Image courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.
This year’s edition of the star-studded Tribeca Film Festival was filled with tons of great films, storytelling events and immersive technologies. Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, the Tribeca Film Festival was introduced as a way to inspire and lift New Yorkers right after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.
Now in its 18th year, the Tribeca Film Festival continues to grow and add new offerings in almost every category, but many of the documentaries spoke to social injustices and other works we looked at this season speak of social action and making the audience more socially aware.
Tribeca Film Festival isn’t just about the big screenings. The Tribeca Cinema360 was one of the most innovative and original filmic experiences I have ever seen had the opportunity to attend. The theater was set up so the viewer to rotate in the chair to physically follow the movements on screen, allowing a true 360 experience.
Also of importance was the orientation of the audio to the audience. I learned this as I sheepishly flipped my headsets to the correct left-right fitting. Much better when audio follows the video in the correct pathway. The event featured 12 curated offerings in a custom 40 seat VR theater. Here is a look at three of the more provocative offerings we had the chance to take in.
Nominated for an Emmy, Ashe '68 explores the career and life of famed professional tennis player Arthur Ashe. Mr. Ashe was the first black man to win the US Open and used his newfound elite status to fight social injustice so prevalent in the decade of 60s. The film also provided an interesting perspective conducting a deep dive on the young Ashe and his journey to stardom and as an activist. A mix of live, traditional animation, and sand animation, the film delivered an important message about addressing injustice in a creative and meaningful way.
Dark and foreboding, the 256 hours of audio of the Rivonia Trial recalls the political trials of seven men, including Nelson Mandela, and the fight against Apartheid. The documentary focuses on Walter Sisulu, one of the seven defendants and the prosecutors unrelenting efforts to get Mr. Sisulu to provide names of those against the government. As with the first film, Accused No: 2 provides a new perspective on the political unrest of the time.
Told through the eyes of a 1st grader, our storyteller recounts that fateful day on a playground in Townville, South Carolina when her best friend was killed in a school shooting. The exceptional creative design weaves an intricate story as the young girl struggles to deal with the trauma and loss of that fateful day. But the story continues as she not only had to deal with the trauma of that day but her life as she tries to move on.
The character spoke of her fear of returning to the school where she saw her best friend gunned down and then die right in front of her. You could “hear” the heaviness of the story fill the theatre. Very, very moving. The film was well worth experience, even as it brought tears to my eyes.
Tribeca Virtual Arcade
The eye-popping original technology displayed at Tribeca Film Festival Virtual Arcade was off the charts. Many of the VR experiences were built on the familiar and robust Unity platform. This is an area that has experienced tremendous growth and Tribeca is the place for program developers and artists to shine. I decided to do the deep dive and experienced some ultra cool VR experiences for myself.
One of the most creative VR exhibits, Unceded Territories was created from First Nations artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun seminal work. The work contains provocative and stunning images that deal with colonialism, climate change and indigenous civil rights.
What fun! A great creative project that has the participant crashing their spaceship, interacting with a robot, and making some new interesting friends. Reactions from the characters are based on the choices made in the game. This program would be an excellent tool for educators teaching young people that the decisions they make have consequences.
Other Cool Programs at Tribeca
I loved the script read-throughs of short works. It was great because you got to just hear a short script in the rawest form. Both powerful and moving. Tribeca Talks also was a no brainer, featuring leading visionaries in the world of film and entertainment. Let’s hear from others who had their own unique take on the festival.
"For us, it is a festival like no other, in the center of one of the biggest and most exciting cities in the world, New York City," states Alex Helisek, Owner of Breezeway Productions. Tribeca shines a light on stories we want to see, which can range from impactful documentaries to engaging period piece films, including this year's Dreamland by Margot Robbie, amongst many other great titles in the lineup."
Helisek concludes, "Tribeca holds a host of events for entertainment professionals to get together, share their experiences at the film festival, and discuss careers, professions, films and endeavors with the hopes of creating things together. It's a true collaborators paradise.”
Featured Documentary: Ask Dr. Ruth
What a great movie. So much more than an ordinary documentary this behind the scenes look at the life and times of Dr. Ruth was captivating. The film takes the audience through an incredible journey that is Dr. Ruth's life story. From a content perspective, the film pieces together a rich mosaic of historical footage with the addition of some very well done animations done in a simple style that captures the essence of the youth of Dr. Ruth.
But even after helping so many others, few know Westheimer’s own story and this is where the film shines. Born in 1928 in Germany as the only child of Orthodox Jews, Dr. Ruth escaped the Holocaust as a child, eventually emigrating to the United States in the 1950s.
There was so much to see and hear at the Tribeca Film Festival. No wonder the event is two weeks long! That being said, if you want to do the film deep dive, Tribeca is a must-go-to event. Beautiful films, beautiful people and engaging discussions. Film festival going at it’s best.