Category Archives: Tribeca

Distributing Your Indie Film

In the past six years, I’ve helped with the distribution of two indie docs and one indie feature. Over the years, we’ve developed a set of practices and resources that might help other indie filmmakers. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing what I know to help other indie filmmakers!

Here is my point of view:

In the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, there were 4,057 feature films submitted for consideration and 8,161 short films. Of those 12,217 submissions, there were only 119 features and 66 shorts that were actually accepted. Of the accepted 119 features, 45 were eventually picked up for distribution. So, if you are one of the 2.9% chosen for Sundance, you have a 38% chance for successful distribution. (Entertainment Media Partners and Cultural Weekly)

Other film festivals have their own set of statistics. some are easier to get into, some have lower distribution success. Overall, for the indie filmmaker, a RESPECTED film festival is still the best route (use WITHOUTABOX.COM and Chris Gore’s film festival guide book to maximize your chance of success. If you are unsuccessful on the festival route, we’ll be covering these other avenues.

Theatrical Distribution
Producer’s Rep
IMDb Pro
Film Festival Exhibition and Sale
Without A Box
Press Kit
Promo Reel

International Distribution
http://www.americanfilmmarket.com/
IMDb Pro
Original deal is all you will get

Video on Demand (VOD)
Aggregators
Muso for Torrent Takedowns

Theater on Demand (TOD)
Gathr, Tugg, Eventful, OpenIndie, Four-walling

Direct to DVD/BluRay
VES for production
PreSales
Post Sales
Merchandise Incentive Sales
Shirts, Beanies, Hats, Swag

Ancillary Products
Soundtracks, Alternate Versions
TuneCore for Soundtrack Production

Social Media Marketing
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit
Wordpress Film Site
Promotional Items and Freebies
Wallpapers Stills

Financial Essentials
Authorize.Net for Order Processing and Banking
Formsite for Secure Ordering and Forms

Tribeca Film Festival Changes

The Seventh Tribeca Film Festival will be held April 23, 2008 to May 4, 2008 in New York City. I was excited to read that they’ve made some changes to improve the festival-goers experience. You may recall that last year we attended the festival and blogged about how challenging it was to get to everything.

TFF announced that it will make the 2008 Festival more accessible by creating dual Festival “hubs,” by offering special ticket packages and passes for the public, and featuring new ticket pricing. Tickets for the Festival will be $15.00 for evening and weekend screenings and $8.00 for daytime weekday and late night screenings. In addition, the Festival will offer a few select screenings with panel discussions for $25.00.

The Festival will centralize its screening, event and hospitality venues with lower Manhattan and the Union Square area serving as the Festival “hubs.” Lower Manhattan, the heart of the Festival, will host the Festival’s free public events, including the Tribeca Drive-In at the World Financial Center and the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair on Greenwich Street, as well as an array of screenings, panel discussions and gala premieres at BMCC TribecaPAC, Pace University and Tribeca Cinemas. Union Square will be home to three Festival multiplex theaters – AMC Village VII (11th Street and 3rd Avenue), AMC 19th St. (19th Street and Broadway) and City Cinemas Village East (12th Street and 2nd Avenue) as well as the Filmmaker Industry Press Lounge. These theaters will host premieres and screenings.

The Festival has created six new feature film ticket packages which offer a discount on tickets and allow consumers the ability to navigate the film slate by interest. In addition to the new packages, the Festival will again offer two advance ticket selection packages and an all access Festival pass.

Tribeca World Film Slate Announced

World Narrative Feature Competition

57,000 Kilometers Between Us (57000 km entre nous), directed by Delphine Kreuter, written by Mathieu Lis, Emmanuel Finkiel and Kreuter. (France) – North American Premiere. A provocative yet charming take on digital communication, this debut follows a teenager caught between her stepdad (who records and posts the family’s supposedly perfect life online), her real father (now a transsexual), and the refuge of her own online life as she searches for meaningful connections with others. French with English subtitles.

The Aquarium (Genenet al Asmak), directed by Yousry Nasrallah, written by Nasser Abdel-Rahman and Nasrallah. (Egypt, France, Germany) – North American Premiere. An anesthetist who listens to his patients mumbling under sedation and a late night talk show host (Hend Sabri) whose callers reveal secrets are the yearning principals of this intriguing new work, an ambitious examination of repression—both sexual and political—in Cairo today. Arabic with English subtitles.

Eden, directed by Declan Recks, written by Eugene O’Brien. (Ireland) – International Premiere. Taking a frank look at the slow disintegration of a marriage during the week before a couple’s 10th anniversary, Recks catapults an intimate story from O’Brien’s award-winning play onto the big screen while only enhancing its emotional impact.

Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), directed by Tomas Alfredson, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist. (Sweden) – North American Premiere. Based on Lindqvist’s best-selling novel, this beautifully touching tale tells of the first romance for bullied 12-year-old Oskar and the girl next door, Eli. . . who also happens to be a vampire. Swedish with English subtitles. A Magnet Release.

Lost•Indulgence, directed and written by Zhang Yibai. (China) – International Premiere. A visually stunning meditation on loss, Lost·Indulgence centers on the complicated relationships between a teenage son, his mother, and the secretive young woman they take into their home after a tragic accident. Mandarin with English subtitles.

Love, Pain and Vice Versa (Amor, dolor y viceversa), directed by Alfonso Pineda-Ulloa, written by Alex Marino. (Mexico) – World Premiere. This stirring and moody psychological thriller finds two strangers subconsciously linked when their recurring dreams begin to topple their reality. Featuring strong performances by the sizzling Bárbara Mori (La mujer de mi hermano) and Leonardo Sbaraglia (Intacto). Spanish with English subtitles. A Panamax Films Release.

My Marlon and Brando (Gitmek), directed and written by Hüseyin Karabey. (Turkey) – North American Premiere. They fell in love on a film set—but she’s a Turk living in Istanbul and he’s a Kurd living in Iraq, which US forces have just invaded. The lovers play themselves in this captivating, heartbreaking film, based on their own true story. English, Kurdish, Turkish with English subtitles.

Newcastle, directed and written by Dan Castle. (Australia) – World Premiere. Revolving around Jesse, a 17-year-old surfer who treads the line between success and self-destruction, Newcastle saturates the senses with magnificent surfing footage and absorbs viewers in the fresh loves and personal tragedies of Jesse and his mates.

Quiet Chaos (Caos calmo), directed by Antonello Grimaldi, written by Nanni Moretti, Laura Paolucci and Francesco Piccolo. (Italy) – North American Premiere. “How to grieve” is the unexpressed question faced by Pietro, a Rome television executive (Nanni Moretti), after his wife’s sudden death. This movingly understated film traces his spiritual rebirth. Italian with English subtitles.

Ramchand Pakistani, directed by Mehreen Jabbar, written by Mohammad Ahmed. (Pakistan) – World Premiere. Gorgeous colors enhance this tense tale, based on actual events, about a young Pakistani boy who, with his father, inadvertently crosses the border into India. Both wind up in jail for years, while mother (Nandita Das) is left bewildered and alone. Urdu with English subtitles.

Somers Town, directed by Shane Meadows, written by Paul Fraser. (UK) – North American Premiere. A charming comedy by Shane Meadows (This Is England) built around the unlikely friendship between Tomo, who’s turned 16 and fled to London from a difficult life in the Midlands, and Marek, a Polish immigrant who lives with his construction worker dad. English, Polish with English subtitles.

Trucker, directed and written by James Mottern. (USA) – World Premiere. Michelle Monaghan is riveting as a tough-talking, devil-may-care truck driver who is faced with raising her estranged 11-year-old son after his father (Benjamin Bratt) is hospitalized. This eloquent and uplifting story also features Joey Lauren Adams and Nathan Fillion (Waitress).

World Documentary Feature Competition

Baghdad High, directed by Ivan O’Mahoney and Laura Winter. (UK) – International Premiere. Four classmates (Kurd, Christian, Shiite, and Sunni/Shiite) in Baghdad are given cameras to document their last year in high school, resulting in a rare firsthand view of what it’s like growing up where sectarian violence rages right outside the classroom window. Arabic with English subtitles.

Donkey in Lahore, directed by Faramarz K-Rahber. (Australia) – North American Premiere. An unusual love story that follows the quixotic courtship of Brian, an ex-goth puppeteer from Australia, and Amber, the traditional Muslim girl he met and fell in love with in Pakistan. Can this unlikely couple survive the challenges they are about to face? English, Urdu, Arabic, Punjabi with English subtitles.

Guest of Cindy Sherman, directed by Paul H-O and Tom Donahue. (USA) – World Premiere. Analyzing his relationship with reclusive artist Cindy Sherman leads videographer Paul H-O to confront his own ego and identity in this personal and often humorous documentary, which features unprecedented access to Sherman and a unique view of the New York art world.

