Tribeca 2017: Ten Notable Fest Selections

Featured Critic; New York City, New York

The Tribeca Film Festival returns for its 16th edition, running at various venues through April 30. As usual, it doesn't lack for boldface names and big events, opening with Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, a documentary about the legendary music mogul, accompanied with a concert featuring some of his discoveries, folks you may have heard of named Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Dionne Warwick, Earth Wind, and Fire, Barry Manilow, and Jennifer Hudson.

Closing out the festival on April 29 is a double feature of The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II, followed by a talk with principal creators Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and Talia Shire. A nostalgic vibe will also be stoked by a 25th anniversary screening of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, followed by a talk with Tarantino and select cast and crew.

Other buzzy titles include The Circle (with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson), The Dinner (with Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, and Rebecca Hall), Can't Stop, Wont Stop: The Bad Boy Story, a documentary on the influential hip-hop label led by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, also accompanied, like the Clive Davis doc, by a star-studded concert.

Also, other than feature films, television, virtual reality and interactive films, and many live talks are on offer, making for a well-rounded fest experience.

However, as usual for Tribeca, some of the better films can be found if you look past the paparazzi bait and the entertainment fluff-journalism-friendly fare. Below are some titles that are worth seeking out, and which may be a bit easier to get into than the ones highlighted above. These will afford you a fest experience much longer lasting than fleeting celebrity sightings.

For more information on these and other Tribeca offerings, and to purchase tickets, visit the festival's website.

MANIFESTO (Julian Rosefeldt)

Spotlight Narrative

There was a weekly feature here at Screen Anarchy, organized by the inimitable editor Ard Vijn, called "The Many Faces Of ...," quizzing readers about some of the roles played by that week's featured actor.

While such a quiz would cover years of an actor's career, Manifesto, an art film in the very literal sense featuring Cate Blanchett, one of the great actors of our time, could be called a "many faces" of Blanchett, all contained in a single feature. No surprise, she steps up to the plate in a major way, putting on full display her chameleonic talents of transformation, all the more impressive for being compressed in the way it is here.

Manifesto is the feature film adaptation of Rosefeldt's celebrated installation last year which played at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. Blanchett, in the guise of such personages as a homeless man, a stockbroker, a news anchor, a choreographer, a scientist, a puppeteer, a housewife, and others, acts out the text of various artist and political manifestos. Included are Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto, the manifestos of Dadaism, Futurism, Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism, Fluxus, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, Dogme 95, and many others. The artists and thinkers represented include Tristan Tzara, Guy Debord, Dziga Vertov, Andre Breton, Claes Oldenburg, Stan Brakhage, Jim Jarmusch, Lars von Trier, and many others.

The torrents of text spoken by Blanchett are embodied by her in various backgrounds - a news room, a Wall Street office, a laboratory, a news room, a classroom, a dance studio, a family dinner, a cocktail party - that form provocative contrasts to the idealistic, iconoclastic, and revolutionary statements foregrounded by Rosefeldt and Blanchett. It may seem like an impenetrably intellectual exercise, but Blanchett's prodigious talent and charisma make it not only accessible, but often quite playful and funny.

The feature film format somewhat constrains and streamlines what, in installation form, was more sonically and architecturally an immersive experience, with all 13 vignettes screening simultaneously in the Park Avenue Armory space. (The film crosscuts between the vignettes.) Also, other than Cate Blanchett superfans and art scholars, it's hard to tell what audience there'd be for this. However, for reasonably adventurous viewers, it's quite a rewarding experience.

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Tribeca 2017

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