Friday, May 6, 2011

Tribeca- The wrap up post

Its over and done.

For me Tribeca was not an 11 day festival but essential the month of April and beyond.

It’s time to look back and wax poetically, and probably a bit jaggedly, at the festival that was.


That’s not meant to be a declaration of anything other than simply statement that the enormity of what I just went through.

It was big. It was huge. It was actually a great deal of tiring fun.

The statement that I had fun will probably come as a surprise to anyone who was reading this blog last year where I bitched and moaned and complained. I still have complaints but the major ones from last year are gone.

From the end of March to the start of May I saw 54 feature films and 23 short films. I attended numerous press screenings and a hand full of paid regular screenings. I met a good number of people, talked about way too many films and learned a great deal about myself, the festival and the world.

The learning about the world is easy enough to explain, look at all the documentaries I saw and you’ll see how much there is to know about truth, justice and hope.

About myself I learned that my limit is five screenings in one day. I also learned that being a movie reviewer is really hard work. Yea, you get to see lots of movies but then you have to write them up quickly and clearly before you see the next one. It’s incredibly hard and more tiring then simply running to and from the movies.

About the Festival…

Yea… there is a lot to say about the festival.

First off I have to say that Tribeca works simply because the people working on it make it a pleasure to go. I had such a huge joy talking to everyone. No one bitched and moaned at stupid questions. Everyone was nice and helpful. The ONLY reason I considered coming back this year was the fact that the volunteers were such a pleasure last year. They are a large reason I hope to go back next year.

Looking back and comparing this year to last year I have to say the festival is still too big. There is simply too many movies, and too many events and to much everything. If I didn’t attend the press screenings I could never attend as many films as I did. Its simply not physically possible. As it is I had to pass on several interviews because to talk to a filmmaker or attend a party or go to a talk meant that I would lose multiple films. Since this is a primarily a film website I made the decision that they came first.

I know why the festival is big; the answer seems to be two fold. First if its big then people will keep striving to do more. How many movies can we see? How much can we take in of this beast called Tribeca.

The other reason is the film is a launching pad and marketing tool. By showing a lot of films all these filmmakers can say they were at Tribeca as if it’s a badge of honor. They can use it to try to get a release to a wider audience.

The trouble is by being so f-ing huge the number of good films, or at least exciting or meaning full films is small. I saw 54 features and while I liked most, very few made much of an impression. I saw them, I made notes, I wrote them up and then they were gone. Most were washed from my brain.

Personally those making the choices need to cut down the number of films they are screening. Yea it’s nice to help the inde movement but at the same time I want to feel that what I’m seeing is special going in instead of feeling that well, maybe I’ll remember this in two days.

This year I got the sense that maybe they got it right. Many of the complaints that I and others had about going in past years seemed to be gone.(I’m not talking about the press screenings, rather the public screenings). This year from my small world seemed to be better. We didn't seem to treated as cattle, and the audience seemed to come first. Things didn't seem delayed by endless red carpet stuff.

I know that this year over last year there were more winning films, with several announcing they were special from the opening frames instead of being great in retrospect.(My list of the most and least favorites are at the bottom)

Ultimately I had a blast.

This year I went to Tribeca and I saw some films, made some friends and possibly got a paying gig or two.

I hope that I’m allowed to go back next year since I’m just a big kid and seeing this many movies makes me go all fanboy.

Over all a grand time was had at this years Tribeca Film Festival.

For those who are interested the Heineken Audience Award was Give Up Tomorrow. There are other Jury awards but ultimately what matters is what the people who pay says. A full list of their choices can be found here (you’ll notice I also loved some of the same films)

My favorite films of the festival were as follows:

Semper Fi-a Moving documentary about keeping our soldiers safe from our government
Give Up Tomorrow- Exposing a gross miscarriage of justice
Grave Encounters- A great horror film that transcends its flaw.
The Assault- A Procedural about an anti terrorist raid
Turn me On God Dammit- wonderfully frank coming of age tale
Romantics Anonymous-What romantic comedies should be
Like Water- A great, exciting sport documentary
The Guard- A modern western in the West of Ireland with wickedly funny dialog
Gnarr- Funny film about making politics work
Troll Hunter- Its all about the trolls.

My least favorite films were:

Grey Matter- Well made but poorly written allegory about genocide looks to have been cobbled together to get a release. Pretentious doesn't begin to describe it.
Bombay Beach- Unfocused film on people by the Salton Sea begins nowhere and goes nowhere,stopping instead of ending.
White White World- This film only works if you read all the promotional material and use it to make fill in the blanks. As a stand alone film it's two hours of your life that feels like the loss of ten.
Talihina Sky- a good documentary about the Kings of Leon ruined by piss poor editing. Moments work and it starts to come together at the very end but by that time its too late and the end credits roll.
The Kite- Messy unfocused ADD filmed story of a man going home for a kite festival and what happens when he gets there. I think since after an hour of nothing really happening I left.

(There were three others that were on an earlier draft of this list but I've come to realize they aren't as bad as these films.)

(I should add that the various Jury’s awarded several of these films awards which kind of makes me wonder if we saw the same films)

And with that Unseen Films ends its real time coverage of Tribeca for 2011. I do want to say that next week we’ll be starting 7 days of fuller reviews of some of the best films, so keep reading.

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