Tribeca Film Festival early bird highlights

Flesh Out, Driveways, Halston and Luce

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Naomi Watts stars with Tim Roth, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Octavia Spencer, Norbert Leo Butz, Andrea Bang, and Marsha Stephanie Blake in Julius Onah's Luce
Naomi Watts stars with Tim Roth, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Octavia Spencer, Norbert Leo Butz, Andrea Bang, and Marsha Stephanie Blake in Julius Onah's Luce Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

You don't have to be Reynolds Woodcock, the couturier played by Daniel Day-Lewis in Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread, to feel physically attacked by sound in Michela Occhipinti's brilliant Flesh Out, co-written with Simona Coppini, produced by Gregorio Paonessa and Marta Donzelli (Susanna Nicchiarelli's Nico, 1988, Laura Bispuri's Sworn Virgin, Daughter Of Mine). Verida's (Verida Beitta Ahmed Deiche) body is shaped for marriage. Andrew Ahn's Driveways, co-written by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, starring Lucas Jaye, Hong Chau (Alexander Payne's Downsizing), Brian Dennehy, Christine Ebersole, and Jerry Adler brings the worlds closer together, as if gently scolding us for having kept old and young apart in our heads for so long. Halston, by Dior And I director Frédéric Tcheng, and Julius Onah's Luce with Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Octavia Spencer, Norbert Leo Butz, Andrea Bang, and Marsha Stephanie Blake round out the Tribeca Film Festival early bird highlights.

Luce is also one of the many interesting Movies Plus events: Billy Lyons' It Takes A Lunatic with Wynn Handman, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas; Werner Herzog and André Singer's Meeting Gorbachev; Ryan White's Ask Dr. Ruth with Dr. Ruth Westheimer in conversation with Annette Insdorf (her latest book is Cinematic Overtures: How To Read Opening Scenes); Rob Epstein's Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice with a performance by Sheryl Crow; Midge Costin's Making Waves: The Art Of Cinematic Sound with Ben Burtt and Gary Rydstrom, and David Charles Rodrigues' Gay Chorus Deep South with a performance by The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.

Flesh Out
Flesh Out

Flesh Out

This is the story of Verida (Verida Beitta Ahmed Deiche), a Mauritanian girl who is going through the customary three-month preparation for her arranged marriage. These preparatory measures include "gavage" - a term more familiar when applied to the brutal force feeding of geese to produce foie gras. The traditional fattening up of the bride, shown here in excruciating detail, vividly illuminates the paradoxes of ownership of the female body and the wildly varying pressures put on women to conform to the chance standard of beauty that your place and time of birth impose. Historically and internationally a woman's well-being and feeling at home in her own skin has had so pitifully little impact in a male world that to this day sways drunkenly between ideals achieved by corsets and plastic surgery, diet pills and implants. Michela Occhipinti's Flesh Out holds up a cracked mirror.

North American Première International Narrative Competition - Saturday, April 27, 5:30pm - Village East Cinema 6 Expected to attend: Michela Occhipinti



Cody (Lucas Jaye), soon-to-be nine, is busy with his tablet, sitting in the car next to his mother Kathy (Hong Chau) who is driving. They are on their way to the home of Kathy's estranged sister, who recently died, and do not expect what they find. The aunt was a hoarder and emptying the house of all the stuff is no small feat. While Kathy discovers bits and pieces about her sibling's psyche, her son, a shy kid who tends to throw up when overwhelmed, befriends the neighbour. Del, a widowed Korean war veteran in his eighties, is played with warmth and undying mischief, by the great Brian Dennehy. In Andrew Ahn's Driveways, the unlikely team of Cody and Del quickly transgress age and other artificial limitations and demonstrate how fulfilling it is to bond with people instead of things.

North American Premiere Tribeca Critics’ Week - Tuesday, April 30, 6:00pm - Village East Cinema 1 Expected to attend: Brian Dennehy, Christine Ebersole and Andrew Ahn



What's in a name? To this day mentioning Halston can make people swoon, as it did my hairstylist at Bumble and Bumble just this past week, when I brought up Frédéric Tcheng's latest documentary which shines light at the designer's crowning achievements and attempts to come to grips with his eventual fall. There is footage from the Nineties of a tipsy interview with Elsa Peretti, where the jewellery designer, sipping from an "imperfect glass", talks about her friend, whose curved neck perfume bottle she designed in the mid-Seventies. Recent interviews including Marisa Berenson and Pat Cleveland, inform about his beginnings as a milliner at Bergdorf's, the Don Draper-like mystery he liked to shroud his family background in, and his ill-fated collaboration with Charles James. Studio 54 was his playground and Andy Warhol, being asked about whom he most liked to be seated in-between at a dinner, said that would be Halston and Liz Taylor to his left and right.

Spotlight Documentary - Sunday, April 28 at 8:00pm - The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Theater from Chase Expected to attend: Frédéric Tcheng



Nothing is predictable in Julius Onah's high school family drama thriller about the state of life in America. Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is an outstanding pupil, an athlete and valedictorian, with a bright smile that charms everyone, with the exception of his teacher, Ms. Wilson (Octavia Spencer). As a boy in Eritrea, Luce had been a child soldier, before at the age of ten he was adopted by the Edgars, Amy (Naomi Watts) and Peter (Tim Roth). They did their best to undo the damage done and give him a chance of a life not governed by violence. All seems to be going swell until facades begin to crumble. Doubt, suspicion, trust, identity, racism, insanity - this uncategorisable film tackles the big questions. The formidable ensemble cast (which includes Norbert Leo Butz as the epitome of a principal and Marsha Stephanie Blake in a heart rending outburst) show how fleeting truth and light can be, as if we were trying to catch a cloud formation with a butterfly net.

Movies Plus - Sunday, April 28, 7:30pm - BMCC Tribeca PAC Stella Artois Theatre Expected to attend for the discussion: Naomi Watts, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Andrea Bang, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Julius Onah

The 18th Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 24 through May 5.

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