Posted: 05/12/2005


Tribeca Film Festival – 2005

by Kate Bobby

My how you’ve grown!

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Now celebrating its fourth year, the Tribeca Film Festival, has evolved considerably from its first incarnation; four-days and about 100 films. Running from April 19 through May 1st, the 2005 festival will screen approximately 160 features and 97 short films, should you happen to have the time to count them all.

“The event has grown a lot, both in terms of stature and in terms of the number of films shown,” said Nancy Schaeffer who, as the Festival’s managing director and programmer, is one of three staffers in charge of screening every entry, selecting the slate and assembling the programs. And while Schaeffer’s job may sound like Nirvana or something awfully close to it, putting the festival together is a pedal-to-the-medal, year-round. It starts from scratch each summer and quickly gathers steam, kicking into high gear in February and reaching breakneck speed at about 11 a .m. yesterday.

“We’re hatching a million ideas for the next festival but we have to pull this one off first,” said Schaeffer with a laugh, recalling the first festival year in which she had just 60 days to assemble all programming. It was less than ideal but, as we know, she did it. Now, a year seems like just enough time. To give you an idea;, for the festival’s short film competition Schaeffer’s team sifted through 1700 entries to arrive at the 95 being shown.

“We show everything, right across the board,” said Schaeffer, avoiding the catch-all phrase, ‘Independent Film.’ (“I don’t think anyone knows what that phrase means anymore,” she jokes.) When speaking to the broad selection of films welcoming the work of both established and new filmmakers, Schaeffer simply asserts that, “The festival is about filmmakers. We definitely make careers here.”

The Festival has also, of course, met one of its other original goals; stimulating economic growth in the city. Conceived partly as a much-needed shot in the arm for downtown following 9/11, the festival’s goals have been met and then some. The first three festivals attracted close to one million visitors and generated $125 million. This year’s festival promises to be even bigger.

“New York is definitely back on its feet,” said Schaeffer, adding with a laugh that “Everything is booked solid; we are victims of our own success in a way,” said Schaeffer, referring to the crammed hotels and winnowing pool of sweet deals for the out-of-towners needing places to crash.

On another front, too, the festival has helped make New York City a filmmaker’s destination.

“This year we a number of films shot in New York, telling New York stories,” explained Schaeffer in reference to the festival’s ‘New York, New York’ programming; dedicated to 26 films shot in New York with an impressive 24 of them having world premieres through the festival.

The festival’s roomy programming categories allow plenty of elbow room to both established names and filmmakers of tomorrow competing to be heard today. Categories include; narrative and documentary film; the Spotlight series (for world and North American premiers) and the Special Screenings (strictly for New York premieres); the heralded short film competition; Showcase, (for films from various U.S. festivals receiving their New York premieres); New York, New York as mentioned; and slimmer categories worth the pit-stop, such as Midnight (films for night owls shown—you guessed it—at night.) Apart from its regular programming of new films, the Festival as before, also makes time for its Restored/Re-discovered films; this year there are five (including a German silent, vintage Blake Edwards, and an obscure and lovely group of 16 mm films made by New York teens and rescued by the Donnell Media Center at the New York Public Library.

Also as before, the festival creates plenty of programming exclusively dedicated to new talent. Wide Angle, for new filmmakers from around the world, features 25 films from new filmmakers grown locally and abroad. And, Tribeca All Access (TTA Connects) celebrating its second-year of recognizing U.S.-based filmmakers of color, is also welcoming the work of un-represented screenwriters for the first time this year.

“It just so happens that this year’s festival features two films that had their start through last year’s All Access competition,” said Schaeffer. “These filmmakers could have sent their entries elsewhere but they’re premiering their films through us and that makes us very proud, as you can imagine.

Also making a strong showing; the work of women. The festival features close to 30 films by women; an impressive number considering how the percentages play out in Hollywood.

“As in the industry, on the whole, there is still a question of access for women. It’s still harder for women to get films made,” Schaeffer attests, proud of the Festival’s continued role in changing the odds.

Then, of course, there’s the question of some advance buzz out there. Schaeffer isn’t quick to single out films for their buzz quotient but when pressed, she concedes that there a few films with strong word of mouth following. Among them: Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica featuring Felicity Huffman playing a pre-operative transsexual about to go under the knife (“in a performance people are definitely going to be talking about,”). Two other newsmakers: “Showbiz,” a cradle-to-Tony documentary about NY theater and the autobiographical, self-explanatory and comical, “I am a Sex Addict.”

