Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tribeca Film Festival...Brian Williams to interview Robert De Niro! Elton John documentary to screen! April 20th - May 1st in NYC!

To celebrate ten years of screening cutting-edge films, officials at the Tribeca Film Festival have announced they are introducing a thrilling thought-provoking "Talk" series to feature high-profile personalities in the industry.

Brian Williams, Alec Baldwin and Martin Scorsese are slated to conduct one-on-one interviews with the likes of - Robert DeNiro, Doug Liman and Souleymann Cissee respectively - at the much-anticipated Director series to be held in New York City.

The upcoming annual fest - which normally boasts packed houses - runs April 20th through May 1st in lower Manhattan.

In recent days, the organizers have also leaked out details about a handful of dazzling special events, causing a big buzz in show-biz circles.

For instance, Cameron Crowe's documentary on singer - Elton John - premieres at a free outdoor screening on April 20th at the North Cove at the World Financial Plaza.

Attendees will need TFF wristbands to be seated at the event which will be distributed to the public on a first-come first-served basis at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 20 at 4 pm..

"The Union" is a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the "out" Diva - who recently recorded his latest album - as a collaborative musical effort alongside legendary rock 'n roller (and good friend) multi-talented Leon Russell.

Producers are hailing the flick as an extraordinary journey of the heart which captures a "candid portrait" of one of the world's most-treasured enduring artists.

“Cameron Crowe gives audiences unprecedented access to Elton John and Leon Russell’s artistic process in an emotional and realistic way," one festival biggie enthused at a recent press junket.

Award-winning T-Bone Burnett took on the role of studio producer and nurtured the eclectic recording project to completion in recent days.

Lyricist Bernie Taupin, Neil Young, Brian Wilson, legendary R & B organist Booker T. Jones, and steel guitarist Robert Randolph (in addition to a 10-piece gospel choir) are also showcased on the much-touted album.

At press time, it was announced that Elton will take the stage after the screening of the insightful documentary and perform a tune or two with celebrated friends in tow.

"It’s a special opportunity to open our 10th Festival in a distinct and unique way. Not only are we inviting the community to join us for the world premiere of Cameron Crowe’s film - "The Union" - but to have Elton, whose music transcends generations, perform after is an extraordinary gift to our Festival and more specifically the downtown community,” gushed Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Crowe sang Elton John's praises, too.

"As a longtime fan of both artists, it was a pleasure to spend a year filming their collaboration,” said Cameron Crowe.

“We can't wait to show it to one of the greatest audiences in the world at the Tribeca Film Festival," Cameron crowed to all within earshot.

In addition, the "Tribeca Talks" showcase five new documentary titles, which feature lively discussion panels with a spotlight on the likes of actor/director Sean Penn and top vocalist Harry Belafonte, for example.

Five of the documentary titles are - "The Education of Dee Dee Ricks", "Love Hate Love", "Off the Rez", "Grandma, A Thousand Times", and "Sing Your Song "- all of which receive exclusive screenings as part of the Tribeca Talks "After the Movie” series.

Another one-of-a-kind world premiere event will be the screening (and in-depth examination) of the feature L.A. Noire  - which is a new interactive crime thriller being released in the spring by Rockstar Games.

A Q & A will follow a "L.A. Noire" live demonstration of the detective game (where players solve complex, historically-inspired crimes in a beautifully recreated and fully interactive rendition of 1947 Los Angeles).

Tribeca’s special events are rounded out by a handful of Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival screenings which include Alex Gibney’s "Catching Hell" (about notorious Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman), free “Tribeca Talks: Industry” panels (designed for industry professionals to explore the ways they can use new digital platforms to advance their film projects) and “Tribeca Talks: Pen to Paper” (which are insightful panels hosted by Barnes & Noble that focus on the artistic process of screenwriting.

“We wanted to celebrate our Tenth Festival by inviting some of the finest filmmakers, media artists and actors of our time to share their insights and experiences through the Tribeca Talks series," underscored Nancy Schafer, the Executive Director of TFF.

“We have over the years established a tradition of conversations that both engage audiences in the details and revelations of contemporary film making as well as offer a perspective as to the direction and the future of storytelling and the industry. This is so much a part of what festivals can do to enrich the viewing experience for their audiences and we are proud to present this special series."

There will be quite a few world premieres to keep film buffs clucking around the circuit, too.

The world premiere of "The Education of Dee Dee Ricks" is a documentary which demonstrates how a successful businesswoman and mother’s life changed when - after being diagnosed with breast cancer - she set out to make life easier for less fortunate cancer patients.

The stirring film is followed by a conversation with Dee Dee Ricks, producer Lisa Cohen, Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention founder Harold P. Freeman MD, and public health advocates.

The event is to be moderated by director Perri Peltz.

"The Beautiful Mind" screening examines the life of Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. and will be followed by a panel discussion puts the glare of the spotlight on director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, the film’s math consultant, Dave Bayer, author Sylvia Nasar (whose book inspired the film) and theoretical physicist and mathematician Brian Greene.

The event is slated to be moderated by NPR’s Ira Flatow.

