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Tribeca 2008: Discovery and Midnight sections

The second list of titles announced this week confirms the direction that Tribeca is taking with their 7th and future editions: new filmmakers. This year’s Discovery section (a mix of fiction and non-fiction) boosts exactly that and consists of 30 titles with 18 world premieres. Here is today’s press envoy.


The 27 Club, directed and written by Erica Dunton.  (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.  After the sudden loss of a bandmate, a distressed rock star hires a geeky grocery store clerk to drive him across the country. The vast American landscape—stunningly photographed—provides solace for this unlikely pair as they make their way to New York for the funeral.
Ball Don’t Lie, directed by Brin Hill, written by Matt de la Peña and Hill.  (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. An urban coming-of-age story that follows Sticky, a talented streetballer (Grayson Boucher) who overcomes his troubled past through his passion for the game. Based on the popular novel, Ball Don’t Lie features Ludacris, Rosanna Arquette, and Nick Cannon. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
Bitter & Twisted, directed and written by  Christopher Weekes.  (Australia) – World Premiere, Narrative.  This quirky, multidimensional drama of longing and loss starts with the death of a young man and flashes forward three years to assess the toll it took on his parents, brother, and ex-girlfriend. A vivid style and nuanced performances add unusual charm to this confident debut.
Charly, directed and written by Isild Le Besco.  (France) – North American Premiere, Narrative.    Fourteen-year-old Nicolas leaves the elderly couple he lives with and heads for the sea but crosses paths with Charly, a tough girl who takes him into her mobile home, where an unusual domestic arrangement evolves. As in her brilliant directorial debut 1/2 Price (TFF ’04), Le Besco movingly depicts a world without adults. French with English subtitles.
Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, directed by Dawn Logsdon, written by: Lolis Eric Elie.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Just outside the French Quarter of New Orleans is a lively, long-established neighborhood that most tourists never see. Enlightening and informative, Faubourg Tremé documents the enduring legacy of one of the country’s oldest African American communities. Executive produced by Stanley Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.
Fermat’s Room (La Habitación de Fermat), directed and written by: Luis Piedrahita and Rodrigo Sopeña.  (Spain) – North American Premiere, Narrative.  The walls are closing in—literally—on four brainiac mathematicians with shadowy pasts in this muchotense debut. A sexy virtuoso, a hardheaded hottie, a doleful drunk, and a middle-aged merrymaker have all been brought together by the mysterious Fermat to solve their most profound equation yet: Why is someone trying to kill them?
Fighter, directed and written by: Natasha Arthy.  (Denmark) – North American Premiere, Narrative.  This high-energy martial arts drama chronicles a driven high school student caught between the expectations of her traditional Turkish family and her kung fu dreams. With slickly choreographed fight scenes, Fighter is an empowering story that culminates with an emotional punch. Danish, Turkish with English subtitles. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
Fire Under the Snow, directed by: Makoto Sasa.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Tibetan monk Palden Gyatso spent 33 years being tortured and starved in Chinese prisons. He watched his nation ruined and his countrymen jailed or killed. Despite this, Gyatso remains unbroken, keeping the flame of his spirit ablaze. Tibetan with English subtitles.
Going On 13, directed and written by: Dawn Valadez and Kristy Guevara-Flanagan.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Ariana, Isha, Rose, and Esme are young girls who were followed for four years as they navigate the precarious path to womanhood and, in Valadez’ and Guevara-Flanagan’s expert hands, breathe new life into the coming-of-age story
Gotta Dance, directed by Dori Berinstein, written by Adam Zucker and Berinstein.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Festival vet Berinstein (ShowBusiness, TFF ’05) turns her camera on the amazing and inspirational story of the New Jersey NETSationals, the NBA’s first senior citizen hip-hop dance team. Against all odds, this energetic and dedicated group proves that even in their golden years, they’ve just Gotta Dance! Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
Head Wind (Baad – e – Daboor)
, directed and written by Mohammad Rasoulof.  (Iran) – North American Premiere, Documentary.  The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran does its best to restrict its citizens’ access to information and media from the rest of the world. This documentary by the award-winning director of Iron Island shows how Iranians demonstrate what we’d call “Yankee resourcefulness” to stymie their censors. Farsi with English subtitles.
Marina of the Zabbaleen, directed and written by Engi Wassef.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  In the sandy villages outside Cairo, the Zabbaleen eke out a living recycling the flood of waste pouring out of the most populous area on the African continent. But one girl—six-year-old free spirit Marina—dreams of a better life. This poetic documentary tells her story. Arabic with English subtitles.
Milky Way Liberation Front, directed and written by Yoon Seongho.  (South Korea) – North American Premiere, Narrative.  Writer’s block may be the least of rookie filmmaker Ryu Young Jae’s problems. His girlfriend ditched him, his first feature production is falling apart, and things are looking like they’ll only get worse in this absurd adventure from one of South Korea’s edgiest young filmmakers. Korean with English subtitles.
Paraiso Travel, directed and written by Simon Brand.  (USA) – International Premiere, Narrative.  In this recent hit at the Colombian box office, a lovesick young man (Aldemar Correa) follows his seductive girlfriend as they illegally travel from Medellín to New York. When they are separated in Queens, he begins a desperate search to find her. Featuring John Leguizamo and Ana de la Reguera (Nacho Libre). English, Spanish with English subtitles.
