By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 24, 2011 at 8:44AM
This year Tribeca Films is going forward with its long-term experiment to release some films day-and-date with the Tribeca Film Festival, in its 10th year (April 20-May 1). While some industry insiders question the wisdom of any filmmaker putting a movie on video-on-demand--much less streaming it-- before its theatrical options have been explored, Tribeca's Geoffrey Gilmore fervently believes that this sort of experimentation has to take place, while admitting that branding and marketing new films from less-known filmmakers, even with American Express advertising, is a continuing challenge. We spoke at a Tribeca party this week at the W in Hollywood that brought together L.A. filmmakers and indie execs to celebrate the upcoming fest, from David O. Russell and Gregg Araki to Roadside's Eric D'Arbeloff and Strand's Marcus Hu.
One film that Tribeca will release on VOD on April 20 and in theaters April 22 is Steven Silver's South African film The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, the true story of four young combat photographers who risk their lives to use their cameras to show the world the violence attending the first free elections in post-Apartheid South Africa. The film stars Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch and South African actors Frank Rautenback and Neels Van Jaarsveld. The Festival is putting on a Based on True Events panel to examine how writers turn real life events into films, including Bang Bang Club director Silver and Greg Marinovich, photographer and co-author. Trailer and Tribeca Films releases and online fest details are below.
Tribeca Enterprises today announced that Tribeca Film will expand to commercially release 26 films over the next year, more than double the number of titles released in 2010. The comprehensive distribution label for independent film also announced that it acquired U.S. rights to nine new titles to be released across multiple platforms. The curated selection of films includes many genres and features stars including Zach Braff, Vincent Gallo and Zoe Kravitz and filmmakers such as Peter Mullan, Jerzy Skolimowski and Vincent D’Onofrio.
Following its launch in March 2010, Tribeca Film has grown to a year-round, full-service distribution label that delivers quality independent films to audiences through innovative strategies bolstered by its partnership with American Express. Tribeca Film’s significant expansion is highlighted by Tribeca’s continued relationship with Comcast, one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment and supporter of independent film.
Tribeca Film plans to release the following titles theatrically, on video-on-demand and via other platforms throughout the coming year:
· Beware the Gonzo. From director and writer Brian Gobuloff (writer of The Basketball Diaries) comes a teen-angst comedy about an underground newspaper aiming to give voice to high school misfits. The film stars Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Jesse McCartney, Amy Sedaris, Campbell Scott, and James Urbaniak.
· The Bleeding House. Written and directed by comic book writer and first time filmmaker Philip Gelatt, this taut horror thriller is an original take on the home invasion genre about a family with a haunted past visited by a sweet-talking Texan killer who has come for retribution.
· Brother’s Justice. This Hollywood satire marks Dax Shepard’s directorial debut and is co-directed by David Palmer. The film follows Shepard as he makes the rash decision to abandon comedy in pursuit of his true dream: to become an internationally-renowned martial arts star. Winner of the audience award at the Austin Film Festival and an official selection of the Hollywood Film Festival, it features performances by Tom Arnold, Bradley Cooper, David Koechner, Michael Rosenbaum and Nate Tuck.
· Don’t Go in the Woods. Vincent D’Onofrio makes his feature-length directorial debut with this uproarious rock ‘n' roll horror musical about the fate of a young band seeking a quiet place to write songs in the wrong neck of the woods. The film has screened at the Woodstock Film Festival, the Sarasota Film Festival and the Savannah Film Festival.
· Grave Encounters. Directed and written by first time filmmakers the Vicious Brothers, this cinéma-vérité style supernatural thriller follows a ghost-hunting reality television show host and crew as they shoot an episode inside an abandoned psychiatric hospital, where unexplained phenomena have been reported for years. All in the name of good television, they voluntarily lock themselves inside the building for the night and begin a paranormal investigation, capturing everything on camera. They quickly realize that the building is more than just haunted - it is alive - and it has no intention of ever letting them leave.
