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Archive for May 1st, 2012

Screen cap from 'War Witch', best film at Tribeca

by Sam Juliano

Tribeca 2012 is over, but for some the memories will be deep.  The nine day festival, originally founded by the actor Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal, was created as a panacea for the tragedy brought upon downtown Manhattan after the twin towers fell.  At a time of emotional scars, the idea was to widen the cultural options for New Yorkers who desperately needed to re-focus.  Originally the Tribeca Film Festival was expected to absorb the overflow from the prestigious New York Film Festival, and serve more as a second-tier forum for new filmmakers to gain some much-needed public exposure for work that would be hard-pressed to gain theatrical release.  With the ultimate goal the revival of downtown Manhattan’s economy after the devastation wrought by the terror attacks, Tribeca has evolved into one of the world’s most respected annual film events, one that generates millions and serves as a springboard for up and coming talents in the film community.

The 2012 event, highlighted by screenings of Jaws on an outdoor screen after music and dancing, and the premiere of The Avengers, offered 89 narrative and documentary features and nine extensive collections of short films, most screened three or four times during the nine-day run of the event.  Some of these are screened on the festival’s final Sunday if they win awards from the Tribeca jury or the audiences.  Several sessions of ‘Tribeca Talks’  with distinguished artists and directors are worked into the schedule as well, and cover a wide range of subjects connected to the film industry.

Native New Yorkers, and visitors in for the festival quickly needed to negotiate the festival’s main venues, anchored by six screens in the Chelsea Cinemas on 23rd Street, a convenient, centrally-located multiplex in the heart of Chelsea.  The two screen SVA Theatre, also on 23rd Street, is barely a three minute walk from the Chelsea Cinemas.  The AMC Village East 7 on 3rd Avenue and the BMCC Tribeca PAC near the World Trade Center featured some of the festival’s more prestigious screenings, a good number of which were sold out.  One could successfully negotiate the daily screenings by understanding the subway system or by knowing where to park your car.  Otherwise, walking in the nice Spring weather was an attractive option for many.  As expected we took full advantage of our Saturday night kitchen, The Dish, which is just three blocks from the Chelsea Cinemas on 8th Avenue.  ‘Lucky Burgers’ next door to the multiplex offered 10% off to Tribeca badge holders. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1927 95m) not on DVD

Aka. Chuji tabi nikki

A Tale of Edo

d/w  Daisuke Ito  ph  Rakuzo Watarai, Hiromitsu Karasawa

Denjiro Okochi (Chuji Kunisada), Hideo Nakamura (Kantaro), Ranko Sawa (Okume), Naoe Fushimi (Oshina), Mononosuke Ichikawa, Eiji Murakami, Nobuko Akitsuki, Motoharu Isokawa,

There’s something about Daisuke Ito’s film that feels as if it’s not of this world, a part of the cinematic ether, viewed not though a projector onto a screen but through a crystal ball or in a pool guarded by an enchantress.  It’s about Chuji Kunisada, a Japanese Jesse James or Robin Hood figure of the early 19th centuryEdo period, an outlaw gambler who had honour, at least according to legend.  And legend was what Ito’s film had long entered into, voted the best Japanese film of all time in a 1959 Kinema Jumpo poll.

My first glimpse of it, as if through the flames of an Egyptian soothsayer, was in 1995 when, during the Japanese section of the BFI and Channel 4’s Century of Cinema season, Nagisa Oshima talked of its discovery.  Then the notion of Japanese silent film was a new one; I hadn’t yet seen Kinugasa’s A Page of Madness or Crossways and it seemed highly unlikely I’d ever see Chuji.  It took 17 years to finally do so, in an old print taken from a VHS tape with counter code still included and no soundtrack, but at least with English subtitles. (more…)

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