TriBeCa Film Festval 2016 Roundup

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TriBeCa Film Festval 2016 Roundup
TriBeCa Film Festval 2016
Roundup
How it’s New York: It takes place in
the triangle below Canal street in NYC!
How it’s Irish: There is one Irish
short covered in this roundup, but a
tonne of great non-Irish stuff worth
reading about.
The festival is getting more and more diverse every
year. My closet tech nerd side came out to play at the
wide array of virtual reality storytelling media on
offer this year, and I didn’t even get to see the many
talks and live music events that were interspersed
throughout. The aptly named Hub was indeed the focal
point of the festival at Spring Studios and is where
all the fun tech entertainment took place. And of
course, there were some movies too …
Felix & Paul Studios proprietary VR technology which
creates original live action content captured a Cirque
du Soleil performance and by slipping on a headset, I
was transported to a front row seat. It took a moment
to realize if I turned my head to the right or left, I
got to see another part of the stage. I foresee a
future where people can sit in their living rooms far
from Broadway and watch shows in all their glory from
every angle.
Still from MY MOTHER’S WING.
(Photographer: Barry Pousman)
Other VR pieces I saw were SENS and My Mother’s Wing.
SENS by French team, Ayats, Lemarchand and Mathieu,
showcased a new way of interactive storytelling.
I
was able to direct my eyes and focus on an element on
the screen, and then unlock, for example, a door, that
would enable me to move to the next part of the story.
Amazing stuff. My Mother’s Wing centered on a refugee
camp in Gaza, and the life of a 37 year old mother
dealing with the loss of two of her children in the
2014 war. The filmmakers Gabo Arora and Ari Palitz
said that to create the piece, they used multiple
cameras to cover all the angles, and did a lot of work
in the editing room to piece it all together
seamlessly. The future of storytelling is very
exciting!
Jodie Whittaker as Anna in the film ADULT
LIFE SKILLS.
Photographer: Jo Irvine
On the movie front, I saw two films from the UK that
couldn’t be more different from each other if they
tried: Adult Life Skills from relative newcomer
(though BAFTA ‘Brit-To-Watch’) writer and director,
Rachel Tunnard, and High Rise from the seasoned, Ben
Wheatley (Kill List). Adult Life rightfully won the
Nora Ephron New Female Director’s prize at the
festival. It is a lovely film, slightly too long, but
has a fabulous soundtrack and coming of age theme,
which is very engaging, as well as a great cast.
High
Rise based on J. G. Ballard’s dystopian novel of the
same name is a very stylized and beautiful to watch
disintegration of a segment of society boxed into an
apartment building. Sadly, it gets lost somewhere
along the way, or maybe I just don’t have the taste
for the annihilation of society that Ballard imagined.
Rita Carmichael (Katie Holmes) and her
daughter Ruthie (Stefania Owen) in ALL WE
HAD.
Using the US subprime lending crisis as the backdrop,
Katie Holme’s directorial debut, All we had, and Ido
Fluk’s, The Ticket, (starring an American accented Dan
Stevens, Downton Abbey’s beloved, Matthew), were two
of the more disappointing contributions that I saw.
All we had, based on the book of the same title by
Annie Weatherwax depicted the relationship between a
down on her luck young mother with her smart daughter,
and though the publicity notes say that they learn
from each other – this was not parlayed in the film.
It just felt like a long, clichéd downward spiral form
where I was sitting. The Ticket, though very well
acted by Stevens and costars Oliver Blatt and Malin
Akerman, and had a nice dream-like quality to portray
the fascinating premise of a blind Stevens regaining
his sight, unfortunately, slides too deeply into
moralizing, and the good performances and interesting
premise don’t make up for being beaten over the head
with its theme of the immorality of livng a
superficial, vacuous life.
Character: Violet and the unforgiving
rectangle that hangs on the wall.
Cinematographer: Maurice Joyce
Ireland’s contribution to the new animated program,
Whoopi’s Shorts, was Violet. Created, and beautifully
designed by Maurice Joyce, the didactic moral tale of
a young girl’s self hatred is narrated by Aiden Gillen
(Game of Thrones and Love Hate) like a fairytale.
Maurice spoke with Whoopie at the Q & A after the
screening and said that Violet was a labor of love
that took six years, and good news for us, the labor
will continue as there is a feature of Violet in the
pipeline.
Big names such as Susan Sarandon and Tom Hanks also
had films at the festival. The Meddler costars J.K.
Simmons and Rose Byrne, with Sarandon playing the
wonderful meddling Italian mamma in director Lorene
Scafaria, autobiographical first feature. An
entertaining piece of cinema, with like able
characters – not to be missed.
Tom Hanks as Alan Clay in Tom Tykwer’s A
HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING.
Photo Courtesy of Roadside Attractions
Hanks plays an American salesman in the adaptation of
Dave Eggers’ novel, A Hologram for the King. Set in
Saudi Arabia, it looks at the declining role of US
business overseas, as well as showing a broad
representation of life in Saudi, from public
executions in the city square and women’s lack of
freedoms, to their deep spiritual life. Nice acting,
interesting themes, but many storylines and characters
are undeveloped, and seem to be randomly thrown in.
Directed by Tom Tykwer, it suffers a similar fate of
his last book to screen project – Cloud Atlas – of
being over stuffed with characters and vignettes.
Stefan Sagmeister
Image Credit: Ben Wolf
Exploring the bigger themes of how to live a happy
life and how to end it gracefully, were The Happy Film
and Youth in Oregon. Both were excellent films that I
would highly recommend them. Stefan Sagmeister, a
renowned graphic artist, from Austria, but based in
NYC, set about to use the documentary form to figure
out how he could live a happier life. The method?
Meditation, therapy and drugs of course ~ three months
of each. Interspersed with some beautiful graphics,
lots of color, Sagmeister’s openness, heartache and
self discovery, his journey is both fun and
emotionally educational to watch.
Frank Langella as Ray Engersol.
Photographer: Paul Sarkis
In the wonderful ensemble piece, Youth in Oregon,
Frank Langella portrays a man nearing the end of a
successful life, less than gracefully. His plan is to
take matters into his own hands, and drive to Oregon
to be euthanized. His problematic, yet loving family
are not supportive of his decision, but when he
insists, they join in the roadtrip, convinced he will
have gotten it out of his system before they reach the
west coast. Director Joel David Moore respectfully and
tenderly shows end of life options from many angles
and treats this sensitive subject with finesse and
fearlessness.
A big favorite of mine both this year and last was the
joint venture between DJ and producer, DJ Z-Trip and
the silent movies of Harold Lloyd . This year, it was
Safety First – the one with the iconic image of Lloyd
hanging from a flag pole several stories from the
ground. The gig drew an even bigger audience than last
year the Spring Street Studio Hub. An amazing
soundtrack provided by Z-Trip for the 1923 silent
feature fused old New York streetscapes with
contemporary New York house music and provided the
perfect opportunity to experience being at a club, but
sitting down … oh and watching a movie.
Just like the city itself, the festival’s levels of
diversity are wildly impressive. Looking forward to
next year already!

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