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Tribeca 2023

Paula Beer in Christian Petzold’s Afire (2023)

Lasting just one month short of four years, the siege of Sarajevo brought an early end to nearly fourteen thousand lives. Bill Carter, an American aid worker, aimed to draw the world’s attention to the catastrophe and came up with an unusual plan. He managed to persuade U2 to conduct live interviews with Bosnians via satellite during shows throughout the band’s epic Zoo TV Tour in 1992 and 1993. When the war was over, U2 celebrated by giving a concert in the liberated city, and 45,000 fans cheered when Bono took to the stage and yelled out, “Fuck the past, kiss the future!”

Nenad Cicin-Sain’s Kiss the Future will open this year’s Tribeca Festival tonight, and when it premiered in Berlin, the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wrote that the “globalist grandiloquence of U2 is always in danger of looking naive. But the documentary is an interesting reminder that it is precisely that naive, ahistorical, ungrownup quality of rock music, its youth, its (arguable) callowness, its idealism, which is what made it so potent and so inclusive.”

After presenting 109 features, Tribeca will wrap on June 18 with a thirtieth-anniversary screening of A Bronx Tale, the directorial debut of festival cofounder Robert De Niro. He’ll be there, of course, taking part in a conversation with New Yorker editor David Remnick alongside producer Jane Rosenthal and writer and costar Chazz Palminteri. De Niro plays Lorenzo, a bus driver, and Palminteri is Sonny, the local gangster who’s taken an interest in Lorenzo's nine-year-old son, Calogero (Francis Capra). “The central conflict, the struggle for Calogero’s soul, is stated with a fable's starkness,” wrote Richard Schickel in Time in 1993. “But the tone of the film, perhaps preserved from the performance piece Palminteri originally wrote for himself to play, is musing, reflective, gently insinuating.”

The New York Times has put together a Tribeca package that includes A. J. Goldmann’s profile of Christian Petzold, but the piece on Afire you’ll want to read is Darren Hughes’s interview with Petzold for Cinema Scope. The conversation touches on Vincente Minnelli’s Some Came Running (1958), the example set by Dominik Graf, the subtle role of class in Afire, and the parallels between Leon, the writer played by Thomas Schubert, and Petzold himself.

Paula Beer plays Nadja, a free spirit enjoying a fling with a lifeguard, Devid (Enno Trebs), while vacationing on the Baltic coast in the home owned by the family of Leon’s best friend, Felix (Langston Uibel). “Afire is a fairy tale by way of Rohmer’s La collectionneuse (1967),” writes Hughes in his introduction. “For Petzold, the greatest shock of watching that film for the first time in decades was discovering that Rohmer had given agency to Haydée (Haydée Politoff), the object of desire, in ways that the men in the film were oblivious to—and that the twentysomething Petzold who first viewed it had overlooked as well.”

Back in the NYT, Nicolas Rapold talks with the filmmakers behind three documentaries that took a good number of year’s to complete. Apolonia, Apolonia, Lea Glob’s portrait of Parisian artist Apolonia Sokol, spans thirteen years; Andrew H. Brown and Moses Thuranira spent four years with Kole James, a young member of the Turkana community in the Kenyan village of Ngaremara, to make Between the Rains; and in 2018, Jude Chehab shot her first conversation with her mother, Hiba Khodr, about Khodr’s involvement with a secretive religious sect. Chehab’s Q will see its world premiere on Friday.

Also in the NYT package, David Belcher talks with Stephen Kijak about his new documentary, Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed; George Gene Gustines writes about Stan Lee, David Gelb’s portrait of the creative force behind Marvel Comics; and Farah Nayeri interviews Maggie Contreras, whose Maestra introduces us to several contenders taking part in the world’s only all-women competition for conductors.

Contreras is one of three women directors Ray Mark Rinaldi speaks with; the other two are Olivia West Lloyd, whose thriller Somewhere Quiet stars Jennifer Kim as a woman trying to get her life back after she was abducted, and Gabriella A. Moses, whose coming-of-age drama Boca Chica centers on Dominican siblings hoping to launch careers in music. “No matter how women are getting the chance to direct these days, the sentiment that they need to lead a new generation of female filmmakers seems to prevail,” writes Rinaldi. All three directors he interviews “gave key jobs—as producers, writers, designers and editors—to other women.”

Kyle Turner spotlights five LGBTQ-themed films, and in the Hollywood Reporter, Hilary Lewis has notes on several films directed by actors, including Michael Shannon, David Duchovny, Chelsea Peretti, Jennifer Esposito, and John Slattery. For further recommendations, turn to the annotated lists put together by contributors to Hammer to Nail,IndieWire, and the Playlist.

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