by Michael Lerman (May 3, 2007)
As TFF rolls on, Indian films got a break from Bollywood at MoMA while Keri Russel steps out for Adrienne Shelly's "Waitress." Also, 24/7 parties at Tribeca continue with the dancing resurrection of Gumby, and the festival gets a little ribbing from the Upright Citizens.
"India Now" at the MoMA
Last week saw the opening of MoMA's India Now film program, a survey of modern Indian art cinema. Far from the average Bollywood fare, India now features that other side of what the largest film industry in the world has to offer. Opening night was Rahul Dholakia's "Parzania", a gritty historical drama - powerful and graphic. Filmed in English and centering itself on the controversial story of a Hindu pogrom against Muslims in the Western Indian State that ended in over 1000 causalities. Belonging much more to the Paul Greengrass camp than the traditional song and dance, "Parzania" firmly plants "India Now"'s roots, proclaiming its independence from Bollywood once and for all. David Donihue, the writer of "Parzania" was in attendance, providing the audience with a heartfelt introduction. "This story changed my life," he said, "not just in the facts, but in the minutia as well." He wasn't kidding. Chalked full of important details that make the film come alive, "Parzania" is one of the most powerful and effective offerings to come out of India in years. Perhaps to a fault, even, since there were a few walkouts due to the intensity of the content. The festival continued through the weekend with a plethora of other Indian films including Kolkata's prolific auteur Buddhadev Dasgupta's fantastic new work, "Memories in the Mist".
Young Friends screen "Waitress"
Thursday night saw a special screening at the Walter Reed Theater of Adrienne Shelly's "Waitress" in Lincoln Center's Young Friends of Film program. A sweet, low-key romantic comedy about a small town dinner worker who discovers she's pregnant and quietly plans her escape from her abusive husband, "Waitress'" is indie darling Shelly's film tour de force, completed shortly before she was brutally and tragically murdered in her New York apartment last fall. The screening was accompanied by a Q & A from the film's star, the affable Keri Russel (better known as TV's "Felicity") along with first time producer Michael Roiff followed by a party at the Furman Gallery. Youth Friends of Film is a programmed designed to allow film buffs to mingle with both each other and the filmmakers present. Next month sees an archive screening of Zhang Yimou's classic "The Story of Qui Ju" with an appearance from Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker.
Partying at TFF
It's hard to ignore how much the Tribeca Film Festival has invaded the city this weekend. Featuring screenings in a large battery of theaters ranging from the bottom of Tribeca to Lincoln Square (and covering a couple of key locations on the east side as well), TFF has expanded their audience to the majority of Manhattan. And what's a major festival without major parties? Also on Thursday night, indieWIRE co-hosted a Filmmaker Party with Apple at their store in SoHo, featuring an engaging set from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air's DJ Jazzy Jeff and the dance stylings of Gumby, resurrected from the dead to go along with the remastered print of his new film. Other parties included a classy Renew Media soiree at the New York Academy of Art and Kodak's rip-roarin' romp at BLVD, along with celebrations for a majority of the feature films in the festival.
F@cking with TFF
The impact of Tribeca on the city has not gone unnoticed, so much so that a group of the countries best improv comedians gathered at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater Wednesday night to poke fun at the festival. The Un-sanctioned Tribeca Film Festival F@ck Around drew in a packed house as Seth Morris and Jackie Clark hosted a cast of imaginary and imitation industry professionals in a talk show format. Though the show had very little to do with TFF itself, it was nonetheless hilarious. Morris portrayed Paul Bogdonavich, an uproarious send-up of Peter Bogdonavich (though Paul claims "no relation"). David Cross as a disgruntled "marketer" and John Gemberling as a furious Harvey Weinstein - "The paper fucking towel machine wasn't working. I told that damn machine, you'll never work in this fucking bathroom again." Starting off strong, the show started to lose steam by the end of the night as two talking animals - including a rubber bat standing in for Vincent Gallo - voiced by an offstage actor were added into the mix and the comedy turned away from the framework of the Tribeca Film Festival (or even film at all) and to much discussion about dogs. All in all, though, the show was entertaining and rounded off a crazy film festival week in New York City quite nicely.
In Theaters This Week
"Waitress" (May 2), directed by Adrienne Shelly. Distributor: Fox Searchlight. Official website
"Away From Her" (May 4), directed by Sarah Polley. Distributor: Lionsgate. Official website
"L'Iceberg" (May 4), directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy. Distributor: First Run Releasing. Official website
"Civic Duty" (May 4), directed by Jeff Renfroe. Distributor: Freestyle Releasing. Official website
"Paris, je t'aime" (May 4), directed by Olivier Assayas, Frederic Auburtin, Emmanuel Benbihy, Gurinder Chadha, Sylvain Chomet, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Isabel Coixet, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Gerard Depardieu, Christopher Doyle, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Alexander Payne, Bruno Podalydes, Walter Salles, Oliver Schmitz, Nobuhiro Suwa, Daniela Thomas, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant. Distributor: First Look Studios. Official website
"The Flying Scotsman" (May 4), directed by Douglas MacKinnon. Distributor: The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company. Official website
( posted on May 3, 2007 at 08:38PM | filed under New York Weekly )