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Tribeca 2010: That’s a Wrap

By Brian Whisenant
Special to Awards Daily

It’s hard for me to believe that the Tribeca Film Festival is over. Except for the fact that I slept 10 hours and my feet are still throbbing, my body feels as if it should still be in downtown NYC. But, the festivals never end. With the Nantucket Film Festival coming up next I’m sure I will be fine. (And to be honest, I’m dying to see “A Nightmare on Elm St.” and “Date Night.” PERFECT palate cleansers.)

I do feel the need to defend the festival a bit. I have read a few pieces this morning saying that Tribeca doesn’t have a voice. No clear mission. As I said in my original piece, I have always thought that Tribeca was a great showcase for documentaries and foreign films. And, what about the new NY Filmmaker category? I saw “The Arbor” which premiered at Tribeca and won the Best Documentary Filmmaker award. It was quite the original and exciting film.

Why can’t a film festival just show good and interesting movies? I’m sorry…but not everyone can make it to Sundance and Toronto. Why can’t they repeat from other festivals? The critics who complain about this have the luxury to attend every festival. The college student from NYU who BEGGED me to see “Killer Inside Me” simply couldn’t make the trip to Utah.

OK… enough defensiveness. I thought I might wrap up my coverage with a few quick thoughts about some films I saw that you might be interested in.

“Monica and David”

This is the film that beat out my favorite doc, “Budrus” for the World Documentary prize. Everything about this film is just fine. It follows Monica and David, an engaged couple who have Down’s Syndrome, during their first year of marriage. Although nothing is wrong with the filmmaking, it’s all about the subject matter. With HBO already attached (as they were with this year’s nominee, “Which Way Home”) could this be the first doc feature nominee that actually has a happy subject matter?

“Killer Inside Me”

OK…everyone is talking about the violence. And the critics are giving this film a hard time because it’s not as good as the book. I really enjoyed it (even though, with one more punch in either of the brutal attacks I might have lost my Chipotle). And I’m ready for critics to realize that a movie should be judged on its own merits. (Except for the Harry Potter movies. They are all perfect. PERFECT DAMMIT!)

“My Trip to Al-Qaeda”

The only Gibney film I actually saw. Every shot seemed perfect. The way he documented the play it was based on and Lawrence Wright’s (the author) journey seemed, on the surface, to be quite the achievement. But, I thought it had no real through line. The sum didn’t equal its parts for me. And ending with an anti-Bush segment seemed a bit…dare I say…manipulative.

“Please Give”

Can someone finally give Catherine Keener an Oscar? Being real and complicated is just as effective when you are playing an affluent New Yorker as it is when you are playing a drunk singer or a serial killer. Just saying.

And that’s a wrap. I have had a blast covering the fest and can’t wait to cover Nantucket for Awards Daily. “Toy Story 3” opens and “Nowhere Boy” closes! See you in June!