And last but never least, the festival is not surprisingly packing a lot of star power. For people needing their Hollywood-fix, the Festival, of course, kicks off with the world premiere of Sydney Pollack’s The Interpreter. For names behind the camera you have New York premieres, North American premiers, and in many cases, world premieres for films by directors such as: Claire Denis (Moving Towards Mathilde) Volker Schlondorff (the Ninth Day); Sally Potter (Yes) Charles Dance (Ladies in Lavender); Peter Greenaway (the multi-part, The Tulse Luper Suitcases), Costa Gavras (The Ax) Rosanna Arquette (the documentary, All We are Saying); Michael Winterbottom’s explicit and sure-to-be-controversial Nine Songs) Wong Kar-Wai (1046); Griffin Dunne (Fierce People); Tickets, a collaborative effort from filmmakers Ken Loach, Abbas Kiarostami and Ermanno Olmi; as well as Steve Buscemi, sitting in as producer, on William Greaves’s film redux Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take Two and a Half.

In front of the camera, there are just as many stars, leading with Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn (The Interpreter.) They are joined by, in no particular order: Maggie Cheung, Donald Sutherland, Diane Lane, Maria Bello, Tony Goldwyn, David Arquette, John Savage, Celeste Holm, Ileana Douglas, Peter Falk, Paul Reiser, Natasha Richardson, the great Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench; Gong Li, Snoop Dogg, Tim Roth, Eric Roberts, Alan Cumming, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Parker Posey, Dylan McDermott, Nick Nolte, Elijah Wood, and, even Paris Hilton in House of Wax, which falls under the heading, “Something for Eveyrone.”

You’ll find many details, along with the festival’s heart-clutching itinerary at Also, below, you’ll find a breakdown of festival categories. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21

Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) co-founders Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal kicked off the day with a press conference, thanking and welcoming New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) which has donated $150,000 to the Tribeca Film Festival. The demands of office kept invitee Governor Pataki in Albany.

“Each year the festival gets better and better and I hope it lasts a long time,” a down-to-business DeNiro told the media-packed conference, thanking Bloomberg and the city for helping make the festival and Tribeca “synonymous with creativity.” A loquacious Bloomberg meanwhile reveled in the festival’s glamour.

“Within 24 hours I’ve been introduced by Elizabeth Hurley and Robert DeNiro. There are exciting things about being the mayor,” Bloomberg quipped, then waxed proud about the festival’s role in rejuvenating downtown following the Sept. 11th World Trade Center attack.

“This festival came along when the city really needed it,” the mayor said, crediting the festival for generating approximately $125 million in revenue for the city attracting more business to New York’s motion picture industry, which hires an estimated 100,000 people. Gargano then took the mic, praising the governor’s office for the Empire State Film Production Credit for creating approximately 5000 new jobs for New York’s entertainment industry as well as work for countless extras. The tax credits were also praised for attracting a total of 30 new projects to the city, “24 of which wouldn’t be here if not for the [tax credit] program.” ( The combined budget of the 24 projects; an estimated $400 million.)

Peter Scarlet, executive director of the TFF praised this year’s international bumper crop; 45 films from different countries scattered across six continents. Scarlet, who spends much of each year traveling the world looking for films, also saluted DeNiro and Rosenthal’s role in launching brand new careers through the festival.

“Over half of the films shown are made by first or second-time filmmakers,” beamed Scarlet, adding that the festival also plans to step-up its role in helping films make the crossing from festival fare to broad theatrical release.

Jonathan Hock, Emmy award winning producer and director, also took to the stage to thank DeNiro and Rosenthal for their support. Hock’s documentary, ‘Through the Fire” about a New York City basketball wunderkind, Sebastian Telfand, aired the same day.


Transamerica: (Duncan Tucker, writer/ director) There is a lot to be said for prime time network television. Without shows like Desperate Housewives, the talented Felicity Huffman might not have been able to underwrite her brilliant performance in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica, which gives the classic ‘road movie’ a few, new hairpin turns.

As Stanley, a pre-operative transsexual, Huffman plays a man whose impending sex change operation is threatened by the unexpected and unwanted arrival of a teenage son Stanley never knew he had. Let’s put it this way; you won’t hear Deborah Kerr singing, ‘Getting to Know You’ in the background. Nuanced performances all around make this a memorable journey.

