Tribeca Film Festival Preview & Ticket Giveaway

For the ninth year in a row, ComingSoon.net will be attending the Tribeca Film Festival, kicking off on Wednesday April 20 and running through May 2. As in past years, we want to share our thoughts on some of the movies we’ve already seen and others that sound like they may be interesting. We don’t have a ton of interviews booked as of yet so hopefully that will come together this week, but to commemorate the start of the Tribeca Film Festival, we’re holding a special contest courtesy of American Express. We’re giving away SIX Vesey Passes for the Tribeca Film Festival, good for the dates of April 26, April 27 and April 28, which will allow three lucky winners all-day admission to all general screenings as well as admission to the lounges and music venues.

You can read more about the contest and register to enter here.

Tribeca is at an interesting turning point in its life with its tenth year taking place a mere six months before the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy on 9/11/01. Although the festival itself barely takes place below Canal Street anymore, other than a few key premieres, there are more than a few New York-themed films in the mix, but they are kicking things off with one of the biggest events in Tribeca history.

Cameron Crowe’s affinity for Elton John may be obvious from his use of “Tiny Dancer” in Almost Famous, but he takes that love to a new level with his first movie in many years, The Union, a documentary that looks at the relationship between John and his own idol Leon Redbone, as the two of them embark on a world tour. Normally, the opening night movie is a big gala premiere affair that not even press are able to attend, but this year, Tribeca are making the opening night movie open to everyone and for FREE! And not only that, but Elton John will be doing a live performance after the film’s premiere! If you’re in New York City, wristbands will be given out starting at 4PM at the North Cove at the World Financial Plaza for the movie and concert.

Filmmaker Edward Burns makes his sixth appearance at the Tribeca Film Festival with his 10th film Newlyweds, and his first in a while that was actually shot in Tribeca, about a couple whose honeymoon is disrupted by their dysfunctional siblings.

Alex Gibney is back at Tribeca once again with his new doc Catching Hell, which covers the fairly new territory of sports (other than Gibney’s segment in last year’s Freakonomics). It covers the story of Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman who deflected a foul ball during a big playoff game, making him public enemy for the long-beleaguered fans of the Cubs. Produced by ESPN Films, it’s the main Gala Premiere for the 2011 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Other movies in the series include Pablo Croce’s Like Water, Gemma Atwal’s Marathon Boy and more.

There are couple of movies in Tribeca’s Spotlight section we can recommend that we’ve seen at previous film festivals including Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip (IFC Films – June 10), which reunites Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon from Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story for a hilarious road trip through Northern England where they proceed to drive each other bonkers.

The Guard (Sony Pictures Classics – July 29) is the debut from John Michael McDonagh, brother of In Bruges‘ Martin McDonagh, a dark crime-comedy set in a rural area of Ireland with Brendan Gleeson playing a corrupt but amiable cop begrudgingly forced to team with an FBI man (producer Don Cheadle) to solve a murder involving druglords.

Actress Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut Higher Ground (Sony Pictures Classics – Aug. 12) was one of our favorite movies at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, an adaptation of Carolyn S. Briggs’ memoir “This Dark World” about a woman (played by Farmiga) who spends most of her life as part of a devout group of Christians and who starts questioning her faith when her marriage starts to fall apart.

Dan Rush’s Everything Must Go is an adaptation of Raymond Carer’s short story “Why Don’t You Dance?” starring Will Ferrell as a man who loses his job and has all his belongings thrown onto the front yard when his wife gets sick of his drinking, so he decides to set up a yard sale.

We’re really looking forward to Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory’s indie comedy A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (Samuel Goldwyn Films – Aug. 26) starring Jason Sudeikis as a 30-something party animal famous for the lavish parties he throws at his father’s Hamptons retreat trying to have one last big get-together before his friends start to drift their separate ways.

One of the big additions to last year’s Tribeca Film Festival was the introduction of Tribeca Films, a new distribution branch that gets some of the festival’s films out to audiences both theatrically and via Video on Demand. The first of this year’s offerings is South African filmmaker Steven Silver’s drama about a group of hotshot photographers known as the The Bang Bang Club (April 22) who received incredible acclaim by capturing the violent last few years of Apartheid. It stars Ryan Phillipe and Taylor Kitsch as two of the Pulitzer-winning photographers always putting their lives in danger and Malin Akerman as their photo editor.

It will be followed by Massy Tadjedin’s Last Night (May 6), a drama starring Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington as a long-married couple who spend a night apart being tempted by others, and actor/filmmaker Peter Mullan’s third film Neds, a coming-of-age tale that takes place in ’70s Glasgow. Another one of Tribeca Films releases premiering at the fest is David M. Rosenthal’s Janie Jones, starring Alessandro Nivola as musician Ethan Brand who is staging a comeback with his band when his girlfriend shows up with his 13-year-old daughter Janie, played by Abigail Breslin, before heading into rehab leaving Ethan having to take the teenager on the road with him. (Not playing at the fest but being released by Tribeca is Deborah Chow’s drama The High Cost of Living (May 13) starring Zach Braff as a drugdealer who begins an awkward relationship with the pregnant Natalie (Isabelle Blais) after a tragedy that brings them together.)

Another part of Tribeca that doesn’t get a lot of attention is the film competition that’s been a key part since the very beginning, and the list of famous actors and filmmakers acting as jurors this year is quite impressive, including Jason Sudeikis, Michael Cera, David Gordon Green, Atom Egoyan, Rainn Wilson, Anna Kendrick and others. In the past, many of the Heineken Audience Award winners have gone on to receive theatrical distribution, and many of the doc winners have been nominated for Oscars.

