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Tribeca Film Festival 2013: what to watch out for in the year ahead

This month we're reporting from and reviewing the latest films debuting at New York's Tribeca Film Festival. From new sci-fi indie thrillers and horror films to indie unknowns and established directors, we'll be covering the releases you'll want to catch in theaters and online in the year to come, digging into the future of distribution, and talking to the directors, producers, actors, cinematographers, and more behind this year's batch of films. In addition, our very own Joshua Topolsky will also be moderating the "Future of Film Live" talks in New York, a series free and open to the public.

  • Thomas Houston

    May 7, 2013

    Thomas Houston

    Watch the Tribeca Film Festival 'Future of Film Live' series with Joshua Topolsky

    2013 Tribeca Film Festival (STOCK)
    2013 Tribeca Film Festival (STOCK)

    Over a period of four days at the end of April, our very own Joshua Topolsky moderated the "Future of Film Live" series at the Tribeca Film Festival. The collection of panels with filmmakers, critics, video game developers, and other industry experts explored how big changes in technology and distribution are changing what we watch on the silver screen and in our homes. In case you weren’t able to make it to New York, the Tribeca Film Festival has put most of the conversations up in full on YouTube, and you can watch below.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 29, 2013

    Adi Robertson

    ‘Byzantium’ review: do we really need another vampire movie?

    byzantium lead
    byzantium lead

    As a concept, vampires are wearing thin. Twilight and its attendant social phenomenon all but destroyed the creature’s mysterious charm — whatever you think of the books, it’s become impossible to avoid jokes about sparkling vampires playing baseball. But 20 years after his seminal Interview with the Vampire, filmmaker Neil Jordan has returned with the quieter Byzantium, based on a play by Moira Buffini. It’s hardly a retread of Interview or a by-the-numbers horror film, but it fails to answer the basic and required question: why do we need another vampire movie?

    While Interview swept across centuries and continents with a cast of forceful characters, Byzantium takes place mostly in a single English city, following the lives of former teen prostitute Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her orphanage-raised daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan). Both are vampires or "sucreants," made not through a bite but on a mysterious island with a stone hut that can bestow immortality on visitors.

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  • Andrew Webster

    Apr 28, 2013

    Andrew Webster

    Watch 35 minutes of Ellen Page in 'Beyond: Two Souls'

    Beyond: Two Souls lead
    Beyond: Two Souls lead

    If you just can't wait until October to see Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe star in the PS3 game Beyond: Two Souls, there's some good news, as 35 minutes of game video has been released. The footage was revealed as part of a two hour-long panel at the Tribeca Film Festival, which featured both Page and game director David Cage. According to the PlayStation blog, the scene was chosen carefully "to avoid many of the major, major spoilers" in the game, though if you want to go into the experience completely fresh you should probably avoid clicking play (if you're wary of spoilers you can check out the brand new cinematic trailer instead). For the rest of us, it's a great chance to see just how well the game manages to blend the worlds of film and gaming.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Apr 28, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    'Before Midnight' review: an unlikely trilogy gets better with age

    Before Midnight
    Before Midnight

    When it comes to movie trilogies, one usually thinks of epics; sweeping sci-fi and fantasy tales with majestic vistas and fanciful characters. What doesn’t often come to mind are dialogue-driven stories about the nuances of everyday life — yet that’s the kind of trilogy director Richard Linklater has completed with his new film Before Midnight. It picks up the continuing story of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), 18 years after the pair first met aboard a train in Europe. A walk-and-talk look at life and love, it’s not only the best film I saw at the Tribeca Film Festival this year — it’s the best of the highly-lauded trilogy itself.

    The story began in 1995 with Before Sunrise. In case you’re not familiar, in that film a twentysomething Jesse is travelling through Europe when he meets a young French woman — Celine — and convinces her to spend the night walking around with him in Vienna. Thick with the hope and idealism of youth, the movie is just that: two characters talking, slowly revealing more about themselves until they realize they’re falling in love.

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  • Russell Brandom

    Apr 27, 2013

    Russell Brandom

    Running with scissors: the director of 'RoboCop' and 'Showgirls' bets on his fans and loses

    tricked verhoeven
    tricked verhoeven

    Debuting his latest film at Tribeca, director Paul Verhoeven took the stage on an almost apologetic note. “I hope that you enjoy it, and will accept the moral choices I made while making the movie.” Coming from a man best known for the supercharged sex and violence of RoboCop, Total Recall, and Showgirls, it’s downright bewildering.