The F Word: This slightly overlong but nonetheless engaging feature from director and screenwriter Jed Weintrob enacts a ‘What If’ scenario on the streets of Manhattan. On the eve of the Republican National Convention, Weintrob hosts the last broadcast of a left-leaning radio station about to be shut down by the FCC. Weintrob, wanting to go out with a big bang, takes to the city streets, capturing protests of the convention that were largely ignored by mainstream media. Check your party affiliations at the door; Weintrob says a mouthful about the future of the First Amendment.

Modify: Directors and screenwriters, Greg Jacobson and Jason Gary take you on a stomach-lurching tour of America’s love affair with the flesh and bone borders of body modification. If you bring a strong stomach and an open mind, you might well regard this as one of the most interesting films of the festival. I myself couldn’t help loving this weird little number.

Through the Fire Emmy-award winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock spent a year with Sebastian Telfair, a kid from the Coney Island projects with a dream and the will to carry it out. It raises interesting questions and it doesn’t insult you by trying to answer them all. Telfair, also, is a winning subject; his family, too, could melt the coolest hearts.

It’s faults: Hock’s film doesn’t look his feel-good, Against All Odds tale as squarely in the eye as you’d like him to.

Bowery Dish: Kevin Frech steals a last thoughtful look at the Bowery’s disappearing disenfranchised. Where do they go? Frech isn’t afraid to answer the question yet he stops short of preaching about the ‘evils’ of gentrification. The transformation of the Bowery is viewed more with a sort of ironic detachment that says as much about New York as the film itself does.

Infection We’ve come a long way from Godzilla. Directed and written by Masayuki Ochiai, this latest Japanese horror import has plenty of arresting moments, strong aesthetics and a sense of fun. Ochiai knows horror fans are kids are heart after some serious fun. He delivers. I’d be very surprised if this isn’t picked up. We can be enjoying Ochiai while America is re-learning how to make horror films.

Premonition Directed and co-written by Norio Tsuruta (with some screenplay help from Noboru Takagi), Premonition takes on the feel of graphic novel and unabashedly courts its audience. But, that’s okay. Premonition, like Infection, knows what it is, makes the most of it and then takes one large and a seriously eerie step above it. Despite what you might say to your friends in the lobby, this film will creep under your skin and stay there. By no means perfect, devotees of horror will nonetheless be pleased.

I am a Sex Addict Caveh Zahedi directed and starred in this extremely rewarding comedy that seeks no one’s approval but gets it anyway. When you see a comedy that is truly laugh-out-loud fresh and funny, it’s such an utter shock. Where has Zahedi been our whole lives and let’s pray he’s out there making his next movie. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it, and this guy has got it.

The Sisters Okay, so the purists might be pissed but it’s a great day for populists. This new look at Checkov’s Sisters will introduce a new generation of people to the story and may well inspire a few people to crack open the original, if they haven’t already done so. And, isn’t that really part of the point? Not everyone hits the high notes but Maria Bello and Mary Stuart Masterson are superb. Also, hats off to Will & Grace star, Eric McCormack, who truly relishes his Big Screen departure from Sitcom City.

Fierce People Oh, those wacky rich folks are at it again! Is this the 1930s? I half expected Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn to show up with a tiger. In addition to the fact that, for most of us, America is a party we’re not invited to, this look at how ‘the other half’ lives (i.e., the rich half), seems to be insulting our intelligence in many of the expected ways (poorer people are noble and honest; some rich are people too but lots of them are deviant bastards). But, the good news is that’s the surface read. Underneath the epidermis, director Griffin Dunne is toying with our expectations. In truth, he recognizes the fact that the people who will be attracted to his film are, for the most part, intelligent. In truth, therefore, he got a lot done under the radar. This makes it worth the trip somehow; this, plus another superb performance by Diane Lane. A truly quirky movie.

Sound Barrier Filmmaker Amir Naderi is a bit of conceptual artist as well as a filmmaker. Think: On Kawara, Paul McCarthy, think Agnes Varda and Marguerite Duras. By no means think that this is a straightforward narrative film. If you surrender yourself fully, however, it’s a fearless and exceptional experience.

