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African Diaspora Films To See At The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival Which Kicks Off Tomorrow, April 16-27

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by Tambay A. Obenson
April 15, 2014 11:00 AM
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James 'Primo' Grant and John Robles Diaz In Keith Miller's FIVE STAR

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival - which kicks off tomorrow, April 16, running through April 27 - film selections includes feature films from 32 countries, including 55 World Premieres, 6 International Premieres, 12 North American Premieres, 9 U.S. Premieres and 5 New York Premieres. A total of 102 directors will present feature works at the Festival, with 37 of these filmmakers making their feature directorial debuts. 

The 2014 film slate was chosen from a total of 6,117 submissions.

Of note, in terms of African diaspora films (since that's our focus here), is Keith Miller's exploration of masculinity and gang culture in Five Star, a mix of fiction and documentary filmmaking, making its World Premiere at the festival. Miller's last work, the meditative Welcome to Pine Hill, was an S&A highlight in 2012. 

And in the pure documentary films section is Virunga, directed and written by Orlando von Einsiedel. Also making its World Premiere, the film centers on Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Africa’s oldest national park, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the last natural habitat for the endangered mountain gorilla. von Einsiedel juxtaposes the beautiful serene Virunga against footage of socio-political-economic conflict within the country, highlighting the incredibly dangerous work that is often required to safeguard the environment.

Also of note are Champs (which explores how some of the all-time greats used boxing to pull themselves out of poverty. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with boxers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield that will be open to the public); Iverson (on the legacy of NBA star Allen Iverson, who rose from a childhood of crushing poverty in Hampton, Virginia to one of the sports’ greatest success stories as Iverson went on to become an 11-time NBA all star); Manos Sucias (exec produced by Spike Lee. The Colombia set narrative centers on a desperate fisherman and a naive kid who embark on a journey trafficking millions of dollars worth of cocaine); Time Is Illmatic (follows the trajectory of Nas’ 1994 landmark debut album, Illmatic); True Son (on 22-year-old Michael Tubbs' 2012 run for City Council of Stockton, CA, considered one of the worst cities in the United States, riddled with financial crisis and crime); an untitled James Brown documentary by Alex GibneyBad Hair (Pelo Malo) (a Venezuelan drama that follows a nine-year-old living in Caracas, who wants nothing more than to straighten his unruly hair to look like a singer for his school photo—a fixation that stirs homophobic panic in his overtaxed mother); and finally Mala Mala (a vibrant and visually striking immersion into the transgender community of Puerto Rico).

Expect reviews of some of these films here on S&A.

12 narrative and 12 documentary features will be making their North American, International, or World Premieres and will compete for cash prizes totaling $215,000, as well as artwork from the Artists Awards program sponsored by Chanel, featuring  donated work from contemporary artists.

Awards in the World Narrative and World Documentary Competitions will be presented in the following juried categories: Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, sponsored by AT&T; Best New Narrative Director (for first-time feature directors in any section); Best Actor in a Narrative Feature; Best Actress in a Narrative Feature; Best Screenplay in a Narrative Feature; Best Cinematography in a Narrative Feature; Best Documentary Feature; Best Editing in a Documentary Feature; and Best New Documentary Director (for first-time feature directors in any section).

Two feature films—one narrative and one documentary—will be selected to receive the Heineken Audience Award, the audience choice for best feature film. Films playing in the World Narrative Competition, World Documentary Competition, Viewpoints, Spotlight and Midnight sections are eligible.

Tickets for the Festival will be $17.00 for evening and weekend screenings, and $9.00 for all late night and weekday matinee screenings. Single ticket sales begin Tuesday, April 8 for American Express Card Members, Sunday, April 13 for downtown residents, and Monday, April 14 for the general public. 

All packages and passes can be purchased online at www.tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets, or by telephone at (646) 502-5296 or toll free at (866) 941-FEST (3378).

Additional information and further details on the Festival can be found at www.tribecafilm.com.

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