Playing for Change: Peace Through Music, directed by Jonathan Walls and Mark Johnson.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  True devotees of music’s uniting power, Johnson and Walls hauled recording equipment across four continents, capturing the unsung talents of street performers from Nepal to Argentina. The result is an inspired tribute to both music and the adventurous spirit. English, Spanish, Tibetan, Zulu with English subtitles.
A Powerful Noise, directed by Tom Cappello. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Bookended by call-to-action quotes from Margaret Mead and Mahatma Gandhi, this inspiring documentary follows three extraordinary women—in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mali, and Vietnam—as they lead day-to-day battles against ignorance, poverty, oppression, and ethnic strife. Bambara, Bosnian, Vietnamese with English subtitles.
Run For Your Life, directed by Judd Erlich.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Without one eccentric first-generation Jewish immigrant from Transylvania, the New York City Marathon simply wouldn’t exist. Ehrlich’s fun, loving, and inspirational tribute to the late Fred Lebow shows how one man’s imagination, determination, and love for running created one of the world’s most popular sporting events. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
Seven Days Sunday (Sieben Tage Sonntag), directed and written by Niels Laupert.  (Germany)  – North American Premiere, Narrative.  Teenage dropouts Adam and Tommek pass their days hanging out and drinking in their grim housing complex, but as grinding boredom combines with Adam’s need to prove himself and Tommek’s penchant for petty crime, the two make a bet that plunges them into shocking and sudden violence. Based on actual events. German with English subtitles.
Simple Things (Prostye veshchi), directed and written by Aleksei Popogrebsky.  (Russia) – North American Premiere, Narrative.  This artfully nuanced, occasionally playful story of an anesthetist, whose daughter runs away just as he hits a rough patch with his mistress and his wife announces that she’s unexpectedly pregnant, has been widely regarded as one of the best Russian films of the past year. Russian with English subtitles.
Sita Sings the Blues, directed and written by Nina Paley.  (USA) – North American Premiere, Narrative.  Using a variety of colorful animation techniques, writer-director Nina Paley wittily interweaves the story of Sita, the leading lady of the ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayana, with the story of a modern American woman struggling to keep her marriage afloat.
A Story of the Red Hills (Lal Pahare’r Katha), directed and written by Remo.  (India) – North American Premiere, Narrative.  The story of a disheartened dancer and a disabled boy—both of whose lives are transformed by the magic and power of Chhou, a traditional Bengali dance of great spectacle and color—is recounted movingly, if improbably, by a renowned Bollywood choreographer. Bengali with English subtitles.
Tennessee, directed by Aaron Woodley and written by Russell Schaumberg.  (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.  In this intimate road movie two brothers travel to the hometown they fled as teenagers to find their estranged father. When they are joined by a spirited woman (Mariah Carey) running from her abusive husband, they begin to grow closer, and the truth of their journey comes to light.
This Is Not a Robbery, directed and written by Lucas Jansen, Adam Kurland.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  One morning, J.L. “Red” Rountree woke, ate breakfast, went for a drive, and robbed a bank. He was 87. This is the unusual story of how this devoted family man and law-abiding senior citizen became one of the country’s most notorious serial bank robbers.
Under Our Skin, directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.Arguably the most overlooked and misdiagnosed ailment currently verging on epidemic throughout the United States, Lyme disease and the shocking controversies surrounding its identification and treatment are the focus of this provocative and often terrifying documentary.
Waiting For Hockney, directed by Julie Checkoway.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.At 38-years-old, aspiring artist Billy Pappas is the ultimate dreamer. Checkoway chronicles the 10 years Pappas spent meticulously drawing his masterpiece in his parents’ attic—and the success or failure he believes hinges on his ability to show his work to his idol, artist David Hockney.
War Child, directed by C. Karim Chrobog.  (USA) – North American Premiere, Documentary.   Emmanuel Jal spent his childhood as a soldier in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. Now this rising hip-hop star is using his music to raise awareness about his homeland’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. Dinka, English, Nuer with English subtitles.
The Wild Man of the Navidad, directed and written by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks.  (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.  Based on real-life journals, this intelligent retelling of an old urban legend, shot in a ’70s-style B movie aesthetic, focuses on a Texas community terrified by a mysterious creature inhabiting the nearby woods.
Worlds Apart (To Verdener), directed by: Niels Arden Oplev, written by: Steen Bille and Oplev.  (Denmark) – North American Premiere, Narrative.  The world of a dutiful daughter who’s a Jehovah’s Witness unravels when she falls for a nonbeliever. She is torn between her conscience, faith, and passion—and forced to make a choice between a love and a family that are worlds apart. Based on a true story. Danish with English subtitles.
Yonkers Joe, directed and written by Robert Celestino.  (USA) – World Premiere.  A small-time con man’s search for the perfect scam is disrupted by unexpected family challenges. This heartwarming drama features memorable performances by Chazz Palminteri and Christine Lahti.