Kassim the Dream, directed by Kief Davidson. (USA) – World Premiere. Kassim “The Dream” Ouma went from Ugandan child soldier to world champion boxer. In this gripping tale of survival and determination, Kassim proves that even against all odds, a man can achieve his dreams and turn tragedy into inspiration. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

Milosevic on Trial (Slobodan Milosevic – Præsident under anklage), directed by Michael Christoffersen. (Denmark) – North American Premiere. Defending himself against widely credited charges of genocide before an international court in The Hague, Serbia’s former president proved frustratingly difficult to convict, as this riveting look at Milosevic and the chief prosecuting attorney attests. English, Albanian, Serbian with English subtitles.

My Life Inside (Mi vida dentro), directed by Lucía Gajá. (Mexico) – International Premiere. At 17, mild-mannered Rosa Jiménez came to the United States to provide a better life for her family back in Mexico. This riveting, heartbreaking film examines how she came to stand accused of murder in a Texas courtroom. English, Spanish with English subtitles.

Old Man Bebo, directed by Carlos Carcas. (Spain) – North American Premiere. Nearly 90, Bebo Valdes is one of the greatest living Cuban musicians. This joyful documentary celebrates the man who was a key figure in the development of mambo and whose life reflects the experiences of many Cubans since 1959. Spanish with English subtitles.

An Omar Broadway Film, directed by Omar Broadway and Douglas Tirola. (USA) – World Premiere. Using a contraband video camera inside the notorious gang unit at Newark’s Northern State Prison, incarcerated Bloods member Omar Broadway puts his life on the line to document guards’ corruption and excessive force. His groundbreaking footage exposes the violent and unseen world behind bars.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell, directed by Gini Reticker. (USA) – World Premiere. After more than a decade of civil wars leading to more than 250,000 deaths and one million refugees, a group of courageous women rose up to force peace on their shattered Liberia and propel to victory the first female head of state on the African continent.

Theater of War, directed by John Walter. (USA) – World Premiere. Art and politics converge in this provocative look at the life and ideas of Bertolt Brecht, interwoven with The Public Theater’s staging of his Mother Courage. Meryl Streep, Tony Kushner, Kevin Kline, and George C. Wolfe take audiences on an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at their creative process.

Two Mothers (Meine Mütter), directed by Rosa von Praunheim. (Germany) – North American Premiere. At age 58, award-winning filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim found out he was adopted. The search for his biological mother leads him—and the audience—on a dark and engrossing journey into a world of prison hospitals, the SS, and the Nazi occupation of Europe. English, German, Latvian with English subtitles.

War, Love, God & Madness, directed by Mohamed Al-Daradji. (UK, Iraq, Netherlands, Palestine, Sweden) – International Premiere. It’s no surprise that making a feature film in Iraq in 2003 wasn’t a picnic. But this extraordinary account of the peril-filled ordeal that the director and crew of Ahlaam went through must be seen to be believed. Arabic with English subtitles.

The Formula for Languishing in La Guardia

BY CYNDI GREENING, MANHATTAN, USA – Tribeca is done and I was prepared for the long journey back to Phoenix. I had never had any problems going in or out of La Guardia (this is my fourth trip in the last 18 months) so I was counting on a smooth trip. Granted, Pamela’s flight out on Wednesday was delayed four hours and she ended up missing any connection in Denver, but I was still optimistic. I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and was at the gate about an hour ahead of time. Our plane came in and then … we waited. And waited. And waited. Police officers came to our gate. Then, the Port Authority arrived. Our departure time kept getting pushed back. We were told that our plane was going through an “extensive security search” and there was no way of knowing when we’d be able to board. Finally, we were informed that the dangerous substance that was discovered and being investigated on the plane was … baby formula. That’s right. We sat on the ground for three hours because someone had left a baggie of baby formula behind. So, now, I’m enroute from Denver to Phoenix (flying time one hour and 34 minutes) to arrive home considerably behind schedule. Better safe than sorry, I guess but, heck, we were grounded by a bit of baby formula.

NYC in Bloom

BY CYNDI GREENING, MANHATTAN, USA – The week before Tribeca, New York experienced a week with an unusually heavy rainfall. There was a bit of rain at the beginning of the festival but, overall, the weather was quite nice. NYCinBloom.jpgThe benefit of the rain was that the entire city was in bloom. The cherry blossoms – both pink and white – were everywhere. The petals blew about like giant snowflakes. And there were tulips everywhere. Yellow ones, red ones, purple ones, orange ones. I felt like I was in Holland. This photo was taken on Park Avenue. Now I know why Park Place is the expensive property on Monopoly AND Eva Gabor sings about it on GREEN ACRES. (“I just adore a penthouse view. Darling, I love you but give me Park Avenue!) It is a beautiful stretch of the city.

