Five documentary features to catch at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival

The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival gets into full swing today with films playing across Lower Manhattan as well as online through both VOD and the Tribeca Online Film Festival.  Getting to be part of this festival becomes easier ever year, as the powers that be at TFF seem to truly want to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the great works the festival is showing this year.  Here are five documentary features I identified as films I was not going to miss at this year’s TFF.  There is a wide ranging grouping here, and this is not to endorse these over others necessarily, just five that I will make sure I see.  You can see the narrative features at this year’s TFF I identified here.

Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally" (1912) Image Courtesy of The Leopold Museum

“Portrait of Wally”:  Directed by Andrew Shea.  Written by David D’Arcy and Andrew Shea

During the rise of Nazi Germany, many of the great art collections and pieces in Europe were seized by Hitler’s regime, with most being taken back by the Allied forces, namely the United States, following Germany’s fall.  Unfortunately, many pieces ended up being given back to someone or an entity other than the rightful owner, as was the case for art collector Lea Bondi, whose Egon Schiele painting, “Portrait of Wally”, was given to the Austrian government and then on from there.  A detective story, wrapped in historical perspectives, and the journey to try and find justice make this film one I will be sure to see.  The film will be making its World Premiere at TFF on Saturday April 28th.

Don McLeroy in The Revisionaries Credit: Zac Sprague

“The Revisionaries”:  Directed by Scott Thurman.  Written by Jawad Metni and Scott Thurman

The fight over evolution and “creationism”, whether climate change is being affected by man or not, rages on, and the frontlines are in the deep south, especially Texas.  Leading the charge to change textbooks to include new ideas concerning not just science, but history, social studies, and other subjects is Evangelical Christian and Young Earth Creationist Don McLeroy, a dentist who will attempt to use the Texas Board of Education to bring his religious ideas into public school education.  As a political junkie and fighter myself, for reason that is, this is one I picked out right away as a film that was absolutely necessary to see, hopefully gaining a better understanding of the gravitational forces pulling the edges of this argument.  The film will be making its World Premiere at TFF on Friday April 20th.

Image from Broke Credit: Courtesy ESPN Films

“Broke”:  Directed and Written by Billy Corben

Coming from ESPN Films, which partners with TFF for the TFF/ESPN Sports Film Festival, this film will be of high quality, I assure you.  This partnership has allowed a flurry of great films over the past few years, including “Senna”, “Fire in Babylon”, and “Renée”, and one would suspect “Broke” will follow in that line.  Reexamining the stories of professional athletes who had it all, then managed to find a way to lose it, sometimes in heartbreaking fashion, but other times in a tragically unintelligent fashion, “Broke” brings into focus the stories behind such falls from financial success.  Anyone who has seen “The U”, which is from ESPN FIlms as well, about the University of Miami Hurricanes football factory, will certainly realize how good this film could be, as Billy Corben was also behind that masterpiece.  Don’t miss this one.  The film will be making its Work-In-Progress Premiere at TFF on Wednesday April 25th.

Keanu Reeves and Martin Scorsese in Side by Side Credit: Chris Cassidy

“Side by Side”:  Directed and Written by Chris Kenneally

As the world of filmmaking has been irrevocably transformed by the rise of digital technology, the real effects can be somewhat elusive.  Kenneally will attempt to unravel the conundrum, while also celebrating the power of movies in our culture.  He really got great access, interviewing filmmaking luminaries such as James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and  Andy and Lana Wachowski, among others, to probe the realities of making films today in a world where innovation happens almost instantaneously it seems, yet maintaining the artistic sensibility to make films people will enjoy.  The intrigue of how people who spent most of their filmmaking lives on old school film, transitioning to digital technologies is a fascinating subject and one any fan of film should find to be of interest.  The film makes its North American Premiere at TFF on Tuesday April 24th.

Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello performing "Immigraniada (We're Comin' Rougher)" in Antonino D'Ambrosio's film LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR. Credit: Antonino D'Ambrosio

“Let Fury Have The Hour”:  Directed and Written by Antonino D’Ambrosio

The 1980s saw a relentless imposition of reactionary cultural views by the government, which was overtaken by conservative, both fiscally and socially, lawmakers.  The response to this came from a place many would expect, the arts, and it has continued through today.  Using interviews and a variety of multimedia to tell the story, D’Ambrosio will hopefully allow audiences to experience these times in a different way, through the expressions of the artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, and others who helped shape the forces that fight oppressive and reactionary ideas then and now.  With our current political situation in this country, this film seems to be more relevant than perhaps even the filmmakers could have imagined when they began working on it.  The film will make its World Premiere at TFF on Saturday April 21st.

Get tickets now and don’t be discouraged if tickets say rush line status for any of the films you want to see.  Check out TFF’s policy regarding Rush Tickets.  Speaking from experience and having had friends also get in through rush lines, it can happen.  Just check out their instructions for the best chance.  If you are interested in following along with the coverage of the TFF or film festivals in the future, you can receive these articles directly as they are published by clicking on the “Subscribe” button at the top of this piece. You can also follow me on Twitter by searching for ericshlapack or by clicking the link below.

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