Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Get Back To It Episode 103

Christina@TribecaFF2019My Tribeca Film Festival Adventure Part One (probably 16th annual) started on Friday taking a two hour train from Port Jervis, New York to Hoboken. There, I was able to afford a place to stay hopping over to Manhattan via the PATH train. My goal, such as it is for any film festival outside of my daily driving ability, was to find the Registration room, pick up my badge and get the lay of the land, jumping right into the action as the first weekend is usually insanely fast paced.

According to the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival (April 24th to May 5th), info on their Squarespace redesigned website (for the second year as a sponsor), the 18th annual festival planned a showcase of works from emerging and new works from returning filmmakers. It was programmed from more than 9,295 submissions. “Our goal each year is to strike a balance between discovering new talent and showcasing new projects by notable filmmakers and storytellers.” I really don’t know how that would be possible. During the months before the festival, I had been inundated with press releases, updates, invites to the “red carpet only” (which I always mark down as “not interested”) special events and, what I had hoped for, more networking with the film industry, hence my upgrade to an Industry pass, this year.

The lineup included 81 World, three International, eight North American, one U.S., and ten New York premieres. Also 42 first-time filmmakers and 19 Tribeca alums returned to the Festival with their latest projects. Why does this matter? Most film festivals strive for being the first to show a film believing it draws people to purchase tickets, most likely online purchases. It becomes a game for their competition as other festivals plan and promote their line up and the timing of films finished and released is paramount for the next step. Timing is everything for when and where films screen often so they may be in a solid place for contention whether it is for an Oscar, a great international distribution deal, or streaming VOD deals.

This year’s features program included 103 films from 124 filmmakers. 50% of the films selected in the three competition sections were directed by women filmmakers. 40% of the feature films have one or more women directors, 29% of the feature films are directed by filmmakers of color, and 13% of the features are by individuals who identify as LGBTQIA. This too, matters, because the glass ceiling remains an elusive call for these filmmakers to come out and shatter it once and for all. While I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t a United Artists Centennial component to the schedule, it reminded me of the Universal debacle a couple years ago where the moderator of the Universal Centennial panel discussion was totally unprepared for any discussion of cinema history and Robert DeNiro looked so uncomfortable tolerating the awkward topics brought up by Judd Apetow. 

However, panels were extremely popular and quickly sold out. A bit pricey at $40 per ticket.

Keeping an eye out for the women directors in features, I found that documentaries ruled in this weekend and evening schedule. They opened the festival and maintained its hold over the course of the first seven days with Opening Night film The Apollo; Friday night Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice; Saturday and Critics Week choice, American Factory; Sunday afternoon, Dog Doc; and in the evening, Halston; Monday, Inndda Back Yard+Performance and Tuesday, Say Anything, retrospective with Cameron Crowe, James L. Brooks, Ione Skye and John Cusack on a Skype screen. Wasn’t sure if I would get to see the premiere of Framing John DeLorean taking it in during a morning Press & Industry screening. The formula works for getting people to come out and stand on line, despite the cold, raw rainy Friday night for the Ronstadt film. Many who tried to buy tickets online found it was Sold Out. As I note in many of my earlier blogs and podcasts, the Sold Out makes the screening more desirable. There isn’t any way out of that, but just as I say “there is always a parking spot,” there is always an extra ticket, somewhere, an empty seat, somewhere, at film festivals. Not everyone can make it and usually the people who have early access to tickets either don’t show up or hand them off to their publicists.

Fortunately for me, the publicist had a ticket for the World Premiere of Dog Doc on a Sunday afternoon, a packed house in Village East Cinemas. Check out the podcast with director Cindy Meehl and an incredibly hard working and funny person in real life as he is in the documentary, Dr. Marty, veterinarian extraordinaire. Coming soon, Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Part Deux.

Tribeca Film Festival 2018 FilmFestivViews Episode 102

CK@Tribeca2018Coming back to the Tribeca Film Festival every year is Home. My backyard from New Jersey and access to some of the most interesting, spine tingling and controversial work programmed for eleven days. As always, we take in as many films as we can; however, this year I had broken my wrist a few weeks before Tribeca and after the surgery had only a week to work the schedule. We opted out of the Virtual Arcade featuring Storyscapes and the Cinema360, but had great impromptu conversations with fellow filmmakers and musicians into the television scene at the Filmmaker Lounge. Solid panels and extra-afternoon activities that are entertaining to watch as we take in the New York view. We also had an opportunity to celebrate Earth Day with receptions for a new way of Green Architecture and engineering and a present day denuclearization. Very awesome. Once Tribeca Hub centered the festival philosophy, it is gratifying to know that the overdone family street fair and the emphasis on sports passed its puberty, and has matured into a classy and sassy film festival that puts their filmmakers upfront, yet turns onto a road where social responsibility must also be weighed when conferring awards onto films that recognize terrorism as legitimate conflicts. We must remain vigilant over media takeover for propaganda purposes. Keep the faith.

Here’s Looking Into Bette Davis’ Eyes FilmFestivViews Episode 100

Wanting more about movie icon, Bette Davis, Christina Kotlar and Yuri Turchyn, co hosts for Film Festival reViews 100th show, went on a 1930s/40s cinema-watching Bette Davis movies binge after witnessing Jessica Sherr’s one-woman show, Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies. It’s a firecracker of a show where “you fasten your seatbelts– it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Music and melodrama, professional rivalries, fighting the studio system and life imitating art are among the topics and conversation on some of the films chosen by Yuri– Dangerous, Jezebel, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Dark Victory, elusive to Bette Davis’ triple crown Oscar achievement.