Earlier in the week, on the way back from The Hamptons, we were travelling on the Long Island Expressway. One of my favorite films from a few years back was LIE (Long Island Expressway). It was about a kid whose mother had died on the LIE and the impact of that on his life. It starred the fabulously extraordinary Paul Dano (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE). I got to thinking about how differently a film occurs if one has actually spent time in the area. I saw THE BIG EASY differently after being in New Orleans. Every SEINFELD and LAW AND ORDER is different now that I’ve spent time in NYC. I understand LIE differently now that I’ve seen it in person. An interesting challenge for filmmakers.

Tribeca Winding Down

BY CYNDI GREENING, MANHATTAN, USA – Most of the winners have been announced, many of the filmmakers have gone, the lines are dissipating. The Tribeca Film Festival is winding down. NYCskyline.jpgNot surprising, the films that were recognized were serious in subject and tone. This is to be expected from a festival created in response to the terrorist attack. It’s interesting to note that the award-winning documentary film by Alex Gibney, TAXI TO THE DARKSIDE, was about a cabbie who was detained and died after sustained brutalization by the U.S. military. While DeNiro and Rosenthal were propelled to start a film festival. According to Gibney, the Bush Administration opted to legitimize abuse and torture as a result of the attack. At the end of the film, Gibney’s father (who had been a longtime military interrogator) laments what has become of his profession. It’s a powerful statement and explains Gibney’s interest in the subject. I recall Gibney from Sundance with his film, ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM.

Speaking of things that have changed since 9/11, we were told that they’re no longer doing tours of the Statue of the Liberty and have seriously restricted activities around Ellis Island and Liberty Island. We decided to catch the Staten Island Ferry so we could see Lady Liberty. LibertyLadies.jpgWe were on the southbound subway trying to figure out to get to Bowling Green. Kimani, a young woman helped us negotiate the trip. We got to chatting and she told us about her life on Staten Island. She attends high school in the city and hopes to go into fashion design. She talked about her Grandma Lisa (who is actually younger than I am). She ended up being on the same ferry with us. She told us about her friend, an actress who did several LAW AND ORDER episodes. She talked about an independent film she’d had an opportunity to be in. She told us about Snug Harbor and the Underground Railroad. It was a fun journey.

We stood outside on the deck to enjoy the wind and the view on the way to Staten Island AND on the way back. It got a bit brisk so we had to go inside for awhile. At the end, we went back outside and asked the ferry worker where the twin towers had been. “Ten blocks straight ahead,” he said. He pointed at the blank spot in the skyline. That’s why we ended up here in the first place, that gap in the skyline.

Tribeca Winners Announced

World Narrative Feature Competition

Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature

Film: My Father My Lord (Hofshat Kaits)
Director: David Volach
Prize: $50,000
Art Prize: Maternal Nocturne by Stephen Hannock

Sponsored by Amium

Best New Narrative Filmmaker

Film: Two Embraces (Dos Abrazos)
Director: Enrique Begne
Prize: $25,000
Art Prize: Reach, 2007 by Kiki Smith

Sponsored by American Express

Best Actor in a Narrative Feature

Actor: Lofti Ebdelli
Film: Making Of (Akher film)
Director: Nouri Bouzid
Prize: 2 Business Elite ticket vouchers for anywhere Delta
travels

Sponsored by Delta Air Lines

Best Actress in a Narrative Feature

Actress: Marina Hands
Film: Lady Chatterley
Director: Pascale Ferran
Prize: 2 Business Elite ticket vouchers for anywhere Delta
travels

Sponsored by Delta Air Lines

Best Screenplay

Film: Making Of (Akher film)
Screenwriter/Director: Nouri Bouzid
Prize: $15,000
Art Prize: Reel to Reel by Joel Perlman

Sponsored by Axium

Honorable Mention for Screenplay

Film: Lost in Beijing (Ping Guo)
Screenwriters: Li Yu, Fang Li
Director: Li Yu

Honorable Mention for Screenplay

Film: Half Moon (Niwemang)
Screenwriter/Director: Bahman Ghobadi

 

World Documentary Feature Competition

Best Documentary

Film: Taxi to the Darkside
Director: Alex Gibney
Prize: $25,000
Art Prize: S.P. II, 1997 by Chuck Close

Sponsored by Axium

Best New Documentary Filmmaker

Film: A Story of People in War & Peace
Director: Vardan Hovhannisyan
Prize: $25,000
Art Prize:Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, South Africa 1995 by
Bruce Weber