    If he’s cautious, it’s because he just took a big risk and got burned. His latest movie, Tricked, was conceived as “the first user-generated film,” in the words of his producer. It would be a story guided entirely by the audience. Verhoeven began by filming a five-minute script (the first episode), put it online, and asked the audience to write scripts for the next five minutes. All the filmmakers had to do was choose the best one and get filming. The final product is something of a double feature: first, a 50-minute documentary about the process, then the 40-minute short they actually shot.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    Apr 26, 2013

    Dieter Bohn

    Tribeca Film Festival Vine competition winners are stop-motion masterpieces

    Vine Contest Winner
    Vine Contest Winner

    The Tribeca Film Festival has announced the winners of its #6SECFILMS Vine competition. With 400 submissions in several categories, the winners were chosen by a small panel that included the "King of Vines," Adam Goldberg. The winners for most of the categories were Vines insofar as they used the app and were six seconds long, but beyond that most of the winners were essentially stop-motion pieces. Vines of tiny soldiers blasting eggs, magically moving a car with by waving your hand, and tiny paper bugs were all animated in short little films that are compelling and well-produced, but didn't necessarily break new narrative ground.

    The same shouldn't be said for Matt Swinsky's "#LazerAndDonald close shave," which packs a remarkable amount of horror into the strictures of Vine's format. Using incredibly fast jump cuts and tweeting bird audio that works surprisingly well despite the multiple shots, it manages to be haunting enough to rise above the typically cute Vines we're all used to.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 25, 2013

    Adi Robertson

    'Lil Bub & Friendz' review: internet cat culture doesn't need rock stars

    bub 2
    bub 2

    As much as I love the vague category that is “internet culture,” most of it was born to die. The memes get stale, the blogs taper off, the videos that were once hypnotic become insufferable. But Lil Bub, the permanent kitten who has attracted a massive internet following over the past year, will live forever in a documentary. Lil Bub & Friendz is a definitive take on internet cat fandom, a love letter to anyone who’s stayed up late browsing YouTube for kittens falling down slides or riding Roombas. Maybe, though, a love letter is the last thing we really need.

    Lil Bub is so cute as to be mildly unsettling — a tiny cat with a protruding tongue and stubby legs, she’s an uncanny combination of virtually every trait we associate with adorable baby animals. When Bub’s owner Mike Bridavsky carried her into the theater at Tribeca, there was a collective gasp, an instinctive response to look into her giant eyes. Put her in a movie and fill the remainder with the cream of YouTube’s cat crop, and you’ve shut down any attempt at rational thought. How could anyone possibly dislike this? I thought while watching a cat sociologist wearing a cat shirt talk about YouTube cat videos while a nearby cat burrowed into a bag of treats. A mother cat is hugging a baby kitten. Grumpy Cat is rolling around on the carpet. Lil Bub is hissing at a lion. LIL BUB IS HISSING AT A LION.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 25, 2013

    Adi Robertson

    The next decade in television: rooting for Aereo and burying DVDs at Tribeca Film Festival

    Verizon FiOS TV DVR Remote (STOCK)
    Verizon FiOS TV DVR Remote (STOCK)

    How will people watch TV or movies in ten years? It's a question that can be played off or massively inflated, as people forecast a long life for cable and theaters or a complete shift to Netflix and YouTube. At a Tribeca Film Festival panel with our own Josh Topolsky, telecom executives met with entrepreneurs who have successfully made the jump to web — it included Boxee's Avner Ronen, AT&T's Richard Wellerstein, Comcast's Mike Imbesi, and Vuguru's Kristen Jones. Together, they plotted the future of television in a wide-ranging discussion about Aereo, streaming, and the death of DVDs.

    The panelists acknowledged that there's a gap between what viewers want and what's likely to happen. You're probably never, for example, going to be able to regularly buy films online at the same time they launch in theaters, said Wellerstein, who works on AT&T's U-verse TV service. Nor should Americans hope to sign up for internet service and then get digital TV from another company. "What happens there, we like to say — and we talk about that a lot — is World War Three," said Wellerstein. "We have territories, and we don't overlap." These territories were carved up with the idea that companies shouldn't have to lay cable and then open it to competitors, but they've come under fire now that the lines between internet and television service have blurred.

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  • Russell Brandom

    Apr 23, 2013

    Russell Brandom

    'The Kill Team' review: a modern military atrocity gets put under the microscope

    kill team 2
    kill team 2

    You may have heard about it on the news: a rogue group of US soldiers killing civilians “for sport” in Afghanistan. For weeks, it was a staple on 24-hour cable channels, inspiring long newspaper and magazine pieces and sending dozens of soldiers to jail. Debuting at Tribeca, a new documentary called The Kill Team by Dan Krauss finds a new angle on the nightmarish story, following Private Adam Winfield as he navigates the military courts and tries to salvage some sense of humanity along the way.

