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Film Festivals

Doc "Thieves by Law" Steals Hurrahs at Tribeca

Alexander Gentelev (photo: B. Balfour]

"Was it dangerous to make a documentary about the Russian mob?" director Alexander Gentelev was asked after his Thieves by Law premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival (April 22 to May 2, 2010).

"We will find out after the protagonists see the movie," he deadpanned. 

The heroes Gentelev was referring to are three retired godfathers of Russia’s underworld who muse about their colorful exploits on camera. As he explained, "A lot of criminal kingpins were willing to mouth off, but not on film." Finding insiders willing to help lift the "veil of secrecy" surrounding followers of the so-called "Thieves Code" took the Russian-born director two years. It was well worth the wait.

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Tribeca Film Festival - Here Come the Neighborhoods

"Modoki" is the Japanese word for "similar, yet different." Take for example the Tribeca Film Festival (April 21 to May 2, 2010), and October's New York Film Festival. Both are Manhattan cinema extravaganzas — whose overlaps end there. Populist Tribeca plays teriyaki to artsy NYFF's sashimi.   

Almost four decades the Lincoln Center event's junior, Tribeca was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff to goad downtown development in the aftermath of 9/11. Never mind that the "Triangle Below Canal Street" has since ceased to be ground zero for the Festival. And who of today's TFF ticket buyers thinks he or she is subsidizing lower New York's economic and cultural revival?

Rather, what continues to flourish are the Spring fest's display of popular, indie and world cinema and the celebratory mood that envelopes it. For the non-auteurist crowd, there are accessible Hollywood entertainments, ESPN-sponsored sports docs and family movies. Bring your kids; wear your sweats; Tribeca is the cinema equivalent of a cherry blossom festival.

The inclusive spirit has its downside, however. TFF still grapples with the bad rap earned during its embryonic years, when the slate was crammed with duds. Around 2008, the Festival learned how to prune and the yield has generally improved.

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NYC Horror Film Fest Opening Night

The eighth annual New York City Horror Film Festival kicked off in downtown Manhattan Wednesday night, Nov. 18, 2009, with a party for filmmakers and ticketholders at BLVD, on the storied avenue called The Bowery.

Dedicated to the international genre film community, The NYCHFF was established in 2001 by Festival Director Michael J. Hein. Over 50 features and short horror and sci-fi films offer stories that range in subject matter from the terrifying to the gory and hilarious.

Said Hein, ”This year we received more entries than ever before and are thrilled by the high-caliber of excellent films submitted for consideration to this year’s festival. The 2009 NYCHFF will prove to be one of the best years for the festival, as well as for film aficionados and horror fans.”

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From The Archives: There is The Cannes Film Festival - And There is Everything Else

Imagine. It is Spring on the French Riviera. You’re sitting on an ermine-lined deck chair on Aristole Onassis’ personal battleship / yacht, while shiny, happy people with bank accounts greater than an impoverished third-world country cavort around you. One of the Hilton sisters, Paris or Nicky, trots by to sit on your lap while you gently feed one her large helpings of beluga caviar and she, in return puts her full champagne glass to your lips and grabs a-hold of your…

There’s The Cannes Film Festival, and there’s everything else: It is the global apex of the film festival circuit. Glamor Central: where the beautiful people come to try out what they learned in arrogance school.

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