Wednesday, April 23, 2008

TriBeCa Diaries 2: The first day

It's a thrill, being on this side of the festival operations. As a fully accredited press person at the TFF, I'm sitting here writing this entry not in my chaotic, book-and-DVD-strewn apartment in Brooklyn, but in the swanky press office here in the East Village. Nice. And much different than the homey but low-budget amenities we offered at the Dahlonega Film Festival when I was its Programming Director back in 2002 (which was the year the TFF bowed, by the way).

So now the movie watching really begins. I think tonight I'll be seeing Amos Poe's new experimental documentary about Manhattan titled Empire II. It's three hours and it's supposed to be stunning, which I take to mean that it's not a repeat of Andy Warhol's interesting-once-but-that's-it Empire (an eight-hour static shot of the Empire State Building, in case you didn't know--and yes, I've seen part of it; I was lucky enough to catch the exciting part, where day turned into night). Poe is a world-renowned filmmaker (he did the groundbreaking punk documentary The Blank Generation), so I believe this is a good choice to kick off the festival.

I attended the introductory press conference this morning, which featured cameo appearances by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Governor David Patterson, both of whom were touting the new 30% increase in tax credits for filmmakers choosing to make their movies in New York. Recently, Mayor Bloomberg explained, the city and state have been losing film production contracts to neighboring states like Connecticut (where TFF co-founder Robert De Niro is ironically busy filming a movie) Vermont, and Rhode Island. So the increase in tax credits is designed to lure more filmmakers back into New York.

TFF Co-Founder Jane Rosenthal and Artistic Director Peter Scarlett let us know that, out of 4800 films submitted for approval, this year's festival has settled on 121 features and 79 shorts. 54 titles are World Premieres (including Opening Night's Baby Mama, starring Tina Fey and Amy Pohler, and Closing Night's Speed Racer, the new action extravaganza from The Matrix braintrust The Wachowski Brothers). 30 films are North American Premieres, and 16 films were shot right here in New York City. Pretty impressive.

And director Doug Liman (Go, Swingers, The Bourne Ultimatum), himself a jury member, let loose the names of those who're serving on the various juries this year: David Bowie, Callie Khouri, Annabelle Sciorra, Fred Durst, Peter Dinklage, Jay McInerney, Matthew Modine, Whoopi Goldberg, Christine Lahti, Lili Taylor, Mario Batalli, and a whole host of other industry notables.

It looks to be a great time here in TriBeCa! A really great time...


Anonymous said...

Hey, have a good time at TriBeCa. Sounds like a lot of fun.

Here in Pittsburgh, the Andy Warhol Museum has shown the complete "Empire" on a couple of occasions. They have his films running almost continually in their screening room. I've seen an excerpt of "Sleep" (I think that's what it's called) that depicts one of his buddies snoozing.

In 2003/04 the Warhol had an excellent exhibit on the JFK assassination and on one weekend they showed "War Is Hell," the B-movie that was being shown when Lee Harvey Oswald was captured in the suburban Dallas movie theater. It was pretty unimpressive - your typical episode of "Combat!" is better - but it was interesting to see for historical purposes.

--Brad Hundt

Lynn said...

Really have enjoyed the TriBeCa articles. Interesting to know what's going on behind the scenes. Look forward to reading more.

Alex Cline said...

Hey Dean!
Good meeting you today! Nice blog!
How was Empire II? I've never seen the original, but I love Konnisquiatsi (sp?) and I heard they're somewhat similar...