TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2009 - PREVIEW
TRIBECA WORLD PREMIERE FOR AUSTRALIAN FILM
Australian drama, Accidents Happen, directed by Andrew Lancaster, written by
Brian Carbee, will have its world premiere at this year’s Tribeca film festival
(April 22-May 3) in New York, as part of the 86 feature length and 46 short film
selections from around the world, while The Burning Season, directed by Cathy
Henkel, will have its international premiere at the fest.
The 2009 film selection encompasses feature films from 33 different countries,
including 48 World Premieres, 5 International Premieres, 14 North American
Premieres, 3 U.S. Premieres and 11 New York City Premieres, as well as 8 titles,
which are part of the third annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. 81
directors will be presenting feature works at the Festival, with 37 of these
filmmakers presenting their feature directorial debuts. 23 of the 81 directors
are women. The 2009 feature films were chosen from a total of 2,254 feature
“Each year we look forward to bringing our films to the most engaged movie-going
audience and providing filmmakers a global stage,” said Jane Rosenthal,
co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. “Film festivals play a critical role in
the life of a film. Tribeca is here to support these films and filmmakers along
their journey. We are very proud of the slate this year and hope everyone will
come and enjoy the festival.”
“The films this year will either entertain you, allow you to escape to faraway
places, or encourage you to think about familiar stories in new ways,” said
Nancy Schafer, Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Festival.
“I’m really excited about the fantastic mix of talent we have this year. There
are many impressive debut directors and astounding performances by up-and-coming
actors whom I believe have strong futures ahead of them,” said David Kwok,
Director of Programming. “When considering these films alongside the remarkable
new work being presented by established talent, I think viewers will be pleased
by what they find in our competition and discovery sections.”
This year, twelve narrative and twelve documentary features will compete for
combined unrestricted cash prizes amounting to $100,000, including prizes
totalling $50,000 from American Express for the Best New Narrative and
World Narrative Feature Competition:
A compelling cross-section of bold creative visions from every corner of the
globe come together in this year’s World Narrative Feature Competition.
Presenting a diverse array of unique voices, this international film collection
includes premieres from a wide range of directors, such as U.S. indie veterans
the Polish brothers and Tony-nominated Conor McPherson, as well as exciting
newcomers. Together, these filmmakers introduce us to tales on life, death and
all the various forms of love in between – from a girl-loves-girl story set in
Buenos Aires, to a dysfunctional family in a Connecticut suburb in the 80’s, to
a young Israeli woman’s attempt at stitching together the shattered fragments of
her life after surviving a suicide bomber explosion. The 12 films in this
section will compete for Best Film, Best New Filmmaker and Best Actor and
About Elly (Darbareye Elly), directed and written by Asghar Farhadi.
(Iran) – North American Premiere. A group of old college pals reunites for a
weekend adventure on the sea, but compounding lies and deception quickly lead to
catastrophe. Everyone hopes Sepideh’s new friend Elly will hit it off with
Ahmad, newly divorced from his German wife and in search of an Iranian bride,
but Elly disappears on the second day, plunging the group into a complex
mystery. Asghar Farhadi took the Best Director prize at Berlin. In Persian with
Accidents Happen, directed by Andrew Lancaster, written by Brian Carbee.
(Australia) – World Premiere. There are dysfunctional families… and then there
are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway has become the
de facto glue between his bitter mom (Geena Davis), distant brother, and stoic
dad. But when Billy starts to act out, everything changes for him and his family
in this visually stunning, bittersweet drama.
The Eclipse, directed and written by Conor McPherson. (Ireland) – World
Premiere. Award-winning screenwriter and Tony-nominated playwright McPherson
crafts an exquisite atmospheric drama about a widower (Ciarán Hinds, Munich) who
sees and hears strange things in his house. His life converges with a beautiful
author of supernatural fiction (Iben Hjejle, High Fidelity) and a
full-of-himself pop novelist (Aidan Quinn) at an international literary festival
that will alter their lives in surprising ways.
The Exploding Girl, directed and written by Bradley Rust Gray. (USA) –
North American Premiere. A tender performance by Zoe Kazan is the centerpiece of
this delicate, beautifully shot character study. Cherubic college student Ivy is
back home in Brooklyn for spring break with her longtime platonic guy pal Al in
tow. As her relationship with her boyfriend slowly disintegrates via cell phone,
Al’s friendship is cast in a new light.
The Fish Child (El niño pez), directed and written by Lucía Puenzo.
(Argentina, Spain, France) – North American Premiere. Likened to a bold
Argentine Thelma and Louise, Lucía Puenzo's follow-up to her Cannes winner XXY
wraps a passionate love story in the arms of a pulsating thriller. When an
upper-class Argentine falls for her family's sultry Paraguayan maid, the two
make plans to run away together, but their hope for escape is derailed when
shocking secrets become unveiled. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Handsome Harry, directed by Bette Gordon, written by Nicholas T. Proferes.
