A highlight of the festival are the special events for artists of film and their subjects to connect with the general public. I attended the Tribeca Talks: After the Movie, Beyond the screens: The Artists Angle for the documentary featuring famed entertainer Elaine Stritch.
A packed out theater the film audience screened the documentary and enjoyed conversation with a moderator (Charles Isherwood), the director (Chiemi Karasawa), Elaine and Elaine’s pianist of 15 years Rob Bowman. Here is just an excerpt of the Q & A session after the movie:
Q- How did you liked the film?
Stritch - I liked it! It’s me! Me being my age and who I am. I felt good about it.
Honesty has always been a part of Stitch and her performance. She admitts that she was so busy being afraid. To fight against her fear it was alcohol that gave her courage. She was fooled! She proudly announces that she has been sober for 25 years. And, on top of the world!
Q- Why did you want to keep going?
Stritch - I wanted to keep up with culture. I love being accepted. I know what I am doing with my life. I love my profession of entertaining and making people laugh.
Q - When will you retire?
Stritch - Never. But, I am going to take it slower. Easy does it! That’s what I’m looking for now.
The stats of her performances over the last seventy years is overwhelming. It depicts a grueling schedule naturally controlled by herself. She loves her work! And, her work loves her! Stritch’s regular gig was at New York’s Café Carlyle where she performed a series of farewell shows before moving back home to Birmingham, Michigan. It was from this town she left seventy years ago for the bright lights of New York.
Q- What will you miss about New York?
Stritch - I will miss the holidays in New York. I love ‘em. I want to celebrate something all the time and New York has holidays for every day of the week, practically.
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
At eighty-seven years young the legendary Broadway entertainer Elaine Stritch remains in the spotlight. This time, a documentary film honoring her career is the light that shines bright on the silver screen opposed to the stage floor. Her credits are many, as are her Tony and Emmy Awards received for performances both on and off the stage. Large portions of archival film footage acknowledge her accomplishments in the latest film report Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me directed by Chiemi Karasawa.
Karasawa's hairdresser (whom Stritch also uses) mentioned that she had a client whose life story would be a fascinating film subject. After a little research Karasawa agreed that Stritch has a story to tell.
Filmmaker Karasawa founded Isotope Films in 2005 to develop and produce original content based on non-fiction material. Some of her award-winning work as a producer includes Billy the Kid, The Betrayal, Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak. Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is the directorial debut for producer Chiemi Karasawa, illuminating Stritchs' multi-faceted career. Making Karasawa's documentary a compelling piece of entertainment history.
Stritch made her first film appearance in 1956 in Three Violent People. Performance in film is not foreign to the female legend but in 57 years a lot has changed in the industry. Remarkably, Stritch has changed right along with it giving her the versatility to eloquently handle diverse roles in feature films and television guest appearances in Law & Order and 30 Rock--Emmy winning performances.
Though Stritch is an open person and willing to have the cameras shoot her; she was not quite sure about being filmed outside of her comfort zone with entertaining and performance. She wasn't used to showing the "non-performance" Stritch. The idea made her nervous. The documentary shows Stritch going about her daily activities in her brassy and energetic fashion but just underneath that thick-skin is a vulnerability that is relatable. Karasawa notes that while Stritch is critical of the film her natural appeal is endearing. She adds, "I don't think she's aware of how entertaining she is when she's not performing."
Karasawa says, "When you see someone that that's liberated, it inspires that same thing in you. I think that is why she has so many fans, because they wish that she was the person on their shoulder giving them courage and the strength to do and say what they feel." (Karen Pecota)
Cycling with Molière
by Karen Pecota
Filmmaker Philippe Le Guay collaborates with infamous French actor Fabrice Luchini with a vibrant screenplay adaptation with dialogue of wit, from historical literary works, perfectly matched for LeGuay's latest comedic relief in Cycling with Molière.
The French playwright and actor from the seventeenth century, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a master of comedy in western literature. He was born on January 15, 1622, in Paris, France. He died at the age of fifty-one years old on February 17, 1673. He left behind a legacy of creative literary projects and never dreamed his work would be performed with a passion centuries later in a modern culture.
LeGuay and Luchini take liberty with Molière’s’ “The Misanthrope” (The Cantankerous Lover) and his seventeenth 17th-century repertoire of comedy for a compelling screenplay adaptation. First performed on June 4, 1666, Molière’s’ satire of the French aristocratic world and its double-standard lifestyle was hard core critique about his countrymen. But, seriously Molière would continue to poke fun at the flaws which all humans possess.
Taking the lead from an artist before his time, LeGuay does the same in Cycling with Molière to humbly expose human weaknesses using comedy to positively mold ones character and one’s own destiny. Le Guay’s charmingly dialogue driven creativity caps on the importance of solid friendships, honesty and the value of working hard toward one’s life passion. There are reasons humans are not meant to do life alone but to share it with others.
Serge Tanneur (Fabrice Luchini), a famous Parisian actor, chooses to run and hide from a successful acting career. Ludicrous, right? Not to Serge. He needs a break to rest his tired body, mind and soul. Serge escapes from the world he knows and loves to an island off the west coast of France near La Rochelle, on the northern side of the Pertuis d’Antioche strait, called Île de Ré. One attraction for physical health is its endless flat bike paths that show off the islands’ breathtaking landscape.
Tucked away in a run-down house Serge finds privacy and solitude on the beautiful island. Without notice he might slip closer toward the life of a hermit but his love for outdoor cycling is his saving grace.