With that in mind, there are dozens of movies premiering at Tribeca that have yet to find distribution but are hoping to create enough audience buzz to get someone interested:

Tony (American History X) Kaye’s Detachment stars Adrien Brody as a substitute teacher who gets placed at a troubled public school that causes him to invest more time and care into his vocation. It features an astounding ensemble cast including Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, James Caan, Tim Blake Nelson and more.

Sundance regulars Joshua Leonard and Sean Nelson team for the latter’s directorial debut (with Humpday producer Steven Schardt) Treatment as two unsuccessful L.A screenwriters who get a crazy idea for one of them to go into rehab to pitch their movie idea to a mega-star who they’ve heard has been placed there. There’s really been an amazing phenomenon in recent years that’s branched out of Mumblecore for a group of first-time filmmakers making low-budget high concept indies, and this one certainly sounds worth checking out.

We’re also heard some good things about Alexandra McGuinness’ Lotus Eaters about a group of rich young Londoners who squander their lives drinking and having sex.

Now, let’s talk about what we hope are some of the more interesting foreign films…

Opening in the Spotlight section is the action-thriller Point Blank (Magnolia – July 22) from Fred Cavayé, whose debut Pour Elle was turned by Paul Haggis into the thriller The Next Three Days. It stars Gilles Lellouche as a trained nurse whose pregnant wife is kidnapped by criminals blackmailing him to get a colleague out of the hospital, putting the two men in the middle of a police conspiracy. This is the French action-thriller that Luc Besson didn’t make, but fans of his movies will love it.

French filmmaker Cédric Klapisch brought his early hit L’Auberge Espagnole to Tribeca way back in 2003, and he’s back with My Piece of the Pie, starring Karin Viard as the single mother of three who loses her job working at a factory when it closes down, so she takes a job cleaning the apartment of a power broker, played by… Gilles Lellouche from Point Blank! (See how all these things tie together?)

We’re looking forward to the Dutch drama Black Butterflies starring Carice van Houten (Valkyrie, Black Book) as the South African version of Sylvia Plath with her father played by Rutger Hauer. There are also quite a few wacky Asian films at this year’s festival including the erotic musical Underwater Love that sports the cinematography of Christopher Doyle and Tsui Hark’s steampunk action-thriller Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame stars Andy Lau as the sleuth and martial arts expert hired to look into a Buddha statue that causes two officials to burst into flame. It also stars Binbing Li and Tony Leung. –

Tribeca Film Festival is still one of the best non-doc-specific film festivals where you can catch some of the best documentaries around including some of the best music-related docs. This year is no exception.

Fans of the Irish romance Once will probably already be big fans of the Oscar-winning duo who starred in it, Glenn Hansard and Marketa Iglova, and their band The Swell Season has a group of filmmakers following them on their first tour since winning the Oscar to see how they fare as a couple while on the road. It doesn’t go well.

We missed Michael Rapaport’s Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, a look at the seminal ’90s rap group, when it played at the Sundance Film Festival, but we heard nothing but great things about it and rightly so, since it’s already among the best docs we’ve seen this year. If you think it’s “fun” watching Glenn and Marketa breaking up, wait until you see the dysfunctional rap group trying to stage a comeback tour.

God Bless Ozzy Osbourne takes a look at the heavy metal legend with the filmmakers spending two years on the road with him and talking to his family including his son Jack, who is one of the film’s producers.

Another popular musical act is featured in the work-in-progress premiere of Stephen Mitchell’s Talihina Sky: the Story of Kings of Leon a film that looks at the history of the Tennessee-based rock band made up of three brothers and their cousin as they spend time in the backwoods of Talihina, Oklahoma for a family reunion.

Following the success of the Joan Rivers doc at last year’s festival, they are premiering Carol Channing: Larger than Life a doc by Broadway producer Dori Berinstein (her third doc at Tribeca) that follows the life of the Broadway mainstay. Others of interest include Lee Hirsch’s The Bully Project and it’s look at school bullying, Billy (Cocaine Cowboys) Corben’s Limelight takes a look at the venerable New York night club, and the Icelandic doc Gnarr follows a veteran comedian who decides to run a joke campaign for mayor of Reyjkavik through his “Best Party.”

Horror has always played a large part in the Tribeca midnight programming–we’ve seen some greats there like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and Let the Right One In–and that’s true this year with the festival’s “Cinemania” program including the Israeli horror film Rabies, a rather unique twist on the slasher favorite of a group of people being stalked by a homicidal maniac. Tribeca Films is releasing two of the movies in program, Philip Gelatt’s The Bleeding House about a family from a small Midwestern town whose lives are upturned by the arrival of a sweet-talking Texan who uncovers secrets from their past, and the Vicious Brothers’ Grave Encounters, a found footage movie set in an insane asylum where a television show is shooting its pilot episode. Lastly, André Øvdeal’s festival favorite Trollhunter (Magnet – June 10)

That’s all for now, but we hope to have a few updates over the course of the next few weeks of stuff we’re seeing and enjoying, but you can also follow ComingSoon.net’s Festival Twitter for quicker updates and thoughts on movies at Tribeca.

You can read the instructions and sign up for your chance to win a single-day pass for the Tribeca Film Festival here.

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