Monday, May 11, 2009

tribeca film festival 2009

Next update!

One of my favorite things to do in NYC is attend the Tribeca Film Festival. Founded in 2002 by Robert DiNiro and Jane Rosenthal in an attempt to revive the Tribeca economy after 9/11, the film festival showcases a wide variety of films from throughout the world. I usually end up catching at least 2 or 3 movies each year, and this year I was lucky enough to attend 5 great shows in late April.

The red carpet at the BMCC Performing Arts Center.

The first movie that Nick and I caught was Outrage, which was directed by Kirby Dick (best known for This Film is Not Yet Rated).

The basic purpose of the documentary is to out a number of U.S. politicians who actively work against the LGBT community that they secretly belong to. The film mostly consists of interviews with people who either provide information regarding the secret lives of the targeted politicians or else document how the politicians have worked to harm the LGBT community. Featured interviewees include Barney Frank, Jim McGreevey and Tammy Baldwin. I attended the premiere, so many of the people featured in the film were present, including McGreevey. Made for an interesting Q&A.

Later that week, Nick and I had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of
Wonderful World, starring Matthew Broderick, Sanaa Lathan, Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire!) and Philip Baker Hall.
Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker on the red carpet before the movie premiere.

The film festival's official synopsis of the movie states: Matthew Broderick is Ben Singer, the world's most negative man. When his roommate, Ibou (Michael K. Williams), falls ill, Ben is forced to host his Senegalese sister, Khadi (Sanaa Lathan). What starts as an awkward living arrangement soon turns into something more, and Ben's usual self-destructive nature gives way as he begins to find inspiration in the most unlikely of places.

My girl Sanaa on the red carpet before the show.

The bottom line for me? I'll see anything that stars Sanaa Lathan. I've loved her from late high school until now (hello, Blade, Love and Basketball, Brown Sugar, Something New?! -- AKA the only rom-coms I actually enjoy!), and it was a delight to catch her in another film. Overall, the film was a decent indie movie. I wouldn't necessarily shell out the money to see it in a theater, but would definitely add it to your Netflix list.

There was a Q&A with Matthew Broderick and the movie's director (Joshua Goldin) after the screening, which was entertaining (Matthew Broderick is pretty dang hilarious!). We were also sitting in the fourth row, so we got extra up-close and personal.

We also saw Departures, which was my favorite movie out of all of the TFF movies I saw this year. The screening we caught was the U.S. premiere for the film. You may have heard of this movie out of Japan -- it won the Oscar this year for Best Foreign Language Film. Departures is about a cellist who goes back to his rural hometown with his wife after his Tokyo orchestra dissolves. He ends up answering a cryptic ad in a newspaper seeking an assistant in the field of "departures," which he soon finds out involves him becoming an undertaker.
Extremely talented director Yojiro Takida and lead actor Masahira Motoki were present at the screening we attended. I loved Mr. Motoki's performace so much, I even broke my "don't bother the actors" rule and spoke to him after the show to tell him how great he was. Sorry for the poor quality of the picture -- I cannot figure how to take pics in a dark room with my digital camera for the life of me!

The premise of the film sounds a bit strange, but trust me: It is most definitely worth your time and money. I thought the movie was beautifully done -- funny and charming at times, but equally moving and tearjerking. Loved it. Please see this movie as soon as you can!

Nick and I also caught the world premiere of Soundtrack for a Revolution. The movie was a documentary about the American civil rights movement, but was done in a unique way. The movie centered on the freedom songs of the movement, as performed by numerous current artists (The Roots, Anthony Hamilton, John Legend, Richie Havens and The Blind Boys of Alabama were among my favorites), and also intersperced archival footage and interviews with leaders and participants in the civil rights movement. I didn't learn a ton of new stuff about the civil rights movement (thank you, college education), but I really enjoyed the new approach taken by the filmmakers.
At the screening, I had my favorite celebrity spotting of the festival: Harry Belafonte! Yes, he's not a "celeb" in the traditional sense, but I have admired this man since learning about his work in the civil rights movement while I was in college. I didn't want to bother him at the screening, but will confess to sneaking lots of looks at him since he was sitting just one row away from me!

The last TFF movie I saw was Rudo y Cursi, which I saw with my buddy Kevin. The movie reunited the stars of Y Tu Mama Tambien, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. I admittedly have a bit of a crush on these two guys! : )
In this movie, Gael García Bernal (Tato, aka Cursi) and Diego Luna (Beto, aka Rudo) are stepbrothers who work on their family's banana ranch and play on a local soccer team on the side. They eventually get recruited by a big city soccer recruiter, and their on-going rivalry becomes explosive from that moment forward.

If you're a fan of the lead actors, I definitely recommend catching this movie. It should be playing nationwide pretty soon, I believe. The movie was an entertaining, fun popcorn flick.
Nick and I in the red carpet staging area at the Wonderful World premiere. Another bonus of the festival: the weather was great on most of the days, which gave me an excuse to get gussied up with my new purchases from the Mayle sample sale + pull out my favorite MJ Dash bag! : )

At the end of the week, I was exhausted from all of the films (plus I also caught two non-TFF films, Goodbye Solo and Treeless Mountain -- another two great movies!). All of the time was worth it though. This year's festival was the best experience I've had with TFF so far. I'm already looking forward to next year . . . .


Jen said...

Omg, I adore Gael Garcia Bernal!

What did you think of Treeless Mountain?

danica said...

I liked the movie! The plot was very slow-moving, but I found the child actors' performances to be extremely moving. As of late, I've found myself purposely choosing slower-paced, meditative movies --- this one fit right in to what I enjoy right now!

danica said...

Thanks for commenting, by the way. My friends who read my blog suffer from commentaphobia. : )

stace said...

Do you think treeless mountain (or any of the films you mentioned for that matter...) will make it out here??? They all sound really good, but at least I can probably netflix them at some point, hopefully!

danica said...

stace! i never hear from you on my blog. : ) i'm happy you're reading it.

i think "outrage" is in limited release in seattle already. worth checking out. if i had to guess which movies i saw would make it out to seattle, i would say "departures," "rudo y cursi," and "treeless mountain." i would recommend all three, but particularly "departures." i think you'd LOVE that one!