Tribeca Film Festival early bird highlights

Diane, Disobedience, The Gospel According To André, and Nico, 1988

by Anne-Katrin Titze

André Leon Talley is "living for beauty" in Kate Novack's The Gospel According To André
André Leon Talley is "living for beauty" in Kate Novack's The Gospel According To André Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

From the director of A Fantastic Woman (this year's Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film), comes Disobedience, Sebastián Lelio's latest film, starring Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola (2017 Tribeca Best Actor winner for Liz W Garcia's One Percent More Humid). Susanna Nicchiarelli brings us Nico, 1988, with Trine Dyrholm as Christa Päffgen, the Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground icon known as Nico. Hitchcock/Truffaut director Kent Jones makes his feature debut with Diane, executive produced by Martin Scorsese, with Mary Kay Place in the title role. The Gospel According To André, directed by Kate Novack, featuring interviews with Tom Ford, Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs, Valentino Garavani, will.i.am, and Manolo Blahnik on the life of André Leon Talley, and his visit to Isabella Rossellini's farm rounds out the first tally of this year's feature highlights.

Lisa D’Apolito's portrait of Gilda Radner, Love, Gilda, with interviews of Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Chevy Chase, Paul Shaffer, Bill Hader, Lorne Michaels, and Cecily Strong, will open the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18 at the Beacon Theatre.

Diane

Diane
Diane

A stack of laundered clothes folded on a car seat, the flower pattern of a borrowed casserole dish, Agatha Christie books for the dying cousin, onions in the fruit basket, a brown car in front of a brown house - the compositions are neither pretty, nor stylized, nor do they evoke nostalgia in Kent Jones's slow cooking Diane. People wear wooly hats outside in the snow and inside the hospital rooms and homes of rural Western Massachusetts, where Diane (Mary Kay Place), a widow, is surrounded by a large extended family. Her son Brian (Jake Lacy) doesn't know how to deal with his life there and struggles with drugs of one sort or another to give him meaning. The wintry roads slice through the entire film as they slice up the character's daily life. Diane is the rarest kind of road movie, one that stays put in a small town. Absurdity enters in the shape of religion (people speaking in tongues!), and a sense of grace at the food bank, where Diane volunteers ("I feel sanctified," Tom (Charles Weldon), a regular, says about being served by her). In a Mexican-type bar where Diane tries to shed some of the pressure, the scene is suddenly elevated by the choice of a song playing in the background.

World Premiere US Narrative Competition - Sunday, April 22, 3:00pm - SVA 01 Expected to attend: Kent Jones, Mary Kay Place, executive producers Martin Scorsese, Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman, producers Oren Moverman, Caroline Kaplan, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese

Disobedience

Disobedience
Disobedience

The angel and the beast, instinct versus free will, the gift of choice when "from earth He fashioned men and women", and oh the lure of disobedience - these are the themes in the last pronouncements of Rav Krushka (Anton Lesser) during a sermon he gives at a North London synagogue before he collapses dead to the ground. In Sebastián Lelio's Disobedience, co-written with Rebecca Lenkiewicz and based on the novel by Naomi Alderman the rules of tradition coming up against the physical quick violent pangs of rejection are only the beginning. In New York, photographer Ronit (Rachel Weisz) gets a call during a shoot with a heavily tattooed man. "Jesus really hurt," says the subject with a nod to his chest. She takes a flight to London, tearing at her sweater. Upon her arrival back in the Orthodox Jewish community she had left so many years ago, she reunites with two old friends, Esti (Rachel McAdams) and Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), who was "like a son" to her father and replaced her in more than one way. From one second to the next, we do not know how Dovid, a Rabbi, a man of faith, seemingly so set on his track, will react. Superbly suspended between menace and kindness, he remains the greatest mystery to us and to himself. "We weren't expecting you," are his words of greeting to Ronit. Unlike quite a few others in the community, for him, unexpected doesn't mean unwelcome. Ronit wants to hug him hello, he moves away, no physical contact allowed for an Orthodox man. Lelio wisely trusts his actors to convey it all through body language.

Spotlight Narrative - Tuesday, April 24, 8:00pm - BMCC Tribeca PAC - Expected to attend: Sebastián Lelio, Alessandro Nivola, producer and star Rachel Weisz, composer Matthew Herbert, Frida Torresblanco, To Dust producer Emily Mortimer

The Gospel According To André

The Gospel According To André
The Gospel According To André

"I loved seeing Pat Cleveland in Vogue", André Leon Talley states in Kate Novack's embracing documentary that flashes a light to illuminate different stages of the man who invented himself with style and grace, as he boldly confronted obstacles along the way from his childhood living with his beloved grandmother in the Jim Crow South of Durham, North Carolina to the Paris fashion scene where he became bureau chief for Women's Wear Daily in the Seventies. Talley when he attended Brown University on scholarship made friends with the students at the Rhode Island School of Design where they had dress-up nights that he wrote about. Fran Lebowitz has more than one funny anecdote on when she first met Talley when he worked as the receptionist for Andy Warhol's Interview magazine. Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Valentino Garavani, and Manolo Blahnik, along with friends and a teacher from his childhood recall the lasting influence he has had on them. He talks about the great importance of Diana Vreeland, visits the Condé Nast archives with Tonne Goodman, comments in a live blog with Maureen Dowd of The New York Times on the Trump inauguration, and is seen in archival footage interviewing Azzedine Alaïa in French. "Do you know how sophisticated it is to marry navy blue and black?" André Leon Talley comments on a Chanel show from the '80s as we see the footage from the runway. On her farm on Long Island, Isabella Rossellini introduces André to her two gigantic kunekune pigs Boris and Pepe which provokes him to ask an anatomical question.

Special Screening and conversation - Wednesday, April 25, 8:30pm - BMCC Tribeca PAC After the screening: A conversation with director Kate Novack, André Leon Talley, producer Andrew Rossi, executive producer Roger Ross Williams and producer Josh Braun.

Nico, 1988

Nico, 1988
Nico, 1988

"This is Berlin, my darling, it's burning," says a mother to her daughter. The child is to become Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground icon Nico. Susanna Nicchiarelli's extraordinary film is not about those most famous years (which flash onto the screen in snippets of archival footage), nor, with the exception of a few flashbacks, about her war time and postwar German childhood. In Nico, 1988 the focus is on Christa Päffgen (Nico's birth name) in 1986 and the following years when she was working on her solo career, living in Manchester because, as she says "it reminds me of Berlin after the war in ruins." Her bluntness and honesty are disarming and Trine Dyrholm, star of Thomas Vinterberg's The Commune and Festen, gives a fascinating and bold performance in song and words and physicality. A stolen bracelet from Italy (stealing is more fun than getting it as a gift, says Nico), stupid questions at a stupid radio interview, reuniting with her beloved son Ari (Sandor Funtek) on a park bench at a psychiatric hospital, the comment that "young people are boring", her relationship to food and hunger, and multitasking in the bathroom while looking to rent a house (that includes recording the sound of an old boiler and shooting heroin into her ankle) - Nico cannot be easily summed up as so many tried. Her singularity remains, or in the words of Wordsworth: "The marble index of a mind for ever Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone."

North American Premiere Spotlight Narrative - Thursday, April 26, 8:15pm - SVA 02 Expected to attend: Susanna Nicchiarelli

The 17th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival presented by AT&T runs from April 18 through April 29.

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