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Tribeca Film Fest Programmers Talk World Competition Narrative and Doc Lineups

Festivals
by Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
March 4, 2014 11:58 AM
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Rory Culkin in 'Gabriel'
Rory Culkin in 'Gabriel'

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival has revealed part one of the upcoming fest’s lineup. This includes the World Narrative and Documentary Competition film selections, along with selections for the out-of-competition Viewpoints program, designed to highlight diverse filmmakers in international and American independent cinema. Check it out, below.

Thus far, 47 of the 87 feature-length films--selected from a record more 6117 submissions-- have been announced. The 13th Tribeca fest runs from April 16-27 in NYC, and opens with hip hop doc “Time Is Illmatic.”

“Dior and I,” an innovative dive behind-the-scenes of the Christian Dior fashion world, will open the World Documentary competition; “Gabriel” starring Rory Culkin in a performance as a troubled teen that the programmers describe as "riveting," the World Narrative competition; and New York Mumblecore vampire tale “Summer of Blood” the Viewpoints section. All three titles are world premieres. 

This year more than ever the Tribeca programming team led by TFF Director Geoff Gilmore, Director of Programming Genna Terranova and Artistic Director Frederic Boyer, saw an uptick in the quality of submissions, even when they were micro-budget. "Filmmakers are taking more time to craft the story," said Terranova, "not like the old days whey they'd find the money and shoot as quickly as you can. There's more time for them to really work through and develop what they're doing. The quality on the American side was quite good."

"We noticed that unlike years ago when you'd see so much crap," added Gilmore, "this year, even with the breadth of submissions that have come from all over, given the quality of what was submitted, it was harder to dismiss films out of hand. There were so many quality films that strike you as original storytelling, and not so much derivative work. There's a sense of authenticity and reality to a lot of the films submitted, personally-driven character stories ripped out of the newspaper as opposed to the imagination. characters that are in some way enhanced and detailed. This is as good a competition selection as we've ever had." 

While Tribeca follows Sundance and SXSW on the festival calendar, Gilmore described a sense that filmmakers were jockeying to get into the festival, which serves a key role as a "part market, part cultural platform, for discovery and launch." Especially for international films, festivals are a necessary way for films to get seen by distributors, he added. "Tribeca looks toward the overall world of film, we don't focus just on American indie work, our commitment is to international filming, so we break down the competitions half and half, as well as quality documentaries."

On the documentary front the fest selection encompasses political docs on the NSA and FBI whistleblowers ("1971" is a precursor to the current spying scandal) and subjects who range from the seemingly ordinary (Matthew Van Dyke in '"Point and Shoot") to extraordinary people like Susan Sontag. "The overall trend," says Terranova, "is character-driven documentaries, not going for issue-driven or aesthetically beautiful documentaries, but taking a chance on characters by drawing out what is special and compelling about them."

The world cinema reflected a wide diversity, said Boyer, who is in his third year at the festival. "We wanted to surprise the audience and the jury with unconventional movies and risky choices like 'Georgia' and 'Brides.' This was the first year it was hard to reject really good films. There was no room for them."


World Narrative Feature Competition

Brides, directed and written by Tinatin Kajrishvili. (France, Georgia) – North American Premiere. In the suburbs of Tbilisi, Georgia, seamstress Nutsa shares an apartment with her two young children and awaits the return of her husband, Goga, who has six years left on his prison sentence. With only rare visits and phone calls to connect with her husband, Nutsa faces difficult decisions about keeping the family together and maintaining her own freedom. In her first narrative feature, director Tinatin Kajrishvili captures an intimate look at love and absence, and a subtle indictment of the harsh Georgian penal system. In Georgian with subtitles.

Five Star, directed and written by Keith Miller. (USA) – World Premiere. A member of the notorious Bloods since he was 12 years old, Primo takes John, the son of a fallen gang member, under his wing, versing him in the code of the streets. Set amongst the streets of East New York, Five Star blends documentary and fiction as director Keith Miller (Welcome to Pine Hill) carefully eschews worn clichés of gang culture to offer a compelling portrait of two men as they are both forced to confront the question of what it really means to be a man.

Gabriel, directed and written by Lou Howe. (USA) – World Premiere. Rory Culkin delivers an electrifying performance as Gabriel, a vulnerable and confused teenager longing for stability and happiness. Convinced that reuniting with his old girlfriend will bring his dreams to fruition, Gabriel risks it all in a desperate and increasingly obsessive pursuit. First-time writer-director Lou Howe authentically portrays the heartbreaking reality of a young man battling his inner demons, establishing himself as an extraordinary new filmmaking talent.

Glass Chin, directed and written by Noah Buschel. (USA) – World Premiere. After going down in the fifth round, boxer Bud Gordon bowed out of the limelight. Now residing in a fixer-upper apartment in New Jersey with his girlfriend, Bud longs for his former Manhattan glory. In an effort to get back in the game, he makes a deal with a crooked restaurateur. But quick schemes rarely bring easy pay-offs and as the consequences of his business negotiations unfold, Bud has to make a choice between his integrity and his aspirations.

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