So, the Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies show begins…

Bette Davis Ain't PosterIt’s early evening of the 1939 Academy Awards–young Miss Davis is nominated for Best Actress in Dark Victory, and the Los Angeles Times LEAKS the OSCAR winners EARLY!! “This year Vivian Leigh will take home the Oscar for Best Actress!”… With newspaper in hand the BOLD, DEFIANT and DISILLUSIONED Bette Davis decides to leave! Journey into the young starlet’s battle to win freedom from the grip and control of Hollywood’s studio moguls. Witness Bette’s most defining moments as a tenacious young actor fighting her way to the top!! See what happens when someone who always wins…loses.

Catch Jessica Sherr’s Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies on Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017 at the Episcopal Actor’s Guild NYC

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Hedy Lamarr Bombshell @Tribeca Film Fest Episode099

Hedy Lamarr ImageWhile most films we’ve seen at Tribeca Film Festival depended upon programmer scheduling to fit with our own, there were several that fit perfectly with the women in film line up that I focus on. Yuri Turchyn found the most appropo music for this episode. Opening  starts with Music for Hedy (unknown); You Stepped Out of a Dream (Johnny Mathis); For Ice Mother, a Czech film (Tribeca Award Winner for Screenwriting) surrounding an older women’s rebirth and renaissance following a chance meeting with ice swimmers, we hear opening from the Moldau (Smetana); Do not listen to other reviews or poorly written program descriptions otherwise almost didn’t go see November, an Estonian film (Tribeca Award Winner for Cinematography) that encompasses Slavic folk music, legendary and pagan rites that drives women in their seasonal lives and loves. Closing theme finds full circle in Music for Hedy.

Punk Rock Music in Film@Tribeca FilmFestivViews Episode 098

Friday Night Opening Weekend at Tribeca Film Festival 2017 was a one of a kind cinematic experience under Special Screenings The Public Image is Rotten combining performance and after the film screening conversation with John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, original front man for the punk rock band, the Sex Pistols. After their break up in late 70s, he emerged as the lead singer of Public Image Ltd (PiL), continuing in an unconventional sight and sound style and structure.  There are no copy bands of the Sex Pistols or PiL and there’s a reason why– each performance is unique and unto itself.

From the beginning, punk rock became the voice for artists breaking free from a mainstream format and the record companies’ stranglehold on their creative artistry and earnings.  As Lydon recalls the many ups and downs of a live music performer’s lifestyle– from fellow band members comings and goings to the vastly changed music business landscape– his pondering becomes a poetic musing on survival and continuing performances as one artist with a decidedly different Bohemian lifestyle.

Tabbert Fiiller, former bassist for the band MaxSinger Z makes his directorial debut taking the audience on a remarkable free-from ride through the personal and professional POVs of Lydon and his band mates. I love the hair.

March is Women in Film History Month FilmFestivViews Episode097

Reel Jersey Girls Photo1

Women in Film History Month with Barbara Moss, founder of Women’s Film Preservation Fund, along with the amazing, committed women on this WFPF committee and New York Women in Film & Television (NYWiFT) as well as their partners –staunch and steadfast –in the quest to preserve the legacy of women who were the early cinema pioneers. This month is my crazy as a March Hare month as I recall falling into the rabbit hole a decade ago with Fort Lee Film Commission introducing me to Alice Guy Blache, first woman filmmaker and the godmother to all women in film.

Strad Style a Winner@Slamdance 2017 FilmFestivViews Episode096

Strad Style, winner of 2017 Slamdance Documentary Feature and Audience Award literally knocked us off our feet. Yuri’s choice of music introduction for our Strad Style experience is perfectly suited as it continues to inspire him, long after the crazy week in Park City was over. Very inspirational for me as well. This is my tenth year going to Sundance | Slamdance, while Yuri experienced it for the first time. I wanted him to really have the best film festival experience in all aspects from the film screenings, the filmmakers, the film festival  community and the burgeoning economic development of the film business itself– he did.

Dark Horse a Winner@Sundance FilmFestivViews Episode093

“Waking Ned Devine Meets Mr. Ed” is how I describe Director Louise Osmond’s superbly crafted documentary Dark Horse. Dream Alliance  is the “talking” horse that became the talk of the town in the village of Cefn Fforest in one of the poorest Welsh mining valleys, Gwent, north of Newport.  The local Workingmen’s Club is the setting for the real life characters specifically Jan Vokes, a barmaid in the club, who has a burning desire to breed a champion racehorse. Aside from this quirky cast, Dream becomes his own pivotal character, a handsome devil, a rich chestnut color with white blaze and a deep gaze, intensely thoughtful and curious.  Dark Horse was a runaway hit at Sundance 2015 winning the Audience Award in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

Film Festiv Views@Gen Art Ellen Houlihan’s Short Joan’s Day Out Episode 088

Joan’s Day Out, a short film by Ellen Houlihan, is a very funny slice of life with a grandma’s version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  escaping from an assisted living home starring Sally Kellerman and Betsy Franco, making its New York premiere at the Gen Art Film Festival.