In the first instalment with Tribeca Film Festival Artistic Director Frédéric Boyer we discuss the success of the 20th anniversary edition being back on the big screen (Levan Koguashvili’s Brighton 4th, Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show, Gregory Monro’s Kubrick By Kubrick, Elisabeth Vogler’s Roaring 20s, Warwick Ross and Robert Coe’s Blind Ambition) and some of the selections of this year’s program.
Frédéric Boyer on Lior Ashkenazi in Moshe Rosenthal’s Karaoke: “He’s wonderful! He is typically a man, he plays the macho and it’s cool!” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari (Land Of Dreams, starring Sheila Vand, Matt Dillon, William Moseley, Isabella Rossellini), Moshe Rosenthal (Karaoke, starring Lior Ashkenazi), Del Kathryn Barton (Blaze with Simon Baker), Becky Hutner (Fashion Reimagined on Amy Powney’s Mother Of Pearl), Alexandre O Philippe’s The Wizard Of Oz / David Lynch documentary (Lynch/Oz), Tessa Louise-Salomé (The Wild One, narrated by Willem Dafoe), Jennifer Tiexiera and Camilla Hall (Subject), Signe Baumane (My Love Affair With Marriage), Viesturs Kairiss (January), and Anna Jadowska (The Woman On The Roof, shot by Ita Zbroniec-Zajt) are some of the many filmmakers that we look forward to in the 21st edition of the Tribeca Film Festival.
From Paris, Frédéric Boyer joined me on Zoom for an in-depth conversation on the Tribeca Film Festival.
Anne-Katrin Titze: Hi, good to see you!
Frédéric Boyer: Bonjour, comment ça va? Good to see you since a long time!
AKT: Yes, last year, same time.
FB: Yes, on Zoom because I was not in Tribeca because of the lockdown and the American government didn’t give visas. I’m going to New York next week.
Frédéric Boyer on Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari’s Land of Dreams: “It’s a beautiful film. It’s very rare.” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
AKT: So I will see you this year!
FB: Yes, I hope to see you, too.
AKT: You wrote me that you’re going to Iceland before. Is that for your Iceland International Film Festival?
FB: Yes and no, because we’re doing an Icelandic week in Paris, so I’m going to meet filmmakers in Iceland and then I’m going to New York.
AKT: Are you still in touch with Benedikt Erlingsson?
FB: By the way, I have to write to him, because he’s the guest of honor this year. I think he’s preparing something and I see him in Reykjavik.
AKT: Send him my greetings please.
FB: Of course. I will! He’s a really nice man.
AKT: Also Elisabeth Vogler’s Roaring 20s.
Frédéric Boyer on Del Kathryn Barton’s Blaze, starring Simon Baker: “There are not many examples of an artist making a good film, but this is really a discovery.” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
FB: Yes, I’m just worried this year about all the journalists going to Cannes and to have another film festival after Cannes in June. Because Cannes is exhausting. And I think it’s more and more difficult to find quality films. It’s really difficult because everybody wants to go to Cannes.
AKT: I was happy to see that Shirin’s film, Land of Dreams, is in Tribeca. I saw a cut before it premiered in Venice; she sent me a link. That’s a beautiful film.
FB: Yes, it’s a beautiful film. It’s very rare. Because of Shirin, I think she’s living in Brooklyn, so there’s a support of Isabella Rossellini and so many people are going to come. Normally we don’t play films from Venice because it’s too late, too far away. It’s difficult to find films, even in arthouse. Docs it’s a little bit easier. But there’s enough to make for an interesting festival.
AKT: One I am looking forward to is Fashion Reimagined.
FB: Superb! Fantastique! It’s very unique and I didn’t know this designer, but it’s very good, very interesting.
AKT: Mother of Pearl, Amy Powney and their approach to sustainability is very interesting to me. Another one I’m interested in because of the subject matter is Lynch/Oz.
FB: Yes, this is a guy we’re going to do a retrospective on in Reykjavik. Alexandre O Philippe, he’s from Switzerland and he’s only making films about filmmakers. He did a film about the shower scene in Psycho. This film is extraordinary, this is really the one, it’s fantastic.
