Volume 19 Issue 50 | April 27 - May 3, 2007

A Downtown Express Special Supplement

Tribeca Film Festival 2007

Courtesy Tribeca Film Festival

Around the world on Tribeca’s screens

By Rania Richardson

As U.S. distributors scale back on increasingly unprofitable foreign language releases, the festival circuit has become one of the few opportunities for audiences to view films from around the globe. A case in point is the Tribeca Film Festival, which is particularly committed to worldwide film culture. Each year, the Tribeca’s executive director, Peter Scarlet, and his staff of programmers continue their mission to hunt for quality films all over the world, with a non-stop schedule of travel and research.

The fruits of their labor is apparent, as roughly half of Tribeca’s 2007 lineup of 159 films come from the global marketplace. The foreign contingent is represented throughout the festival, including competition and family sections. But zero in on the festival’s Showcase Section, which highlights films played to acclaim in other international festivals, and you will increase your odds of seeing a superlative foreign film. This year’s eclectic mix — which features 14 films from eleven countries — was scouted in festivals from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires to Locarno, Switzerland, and includes filmmakers both seasoned and new. Several will be making their U.S. premiere.

The many intriguing fiction and non-fiction features span everything from an Iranian couple whose marriage is on the rocks, a middle-aged man who befriends a street urchin, and a deaf mute and two addicts who kidnap a billionaire’s dog. The tale of three women — a Croat, a Serb and a Bosnian — living in contemporary Zurich, and the antics of a grotesque lineage of Hungarian men round out the highlights, below. 
Fireworks Wednesday

Directed by Asghar Farhadi (Iran)

This Iranian urban drama follows the multifaceted relationships of contemporary residents in Tehran. One couple’s marital “fireworks” are set against the backdrop of firecrackers and sparklers marshaling in the Persian New Year, in the 2006 Chicago Film Festival’s Golden Hugo award winner.  The screenplay was co-written by director Asghar Farhadi and Mani Haghighi, director of “Men at Work” and “Abadan,” from the Tribeca Film Festival’s 2006 and 2004 lineups, respectively.
The Man from the Embassy

Directed by Dito Tsintsadze (Germany)

Burghart Klaussner (“The Edukators,” “Requiem”) gives an award-winning performance as a German bureaucrat in Tbilisi, Georgia, who befriends a 12-year-old street urchin in Dito Tsintsadze’s follow-up to “Gun Shy” (TFF 2004). The middle-aged man’s jealous lover, played by the director’s wife, suspects pedophilia in the unlikely relationship.  Georgia’s post-Soviet relationship with the West resonates in this story of cultural misunderstanding.

Directed by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern (France)

In this surreal comedy, a deaf mute and two drug addicts kidnap a tubby billionaire’s dog, but find themselves at her beck and call when the scheme goes wrong. Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern, the pair behind the deadpan absurdist road movie, “Aaltra” (TFF 2005), bring grotesque imagery to a film likened to those of Luis Buñuel. This 2006 Cannes Film Festival selection includes a number of cameos, including Claude Chabrol, in homage, as was the cameo of Aki Kaurismäki in “Aaltra.”

Directed by Andrea Staka (Switzerland, Germany)

In this film written and directed by newcomer Andrea Staka, three women from the former Yugoslavia — a Croat, a Serb, and a Bosnian — live with memories of war in contemporary Zurich. Based on the filmmaker’s own heritage, the story explores age, ethnicity and immigration. This Golden Leopard winner from the 2006 Locarno Film Festival stars Mirjana Karanovic, most recently seen in the powerful “Grbavica.” Distinguished Austrian filmmaker Barbara Albert collaborated on the script.


Directed by György Pálfi (Hungary, Austria, France)

György Pálfi follows his remarkable, dialogue-free “Hukkle” with another black comedy, this time a visceral history of three generations of Hungarian men. His sophomore effort is a symphony of disgusting images of body fluids and orifices, from an obese speed-eater to a fire-shooting penis. Action takes place from World War II to the Communist era to the present day.

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