Sponsored by American Express

Special Jury Mention

Film: We Are Together (Thina Simunye)
Director: Paul Taylor

Short Film Competition, Narrative

Best Narrative Short

Film: The Last Dog in Rwanda (Den sista hunden i Rwanda)
Director: Jens Assur
Prize: $5,000
Art Prize: Double Reading #21 by Joseph Kosuth

Special Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short

Film: Super Powers
Directors: J. Mitchell Anderson, Jeremy Kipp Walker
Prize: $5,000

Prize Generously Donated by Todd Wagner of 2929 Entertainment

Student & Documentary Short Competition

Best Documentary Short

Film: A Son’s Sacrifice
Director: Yoni Brook
Prize: $5,000
Art Prize: Deb 2000 by Deborah Kass

Sponsored by Apple

Student Visionary Award

Film: Good Luck Nedim (Sretan Put Nedime)
Director: Marko Santic
Prize: Apple Mac Pro Desktop with a 23" Display and Final
Cut Studio 2
Art Prize: Untitled (4/6/06) by Carroll Dunham

Prize Generously Donated by the Barbara Gladstone Gallery

Student Visionary Award

Film: A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and The Warhol
Factory

Director: Lee Wang
Prize: Apple Mac Pro Desktop with a 23" Display and Final
Cut Studio 2

Sponsored by Apple

New York Competition

"NY Loves Film" – Documentary

Film: A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and The Warhol
Factory

Director: Esther Robinson
Prize: $5,000
Art Prize: Ivy with Marilyn, Boston by Nan Goldin

Sponsored by The New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Theater
Development

"Made In NY" – Narrative

Film: The Education of Charlie Banks
Director: Fred Durst
Prize: $5,000
Art Prize: Hurricane II Tribeca Film Festival Poster by
Clifford Ross

Sponsored by The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting

Special Jury Recognition

Film: The Killing of John Lennon
Director: Andrew Piddington
Art Prize: Hurricane II Tribeca Film Festival Poster by
Clifford Ross

Sponsored by The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting

CADILLAC AWARD

Film: TDB
Director: TDB
Prize: $25,000

TOWARDS DARKNESS Shines at Tribeca

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – Yesterday we went to the press conference for TOWARDS DARKNESS. Written and directed by Antonio Negret, it is the story about a disastrous Columbian kidnapping. While there have been several films about the rampant kidnappings in Latin America, this film is unique because Negret’s family has experienced the phenomenon firsthand. Rather than being an action film about the event, it is an exploration of the desperation faced by the family and the victim. Because of the strength of the script and, undoubtedly, the connections of Producer America Ferrera, Negret was able to get many talented actors to participate. tonyplana.jpgAmong them, the incendiary William Atherton (of DIE HARD fame), delicious David Sutcliffe (from HAPPY ENDINGS) and Tony Plana (as the earnest Della Serra in AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, officer Ray in LONE STAR and Martinez in PRIMAL FEAR).

Plana was eloquent and erudite during the conference. He’s the first actor I’ve known to make an argument FOR politics … politics of the people, of course. “If there is no political solution, the citizens are left in an existential hell. There is no future for the people,” said Plana, “And everybody is forced to sacrifice integrity for survival. They must destroy their enemies or be destroyed.” Plana voiced what Negret’s film reveals about the personal consequence of political impotence and antipathy.

In the film, while Jose, the victim, is physically bound, his mind is still free and he spends moments pondering his past while those who are physically free spend their moments paralyzed with fear and desperation. Negret said that he edited the film to show this contradiction. As more of the past is revealed, there is less and less time to handle the problem in the present so the cutting style is very aggressive. This viewer perceives the passage of time not as an opportunity for greater understanding but fewer choices. The film is worth seeing just for the editing.

alejandra.jpgOne of our most exciting discoveries at Tribeca is Colombian actress Alejandra Borrero. Borrero was luminous as the mother of Jose and wife of Tony. She plays the mother with both tenderness and fierceness, a mixture that Borrero feels is typically Colombian. “What I loved about the part of Jose’s mother is that it shows Columbian women being strong. They never know if their husbands will come home again. They never know if they will see their children again. Columbian women are always prepared for independence.” Alejandra admitted to succumbing to the fear and reality of living in Columbia. “I left and lived in a different country for a few years. I discovered I wasn’t happy. I missed my home. I am now living in Columbia. I do not want to live my life like that. I choose not to live my life like that. My country is really a beautiful place with kind people.”

The audience faces the reality of this situation in a shocking conclusion and discovers that we all have to choose every day to be strong and live and love like there is no tomorrow. Catch the film!