Prostitution Behind the Veil At great risk to herself, Iranian filmmaker Nahid Persson returned to her homeland to secretly document the harrowing lives of two ‘beneficiaries’ of the Iranian Revolution. With this important documentary, Persson underscores a sharp and uncomfortable message; if you are an educated and free woman, Fate dealt you those cards and you’re the luckier for it. On the flip side; if films like this can be made and shown, the true suffering of its subjects is not in vain.

The Devil’s Miner Directors Kief and Richard Lakhani document the lives of fatherless Bolivian children forced to work in deadly mines in order to survive. Simultaneously, the film explores concurrent themes of religious belief, superstition, and that true opiate of the masses—hope. It’s an unforgettable journey.

Life on the Ledge Director and screenwriter Lewis Helfer’s film is by turns fun and achingly self-aware. There are also far too many winks in Woody Allen’s direction, too1; Allen’s spirit has practically been channeled here, complete with candles and a Ouija board. Still, Helfer has talent and will likely locate his own voice soon. By the way; great must-see acting by Tovah Feldshuh and Mark Blum.

Hooligans A look at the European football scene which is at best, fun and raucous, and at worst, lethal. German filmmaker Lexi Alexander, the younger sister of a football fanatic, grew up around the scene and enjoys telling it like it is. This is a slice of life you wouldn’t otherwise get to see and therefore worth the price of admission. It is also realistically violent. You’ve been warned.

Dialogue From The Festival…

Here’s the thing about the Tribeca Film Festival; there are almost too many things to see and do, even for New York. If you’re in one place, watching one film and talking to one set of stars, you can guarantee you’re missing more big news just a few feet. That said, there’s only one antidote: to keep on the move.


A gorgeous and gracious Maria Bello (The Cooler) paused on the red carpet to talk about her wonderful performance in Arthur Allan Seidelman’s re-telling of Checkov’s The Sisters.

“I play the sister who is very neurotic, very funny. It’s a fabulous role and I always wanted to play this character” said Bello, adding that she’d once auditioned for the part in a New York stage production —and didn’t get it. “So, yes there is definitely something wonderful about getting to play her on film. It was a fabulous experience.”

Not surprisingly, the talented actress has a busy year ahead of her, and more than one film coming out this year, including a dark drama co-starring Ed Harris. Besides doing work she loves, Bello also clears room for her favorite role of all; that of mother.

“I’m in love,” she beams, talking about her number one pastime; spending time with her three-year old.

Equally excited to be co-starring in The Sisters, is Eric McCormack, who surprises with his fierce turn as the dangerously lovelorn suitor of Checkov’s youngest Sister.

“I get to play an utterly sarcastic bastard and I loved every minute of it,” joked McCormack, who will certainly astound Will & Grace fans with this performance, an absolute 180-degree departure from his character on the hit sitcom.

“The decision to do The Sisters was easy; it is one of my favorite plays,” added McCormack who is—it’s all true—even better looking in person, if that’s possible. Leaving a trail of collapsed female fans in his wake, the super low-key charmer added that he, like Bello, tried out for a role in a stage production of the Sisters a few years ago but he did land a part. “So, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this project. And to play such a total jerk. I had a fantastic time.”

Holed up for weeks with the Sisters cast in Eugene, Oregon also bred lifelong friendships among the cast which includes: Mary Stuart Masterson (who’s been away from the Big Screen for far too long), the always dependable Rip Torn; as well as

Erika Christensen, who first grabbed our attention in Traffic and is now currently onscreen in the critically-praised The Upside of Anger with Kevin Costner and Joan Allen.


“When I stepped back and saw the film, it made me realize all over again how glad I am to be out of that life,” said Kurtis Blow, the music legend who, before making his name in music was making his name on the streets as the member of a notorious New York gang.

Years later, as a producer on Tommy Sowards and Joachim Schroeder’s phenomenal documentary, “Slippin’—- Ten Years with the Bloods ” Blow put his hard-earned experience to particularly constructive use.

“I think if kids see this they will not mistake the film as being anything but a deterrent from joining a gang,” said Blow, explaining involvement in the film to a packed-house of New York filmgoers at Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick. Fielding one question after another at a lively Q & A, the two directors joined the hip hop pioneer to talk about the 10 years spent tracking a group of gang members from one of L.A.s most notorious gangs.

“You had to have a sense of when there was a change in atmosphere,” said Sowards, recalling how he had to considerably sharpen self-preservation instincts when running alongside the gang. “At times, when the mood would turn, you sort of learned when to step outside and get out of there. I’d usually tell them (the gang members), ‘I have to go outside to set up an establishing shot.’

