The cinematic rite of spring that is the Tribeca Film Festival has forgone a splashy studio premiere this year, opening instead with the music documentary ‘Mistaken for Strangers’.
The Festival’s co-founder, Jane Rosenthal, noted the change in direction: “We are really looking forward to ‘Mistaken for Strangers’. It’s a documentary that we’re opening the film festival with, and it’s about the indie rock band ‘The National’. It’s actually a very touching story about two brothers. So that will be a very fun and different opening for us.”
Depicting the experiences of director Tom Berninger on tour with his brother, Matt – the band’s frontman – the movie sets the tone for a festival decidedly glib on glitz.
Another factor is this year’s homage to Nelson Mandela, who has supported Tribeca ever since it was established to revitalize New York neighborhoods hit in the 9/11 attacks.
As Robert De Niro explained, paying tribute to him was a given for the festival’s founders: “He was with us for the first festival. And we’ve had many, a few events with Mandela when he first came to the States. So it’s appropriate to do this now when he’s getting on. He’ll be 95 soon, so.”
The 12th Tribeca Film Festival might close with a revival of De Niro’s ‘The King of Comedy’, but the programme is otherwise dominated by the personality-driven exploration of some titanic cultural figureheads, including Richard Pryor, Muhammad Ali and Gore Vidal.
Amongst them is the film with the unwieldy title ‘Michael H. Profession: Director’ which honours Michael Haneke – the reigning world champion of European auteur cinema.
French director, Yves Montmayeur, intersperses cut-up frames of Haneke’s work in reverse with interview footage of the nominally elusive Austrian, who is seen talking candidly about his own emotional investment in his productions.
The Tribeca Film Festival comes to a close on the 28th April.