Where the Boys Are

BY CYNDI GREENING, MANHATTAN, USA – We’re happy to be in Tribeca because we get to see two of the FilmZambia crew members who now live and work in New York. They’re both in the film industry now and, like all beginning filmmakers, they’re struggling to make a civilized living and get the all important credits necessary to move upward and onward. guysNYCsubway.jpg They’ve been dutiful about showing us around and making sure we understand the subways. They’re veterans, of course. We newbies are just proud when we arrive at the place we expected.

FilmZambia cinematographer, editor and swing crew member Jacob Felix is working with Jonathan Demme, the director of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and PHILADELPHIA and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. He’s working as a personal assistant and learning a ton. He’s starting to read scripts for Demme, now. FilmZambia cinematographer and editor Alec Hart is working at Subvoyant, a post-production house on Broadway and Spring in Soho. I enjoy visiting them at work just to see what is going on.

I’ve only got three days left here in the city. Que lastima.

Blessing in Disguise

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – I woke up today and, like all days, checked my email. Being a member of the press covering the festival at Tribeca I receive numerous emails every day. Today was no exception. As a member of the press, my job is to attend the press conferences, the press screenings and the general audience screenings. All three have a different feel or nuance.

The press conferences allow the press to ask questions of the writers, actors, producers and directors. It can be a more intimate setting that allows you discuss the motivation of the actors and filmmakers. It can also be far less intimate because, at these conferences, the goal is to sell the film. The passion and commitment to the film can create a stir and, as press, we can influence the ultimate success of a film by the films we choose to cover.

The press screenings allow the press to view a movie without the distraction or influence of the paying audiences. The oddest thing is that press screenings at Tribeca are extremely small. Most are very poorly attended with just a handful of press present. While it encourages objectivity, it doesn’t do much to promote enthusiasm because the theater is so “dead.” At other festivals, the press screenings tend to be better attended. We have been at Tribeca press screenings with as few as four (4!) members of the press in a theater that holds 400.

The audience screenings are typically packed. You can feel the excitement and anticipation for the film. A lot of this excitement or lack thereof, has been created by what the press has written or not written about the film. The press can and does influence the interest and support of film. So you would think allowing the press to do their job would be a priority. (See Cyndi’s post about the value of the press from a distributor’s point of view for more on this.)

cgpjrisk.jpgToday our email from Tribeca informed the press of a new procedure to acquire tickets to an audience screening. So far we have been unable to even get into a single general audience screening. The new process is that we need to ask 24 hours prior to a screening for tickets. They let us know in the morning if we will be blessed with tickets. Oh boy. Since there wasn’t enough time to request tickets, we decided to play it safe and go to a press screening of a film we’d heard really good things about. (Sundance pal, Levi Elder, told us THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES was one of the best films he’d seen.) We can always get into press screenings so we decide “better safe than sorry.” At least we could be certain we’d have something to write about.

The screening was set for a new venue, the Clearview Chelsea West. Being a little tight for time, we hailed a cab headed north. We arrived with at least 15 minutes to spare. We were informed, however, for unknown reasons, that the film ad been removed from the list for press. We were curtly informed that it would not screen. Would have been nice to know. Could have saved 10 bucks on the taxi and slept in. But, then, a blessing in disguise, we wanted somewhere to sit so we went to the TOWARDS DARKNESS Press Conference (see blog entry) and talked with some very talented folks. It all turned out okay in the end.

Seeking Films at Tribeca

BY CYNDI GREENING, MANHATTAN – It’s Sunday in Manhattan. A beautiful, bright blue sky hangs above the skyline. Our frustration with getting into films has reached a boiling point so we decided to try to get into a Broadway show instead. Ironically, that seems easier than getting into a film at the festival. As we walked toward the theaters, we stumbled upon a seekingCyndi.jpg Sikh parade moving through Golda Meir Square. There was an undulating sea of orange scarves and a plethora of flowing saris. The chanting was haunting. Click on either image to see and hear twelve seconds of the parade. That’s right, twelve seconds. I didn’t have a video camera with me so this was all I could get with my digital still camera. You still get the gestalt of the moment.

We were able to get tickets to A CHORUS LINE Even though this is my fourth (!) trip to NYC, it was my first Broadway show. Pamela was quite determined to get to a show and I’m glad we decided to bag the movies and catch the live theater instead. seekingPamelaJo.jpg I’ve loved the music for A Chorus Line since it first debuted. Seeing it was even better! I’ve been singing or (mercifully) humming “I can do that” and “I hope I get it” all week. “What I did for love” is in my repetoire for melancholy moments … like those moments when we’re trying to get into Mary Stuart Masterson’s CAKE EATERS.