A few years into Serge’s seclusion, his good friend and colleague Gauthier Valence (Lambert Wilson) shows up on his door-step. Gauthier is a beloved television star and has a chance of a lifetime to participate in a stage performance of Moliere’s “The Misanthrope”. He cannot imagine performing the play without Serge as his counterpart. Thus the surprise visit! Gauthier invites Serge to consider a historical theatrical role that he is perfectly suited. Serge, annoyed, turns him down. Right! Serge could not be bothered from the display of his outward countenance. Secretly Serge is pleased to be revered at Gauthier’s invitation.
For friendship sake, Serge agrees to consider Gauthier’s request on one condition: the two must intensely rehearse the play for five days and at the end of the rehearsal week, Serge will choose his role. Gauthier agrees with reluctance. He knows Serge is best suited for the role he covets and the financial sponsors have already positioned the famed television star for the slot. Serge knows this fact, too! It is not until the two men cycle the island rehearsing line after line Molière’s famously ridiculous theatrical piece; and after a display of behavior unbecoming to mature grown men but rather of two selfishly-driven, spoiled-rotten children, do they find the best man for each role.
Directed by Matthew Bonifacio – in the short film selection at Tribeca Film Festival 2013
Screenwriter Bob Linton
An Asian mother wants her daughter to find a husband, marry and have children. The family business as Asian restaurateurs must be carried on to the next generation.
The mother observes a gentleman, who regularly eats at the restaurant, take notice of her daughter. It’s time for the mother to intervene since the daughter has not able to attract a male suitor.
The Asian mother wastes no time to plant subliminal messages in her home-made fortune cookies. If the man believes, her secret messages could bring the two single people together to live happily ever after. (Karen Pecota)
Directed by David Shane
Screenwriters David Shane and Scott Organ
Everybody wants to be cool some point in their life. Parents are no exception. Paul and Kate accept a dinner invitation at the home of a couple whose children attend the same school as theirs. Paul and Kate are thrilled at the invitation. They have an opportunity to hang with the school's notably coolest parents. Disappointed that a third couple was already present upon their arrival they tried to not let that bother them. As the night progressed it was clear to Paul and Kate that this Playdate with the parents; two couples were proper company but three couples was most definitely a crowd--an unwanted crowd. (Karen Pecota)
TRICKED: Lies Always Backfire
Launched in the Netherlands, a user generated film from seasoned Dutch Filmmaker Paul Verhoeven hits the silver screen with TRICKED: Lies Always Backfire. In this film he reinvents himself. He uses extreme cutting-edge filmmaking and creativity from the general public from the Netherlands. Together they collaborate on a storyline and decisive elements of the films plot, music, graphics, and set design for his experimental project. The narrative unveils the consequences of telling lies and the dangerous trappings from the web it threads.
Verhoeven's film is seen in two parts in order to explain the intricacies of a user generated project: A teaching lesson to be taken seriously by any filmmaker who desires to learn from the best. Part I is the explanation in documentary form of Verhoeven's Experimental Project and the experience with his countrymen in a unique collaboration in filmmaking. In part II we see the final product--a short dramatic feature of lies and betrayal.
The details of how the project convened is as follows: Verhoeven organized a broadly announced contest to the general public of the Netherlands for a chance to participate in a movie project he was directing. The contest was open for a short period of time. The guidelines were as follows: 1) Submit a two page script, 2) The subject for the script is about telling lies, 3) Must use 8 actors--4 men & 4 women, 4) All the actors have to be connected to each other in the storyline.
Without any idea of the response, so much was at stake not to mention the huge risk with the unknown and unpredictable. A shocking 300 submissions appeared with over a thousand pages of highly creative work. Verhoeven had his hands full!
The Dutch public makes a difference in the world of film and a new way of filmmaking transpires after nine months of production. The project proves to be ground breaking for the future of filmmaking.
Real estate tycoon, Remco (Peter Blok) comes to grip with his very successful and frivolous lifestyle at a party to celebrate his 50th Birthday. The birthday party is thrown by Remco's wife, Ineke (Ricky Koole) with elegance and all of her husband's closest relationships are invited. The women in his life each give him a special birthday present. Each gift represents a particular secret only understood by the female giver and the birthday boy. The evening of celebration begins to sour for Remco when a former business associate whom he had an affair with shows up pregnant. She alludes that Remco is the father. He panics. The news puts a damper on his planned announcement to be made to his party guests of his early retirement. The responsibility of another child and all of the ramifications of his secrets surrounding the affair is just the beginning of Remco's problems because lies always backfire. (Karen Pecota)
Who Shot Rock & Roll The Film
Produced and directed by Steven Kochones
A presentation of The Annenberg Space for Photography
The eye of the camera and the artist working with the tool is in part what makes Rock & Roll music so popular. Kochones shares an account of the powerful impact photography has had on the music scene beginning in 1950s. It can be said even of today that without the photographer performers could not rise to such fame.
A special portion of the film shares Linda McCartney's role in preserving the history of the rock industry. Her own photography has been vital to the documentation of the era according to her daughter Mary McCartney who explains in Kochones' narrative.
The photographers who shot the musicians since the 1950s worked hard to capture unique images of each performer--solo or group. It was important to iconize them and tell their story. The key to keeping each performer alive before the public is the special usage of visual imagery. Who were these people that made the musicians become so popular back in the day? The musicians needed access to the photographer but it was costly. Kochones reveals that in the early days of rock & roll bands it was difficult to make it without quality photos for promotion. Today one can not survive without video materials, websites, Facebook pages, twitter accounts, and graphic designers. The photographers initially make the musicians...Who Shot Rock & Roll The Film tells how it happens and the artists that paved the way for musicians to be in the limelight. (Karen Pecota)