(USA) - World Premiere. Harry (Jamey Sheridan), a divorced father and former
sailor, lives a simple life in his small town. But when his dying best friend
sparks Harry¹s drive to confront his past, buried secrets resurface and force
him to deal with painful memories. This unique and eloquent film also features
Aidan Quinn, John Savage, and Campbell Scott.
Here and There (Tamo i ovde), directed and written by Darko Lungulov.
(Serbia) – World Premiere. Miserable middle-aged musician Robert suddenly finds
himself homeless and in need of quick cash. He accepts an offer from a young,
enterprising Serbian immigrant named Branko: Travel to Belgrade, marry Branko's
girlfriend, and bring her back to the US. But while on the trip, Robert meets
Branko's mother, discovers that happiness comes when least expected, and begins
to question whether money or love would be the true cure to his ills. In English
and Serbian with English subtitles.
North (Nord), directed by Rune Denstad Langlo, written by Erlend Loe.
(Norway) – North American Premiere. A road movie without a road, North is a wry
comedy about a former ski champion recovering from a mental breakdown and on a
journey to start anew. Having just learned he has a five-year-old son, he hops
on his snowmobile with some moonshine, bound for ex-girlfriend’s home in
Norway’s Far North. His oddball encounters along the way make this fresh and
original debut both tender and amusing. In Norwegian with English subtitles.
Queen To Play (Joueuse) – directed and written by Caroline Bottaro.
(France, Germany) – World Premiere. Sandrine Bonnaire plays an inquisitive hotel
maid captivated by a vacationing couple (Jennifer Beals, Francis Renaud) playing
chess. Thus begins her obsession with mastering the game and transforming her
uninspired life. An American expat (Kevin Kline) mentors her in the game that
alters both their lives in this delightful feel-good French import. In French
with English subtitles.
Seven Minutes in Heaven (Sheva Dakot Be'gan Eden), directed and written
by Omri Givon. (Israel) – International Premiere. A young woman struggles to
reconstruct her memory of the events immediately following the Jerusalem bus
bombing that took the life of her boyfriend and left her back badly scarred.
Part memory play, part love story, and part metaphysical thriller, this
startling debut feature announces Givon as a forceful storyteller and exciting
new voice in international cinema. In Hebrew with English subtitles.
Stay Cool, directed by Michael Polish, written by Mark Polish. (USA) –
World Premiere. Henry McCarthey (Mark Polish) returns home to give the
commencement speech at his high school. But even after almost 20 years, it’s as
if he never left - he again wants the girl, gets suspended by the principal, and
is grounded by his parents. This charming comedy, featuring Winona Ryder and
Hilary Duff, reminds us that time certainly does fly and old flames are hard to
Vegas: Based on a True Story, directed by Amir Naderi, written by Susan
Brennan, Bliss Esposito, Charlie Lake Keaton and Naderi. (USA) – North American
Premiere. Returning to the Festival, acclaimed director Amir Naderi applies his
inimitable cinematic style to Vegas. The film takes place away from the
glittering strip of luxury mega casinos, but the judgment-clouding greed of Sin
City is just as pervasive on the desert outskirts of town, where an otherwise
happy family is thrown into turmoil after learning of a forgotten fortune that
may be buried beneath their scrubby little home.
World Documentary Feature Competition:
The Burning Season, directed by Cathy Henkel. (Australia) – International
Premiere. TFF award winner Henkel returns with this powerful portrait of three
lives affected by deliberately lit fires raging across Indonesia. Destroying
pristine rainforest, endangering wildlife, and contributing to climate change,
these fires only benefit the lucrative palm oil industry. Following a
carbon-trading entrepreneur, an orangutan rescuer, and a palm oil farmer, this
doc inspirationally shows those caught at the intersection of big business and
conservation. Hugh Jackman narrates. In English, Indonesian with English
Defamation (Hashmatsa), directed by Yoav Shamir. (Denmark, Austria, USA,
Israel) – North American Premiere. Is anti-Semitism an extant threat on the
verge of coalescing into a second Holocaust? Or is it a scare tactic used by
right-wing Zionists to discredit their critics? Speaking with the head of the
Anti-Defamation League, controversial author Norman Finkelstein, and others,
Shamir sets out to discover the realities of anti-Semitism today. His findings
are both shocking and wryly funny. In English, Hebrew, Russian with English
Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi, directed by Ian Olds. (USA) –
North American Premiere. In 2007, the Taliban kidnapped 24-year-old Ajmal
Naqshbandi and an Italian journalist. Naqshbandi was one of Afghanistan’s best
“fixers”—someone hired by foreign journalists to facilitate, translate, and gain
access for their stories. This gripping, tragic story is a behind-the-scenes
look into the dangerous and unseen world that happens before we get the news. In
English, Dari, Pashto, Italian with English subtitles.