· The High Cost of Living. Director Deborah Chow’s dark romantic drama about intertwined fates centers on the burgeoning relationship between an unlikely pair. Nathalie (Isabelle Blais) is expecting her first child, and Henry (Zach Braff) is on his way to his next drug deal. Their paths fatefully collide one night in an event that will irrevocably change their lives. The film was an official selection of the Toronto Film Festival.
· NEDS. Peter Mullan's third feature as a writer and director, after Orphans and The Magdalene Sisters, is a violent 1970s coming-of-age drama set in a gritty section of Glasgow. NEDS won Best Film at the San Sebastian Film Festival and was chosen Best Film at the 2011 London Evening Standard Awards.
· Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston. No one represented the 1970s quite like legendary designer Halston. In this stylish documentary, director Whitney Sudler-Smith takes a fabulous fun-and-fact-filled journey through Halston’s life and times. Interviews with friends and witnesses (including Liza Minnelli, Diane Von Furstenberg, André Leon Talley, Anjelica Huston, Bob Colacello and Billy Joel, among others) round out this glittering evocation of the man who defined the decadent era.
Tribeca Film will release the following on VOD and other platforms:
· Essential Killing. A gripping adventure thriller directed by acclaimed Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski. A captured Taliban fighter (Vincent Gallo) is interrogated, tortured and then moved to an unnamed snowy detention camp in Europe. Following an accident involving his transport convoy, he becomes an escaped convict on a continent he does not know. Essential Killing world premiered In Competition at the Venice International Film Festival, and won the Special Jury Prize and Best Actor for Vincent Gallo's performance.
Previously announced titles from Tribeca Film include the following, which will be released in theatres in multiple markets, as well as via VOD and other platforms:
· The Bang Bang Club. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Steven Silver makes his feature directorial debut with this electrifying tale of a young band of war photographers who documented the last days of apartheid in South Africa. Based on a true story, the film stars Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman and Taylor Kitsch and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.
· Janie Jones. Directed by David M. Rosenthal, Janie Jones is a charming rock ‘n’ roll road trip drama about a father and daughter finding their way to each other. The film stars Abigail Breslin, Alessandro Nivola, Elisabeth Shue and Brittany Snow and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.
· Last Night. Director Massy Tadjedin makes her directorial debut with a carefully crafted romantic drama about two couples confronting temptation and the limits of fidelity over the course of one night. Starring Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet, the film was an official selection at the Toronto, Venice and Rome Film Festivals.
Fourteen more titles will be added to the Tribeca Film slate in the coming months.
“With the rapidly evolving landscape, Tribeca Film provides strategic opportunities and plans to customize campaigns using new platforms for distribution,” said Tribeca co-founder Jane Rosenthal. “We see real opportunities for filmmakers and audiences.”
Upon its initial launch, Tribeca Film delivered an inaugural slate of 12 titles nationwide through a network of multi-platform distribution partnerships, beginning with an initial release via cable and telco video-on-demand and satellite pay-per-view in Spring 2010. The films were also distributed digitally via Amazon.com, the Apple iTunes Store, Netflix Streaming and Vudu, with select titles airing on Showtime. The independent label also released 11 of the films in limited theatrical engagements and partnered with New Video to launch the Tribeca Film home video label. The continued expansion of Tribeca Film attests to Tribeca Enterprises’ goal of redefining traditional models of independent film distribution and release patterns and, in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival and other of its media holdings, creating new opportunities and discovering new audiences for filmmakers.
“Tribeca Film had a terrific launch in 2010, releasing an exciting selection of quality independent films,” said Geoff Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer at Tribeca. “In 2011, we look forward to continuing to respond to the contemporary challenges of distribution today and are especially excited to be on the cutting edge working to develop new scenarios. We value our relationships with our distribution partners, the unique role played by American Express, and the talented filmmakers we have the pleasure of working with.”
American Express is an important and unique element of Tribeca Film. American Express has reinforced its commitment to providing independent filmmakers with new platforms to deliver compelling stories to audiences, and Cardmembers, everywhere. In its second year, Tribeca Film will continue to leverage the unique marketing force of American Express to create customized release patterns that are filmmaker-friendly and provide audiences with access to films they otherwise might not have the opportunity to see.