Unfortunately, much of the festival has been an exercise in frustration. We RSVP’d, as instructed. We arrived an hour early, as instructed. We got into the Badge holders line, as instructed. We got to the door of the theater and were turned away by a particularly brusque NY volunteer who told us she simply could not let us in. Hours and hours of frustration is what we experience. So, we went out to the press line to see if we could get a shot of MSM and cast and a pithy quote or two. A particularly brusque security guard tried to block our path then realized we were press and allowed us through. In the end, we saw Masterson. She appeared excited and anxious for the debut of her film … a film we never got to see. I hope it went well.

Frustration at Tribeca

Our experience at Tribeca has been, well, interesting. In fairness, the purpose of the festival is to promote business after 9-11. I suppose for the two weeks while the festival is going on there is an increase of traffic in the city. Mostly, I listened to New Yorkers greeting other New Yorkers who came out to see a film because they knew somebody connected to it.

Our experience was frustrating on many levels. Mostly because we came to see films not the long lines to get into the films and not the rude gate keepers taking coveted tickets. As press we have requested tickets to so many audience screenings, we have yet been able to attend a single screening where Q&A’s are the norm. We don’t know if they are occurring or what the audiences response to the movies are or what the writers, directors and actors have to say about their work. We can only provide information on a handful of films because we spent so much time in lines or on the subway trying to get to a different theaters or walking (and running) to films too many of which have been cancelled.

Granted this was our first Tribeca experience. Perhaps we made a mistake. We thought our job was to report on the films of Tribeca. Maybe it was really to report on the revitalization of New York. Our Tribeca experience in a nutshell? Cyndi asked me the other day what I wanted to see. My response? “I don’t want to go to a movie. I want to see something good!”

So, New York is exciting, amazing and fun. The people are busy living their lives. Business seems to be good everywhere we go. Mission accomplished. Good job Bob and Carol! Thanks for encouraging my colleague and me to come spend our money and our time in the Big Apple. Great way to get attention and coverage. New York was marvelous! Wish I could say the same about Tribeca.

What’s the Story at Tribeca

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK – Today we took the opportunity to watch three documentary films at a venue for the press. WILL EISNER, PORTRAIT OF A SEQUENTIAL ARTIST; TWO EMBRACES; BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH. We do like documentaries. We recognize how more people are beginning to appreciate them as well. We acknowledge that the public is becoming more sophisticated and more interested in these types of films.

You might wonder how a documentary on a man known for his contribution to the comic book world could reach a sophisticated audience but anyone who has been watching the evolution of the graphic novel craze knows that it does. eisner.jpgPORTRAIT addresses Eisner’s contribution not only to animation but to young animators. Many artists including Neil Gaiman expressed their awe for his talent and their appreciation for enlarging the comic book venue to the adult population with adult topics, concerns and opinions. Eisner’s work was revolutionary. It expanded to more than the typical superhero stories. Comics became political and relevant mainly because of Eisner’s insight and vision. Eisner died in January of 2005 but his work has enabled others to see a different possibilty and experiment with their own vision.

TWO EMBRACES (DOS ABRAZOS) is a movie from Mexico. Since I lived there for 17 years, I am always interested in movies from and about Mexico. This was actually two movies blended together by a shared moment. What I appreciated about these films is the subtle acting that occurred. When you live in Mexico you realize that children are taught to act at festivals and school plays and presentations with theater flair and overly dramatic preformances. Watch a novela and you will know what I mean. In TWO EMBRACES, the actors were subtle and thus more powerful.

As for BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH, we weren’t sure for quite some time if we were watching a feature or a documentary. We weren’t sure if the story was about the circus or the political situation or the social ramifications in Uzbekistan. There were some amazing shots and even some story lines I wish they had developed more, but mostly I wish they had chosen one of the story lines and developed it into a more thoroughly satisfying film.

After today’s viewings, we felt that there are some amazing stories that need to be told. More voices that need to be heard. The ability to create these beautiful shots should enhance the story. Today’s technology should enable the filmmaker to add more depth to their story, but first the story has to be clear and crisp and did I mention clear? We know we can do some amazing things with the software that is available to us. We must not forget that it begins with the story and it should be about the story and it should end with the feeling of experiencing an unforgettable the story. That’s the story for today’s slate of films.

Whining in the Rain at Tribeca

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN – MANHATTAN, NEW YORK – Today was a busy day! It was a beautiful rainy New York day. We won’t discuss what happens to my hair on rainy days. Not very relevant. So Cyndi decides to override my cheap ways and hails a cab! To tell you the truth, it would have been faster to walk to the subway. She was mad that I was up and ready to hit the road by 8 a.m. Some people are a tad temperamental in the morning!

