The Tribeca Film Festival has a challenge for New Yorkers.
“Think you’ve seen it all in New York?” reads this year’s motto. Unless you’ve already invested in festival tickets, there’s only one answer to that question: not a chance.
Formed in response to Sept. 11, 2001 to celebrate lower Manhattan’s enduring vitality, the Tribeca Film Festival has quickly become one of the most prominent in the world. This year’s opener, which premiered Wednesday, was Woody Allen’s new film with Larry David Whatever Works. Hailed as Allen’s first true homage to New York since Manhattan, it is only fitting that the film be shown first at Tribeca. Unfortunately, as a college student, such high-profile tickets are hard to attain.
Though the more commercial films are mostly sold out, there remain a multitude of options for students looking for a piece of this year’s festival, which runs through May 3rd. Eighty-five feature-length films—with enough variety to appeal to any student looking for a diversion from finals—are showing in a number of cinemas across the downtown area.
One of Tribeca’s most college-friendly series are the midnight showings, a set of especially scintillating or unique films geared towards the younger crowd. Among the most interesting is The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, a documentary that follows a West Virginia family who loves guns and drugs almost as much as tap dancing.
Horror movies are also a college favorite, and Tribeca does not disappoint: Cropsey follows two directors as they probe a little too deep into the urban myth of a real Staten Island “boogeyman” who allegedly kidnapped dozens of children.
Students attracted to art-house foreign affairs will want to check out The Fish Child and Original, both of which have garnered positive attention. The Fish Child is being touted as an Argentine version of Thelma and Louise with a twist. An upper class woman falls for her family’s beautiful maid and they run away together, providing plenty of surprises along the way.
Original, from Denmark, follows a stunted young man who finally tries to break free of his contained life and decides to move to Spain to open a restaurant. The title says it all—the trailer is hilarious and, well, original, as the man gets himself in complicated situations including steroids, his hospitalized mother, and an uber-feminist performance artist who performs at strip clubs.
Two very tantalizing documentaries offer an opportunity for music lovers to get in on the fun as well. Burning Down The House: the CBGB Story chronicles the legendary music club through the words of the legends who sang there. It’s a reminiscent look back at a loved music icon that closed its doors only two years ago.
Civil Rights professor would probably recommend Soundtrack to a Revolution. The film interweaves documentary footage and interviews with songs of the Civil Rights Movement sung by The Roots, Angie Stone, Wyclef Jean, and John Legend. As the tagline says, it is truly “the story of the movement, told through the music.”
Tribeca even has something to offer avid sports fans. Rudo Y Cursi is the first onscreen reunion of Y Tu Mama Tambien stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. This time, the two play a comedic duo of small town brothers recruited for rival soccer teams. Tribeca and ESPN are also hosting Spike Lee’s documentary Kobe Doin’ Work, which chronicles a day in the life of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.
For those not looking to spend money, Tribeca offers up its “drive-in” at the World Financial Center Plaza. They have a great outdoor lineup this year, and it’s not just for kids—the classic buddy Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid will play in a tribute to screenwriter William Goldman (and for all the TV nerds, West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin will be there to discuss the honoree).
But Tribeca is not just about screening films—a long list of panels and conversations will be held throughout the week. The Apple Store in SoHo is collaborating with the festival for discussions with a long list of filmmakers and actors, including Spike Lee, Natalie Portman, Kirby Dick, and Eric Bana.
Tickets might be hard to come by, and as in earlier years, Tribeca will offer tickets to downtown residents as well as American Express members before the general public. But Tribeca is actively working to make itself more accessible. They have incorporated a long list of free events into the festival, and rush tickets are available an hour before almost every show for those willing to wait.
The Tribeca Film Festival has a great reputation and this year’s films look as if they won’t disappoint. The festival’s diversity and variety are unrivaled by any of other festival in the city. It also lacks that air of pretentiousness that often accompanies film events—primarily because it is truly a festival for every New Yorker.
Having the city as Columbia’s playground is important for many reasons, including the opportunity to see great films. As exams are fast approaching, Tribeca offers not only a little relaxation, but also a selection of the best films from around the globe.
Tickets are $15 dollars in advance, and student prices are available before each film for $12 (rush lines form 60 minutes before each showing).
Look for reviews and interviews from the Tribeca Film Festival on Spectator’s A&E blog, The Spectacle.