NEW YORK — The Cannes Film Festival has the South of France; the Tribeca Film Festival has the south of Manhattan. Sundance has Robert Redford; Tribeca has Robert De Niro. Berlin has schneiderbugeleisen; Tribeca has salty pretzels with mustard. Venice will be 68 this fall; Tribeca will turn 10 when it opens Wednesday, celebrating with independence, eclecticism and something New York film people really like: location, location, location.
"My family gets to go, my friends get to go," said Michael Cuesta, a filmmaker of international reputation ("L.I.E.," "Tell Tale"), whose rock and roll drama, "Roadie," premieres at this year's fest. Starring Ron Eldard, Jill Hennessy and Bobby Cannavale, "Roadie" is a mix of familiar names and edgy content and as such represents the ever-evolving personality of Tribeca itself, which was founded to bring people back to downtown Manhattan after 9/11 and has since spread itself around town and all over the map of contemporary cinema. And even the culture.
Tunes, baseball and Ed Burns: There's music throughout the festival, right from the outset: Opening night will feature Cameron Crowe's "The Union," about the collaboration between Leon Russell and Elton John. The Tribeca/ ESPN Sports Film Festival-within-a-festival offers a number of features, including Oscar winner Alex Gibney's "Catching Hell," which examines the notorious foul-ball controversy of the 2003 Chicago Cubs season. On April 30, New York indie fixture Ed Burns closes things with his comedy "Newlyweds."
More than a few standouts: In between lies a mix of fiction and non-, world cinema and local attractions and a few standouts that were available for preview: "The Guard," a wry Irish caper film starring Brendan Gleeson, scripted by celebrated playwright Martin McDonagh; Michael Winter bottom's hilarious "The Trip," in which Rob Bryden and Steve Coogan travel the north of England swapping Michael Caine impersonations; the bittersweet "Black Butterflies," about troubled South African poet Ingrid Jonker, played by the startling Carice van Houten; the Israeli slasher film "Rabies"; China's biggest-ever hit, "Let the Bullets Fly," a comedy-Western from the celebrated Wen Jiang; and "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," a doc that makes raw fish as beautiful as a mountain range.
"A great year": "It's my job to say every year is great, but this really was a great year," said executive director Nancy Schafer. Notable, she said, is the wealth of work from regional America that made its way to the festival, a selection that would include the darkly comic and utterly original "Rid of Me," out of Portland, Ore., or "Magic Valley," out of Idaho. Add to this, films from Iceland, Serbia and, yes, Canada. Tribeca may be convenient, but that doesn't mean it has any respect for borders.
10TH ANNUAL TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
Wednesday through May 1 at various locations in Manhattan