The considerable buzz on this documentary was more than backed up by the applause and the attendance it received. When asked whether they would censor the raw story to have it shown commercially, director Sowards simply smiled and said, ‘Now what would be the point in that?”


While growing up in Thailand, the filmmakers Parkpoomk Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakun would regularly turn into a popular radio program about the spirit world.

“All these people would talk about dead family members trying to make contact with them,” said Wongpoom, co-creator of Shutter, a true Festival find for horror film fans.

Aside from worshipping Stanley Kubrick, the two men, very much under 30, also earned their chops in commercial advertising, which helps explain Shutter’s highly-polished look.

Filling a Regal Cinema movie theater at midnight, on an unseasonably cold April evening, the two Thai filmmakers discussed (through an interpreter) future plans with their new American fanbase who asked the two for autographs.

“Oh yes, we plan to make another horror film together,” said Pisanthankakum, putting their terrified audience at ease.


“Okay, you can throw things at me after you see the film,” quipped Hooligans’ director Lexi Alexander, striking comparisons between her boisterous New York audience and the renowned raucousness of the European football fans at the heart of Alexander’s feature film.

Alexander told appreciative filmgoers at a post-screening Q & A that her fascination with the subculture took root when she was an eight-year old girl tagging along with her big brother and his football friends in Germany.

“I think I was the first girl ever to be part of a firm in Germany,” said Alexander, explaining that to the European football firms (highly organized and polarized fans of given teams), football is a way of life as well as a sport. She also touched upon the controversy sparked by the violence of her feature film.

“Anyone who really sees it can see I am not glorifying violence,” attested Alexander, whose received an equal share of rave reviews and admonishments.

“Football violence, sports violence [among fans] occurs all over the world, ” she added. “I want fathers to see this film with their sons. I would like them to realize it’s time to start spending more time with their families. A lot of the boys [who join firms] look to the firms to provide something missing from the home life.”


William Greaves, director of Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take Two and a Half , credited indie kings Steven Buscemi and Steven Sodbergh for helping change one of the Festival’s most unique films from a dream into reality.

“They really gave me a lot of support,” said Greaves, who credits both men for helping him finish a film it took more 35 years to complete. Fused together from two films—footage shot in 1968 and footage shot two years ago…Symbiopsychotaxiplasm tracks the love story of a married couple, played by the same actors now and then. Also a featured cast member: Central Park, then and now.

“I was either naïve and perhaps a little crazy,” said Greaves about having saved hours of unused footage from Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One , schlepping it here and there across time in the hopes of one day using it. Today, the results, Take Two, has everyone talking. Indeed, it made more than one list of critics’ Festival picks.


Desperate Housewives’ star Teri Hatcher, dropped in on the Tribeca Film Festival, taking a moment to say hi and deny those rumors about behind-the-scenes bickering on her hit TV show.

“It’s all untrue. I talked to Marcia today. I talked to Felicity today. Everyone is good. Everyone is happy.”

Hatcher, looking radiant in Dior, was on hand at the Tribeca Grand Hotel for the festival’s Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Awards ceremony recognizing new filmmakers of color. Hatcher, looking radiant in Dior, was heading for the Playboy-sponsored soiree but a moment or two more to also comment on radical dieting and exercise regimens; she is not a fan nor does she need to be.

“I’m moderate [about diet and exercise]. I’m pretty easy about it. Plus, my mother gave me good genetics,” attested Hatcher who also took the time out to share one of her secret fears with Page Six; she won’t shop online.

“I’m one of those people that… I guess I’m too uptight about credit cards and what you hear. Even though they say it’s safe, I don’t understand it,” said Hatcher, dropping yet another bomb. “Plus I hate shopping anyway. I don’t shop period. I don’t go to the store and I don’t shop online.

Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Awards

Three up and coming industry festival competitors took home the top prizes at the second annual Tribeca All Access (TAA) Creative Promise Awards Show held last night at the Tribeca Grand.