So we get to the private screening facility to watch THE DEVIL RODE ON HORSEBACK This is a documentary based on Brian Seidle’s experience in Dafur. Brian was a retired soldier hired as a peace keeping observer (the entity that hired him was never really established). Using his camera, he was able to document the genocide that was occurring there in 2003 – 2005 (and continues to this day). This movie showed Brian witnessing the massacres and also his own self-revulsion at being unable to stop the murders that were occurring right in front of him. He was convinced that his photographs would provoke an immediate response from the world and, in particular, the U.S. government. Although his message is very clear, I felt the film would have been more affective as a narrative feature. I believe more people would have been reached and more would have reacted as Brian naively hoped.

I would like to address the whole Tribeca private screening experience. Apparently, in the past at Sundance, the press were allowed to check out movies to take home for private viewing (until last year when someone decided to copy them and distribute covertly). So, they discontinued that option. At Tribeca, they set up a little room with maybe 10 stations for press and industry to view films on a large flat panel display. We all wear earphones. These do enable you to hear your movie but they don’t quite mask the sound of everyone walking on the wooden floor above the screening room, people talking outside the screening room and even the noisy reactions of other screeners viewing other movies. The DVD of the movie we watched kept freezing and doing an unpleasant digital dissolution. Very annoying! Someone needs to resolve this issue.

tribecagirl.jpgAfter viewing this movie, we both needed to take a moment and absorb the information and the graphic images of the film. We walked, in the rain, to our next venue, a film workshop. This workshop discussed the different digital cameras and how they all are transferred to film. We were able to view short clips of current films (like CONTROL ROOM and IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS and JESUS CAMP) with details on the cameras and methods used by their filmmakers. We were really able see the benefits and shortcomings of different cameras and formats in the process of converting a film to (literal) film. This made me feel confident and relieved for our feature, which was shot on a Sony HD HVR-Z1U. The documentary, however, was made using four different cameras and four different formats. What a nightmare that puppy will be to blow up! OOOPS.

Afterwards, we went to a few of the press coverage screenings. Nice, but there are no Q&A’s. We hope tomorrow (when we see a movie with a festival audience) that there will be Q&A’s. We really enjoy the insight and understanding the Q&A’s provide regarding the filmmakers’ process and goals.

New York Minutes

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – On our first taxi ride in New York our cab driver tried to rip us off. I looked at the meter and saw $25.50. I asked if we could swipe our credit card. The swiper was right in front of me! Nope. Cash only. How much? $40.00 dollars. Huh? We let him know we might be from somewhere else, but we aren’t dolts! That same day another taxi driver took the long way around. It took 20 minutes to go 5 miles! I picked up on their tricks. Tonight we took a taxi. He tried the tricks. He asked if we wanted to go 6th ave or 10th. We told him whatever was fastest. He said you can never tell in New York City. I told him to drop us off right where we were. We were a block from our B&B. That will be $4.30. Now we are talking!

We have experienced some wild animals. They are called rats. So far we have met three. I wanted to take a picture of this rather large rodent, but they scurry around so fast!

wickedpJ.jpgTonight we rode the subway up to Broadway. I am getting really good at swiping my subway card. You would think I was a local. I am amazed at the night life of this town. Everyone is out walking around. Broadway was sooooo cool. We had a Mary Tyler Moment without the hat!

I love this town! I have not experienced the New York attitude except from people who aren’t really from New York! Funny how that is. After our cab situation, I was so disappointed that I put on my tough girl in your face don’t mess with me attitude. One of the reporters I met today asked how long I have lived in New York! Oh about 24 hours!

The subway has been another grand experience. We bought an unlimited 7 day pass. I can ride anywhere for 7 days! I would like to say it was a conscious choice to ride the “6” downtown, but it was an error made by my traveling companion. You should never trust those teacher types! So off we went, climbed up the stairs, crossed the street to get to the other side of the subway, down the stairs and here comes that lovely public transportation. We even heard a guitarist entertain us in the station. How cool is that?

I haven’t even mentioned the food yet. There are these cute little cafes everywhere! So much competition can be a good thing for the customers! We have tried Italian, American. I have been told the Mexican food is something to avoid. How can I live without salsa! Someone help. This is New York City. Get a rope! Tomorrow will be another grand adventure. Wait that would be today! What is the point of sleeping? It really does get in the way! I don’t want to waste my New York minute.

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