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Tribeca awards to The Green Hat


The third edition of New York’s newest film cultural event, the Tribeca Film Festival, came to a star-studded finale this weekend as a host of celebrities honored the winners of top Festival awards at a gala ceremony and party in lower Manhattan.

THE GREEN HAT, a film exploring its characters struggles to transcend traditional definitions of love in the new China, won two awards for Best Narrative Film and Best New Filmmaker for first-time Chinese director Liu Sen Dou. The award was presented by director Barry Levinson, and comes with a combined prize of $45,000. The film was a World Premiere at the event.

The director stated "All along I thought I was making a romantic film. But the result was far different from my original goal. After my friends watched the movie, they told me they had seen another side of me, which I thought I had forgotten and cured a long time ago. They told me that they could see my pain. I was shocked by their discovery, and yet excited at the same time--they understood me through my movie. The process of making this film was also a process for understanding myself".

British actor Ian Hart won the award for Best Actor for his blistering performance as an Irish journalist kidnapped and held hostage by Arab militants in Beirut for over four years in the UK docudrama BLIND FLIGHT. Fernanda Montenegro, the Brazilian actress who won many international awards for her previous work in Walter Salles’ CENTRAL STATION, was voted Best Actress for her performance as a woman romantically entangled with a murderer in THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET. Both Actors Awards were presented by actress Connie Nielson (GLADIATOR).

Best Documentary honors were shared by two films, Israel’s ARNA’S CHILDREN, an optimistic look at the impact of a children’s theater group in the West Bank that brings together Israeli and Palestinian youngsters, directed by Juliano Mer Khamis and Danniel Danniel and THE MAN WHO STOLE MY MOTHER’S FACE, a bracing investigation of the unsolved mystery of the rape of the director’s own mother, directed by South African filmmaker Cathy Henkel.

The Best New Documentary Filmmaker Award was given to Brazilian filmmaker Paulo Sacramento for THE PRISONER OF THE IRON BARS. The award was presented to a visibily excited Sacramento by American director and Festival co-founder Martin Scorsese. THE MASTER AND HIS PUPIL, a portrait of a famed Rotterdam orchestra conductor, won the top prize for Best Documentary > 2, a category for documentarians who have made more than 2 films in the past. Audience Award honors for Best Documentary went to American directors Kelly Anderson and Tami Gold for their film EVERY MOTHER’S SON, the story of three New York City mothers dealing with the deaths of their sons by police officers.

The NY, NY section of the Festival was organized to highlight the works of local New York filmmakers. This year, the films competed for awards for the first time. Winner of the Best Narrative Film was THE TIME WE KILLED, an experimental, free-form narrative that delves inside the mind of a writer unable to leave her New York City apartment, which also won the FIPRESCI award at the Berlin Film Festival for its director Jennifer Reeves. Best Documentary honors went to Scott Cray's KILL YOUR IDOLS, an eye-opening look at New York's punk music and art scene.

Jury members in all categories were an eclectic mix of actors (Glenn Close, Mary Louise Parker, Jeffrey Wright, Eddie Izzard, Kyra Sedgwick and Connie Nielsen), filmmakers (Anant Singh, Larry Clark, Albert Maysles and Jason Kliot), film critics (Jay Cocks, Stephen Schiff) and an assorted mix that include painter Eric Fischl, film executive Bingham Ray, writer Jules Feiffer, musician Laurie Anderson, architect Richard Meier and even Jordan’s Queen Noor.

"The winners of this year's competitions are truly exceptional”, Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal exuded. “Their work is powerful and resonant and we are thrilled to have played a part in
helping to get their unique voices heard by a larger audience.” Robert De Niro, the spiritual “godfather” of the Festival concurred, adding that “the Festival has helped draw
attention to these filmmakers' work, and I look forward to seeing more great
things from them in the future “

The Festival, which showcased over 250 from 42 countries during its 10 day stint from May 1 to 9, also kept audiences and industryites hopping with a dizzying schedule of panel discussions, filmmaker events, gala premieres of major studio releases, a family film festival, free music concerts and other highlights.

This year, the Festival had a record 30 world premieres, which has vastly increased its international standing..And then there is the star power. Among the highly anticipated films were Gary Marshall’s RAISING HELEN starring Kate Hudson, Ed Burns’ LOOKING FOR KITTY, actor-turned-director David Duchovny’s directorial debut HOUSE OF D, John Walters’ docu-tribute to the late film director Ted Demme, featuring interviews with Johnny Depp, Kevin Spacey, Ben Stiller and Steve Buscemi, and Festival closer STAGE BEAUTY, a Lions Gate Films release starring Billy Crudup, Claire Danes and Rupert Everett.

The fact that a film making its world premiere, the Chinese film THE GREEN HAT was a bona fide Festival “discovery”, makes the event more important for the attending film industry. “We chose to premiere our new film at Tribeca and we’re glad we did”, said Randel Cole, the writer/director of the new comedy 2B PERFECTLY HONEST, a surreal morality tale starring Adam Trese, Andrew McCarthy, Aida Turturro and John Turturro. “We had sold-out public and press screenings and the audience stayed for the question and answer periods”, Cole continued. “My publicist and producers rep are following up on the interest that’s been generated from the great exposure at the Festival.”

For distributors and press, the Festival dates, on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival, are controversial. Arthouse distributor Wellspring Media’s head of acquisitions Marie-Therese Guirguis is an enthusiastic booster. “I had been planning to fly to Paris a week before Cannes to preview films”, Guirguis stated, “but when Tribeca announced their lineup, I realized there was a strong reason to stay in New York.”

Others were less supportive. “The Festival still has a lot to prove”, according to ThinkFilm distribution head Mark Urman. “I want to support it as a New York event but the quality of the films is still not yet established….especially for it to happen during the industry’s busiest season.”

In the end, it is the quality of the films that will determine the future of this event, set up three years ago to bring attention and much needed cash to a downtown Manhattan still coming to grips with 9/11.
After all, it took such festival heavyweights as Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Sundance and Berlin years to secure their positions as “must-attend” events for the industry. With its marketing savvy, enviable budget and programming acumen, Tribeca may get there in record time.

By Sandy Mandelberger, Contributing Editor

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