If there is any reason to splurge on films, film festivals are it. Festivals are often singular experiences, showcasing movies that are great but not easy to find outside of the festival itself. If you don’t get to see them at that time, you may not get to see them at all. The Tribeca Film Festival offers top quality programming not just in film but also in supplemental events that increase the value of your film experience. These include panels about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the film industry as well as family friendly events such as the drive-in movies and a street fair, red carpet appearances by actors, directors, and producers. Listed below are my picks for films worth taking a look at:
KOBE DOIN’ WORK
If you are a fan of Kobe Bryant or a hardcore basketball fan, this is the film for you. It is directed by Spike Lee and stars Kobe Bryant as he watches footage of and comments on one of his own games played against the San Antonio Spurs. That is, it’s a play-by-play of his own thoughts and reactions to the game itself. Lee is present only as he asks Kobe a few questions in voice-over.
LOST SON OF HAVANA
A dream and a nightmare all in one. Luis Tiant came to the United States from Cuba in 1961 to play baseball as his father had done before him in the ’20s and ’30s. However, Castro’s regime came to power while Tiant was in the U.S. If he ever went back to Cuba, he wouldn’t be able to return to the United States. Tiant stayed and became a celebrated pitcher for teams such as the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees. The film charts his journey back to Cuba after 50 years in America. He finds family and old friends who, though happy to see him, still resent the fact that he was gone for so long.
This is a fabulous documentary that spans four years in the life of young rapper and star of PBS’ “Electric Company” P-Star. Her real name is Priscilla Diaz and it seems as if she was born with a larger-than-life presence, literally born to be a star. Raised in the Bronx by her single dad along with her sister, Solsky, P-Star is the reincarnation of all of her father’s dashed hopes and dreams of a career in the music business.
Can’t understand what the heck caused the economic meltdown that has ravaged the country for the past year? Check out this film that goes into the various factors that contributed the crisis and takes special care to focus on how African-American home-owners were targeted and disproportionately impacted. Informative and heartbreaking, it is a definite must-see.
Funny and sexy! This is one of the best salutes to the blaxploitation era ever made. Starring Michael Jai White, it features appearances from Tommy Davidson, Arsenio Hall, John Salley, Sally Richardson and more. Don’t be a sucka, go on down and make sure you catch this one. Ya dig?
THE FISH CHILD
This is like “Thelma and Louise” in South America. It is a coming-of-age love story wrapped up in class conflicts, family drama, violence and mystery.
Also a South American film, Garapa takes place in Brazil. The word means “sugar water” and that, sadly, is the bulk of what three poverty-ridden Brazilian families that the film follows feed their families with. This powerful film, directed by the amazingly talented Jose Padilha, illuminates modern day poverty with intelligence, empathy and brutal honesty.
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. A man ends up finding peace in a job he is so ashamed of having that he keeps the truth about it from his wife. Ironically though, it ends up being a source of healing for him, his wife, and others in his life.
OFF AND RUNNING
This movie will keep you scratching your head and asking questions for hours after. The story focuses on Avery, an African-American young woman who was adopted by a Jewish lesbian couple. To make things even more interesting, her older brother is an Ivy League-bound Obama-type mixed-race child and her younger brother is Korean. When asked how she feels about being Black, she answers honestly, “I don’t know what being Black means.” It is a simple, frustrating fact of her life. Gripping…
SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION
With performances from John Legend and will.i.am, Mary Mary and others intertwined with interview and file footage, this is a close look into the role of music in the Civil Rights Movement. There are also interviews with the people who knew Martin Luther King intimately who give us a peek into the more vulnerable side of the civil rights leader.
If you want to get a little experimental, go see this film. It is not shot like an ordinary narrative and there are only two characters. Other characters are seen only as background characters. However, you will be drawn in by the powerful relationship that develops in the most uncommon way between these two characters– an older man in South America and a young woman in Europe. Please check www. tribecafilm.com/festival or by telephone, toll free, at (866) 941-FEST (3378) for more details.