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Actors Behind The Camera At Tribeca FF

 

Thursday, May 3--------Sometimes a Festival, certainly one that has the scope of the Tribeca Film Festival, comes out with unexpected themes that have not necessarily been planned or anticipated. Such a mini-trend in this year's program are films that are directed by people who are mainly known for their acting work. Following in the footsteps of Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Penny Marshall, Al Pacino, Sydney Pollock, Paul Mazursky and many, many others, actors are finding their greatest creative challenges from behind the camera. This year's Festival program offers a host of debut directors, as well as some returning veterans.

Julie Delpy, a French actress equally at home on a Paris production or an American independent film, wrote, edited, composed the music, directed and even stars in the romantic comedy/drama 2 DAYS IN PARIS. In the film, which is receiving its North American Premiere at the Festival, Delpy plays a Parisian woman who invites her American boyfriend (played to a neurotic tee by the taciturn Adam Goldberg) to the City of Light, where their basic differences in how to live life become increasingly apparent. The American/French divide has been done before (including Delpy's own work in Richard Linklater's BEFORE SUNRISE), but the film is handled in a witty and engaging way that makes the material seem remarkably fresh.

Mary Stuart Masterson is a veteran of both Hollywood and independent cinema (among our favorites: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and BENNIE AND JOON). She tries her hand at directing a tale with a distinct Southern flavor in THE CAKE EATERS, which is world premiering at the Festival. In this deeply felt drama, two families are brought together by the return of one family's son -- a reunion that conjures up old ghosts and issues that must be addressed. Masterson sustains a mood of intimacy, as both families reveal profound secrets and decide that the only way to move forward is to heal their old wounds. She gets terrific support from her ensemble cast, including Kristen Stewart, Aaron Stanford, Jayce Bartok and the veteran duo of Elizabeth Ashley and Bruce Dern.

If you are a devotee of the HBO series ENTOURAGE, you know Kevin Connolly's character of Eric as the level-headed one in a sea of Hollywood excess and temptation. Connolly, who has solid supporting roles in such films as ANTWONE FISHER and THE NOTEBOOK, puts on the directing hat for the straight-out-of-New-Jersey saga GARDENER OF EDEN. Lukas Haas (best remembered as the young Amish boy in Peter Weir's WITNESS) stars as a scruffy ne'er-do-well in a small New Jersey town who finds new purposed when he accidentlally captured a serial rapist. The film's earthy script and the potent yearnings of his young male cast has given Connolly some strong material to sink his teeth into for his directorial debut (also a World Premiere attraction at the Festival). An added frisson is the high profile credit of Leonard DiCaprio as the film's executive producer.

James Franco, currently wowing international audiences with his role as Peter Parker's new nemesis in SPIDER-MAN 3, shows his sensitive side as the writer/director of the drama GOOD TIME MAX. Franco also stars in this stunning drama about two intellectually gifted brothers whose lives have taken drastically difference courses: one is a respected doctor, while the other is a drug-fueled drifter. The film gives Franco and his co-star Vince Jolivette meaty roles as two brothers who learn that blood is, indeed, always thicker than water.

The list of actors now trying their hand at directing is not restricted to Americans. The Festival is also showcasing the directorial debuts of such talents as: Diego Luna (best known as part of the twosome in the Mexican cult hit Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN) steps behind the camera for a heartfelt documentary on Mexican boxing legend Julio Cesar in the film CHAVEZ; and French actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin (best known for his role in A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT) makes his directorial debut with THE PREMONITION, the tale of a wealthy Parisian lawyer (played by the director himself) who rejects his bougeois lifestyle and moves into a working class, multi-ethnic neighborhood on the fringe of the city. The old adage seems to be true...."I want to be an actor, but what I really want is to direct."

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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