The North American documentary premiere of - "Grandma, A Thousand Times" - examines a family matriarch as she struggles to cope with the silence of her once-buzzing house and imagines what waits her beyond death.

Hosted by the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, it should be noted for the record, that the film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Film (2010).

The screening will be followed by a discussion with director Mahmoud Kaabour on the experience of making films in the Middle East.

The world premiere of - "Love Hate Love" - is all about the difficult journeys of three families torn apart by three separate acts of terrorism - the attacks on the World Trade Center, the London bus bombing, and the Sari Club bombing in Bali - and is followed by a conversation with executive producer Sean Penn, directors Dana Nachman and Don Hardy (as well family members featured in the film which includes Liz Alderman, Steve Alderman, Esther Hyman, and Ben Tullipan).

The New York premiere of - "The Loving Story" - recounts the unknown love story of Mildred and Richard Loving (the couple behind the 1967 Supreme Court ruling overturning anti-miscegenation laws in the United States).

The stirring legal foray is followed by the appearances of director Nancy Buirski, attorney Phil Hirschkop (who represented the Lovings), Anthony Romero, and the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (who discuss the landmark case and current issues surrounding race and marriage equality).

"Off the Rez" - a world premiere event - tracks Shoni Schimmel (a Umatilla Indian and one of the best high school basketball players in the country) whose hoop dreams of being the first from her tribe to get a college scholarship are threatened after her family leaves the Umatillia Indian Reservation.

The screening is followed by a Q & A with executive producers Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, director Jonathan Hock, Discovery and TLC Networks president Eileen O’Neill.

The special event is moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist - and author of Friday Night Lights - Buzz Bissinger.

The world premiere of - "Revenge of the Electric Car" - is an up-close peak behind the closed doors of - Nissan, General Motors and Tesla Motors - at a time when the major auto makers race to develop the world’s first and most economically accessible electric car.

The screeners are promoting a panel discussion to be headed up by guest speakers director Chris Paine (President and Chief Executive Officer) Nissan Motor Co. Carlos Ghosn, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Neil.

The much-anticipated event is moderated by actor, writer, and director David Duchovny.

"Sing Your Song" - a New York premiere offering - is a stirring documentary that examines legendary entertainer Harry Belafonte’s continued humanitarian contributions to the arts, the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, the fight against Apartheid, combating starvation in Ethiopia, and so much more.

Harry Belafonte is scheduled to appear for a Q & A with the filmgoers who attend.

Moderated by Tavis Smiley.

To fill out the program, there will also be scintillating screenings of 11 short films which explore the contributions of women filmmakers in the canon of the American experimental avant-garde.

This program also celebrates 15 years of direct financial support for preservation of historically under-recognized films by women through the Women’s Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film & Television.

A discussion follows with an eclectic group of women filmmakers who helped shape avant-garde cinema.

"Digital by Design", meanwhile, focuses on a conversation with producers, filmmakers, SAP and industry executives about the emergence of online digital platforms and applications that provoke filmmakers to confront technology head-on including funding models, intellectual property management and distribution channels.

Sponsored by SAP.

Panelists that night include Richard Whittington, Senior Vice President of media and entertainment at SAP, and writer/director Edward Burns.

"Shooting Film on a Budget" is an interesting presentation on the subject of filmmaking which is understandably sponsored by Kodak.

One of the most important aspects of realizing your independent feature is determining the right look.

How will you capture your images and bring the script to the screen in a meaningful, visual way?

Filmmakers and cinematographers must consider many variables such as mood of the story, production restrictions, post work flow, etc.

Too often these important decisions are determined by the bottom line.

However, many filmmakers are able to get the most out of their budgets while still shooting film.

Kodak invites budding filmmakers to attend this event which features celebrity guests - Michael Cuesta (writer/director of Roadie) and producer Karen Chieto - to learn how they created beautiful and cost-effective cinematic narratives on film.

Also -the "Business of Entertainment" - is expected to draw large crowds.

The program will explore the trends that affect the economics of the film business and the broader entertainment industry.

This year's panel have invited leading CEOs, producers, financiers, media - and other industry leaders - who will focus on how to finance films in the 21st century.

"Are Documentary Films Changing the World?" focuses on - filmmakers, distributors and community groups - and the new trends in documentary filmmaking (such as collaborations between filmmakers and NGOs to increase distribution and influence public perception and policy).

Panelists include filmmaker Abigail Disney - and the Co-Founder of Impact Partners - Dan Cogan.

For the Internet crowd - "Amplify the Message: Social Media" - may be of particular interest.

The panel discussion focuses on how film producers and directors engage new interactive audiences through such networks as Twitter, Facebook, Tumbles, GetGlue and Foursquare (and how much of an impact social networking has on a movie’s success or failure on multiple platforms).

Moderated by Marc Schiller (the CEO and Founder of Electric Artists).

Panelists include Rider Strong, director/screenwriter of The Dungeon Master, Howard Tullman, President & CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, and others.

The conversation will be streamed live on the Tribeca Online Film Festival website.

Finally - "Meet the Documentary Broadcasters" - is expected to be a spirited conversation with industry broadcasters about the type of nonfiction films they’re drawn to and their thoughts on where this genre is headed.

See 'ya there!