April 20, 2011

New York, New York Films at the 10th Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival begins this week, and following tradition, the 10th iteration of the homegrown festival includes several films that show off the enduring cinematic power of the home city. This year's documentaries include a portrait of a 1980s-era New York club owner (Limelight), the story of September 11 survivors who help other communities in rebuilding (New York Says Thank You), the influence of a hip-hop group from the early 90s (Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest), and the journey of a brilliant young chef trying to find his moment (A Matter of Taste).

Of the New York-centered featured narratives, look for the story of an ex-roadie looking for meaning as he returns to his home neighborhood in Queens (Roadie) and a tale of a successful married New York couple testing fidelity (Last Night). The festival closes with Edward Burns’ Newlyweds, shot on location in Tribeca, about the often challenging extended family relationships inherited in marriage. Several short films also make ample use of the city. What follows is a selection of films in this year's Tribeca Film Festival that prominently feature New York. Just don’t trip over the movie set as you make your way to the theater.

Elton John and Leon Russell in Cameron Crowe's The Union
OPENING NIGHT EVENT
Cameron Crowe’s The Union

The Tribeca Film Festival kicks off Wednesday night, April 20 with a free outdoor screening of the world premiere of Cameron Crowe’s documentary, The Union, at 8:15 p.m. at The World Financial Plaza The film centers on the making of an album by Elton John and Leon Russell. It's not a New York film per se, but it's a free city event worth celebrating.

A TFF wristband is required to be seated at the event.
• On April 20 at 4:00 pm, wristbands will be distributed to the public on a first-come, first-served basis at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, West Side Highway entrance, just north of Chambers.
• There will be a limit of two wristbands per person.
• The screening will begin at 8:15 pm, with programming beginning as early as 7:30 pm, on April 20 at the World Financial Plaza. Get there early.

NEW YORK FILMS

For information about schedule, theater locations, and tickets, please visit the official website. The festival, which offers a wealth of films and programming beyond the local fare mentioned here, continues through May 1, 2011.

Many films at the festival touch upon New York as a setting or topic, so the following selected list is not comprehensive.

DOCUMENTARIES

Limelight
Limelight. Spotlight. Feature Documentary, 2011, 92 min. Directed by: Billy Corben. A portrait of 1980s-era New York club owner Peter Gatien and his famous clubs including the Limelight, a former church in Chelsea (now the Chelsea Marketplace). Read Walking Off the Big Apple's review.

New York Says Thank You. Spotlight. Feature Documentary, 2010, 86 min. Directed by: Scott Rettberg. The story follows New Yorkers who were affected by the events of September 11 and who have since helped communities rebuild after disasters.

A Matter of Taste. Spotlight. Feature Documentary, 2011, 68 min. Directed by: Sally Rowe. The decade-long culinary journey of precocious novel cuisine star chef Paul Liebrandt, from falling out of food fashion to the heights of Nobu.

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. Spotlight. Feature Documentary, 2011, 98 min. Directed by: Michael Rapaport. The history of the jazz-inflected A Tribe Called Quest before disbanding in 1998. Featuring De La Soul, Kanye West, Common, Mos Def, Ludacris, Beastie Boys, and more. Read Walking Off the Big Apple's review.

Beats, Rhymes & Life. Left to Right: Phife Dawg, Q-Tip, and Jarobi White.
Photo by Robert Benavides, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life. Spotlight. Feature Documentary, 2011, 83 min. Directed by: Dori Berinstein. Stage star Channing still exudes the unmistakable charisma and charm of her popular Hello Dolly years.

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life.
Not just any closet....Carol Channing finds her original "Hello, Dolly!" headdress.
Photo: Dramatic Forces

FEATURE NARRATIVES

Roadie. Spotlight. Feature Narrative, 2011, 95 min. Directed by: Michael Cuesta. Jimmy (Ron Eldard), having long lived the rock-and-roll dream as a roadie for Blue Oyster Cult, returns home to Queens only to find his mother losing her memory and his high school crush (Jill Hennessy) married to his childhood rival (Bobby Cannavale).

Roadie. Old friends reunite at their favorite bar. 
Photo: Mara Webster

Last Night. Spotlight. Feature Narrative, 2010, 90 min. Directed by: Massy Tadjedin. When temptations strike, a happily married and successful New York couple (Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington) find themselves at a crossroads. With Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet, and Griffin Dunne.

Newlyweds
Newlyweds. Closing Night Gala. Feature Narrative, 2011, 93 min. Director: Ed Burns. Married people soon find that they also marry their spouse's family, friends and past. Ed Burns, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Max Baker, Marsha Dietlein Bennett, and Kerry Bishé star. Burns filmed the movie in his home neighborhood of Tribeca on a $9,000 budget.

SHORTS

Several of the short films at the festival make ample use of the city. Look for Nightlife (two Manhattan teenagers out on the town), Year Zero (surviving the zombie apocalypse), and Garden Roll Bounce Parking Lot (memories of a Bangladeshi immigrant family's Brooklyn garden).

DRIVE-IN

The festival’s free outdoor screening series at World Financial Center Plaza is family fare entertainment. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The programs will also begin at 6 pm, with screenings starting at dusk, approximately 8:15 p.m.

• Thursday, April 21. Fame. Drive-In. Feature Narrative, 1980, 134 min. Directed by: Alan Parker. Aspiring musicians, actors, and dancers try to get in and graduate from New York City's High School for the Performing Arts. And live forever. With the first-ever Tribeca’s Got Talent, an open-call song and dance competition.

• Friday, April 22. When the Drum is Beating, a documentary about Haiti’s oldest and best-known Haitian-Caribbean-Jazz fusion band, Septentrional.

• Saturday, April 23. The Muppets Take Manhattan. Drive-In. Feature Narrative, 1984, 94 min. Directed by: Frank Oz. The Muppets dream of Broadway. Featuring Dabney Coleman, Joan Rivers, Elliott Gould, Liza Minnelli, and Gregory Hines.

CITY EVENTS & RELATED PROGRAMS

• The Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair and Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Saturday, April 30 10:00 am. - 6 p.m. On Greenwich Street, North of Chambers Street. Free.

• At the Apple Store, April 22 – 30. The Apple Store, SoHo, and the Apple Store, W. 14th Street, are hosting free, exclusive events celebrating the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. See website.

• Consult the festival website for many more programs, including the Tribeca Talks series.

TRIBECA (ONLINE) FILM FESTIVAL

New York Says Thank You. Bringing hope on the anniversary of September 11th,
New York Firefighters march into Greensburg, Kansas to rebuild the devastated town
95 % destroyed by an EF-5 tornado. Photo: Sophia Litchfield

From April 20 – May 1, visitors to the Tribeca (Online) Film Festival can stream select feature and short films from the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, as well as a selection of award-winning shorts from past Festivals. The 2011 feature, New York Says Thank You, is included in the online lineup. Visit the website. Reservations are required for the virtual seats.

Images: courtesy and credits noted with each image.

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