A scandalous affair, dysfunctional family dramas, missing babies, a blind piano player, Legos and James Franco make up an eclectic slate of spotlight films and documentaries at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The lineup of out-of-competition films announced recently in the ‘Spotlight’ section of the New York-based Tribeca festival, a section reserved for more prominent actors and directors, comprises 31 feature films, nine of which are documentaries.
Highlights include Dito Montiel’s Boulevard, an existential family drama starring Robin Williams and Kathy Baker, crime thriller, Every Secret Thing and 5 to 7, an intense love story between an aspiring novelist and the wife of a French diplomat, starring Anton Yelchin and Berenice Marlohe. “Many films feature real-life personalities who’ve accomplished extraordinary feats, while in other films we see personal relationships at pivotal moments of transition,” Genna Terranova, Tribeca’s director of programming, said in a statement. Actor-filmmaker-writer Franco, a staple of the independent film community, will see the premiere of the film adaptation of his book of short stories, Palo Alto by director Gia Coppola, and also stars in Paul Haggis’ gritty love tale Third Person. In the documentaries, Keep On Keepin’ On explores the challenges of a talented 23-year-old blind piano player, while documentarian James Spione takes a look at the journey of two people charged under the U.S. Espionage Act in Silenced. An untitled documentary by film-makers Daniel Junge and Kief Davidson on the fans of Lego plastic toy building blocks will also have its world premiere at the film festival.
Organisers also announced seven films in the Midnight section, which profiles “boundary-pushing genre films”, and five installations in the ‘Storyscapes’ section, which showcases interactive, multimedia story-telling formats. Championing independent movies and projects from U.S. and international film-makers, the Tribeca Film Festival was co-founded by actor Robert De Niro in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. The festival is aimed at reviving the economy and culture of Lower Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighbourhood. Organisers say the festival has generated an estimated $850 million in economic activity since its first year in 2002. This year’s edition will run from April 16 to 27.
Walt Disney, Shanghai Media Group to develop Disney-branded movies
Walt Disney Studios has signed an agreement with Shanghai Media Group Pictures to develop Disney-branded movies, the latest move by a U.S. studio to grow its presence in China’s entertainment business. U.S.-based writers will team up with local writers and film-makers to develop stories and scripts that incorporate Chinese themes in Disney movies, the studio said in a statement.
The studio said the multi-year partnership with Shanghai Media will expand training opportunities between Chinese and American writers and filmmakers. Tony To, the studio’s executive vice president of production, will oversee the co-development programme, which could allow for easier releases of English-language films in China. A 37-member Film Censorship Committee vets every movie in China for nudity, violence and politically sensitive scenes. Western films in addition must meet the committee’s “amendment opinions” to be one of the 34 Hollywood films permitted in China each year. Last year, Disney’s superhero film Iron Man 3 debuted in China and included a top Chinese actress and footage shot in China.
In February, the official Xinhua news agency reported that China will maintain its quota for imported Hollywood movies this year, rejecting reports it had planned to increase access for U.S. films to the world’s second-largest cinema market. Production companies like Viacom Inc’s Paramount Picture and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc have hired Chinese actors and set up co-productions with Chinese firms. China’s entertainment and media market is estimated to grow to $148 billion by 2015 from around $120 billion in 2013, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ outlook for the global entertainment and media business 2011-2015.