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Here Is Your Tribeca Film Festival Super Mega Wrapup

Mala Mala (2014)

So here’s this documentary about Puerto-Rican trans women and drag queens. No, it’s not Paris is Burning (1990). That one came out years ago and was directed by Jennie Livingston. This is a new documentary, directed by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini.

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Mala Mala follows the lives of various trans women, drag queens, divas, and a woman who used to have gender dysphoria (These are important distinctions) as they try to live their lives in Puerto Rico. Mostly this consists of streetwalking and attending drag competitions. Later they form an organization and protest employment discrimination. And really, that’s it for the story. Most of the film is spent getting to know the divas/queens etc., and they are all genuine characters, secure in who they are.

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It might be a little churlish to criticize a movie that is so empowering for an embattled minority, but here goes: This is a good, but not great documentary. The directors are so intent on celebrating this community that they simply omit anything negative. We see one of the characters handing out condoms to streetwalkers, but we never get context as to why. Similarly, we never hear about hate crimes or other problems the women might have in Catholic Puerto Rico. The resulting film is a positive view, but it lacks any kind of drama or context. Not that the audience seemed to mind – it was received rapturously (Second Place Heineken Audience Favorite Documentary!). So maybe there is a market for an all feel-good documentary.

Night Moves (2014)

While we are on the subject of movies that leave things out, here is Kelly Reichardt’s latest, Night Moves. Jessie Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard play some EXTREME environmentalists in Oregon. The movie starts right in the middle, with no explanation of who the characters are or how they ended up where they did. Apparently ‘exposition’ is for Hollywood hacks.

Who am I and what am I doing here?

Jesse Eisenberg as Josh in NIGHT MOVES, directed by Kelly Reichardt.

Photo Credit: Tipping Point Productions
Courtesy of: Cinedigm

The movie, which (SPOILER ALERT) concerns an eco-terror plot, has the structure of a heist film, which at least provides suspense. Jesse Eisenberg is his usually twitchy self, Sarsgaard is awesome as a sort of gregarious eminence grise enviro-dude, and Dakota Fanning just about nails the rich kid/hippie chick role. The setting is also a winner – there’s a fascinating look at the crunchy organic farmer lifestyle in the background of this film.

Never get out of the boat

Dakota Fanning as Dena, Jesse Eisenberg as Josh, and Peter Sarsgaard as Harmon in NIGHT MOVES, directed by Kelly Reichardt.

Photo Credit: Tipping Point Productions
Courtesy of: Cinedigm

Big budget movies with voice-overs that explain every little thing can be annoying, but there is an opposite side of that spectrum, and that’s where Night Moves exists. Like Reichardt’s previous film, Meek’s Cutoff (2013), the audience starts out in mid-journey and never really finds out where it’s going.

Possibilia: Endless Paths for Interactive Filmmaking (2014)

This year the Tribeca Film Festival really pushed technology, with an Innovation Week, Future of Film Talks, and some jabber about ‘disruption’ and ‘transmedia.’ Storytelling is going to change! It’s all going to be about ‘storyscapes’ and ‘hacks’ and interactivity, man!

Your Happy Nice Time Reporter took the opportunity of Free for All Friday to check out what the future of storytelling looks like. A panel called Possibilia: Endless Paths for Interactive Filmmaking supplied the clues.

If you had guessed, based solely on the title of the event, that the future of film involves a “choose-your-own-adventure” story, pat yourself on the back now. The first ‘movie’ was a demonstration of The Gleam, which was basically a website about various people in Guntersville, AL. Created by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known cloyingly as THE DANIELS), and Billy Chew, it was a charming portrait of life in Nowheresville USA, but as technically exciting as a CD-ROM game from the nineties.

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Zoe Jarman, Daniel #1, Some Guy, Daniel #2, Billy Chew

Next up was Possibilia, starring Alex Karpovsky (RAY FROM GIRLS OMG) and Zoe Jarman from The Mindy Project. It was the same basic idea – you watch a couple breaking up, then you get to choose different possible views/storylines. All of the storylines that pop up in the menu remain throughout the movie, and the dialogue is synced between them, enabling the viewer to switch back and forth. It was all very well executed, and must have been hell to put together, but once again, it wasn’t much more innovative than hypertext. These guys have a deal going to develop stuff for Xbox, and if that ever comes out it will be interesting to experience, but in the meantime Your Happy Nice Time Reporter will stick to old-fashioned movies.

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Alex Karpovsky and Zoe Jarman

That’s it for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. We wish we had given a better review to Starred Up (2014), which was the first and probably best film we saw. We also wanted to give the Nepotism Award to Palo Alto (2013), directed by Gia Coppola and starring various Kilmers, Bogdanoviches, and Burstyns, but sadly we couldn’t get tickets. We couldn’t get press accreditation either, but that will change for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival – see you there!

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