Dennis Lee, won the narrative section prize for his screenplay, The Life and Times of H.J. Hermin, which is set to direct. Usama Alshaibi won the documentary section prize for his documentary proposal Ice Bombs. And, Mario de la Vega won the screenplay section prize for his screenplay, “The Undeniable Charm of Sloppy Unruh”

“It’s a big thrill to be even be here at Tribeca, let alone win” said de la Vega, a Columbia University film school graduate who is prior Spirit Award nominee for an earlier film, Robbing Peter. Lee, too, has previously made a film (a short, entitled Jesus Henry Christ.) The three winners were three of 350 original entrants in the festival.

The TAA Creative Promise awards $10,000 for the top narrative and documentary projects from new directors of color. This year, too, for the first time, the Festival organizers also handed out a $5000 prize to the top screenplay. All of the participating competitors are seeking funding for scripts or documentary proposals.

Jurors for the narrative and screenplay categories included director Antoine Fugua; actress Rosie Perez; actress and director Lisa Gay Hamilton; Guillermo Arriaga, the screenwriter on Amores Perros and 21 Grams; and actor B.D. Wong (Law & Order, M Butterfly, Seven Years in Tibet). Jurors for the documentary category included Sehila Nevins, president of documentary and family programming for HBO; Warrington Hudlin, producer of House Party; documentary director, St. Clair Bourne and the poet and musician John Trudell. Also spotted in the crowd: Housewives star Teri Hatcher along with Bai Ling, Jeffrey Wright; and Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

This year, filmmaker Natalia Almada, winner of the 2004 TAA Connects Award, completed her film, Al Otro Lado and entered in this year’s festival. Tribeca All Access

Connects also included its second Signature Series, a forum for established directors of color. This year’s participants included TAA juror Bourne and Barbara Wong, a New York—based director whose latest film conquered Hong Kong’s box office.

More of Kate’s Festival Picks…

The Axe Based on the book by Donald Westlake, The Axe tells the story of Bruno Davert; a company man, a family man, and following two years of unemployment, a dangerous man. Actor Jose Garcia gives a masterful performance as Davert, a post-modern hero (or antihero, if that makes you more comfortable), who decides to take matters very much into his own hands. Again and again. Director Costa-Gavras achieves the perfect balance: part social commentary; part piercing character study; and consistently, an unflinching pitch-black comedy.

Iowa Schools should toss out those anti-drug pamphlets and just leave a few copies of Iowa lying around. Director, screenwriter and lead actor Matt Farnsworth follows crystal meth as it ravages America’s Heartland. It has a similar impact to that of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream; you know nothing good is going to happen and yet you can’t take your eyes of the screen. It is also filled with virtuoso camera work and a hypnotic sountrack that positively mesmerizes. This simply has to be heading to a movie theater near you.

Bittersweet Place This film made a lot of must-see lists and you’ll know why. Not a single false word is spoken in director and co-screenwriter Alexandra Brodksy’s funny and moving film. The result is that you feel as if you’re sitting in the corner of someone’s house; an interesting house, though. After all, Seymour Cassel plays the dad. Brodksy never forgets follows the filmmaker’s credo; first, entertain.

Laura Smiles We all know a few perky blondes wearing twin-sets and pearls in the suburbs. And, hey every once in a while, you get a bad batch. But, no fear, Laura Smiles isn’t a Stepford Wives redo. It’s much more disturbing than that because you like Laura and care about what happens to her. Kudos to filmmaker Jason Ruscio and the actress Petra Wright.

Red Doors Toss everything in a pot and you usually end up with something yummy. With Red Doors, the talented screenwriter and director Georgia Lee cast some of her own friends (including the film’s co-producer, actress Mia Rivington), her own sister, her parents’ house and even a Shitzu from the old neighborhood. The result; a very warm and winning ‘day-in-the-life’ look at an Asian American that’s like every family we know; a little off, at times. It’s hard to single out any particular actor for praise but Tzi Ma shines as Ed Wong, the dad who isn’t handling his retirement particularly well. Georgia Lee has a great career ahead of her, starting with this film.

Slippin’—Ten Years with the Bloods. Directors Tommy Sowards and Joachim Shroeder were crazy enough to spend ten years with a handful of L.A. gang members but the experiment more than pays off. No judgments are made, no easy answers are to be had, but Slippin’ will make audiences care and think. Particularly young audiences. In the question and answer session afterward, several audience members urged that the documentary be shown to teenagers across the country. They’re right. The hip hop legend, Kurtis Blow, a former gang member, produced it and it’s going to be seen. That’s certain.

Kate Bobby is a freelance writer and film critic in The Big Apple.

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