Garapa, directed by José Padilha. (Brazil) – North American Premiere.
Director José Padilha follows up his Golden Bear-winning Elite Squad with this
austere, unflinching examination of the realities of chronic hunger for three
Brazilian families. At once intimate and universal, Padilha’s hauntingly visual
film humanizes the enormity of the global hunger crisis. In Portuguese with
Only When I Dance, directed by Beadie Finzi. (Brazil, UK) – World
Two teenage ballet dancers from the working-class favelas of Rio are determined
to dance their way to a better life, but to do so they must grow up against
harsh prejudice, doubt, and some of the best dancers in the world. This
inspiring doc trails their path to beat the odds and follow their dream of
making it in the elite world of professional ballet. In Portuguese with English
Outrage, directed by Kirby Dick. (USA) – World Premiere. Academy Award®
nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) delivers a searing
indictment of the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who actively campaign
against the LGBT community they covertly belong to. Outrage boldly reveals the
hidden lives of some of our nation’s most powerful policymakers, details the
harm they've inflicted on millions of Americans, and examines the media’s
complicity in keeping their secrets. A Magnolia Pictures Release.
Partly Private, directed by Danae Elon. (Canada) – World Premiere. To cut
or not to cut? Pregnant with a baby boy, director Danae Elon and her husband
face “a big choice about his little penis.” From New York to London, Istanbul to
Israel, Elon travels the world in a shockingly funny, sometimes cringe-inducing
(they show it, fellas) effort to understand the controversial ritual of male
Racing Dreams, directed by Marshall Curry. (USA) – World Premiere. What
Little League is to baseball, go-karting is to auto racing. Oscar®-nominated
director Marshall Curry (Street Fight) follows the exhilarating and emotional
journeys of three top racers competing for the national championship. Three
adolescents and their families must discover if they have the talent and
dedication—and sponsorship dollars—to one day become NASCAR superstars. Part of
the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
Shadow Billionaire, directed by Alexis Manya Spraic. (USA) – World
Premiere. When DHL founder Larry Hillblom disappeared following a 1995 plane
crash off his Micronesian island home, dozens of would-be heirs from the
Philippines came out of the woodwork to lay claim to his mega fortune. Within
the framework of the fantastic legal battle, Spraic’s debut doc slowly uncovers
the stranger-than-fiction life of this eccentric billionaire.
Team Qatar, directed by Liz Mermin. (UK) – World Premiere. Equal parts
competition movie and cultural examination, Team Qatar follows the first Qatari
national debate team and their springy English coach as they train in Doha,
London, and New York in preparation for the world championship in DC. Will this
vibrant multicultural team handle the pressure and succeed on the world stage?
Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
Transcendent Man, directed by Barry Ptolemy. (USA) – World Premiere. Some
hail him as a modern-day Nostradamus, others dismiss him as a crackpot. Futurist
and famed inventor Ray Kurzweil is the preeminent theorist on the pending fusion
of humans and super-intelligent machines as the next phase of evolution, a
"singularity" he predicts will occur within 30 years. This fascinating (and at
times terrifying) doc explores the personal ideals behind his controversial
Yodok Stories, directed by Andrzej Fidyk. (Norway, Poland) – North
American Premiere. Exposing subject matter notoriously shrouded in secrecy, this
uplifting and sobering doc chronicles a group of North Korean concentration camp
escapees and their contributions to a powerful musical based on their
experiences. Blending interviews and scenes from the controversial stage show,
director Andrzej Fidyk explores the atrocities they faced as prisoners—and the
challenges they face while trying to express them through art. In English,
Korean with English subtitles.
Fourteen innovative visions from emerging voices encompass the Discovery
section. From lighthearted and amusing to provocative and timely, this rich
collection of documentaries explores the implosion of Wall Street at the expense
of working Americans, an adopted young African American's search for her roots,
an irony laden docu-comedy on 80s 'business artist' Mark Kostabi and one last
affectionate look at New York’s original punk institution CBGB. The section also
features an array of engaging narrative films, including the story of a group of
overweight Israeli men who are taken by the art of Sumo to get their mojo back,
an all male Swedish synchronized swimming team trying to make it to the world
championship, a love story complicated by a device that scientifically predicts
one’s soul mate and a B&W jazz musical with a fresh and youthful take on the old
Published March 12, 2009
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Director Andrew Lancaster
Director Cathy Henkel