All Articles
All Articles
CULTURE

Top Films of Tribeca Film Festival 2009

by CH Contributor
on 11 May 2009

by Ariston Anderson

black-dynamite-2.jpg

An unusually solid year for the Tribeca Film Festival, the post-9/11 creation formed by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff fared a much more manageable list of 85 features compared to the unwieldy slate of years past, resulting in a wealth of high quality films and events around lower Manhattan.

The smaller list didn't necessarily make it that much easier to narrow down, but we finally managed to conquer the task and, without further ado, here are a few of our favorites from the event.

Black Dynamite
Most film festivals tend to draw more from independent dramas than from independent comedies, which unfortunately overlooks a wealth of fresh new material. Scott Sanders' "Black Dynamite," which originally premiered at Sundance, had us rolling throughout the entire film. Both a spoof and an homage to '70s blaxploitation films, the flick nails the language, over-the-top plots and kung fu sequences of this bygone genre.

The plot borrows heavily from Melvin Van Peebles' "Three the Hard Way," and footage from films like Chuck Norris' "Missing in Action" and TV series "Charlie's Angels" shows up too. With the help of costume designer—and Spike Lee—favorite Ruth Carter, along with original and collected music from Adrian Younge, it's clear the filmmakers had a whole lot of fun putting the film together. Black Dynamite is out in theaters 4 September 2009.

con-artist-1.jpg
con-artist-2.jpg

Con Artist
The most intriguing documentary we saw this year was Michael Sládek’s biography on artist Mark Kostabi. Rising to prominence throughout the '80s, Kostabi proclaimed to the art world that he was in it solely for money and fame, saying, "Modert Art is a con, and I am the world's greatest con artist." While many artists rely on assistants to execute their ideas, Kostabi took it a step further and set up a Warholian factory of people to think up ideas and paint the finished projects, using his faceless motifs.

Panned in the art world for creating "emotionless" work, Sládek’s portrait delves deeper into this image of the artist, revealing Kostabi to be a lonely man who thought he'd only find love in fame. Also noteworthy is the archive footage of Kostabi's hilarious public access game show, "Name That Painting," where he awards an audience of downtown celebs $50 for doling out titles to his work.

here-and-there.jpg

Here and There
Director Darko Lungulov paints an intriguing portrait of two chaotic cities, Belgrade and New York, full of young people with creative ambitions. Robert, a down-and-out saxophone player, meets Serbian immigrant Branko while he moves him out of his apartment. With nothing else to do, Robert, agrees to travel to Belgrade to marry Branko's girlfriend for $5000. He ends up at the house of Branko's mother Olga, and while Branko tries to scrape together the cash in the U.S., Robert finds a new sense of himself with Olga.

The outcome is an incredibly honest and funny film that examines both people desperately trying to get out of Serbia and also the phenomenon of people moving to New York to pursue their artistic dreams—but who remain stuck in an unfulfilling lifestyle. Plus lead actor David Thornton even commissioned his wife, Cyndi Lauper, to compose a song and act in the film, making it all the more entertaining.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot