For those who enjoy depictions of New York on film, several movies in this year's Tribeca Film Festival (April 22-May 3, 2009) give New York a featured role. Though not surprising for a festival that was created to reinvigorate lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, the festival's New York-centered films sprawl out across the five boroughs. Glamorous Manhattan is still the backdrop for Steven Soderberg's The Girlfriend Experience, and Wall Street and the East and West Villages get their star turns. But other films include City Island, set in the Bronx, The Exploding Girl and Off and Running, set in Brooklyn, and Entre Nos, with Queens as the setting. And yes, Staten Island features in a spooky real-life tale with the film Cropsey.
• Blank City. Encounters. Feature Documentary, 2009, 106 min. Directed by: Celine Danhier. East Village art scene of the 1970s with everything-goes film movements such as "No Wave Cinema" and "Cinema of Transgression."
• Burning Down the House: The Story of CBGB. Discovery. Feature Documentary, 2009, 90 min
Directed by: Mandy Stein. The "Country Bluegrass Blues" club on the Bowery, founded by Hilly Kristal, becomes a punk, new wave heaven. Vintage performances by Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Television, Bad Brains, and The Ramones.
• City Island. Encounters. Feature Narrative, 2009, 100 min. Directed by: Raymond De Felitta. Story of a dysfunctional family living on a little-known island in the Bronx
• Con Artist. Discovery. Feature Documentary, 2009, 80 min. Directed by: Michael Sládek. Traces the rise and hard gall of Mark Kostabi, a star during the 1980s New York art world. A docu-comedy.
• Cropsey. Midnight. Feature Documentary, 2008, 84 min. Directed by: Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman. A spooky Staten Island tale of missing children and a real-life bogeyman.
• An Englishman in New York. Encounters. Narrative. 74 min. With John Hurt as the aging Quentin Crisp, living in New York. Also a portrait of a new sensibility as the gay community in the early 1980s first confronts AIDS.
• Entre nos. Discovery. Feature Narrative, 2009, 80 min. Directed by: Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte. After her husband abandons her, a mother must fend for herself and care for her children in the unfamiliar new world of Queens, New York. She finds a future in the city's recycling program.
• The Exploding Girl. World Narrative Feature Competition. Feature Narrative, 2009, 79 min. Directed by: Bradley Rust Gray. A maturation story of a college student returning home to Brooklyn for summer break with her longtime guy friend.
• The Girlfriend Experience. Spotlight. Feature Narrative, 2009, 77 min. Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Five days in the life of a $2,000-an-hour Manhattan call girl, with adult film star Sasha Grey in the lead. Filmed with advanced digital technology.
• The Good Guy. Encounters. Feature Narrative, 2009, 90 min. Directed by: Julio DePietro. Story of a Wall Street star, his budding romance, and his mentoring of a new guy in the ways of "the street."
• Here and There. World Narrative Feature Competition. Feature Narrative, 2009, 90 min. Directed by: Darko Lungulov. A story of the competing cultures and climate of his home country of Serbia and his adopted New York.
• Off and Running. Discovery. Feature Documentary, 2009, 78 min. Directed by: Nicole Opper. Story of Avery, a typical Brooklyn teen, adopted by white Jewish lesbians, with a younger Korean brother and an older brother is mixed-race. Avery is black and grows curious about her biological African-American roots.
• P-Star Rising. Discovery. Feature Documentary, 2009, 83 min. Directed by: Gabriel Noble. Jesse Diaz, a rising star in the hip-hop world in the '80s, finds himself a broke single father in Harlem with two children to support. He puts his faith in his nine-year-old daughter, a talented rapper.
• Partly Private. World Documentary Feature Competition. Feature Documentary, 2009, 84 min. Directed by: Danae Elon. Circumcision story features locations around the world, including New York.
• Variety. Restored/Rediscovered. Feature Narrative, 1984, 97 min. Directed by: Bette Gordon. Bette Gordon's pioneering indie narrative about a young woman working as a ticket taker in a porn theater. A product of the downtown artist scene from the early 1980s, Variety credits include composer John Lurie, cinematographer Tom DeCillo, writer Kathy Acker, photographer Nan Goldin, and actor Spalding Gray. Shot on location in New York City at the lost landmarks of the Variety Theatre, Fulton Fish Market, Yankee Stadium, and a funkier Times Square. Preservation by Women's Film Preservation Fund of NYWIFT.
• Whatever Works. Feature Narrative, 2009, 92 min. Directed by: Woody Allen. The film will have its world premiere on the opening night of the film festival, April 22. New Yorker played by Larry David - not that there's anything wrong with that - abandons his upper-class life - hmmm - for bohemia - welcome to Greenwich Village. He meets a young girl from the South - uh-oh - and her family - double uh-oh. A Woody Allen movie, with many scenes filmed on location in bohemia, i.e. Greenwich Village, USA.
• Camera Roll (for Taylor). Shorts in Competition: Documentary. Short Documentary, 2008, 3 min. Directed by: Joel Schlemowitz and Joel Schlemowitz. A city cine-poem, filmed in Brooklyn in the vicinity of the Gowanus Canal, shot on a single roll of 16mm film.
• Deadline. Shorts in Competition: Narrative. Short Narrative, 2008, 17 min. Directed by: Joseph Bakhash. A psychological drama of a tortured ex-convict meeting his prison guard in a diner.
• Nueva York. Shorts in Competition: Narrative. Short Narrative, 2008, 8 min. Directed by: Manolo Celi. Multiple stories of Latino life in New York.
Images from Empire Fulton Ferry State Park on April 16, 2009 by Walking Off the Big Apple. Starting next week look for my coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival on Reframe, a project of the Tribeca Film Institute.
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