The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) today unveiled the Tribeca (Online) Film Festival supported by founding partner American Express. The pioneering digital initiative will allow domestic audiences to view feature and short films for free and worldwide audiences to engage with filmmakers and industry experts as TFF’s 10th edition runs concurrently in lower Manhattan from April 20 to May 1.
The debut of the 2011 Tribeca (Online) Film Festival offers film enthusiasts nationwide new avenues to experience a film festival. Tribeca (Online) is employing the latest digital video and web technology to deliver an immersive, interactive experience unlike any other, re-contextualizing Festival content and presentation. The multi-dimensional experience features five areas: Festival Streaming Room, Live From..., Tribeca Q&A, Filmmaker Feed, and the Future of Film blog.
· The Streaming Room will host six feature films from the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, including two that are making their world premieres at TFF, and 18 short films, four of which are world premieres, and 9 of which retrospective short films from past Tribeca Film Festivals. Each film will have three to five 24-hour screening windows, during which there will be a select number of “seats” available. Using an innovative digital reservation system, viewers can reserve “seats” at www.tribecaonline.com. Reservations begin on April 12 for American Express Cardmembers and April 18 for general public. Online viewers will be able to vote for the Best Tribeca Online Feature Film, a prize of $25,000, sponsored by American Express, and Best Tribeca Online Short Film, a prize of $5,000, sponsored by Accenture.
· In Live From….online audiences across the globe will have the ability to watch live streams of Festival events, including the opening press conference, red carpet premieres, and the award show. Viewers will also have the opportunity to engage with other audience members and onsite participants.
· Tribeca Q&A, which launches today, will offer the online audience the opportunity to engage with the larger online community, one another, and experts by submitting questions to a pool of 20-25 exciting film and new media experts from Tribeca’s Jane Rosenthal, Geoff Gilmore, and Nancy Schafer, to Whoopi Goldberg, and Brian Williams, and filmmakers David Gordon Green, and Zach Braff, plus a host of participating Tribeca (Online) filmmakers, programmers, actors, jurors, film experts, and more. Community members will vote on individual questions, and top-rated queries will be submitted for official response, made available to the public.
· The Filmmaker Feed contains aggregated information on all Tribeca (Online) Film Festival filmmakers, each of whom will have a custom page on the feed, with a biography, interviews, favorite links, social media feeds (Twitter/Facebook), blog posts, vide updates, and more;
· The Future of Film blog, brings together experts from the worlds of film and technology to comment on the ever-changing media environment in featured posts. Participants will be announced early April. The selected feature films each explore poignantly relevant social themes – from the effect of forbidden love to the strength of community, to the power of social networking. The complete list of feature films streamed on the Tribeca (Online) Film Festival is as follows:
· Donor Unknown, directed by Jerry Rothwell. (UK) – North American Premiere, Documentary. JoEllen Marsh grew up knowing her father only as Donor 150. As one of the first generation of “test-tube babies,” she yearns for connection with potential siblings, and turns to the Internet to track them down. As JoEllen slowly broadens her family tree, in the process she forges a fascinatingly modern model of family. After connecting with dozens of siblings across the country, JoEllen decides it’s finally time to seek out Donor 150.
· Flowers of Evil (Fleurs du Mal), directed by David Dusa, written by David Dusa, Raphaëlle Maes, and Louise MolieÌre. (France) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Paris-Tehran. A rootless story of young love between Gecko, an Algerian-French hotel bellman and parkourer, and Anahita, an Iranian student forced to leave her country for her own safety after the controversial elections in 2009. Obsessed with tracking the political movement, Anahita’s friends broadcast through YouTube and coordinate via Twitter. Romance and the Internet become the ground to explore histories lost and identity yet to be found. In French, Farsi with English subtitles.
· My Last Round (Mi Último Round), directed and written by Julio Jorquera. (Chile, Argentina) – North American Premiere, Narrative. When successful boxer Octavio falls in love with kitchen hand Hugo, they move from their small-town homes in the south of Chile to capital city Santiago to protect their taboo relationship. But when Hugo feels unexpected desire for co-worker Jennifer, Octavio is left heartbroken and throws himself into a high-stakes boxing match against all odds. A handsome cast and evocative cinematography offer a sexy, subtle film that evokes hits like The Wrestler and Brokeback Mountain. In Spanish with English subtitles.
