Saturday, April 25, 2009

Intro to Tribeca

Much as I'm sure you're enjoying the Country Wisdom, I'm going to give you a break (I'm thinking the CW might be more enjoyable if I decreased the frequency -- we'll see). The next week and a half I plan to bombard you with updates -- movie reviews, mostly -- from the Tribeca Film Festival, an event of which I've grown to be quite fond. I only started attending during my first year at Time Out New York, when I was privileged to get our free marketing passes one night and saw a double bill of the fabulous This is England followed by a not-terrible directorial debut from Entourage's Kevin Connolly (don't remember the movie's name).

Last year was less of an outright joy, in that I had hatched an ambitious plan to supercharge Time Out's TFF coverage ... to middling success. Besides catching a few interesting films, I was working 12-to-16-hour days and generally losing my mind over nonresponsive Tribeca organizers, petulant writers, intractable Web bugs and everything else. The event, or, rather, my overreaching scheme to dominate its coverage, served to concentrate and heighten the mounting frustrations I was feeling with Time Out and push me toward a righteously indignant point of no return. Immediately after it concluded, I began interviewing aggressively for other jobs, which led to my escape into the position I now hold, which led to a much greater disillusionment with work and media and the meaning of life, which led to a bleak pre-holiday doldrums that was almost certainly a mild depression (it runs in my family), which led to the current confused, conflicted, just-turned-30 crossroads in which I now find myself.

In a way I could blame Tribeca for launching me into a pre-midlife midlife crisis. But I'm not going to do that. Like I said, I enjoy the event. Our film critics at Time Out always carped about Tribeca and said the New York Film Festival screened much better films (which it inarguably does). They complained that Tribeca lets in too much stuff that's silly or vain or weird -- "indie" in the worst sense. I don't disagree, but I like Tribeca for those same reasons. I like that critics don't like it. To me there's a good-natured, big-tent vibe about Tribeca that I don't get from other festivals (except maybe SXSW). Sure, these movies may be flawed, it seems to say, but come on in, check them out and applaud these scrappy guys for making an effort. Even among the filmmakers who sometimes introduce the screenings there's a gosh-I-hope-you-like-it-ness that you're just not going to get from the auteur darlings of the critical film community.

So there's my paean to Tribeca (guys, you can Paypal my endorsement money to It's a little solicitous, a little disorganized, a little rough 'round the edges, but who among us isn't? It's a festival for the common man, and I dig it.

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