Zoned In, directed by: Daniela Zanzotto.  (USA, UK) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Filmed over the course of nine years, this documentary traces the remarkable journey of 16-year-old Daniel from a Bronx high school to an Ivy League university while simultaneously exploring the role of race and class in the American education system.

The Auteur, directed and written by James Westby.  (USA) – World Premiere Narrative.  With a body of work that includes Five Easy Nieces and My Left Nut, Italian auteur Arturo Domingo is the foremost artist among pornographic filmmakers. In this hilarious spoof, Domingo hopes to revive his sagging career by reuniting with his former lead actor and making his greatest triumph yet.
The Cottage, directed and written by Paul Andrew Williams.  (UK) – International Premiere Narrative.  A kidnapping plot goes horribly awry when two brothers and their potty-mouthed hostage stumble into the wrong farmhouse in this gory horror-comedy.
Dying Breed, directed by Jody Dwyer, written by Michael Boughen, Rod Morris, and Dwyer.  (Australia) – World Premiere Narrative.  Inspired by the legends of a 19th-century cannibal and an extinct tiger, this brutal horror-thriller centers on four friends who find out that something—or someone—murderous lurks in the rain-slogged Australian bush.
From Within, directed by Phedon Papamichael, written by Brad Keene.  (USA) – World Premiere Narrative.  Evil comes from within in this smart, supernatural thriller, set in a small extremist evangelical town that is mysteriously afflicted with serial suicides. Up-and-coming cast includes Elizabeth Rice, Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Laura Allen (Dirt), and Rumer Willis.
Killer Movie, directed and written by Jeff Fisher.  (USA) – World Premiere Narrative.  A reality TV director copes with a spoiled celebutante and a show gone haywire when a masked killer starts bumping off the crew in this slasher-movie satire from a director who did time working on The Simple Life.
Sick Nurses (Suay Laak Sai), directed by Thospol Sirivivat and Piraphan Laoyont, written by Chanop Sirikamolmas, Buddhiporn Boossbarati,  Sirivivat, and Laoyont.  (Thailand) – New York Premiere Narrative.  A vengeful ghost forces a group of sexy organ-harvesting nurses to confront their own demons in this deliriously twisted and vibrantly designed Thai splatterfest. Thai with English subtitles. A Magnet Release

SqueezeBox!, directed by Zach Shaffer and Steve Saporito.  (USA) – World Premiere Documentary.  Like the weekly pansexual party it pays tribute to, SqueezeBox! immortalizes the no-holds-barred, anything-goes attitude that its denizens embodied. The legendary club where the Toilet Boys and Hedwig were born gets the ultimate rock-and-roll tribute where all are welcome.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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