done, put together, filmed, edited; simply the best documentary this year!); Ian McCrudden and Robbie Cavolina’s Anita O’Day – The Life of a Jazz Singer (great singer, great film, great discovery!); James Crump’s Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe (extremely well done, hard to believe it was this director’s first movie; an insight look into the world of art and human relationships in the ’70s and ’80s); Bruce Broder’s Chops (documentary about the Florida high school jazz band who won the Wynton Marsalis Essentially Ellington Festival); The Hennegan Brothers’ The First Saturday in May (a documentary about the Kentucky Derby and it’s all time favorite horse Barbaro; I never got into horse racing, but this documentary was very well done, entertaining, informative); Andrew Piddington’s The Killing of John Lennon (strangely nobody has ever made a movie about that, but it seems like nobody needs to anymore because this one covers it all and does so very well!); Jim Brown’s Pete Seeger: the Power of Song (very interesting and informative); Stephen Kijak’s Scott Walker – 30 Century Man (this movie was awesome and even David Bowie knew that, because he put money into this film and executive produced it; a real find, a real treasure, both the film and the artist!); Mark Obenhaus’ Steep (an epic Warren Miller-like documentary about extreme back-country skiing); Alison Thompson’s The Third Wave (documentary about the Tsunami’s effect on Sri Lanka and the rebuilding efforts by a team of independent volunteers); Carolina Cruz Santiago’s Aloha New York (as a fellow NYC surfer, I went to see 2 hours of shorts only to see this one short and it was worth it! Finally a movie about surfing in NY, an idea I had actually been flirting with myself but that Cruz Santiago, a NY surfer herself, has brought to life; a unique film; an awesome film!); Donald Rice’s I Am Bob (featuring Bob Geldof as himself in a hilarious comedy in which he needs to prove he is who he is at a look-alike convention he stumbled on as a result of numerous mistakes); Albert Maysles and Antonio Ferrara’s The Gates (the controversial Central Park installation that I managed to miss; I finally got an opportunity to see a lot more than just pictures of it through this very well made documentary).
I’ve seen many other movies that are worthy of mention (2 Days in Paris, The Air I Breath, Blackout, Bomb It, Doubletime, The Grand, Heckler, Live!, The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio -whose screening was followed by an amazing live concert by this multi-national world music orchestra based in Italy-, We Are Together) but I think the above ones deserve special mention as my 2007 Tribeca Film Festival favorites!
Generally my main complaint about documentaries, is that they rarely have good background music or (even worse) rarely have music at all and that they could be edited much more tightly. Self-indulgence, attachment and budgets are usually the main reasons for that but I have to say that most of the documentaries I mentioned luckily escaped that fate! More documentary directors/producers today understand how important a good score (or even just source music in the background) is and how much a good editing job can bring to the film. These two things alone can make or break a movie and I wish more directors/producers were to understand that.
All in all the Festival was awesome. Delays in screenings and exorbitant ticket prices are certainly something to consider, but the opportunity to mingle with so many people in the industry and to see so many good movies is unique and maybe even priceless.