    The killings themselves are depressingly familiar, recalling the infamous My Lai massacre. Led by the the imposing Staff Sgt. Gibbs, the group began faking firefights and planting weapons as a way to make innocent civilians look like enemy combatants. With Gibbs on their side, the team quickly learned they could kill innocent Afghans with very few questions asked. When they returned to their base, the group would be greeted as heroes, having faced the enemy and survived.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Apr 22, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    ‘Mr. Jones’ review: the cabin-in-the-woods horror flick takes a mindtrip detour

    jones2
    jones2

    Movies like the Paranormal Activity series have helped cement found footage films as a horror subgenre in their own right, though the technique is usually used as a shortcut: putting cameras into characters’ hands offers an immediate sense of danger while jettisoning any visual ambitions. Mr. Jones, which premiered here at the Tribeca Film Festival, tries to subvert that expectation. An indie horror flick with a twist of David Lynch’s Lost Highway, it tweaks the formula to explore the blurred line between nightmares and reality — even though it doesn’t quite stick the landing.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Apr 21, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    ‘The Machine’ review: a stylish indie sci-fi thriller about humanity's obsolescence

    We live in an age where smartphones can tell us when we need to leave for the airport and Turing test competitors inch ever closer to a passing grade, but true artificial intelligence remains out there on the horizon, frustratingly out of reach. At the Tribeca Film Festival a new sci-fi action film imagines one way we might finally achieve that goal — and some of the moral and ethical problems we might not see coming. It’s called The Machine, and you’re going to want to see it.

    The second feature from writer and director Caradog James, the film tells the story of Dr. Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens). It’s the near-future. A cold war with China has pushed the Western world into a continued economic depression, and building the first intelligent machines has become the new space race. McCarthy works for the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense, designing implants for brain-damaged soldiers. He’s a brilliant and driven man seemingly doing noble work — but there’s something darker there pushing him on. There’s also the matter of how well his research is going; there have been accidents along the way, and he’s treading in a particularly grey area of the moral spectrum.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 20, 2013

    Adi Robertson

    ‘Dark Touch’ review: a heady horror film that never quite hits its mark

    dark touch 2
    dark touch 2

    Earlier this month we announced that The Verge is partnering with the Tribeca Film Festival for the Future of Film series, and we'll also be reporting and reviewing new movies from the festival through the rest of April.

    Some of my favorite horror movies hinge on the strange, private lives of children. Without a sense of what’s normal or comprehensible, filmic children can see truth or survive disaster, somehow knowing both more and less than the adults around them. Writer and director Marina de Van promises to build on the mythology of childhood with Dark Touch, a highbrow horror piece that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this week. But despite its potential, Dark Touch gets lost in its attempt to blend genre tropes and quiet drama.

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  • Sam Byford

    Apr 11, 2013

    Sam Byford

    Robert De Niro on Vine: 'you can tell a whole story in six seconds'

    robert de niro (cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com)
    robert de niro (cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com)

    In a Wall Street Journal interview ahead of the Tribeca Film Festival, which opens April 17th, founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal have spoken about the effect of technology on the festival and filmmaking itself. De Niro called video-sharing app Vine an "interesting thing," and seems open to the possibility that it could be a creative tool.

    This year's Tribeca festival features a Vine competition where users can submit their six-second videos for consideration in a wide range of categories. Rosenthal calls the competition "a way of just going back to basics of looking at just imagery and sound in the most fundamental way," and highlights Adam Goldberg's work as one of the more interesting uses of the medium.

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  • Ross Miller

    Apr 8, 2013

    Ross Miller

    The Verge partners with The Tribeca Film Festival for 'The Future of Film Live' April 22nd-25th!

    We are proud to announce a partnership with the world-renowned Tribeca Film Festival for its second annual "Future of Film Live" series. Join us for a wide-ranging series of talks with some of the biggest names in the industry — moderated by our own Joshua Topolsky. Over four days and seven conversations, we'll explore all aspects of film, from inception and creation to distribution and discussion. How will cinematography evolve? How will we embrace non-linear narratives? Is film as we know it dead?

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  • T.C. Sottek

    Apr 6, 2013

    T.C. Sottek

    Submit your six-second Vine films to the Tribeca Film Festival by Sunday night

    vine auteur
    vine auteur

    Are you ready to bump shoulders with filmmaking royalty? If so, you've got until 11:59PM ET tomorrow night to submit your six-second masterpiece for consideration in the Tribeca Film Festival's Vine competition. Tribeca's editors announced the competition back in March, allowing the public to submit as many Vines as they want in any of several categories: including genre films, six-second stories, animations, or three-Vine trilogies. It's the latest high-profile use of Twitter's short-video app, following David Cross' feature film debut on Vine, and the release of a six-second trailer for a big-budget action movie in March.

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