For day two of the Tribeca All Access Lab, we set up a total of five meetings: Three docs and two narratives. The TAA Lab is an exciting and industry-essential program because of the dynamic range of the content spectrum. Day two was completely different from day one, but certainly no less exciting and innovative. Our philosophy when it comes to TAA is to spread out the meetings over two days in order to maintain an individualized focus from project to project. Past experience has shown us that we are most effective and least limited if we spread the meetings out, maximizing the number of projects we can discuss without sacrificing the committed attention these artists and producers deserve.
Here is a brief overview of TAA 2010, day two:
Grandpa’s Erection (Chihiro Amemiya: director/cinematographer/editor): A really daring project that delves into the double life of Ishii, a 75-year-old Japanese erotic film star and family man. As he lives out his twilight years, he must confront his reluctance to tell his family about his secret career. The oldest erotic star in Japan, Ishii wavers between his desire to come clean to the family while he is still alive, or to maintain his untainted fatherly image. Amemiya’s intense portrait of this conflicted man touches upon the Japanese cultural conflict of sexuality and repression. A project still in development, Amemiya is filming now but on solid ground as she fleshes out the relationship between this one man’s very internal dilemma and her native country’s similar, large-scale crisis.
Displaced (Idil Ibrahim, director; and Anna Fahr, producer): Doc feature Displaced is a journalistic investigation about the Michigan-based nationalistic recruitment of Somali-Americans back to Somalia. After thousands of Somalis sought asylum in the U.S. after their civil war, the next generation of Somali-Americans were “called to jihad” from their homes in Minneapolis back to Somalia to fight against the Ethiopians. The religious tenor of their recruitment caught the attention of the FBI who are currently pursuing an investigation against several members of this Minneapolis community for conspiracy to recruit and fight overseas. The investigation also seeks an answer to the disappearance of 20 Somali-Americans. The Minneapolis-St. Paul community has been hit hard by these disappearances, and Ibrahim focuses on two families that have been most recently affected by the recruitments and subsequent federal investigations. A profound insight into a relatively unknown population in America, Displaced promises a story that will inform and engage audiences at home and abroad.
Peace After Marriage (Ghazi Albuliwi, writer/co-director/producer; Bandar Albuliwi co-director/producer; Faruk Ozerten, producer): A Woody Allen-esque New York City romantic comedy that was born for the Tribeca Film Festival. Ghazi Albuliwi wrote, directed and co-starred in the festival hit West Bank Brooklyn (2002), and has teamed up with his brother Bandar and producing partner Faruk to pitch his second project, Peace After Marriage. An emotionally starved Palestinian-New Yorker agrees to a marriage of convenience—the terms being that she gets a green card, while he gets to escape his overbearing parents. The catch: His new wife is Israeli. Needless to say no one supports this particular brand of culture clash, but the distance from their respective cultural influences drives this unlikely pair closer together. Our romantic heroes are products of disparate backgrounds, but Albuliwi manages to use the backdrop of his hometown to bring them together in a way that allows them to laugh at each other and themselves. Peace After Marriage went on to win TAA’s Best Narrative award, a sure sign that great things are to come from this creative business team.
Gun Hill Road (Rashaad Ernesto Green, director/screenwriter; Michelle-Ann Small, producer): From high comedy to high drama comes a narrative feature about an inner-city family. A father tries to assimilate back into society after a hard criminal life and a brutal stint in jail, while his son explores gender and sexual identity issues. Although their issues are different, the struggle is the same as both men try to figure out their new place in the social world of the Bronx. We found this to be a deep, relatively untouched subject matter for an urban setting, and are really looking forward to mapping this project’s progress.
Sweet Hands (Jason Perez, director/producer): Last on our schedule (but certainly not least) was Sweet Hands. To put it simply, the subject of this fascinating doc is a real-life Rocky. A Golden Gloves quarter-finalist, Nisa Rodriguez is a fighting machine. Groomed to be a champion, an unexpected turn in her home life puts her boxing career on hold. This thrilling project kept us on the edge of our seats. The project is still in development so it would be everyone’s loss if we gave too much away. We can say that the moviemakers captured Nisa’s story in such a way that you will walk away with a new hero. This is a perfect example of the beauty of documentary moviemaking, as Jason was totally open artistically to the twists and turns of this project. We will definitely be rooting for Jason and Nisa in the near future.
Overall, Tribeca All Access 2010 was an enormous success. We could not have found a more invigorating way to kick off the spring festival season and summer production mania. We would like to wish all of the participants the best of luck and congratulate them on their success. Thank you to Tribeca for your continued contribution to independent film, and keeping the indie spirit alive in New York City.
See you next year!
Attorney Steven C. Beer is a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s New York office and has served as counsel to numerous award-winning writers, directors and producers, as well as industry-leading film production, film finance and film distribution companies. He is the founder of R&B FM, LLC, a film production company focusing on producing music-oriented films.