- Neon Flesh (Carne de Neon), directed and written by Paco Cabezas. (Spain, Argentina, Sweden) – North American Premiere. Young hustler Ricky was left to a life on the streets at the age of 12 when his hooker mother got sent to the can, but upon learning she’ll soon be released, Ricky enlists a couple of good-for-nothing buddies to help him open a whorehouse as a tribute to Mom. This stylish, edgy crime flick plunges headlong into the fringe world of pimps and junkies where succeeding in business can cost your life…. In Spanish with English subtitles
- New York Says Thank You, directed by Scott Rettberg. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. New York Says Thank You is an epic story following the journey of New Yorkers whose lives were touched by September 11 as they travel the country helping communities rebuild after disasters. Along the way, they face their emotions and ultimately triumph over tragedy through an idea that evolved from a five-year-old New York City boy.
- Rabies (Kalevet), directed and written by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. (Israel) – North American Premiere. A psychotic serial killer on the loose in the woods crosses paths with a group of unsuspecting teenagers. Soon people are dying one by one… but the bad guy isn’t who you think. Turning genre conventions on their head with a smart script and plenty of unexpected scares, Rabies is a surprising debut worthy of its mantle as Israel's first-ever slasher horror film. In Hebrew with English subtitles.
Available for free at the Tribeca Online Film Festival are:
The Wormhole, (USA), Narrative, directed by Jessica Sharzer (2002). Winner of 6 awards including the 2002 Gold Medal Student Academy Award®. Wally decides to search for a wormhole that he believes will lead him back to his kidnapped brother.
Off Duty, (USA), Narrative, directed by Buboo Kakati (2003). Buboo Kakati is a three-time Emmy® Award Winner and a 23-time Emmy® Award Nominee for her work in Writing, Producing, Direction, Editing, and Post Production. The teenage son of a New York City cab driver dreams only of gaining his father’s love and approval as he balances school and a job as a delivery boy.
Gowanus Brooklyn, (USA), Narrative, directed by Ryan Fleck (2004). Recipient of the Boston Independent Film Festival Special Jury Prize and Sundance Film Festival Short Filmmaking Award. A tomboy discovers her teacher smoking crack and experiences a newfound fascination with the complicated adult world in the short that inspired the feature film Half Nelson.
Dance Mania Fantastic, (USA), Narrative, directed by Sasie Sealy (2005). Recipient of the Best Student Film Award at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival. Out of work and unable to tell his family he’s been fired, a young New Yorker of Japanese descent finds utopian escapism by spending his days and weeks at the local arcade.
The Tribe, (USA), Documentary, directed by Tiffany Shlain (2006). Recipient of 15 awards including IndieWire’s Sundance Critics’ Choice Award in 2006. Barbie dolls and the history of Jewish people actually have quite a lot in common according to this documentary short.
Clear Cut, Simple, (USA), Narrative, directed by Vineet Dewan (2007). Winner of 8 awards including Best Short at BAFTA/LA Student Film Awards. An American soldier in Iraq is torn between his duty to the military and his friendship with his Iraqi interpreter, based on a true story.
New Boy, (Ireland), Narrative, directed by Steph Green (2008). Recipient of 10 awards and nomination for 2009 Best Short Film Academy Award®. Based on a true story, New Boy captures the experience of being the new kid in school through the eyes of a nine year-old African boy.
Confession, (Ireland), Narrative, directed by Thomas Hefferon (2009). Official selection of over 30 film festivals, receiving runner-up awards at both the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Filmstock Film Festival. An Irish lad seeks solace from a priest.
some boys don't leave, (USA), Narrative, directed by Maggie Kiley (2010). Maggie Kiley is the recipient of several awards, including the Student Visionary Award at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.The breakup happens but the break does not.
The Tribeca Film Festival screening schedule for 2011 TFF is live on tribecafilm.com; additional programs will be added upon announcement. To join the conversation on Twitter, follow @TribecaFilmFest and use the hashtag #tribecafest.