Frédéric Boyer on Willem Dafoe: “And by the way, The Wild One about Jack Garfein is narrated specially by Willem Dafoe. I think he is coming.” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
AKT: What else is extraordinary?
FB: In the docs, I would recommend one which is French. The film is called The Wild One. It’s not a biopic, but it’s about a guy who died a few years ago named Jack Garfein. He’s a creator of the Actors Studio in L.A. with Paul Newman and he was a mentor of Ben Gazzara and he is also a survivor of the Holocaust. The story, the interview, it’s deep, it’s interesting, it’s rich, and not only Hollywood.
AKT: Another one I noticed in the Doc competition is Subject [directed by Jennifer Tiexiera and Camilla Hall].
FB: Yes, very interesting. You have an eye!
AKT: How could I not?
FB: Yes, Subject is a good one I would mention, by Latvian filmmaker and animator named Signe Baumane. She did a film called My Love Affair with Marriage. She made a film a few years ago called Rocks in my Pockets. It’s adult animation, it’s feminist, activist, interesting, funny, dark. The animation was done in Brooklyn but the language is Latvian. What is exceptional this year, we have two Latvian films in competition.
The other one is called January, it’s Viesturs Kairiss. It’s the story of the filmmaker who was a photographer when he was 20 and the Russians were in the Baltic countries. It’s interesting in connection to what is happening now about the two forces, east and west. It’s vivid and well-done. I represented the film in Les Arcs as a work-in-progress, so I have a relationship with them.
Levan Koguashvili’s Brighton 4th won three awards in the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Another one which is interesting which was invited in Karlovy and Locarno but they didn’t get a response for Cannes, it’s a Polish film called The Woman On The Roof [directed by Anna Jadowska]. It’s her fourth film and you have a genius female cinematographer. Her name is Ita Zbroniec-Zajt. She is Swedish but she’s living in Poland. She was the cinematographer of Alberi by Michelangelo Frammartino.
AKT: Oh, that was terrific.
FB: She received awards, she’s probably one of the top female cinematographers. It’s about the story of a real woman who tried to rob a bank with a knife from the kitchen. You see this woman who is absolutely not nice; there’s no empathy but it has dark Polish humour and I think it’s a great film. And there’s another film I recommend, an Israeli film called Karaoke by Moshe Rosenthal. When it starts it looks like a little bit TV and then after ten minutes you have a twist and everything is almost in one building in an apartment. I hope you will come and do an interview. He has the main role, Moshe Ashkenazi. He is in Foxtrot, he is everywhere. This film is a comedy which is really good. It can be a remake in the US. And there’s one more, my favourite in a way.
AKT: Let me interrupt for a second, do you mean Lior Ashkenazi?
Frédéric Boyer on Becky Hutner’s Fashion Reimagined on Mother Of Pearl designer Amy Powney: “Superb! Fantastique! It’s very unique and I didn’t know this designer, but it’s very good, very interesting.”
FB: Yes, Lior Ashkenazi!
AKT: He is wonderful.
FB: He’s wonderful! He is typically a man, he plays the macho and it’s cool! It’s one of his best roles. You enjoy this guy, you enjoy the acting; it’s like a feel-good movie in a smart way. It’s important to have this kind of film.
AKT: Lior lifts everything one step higher. I had wonderful conversations with him where he told me “I used to be the sexy guy!”
FB: This is also the part of an old guy who wants to be younger, so it’s perfect for him.
AKT: But I interrupted you, there’s another film you wanted to recommend.
FB: Yes, it was such a fight to get the film. There are extremely few good films made by artists, painters. The exception is maybe Basquiat, in my opinion.
AKT: Schnabel, yes.
FB: Schnabel did several good films.
Frédéric Boyer on Benedikt Erlingsson and the Iceland International Film Festival: “He’s the guest of honour this year.” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
AKT: I agree.
FB: There are not many examples of an artist making a good film, but this is really a discovery. By the way, I didn’t know the artist, but she is super well known in Australia. She’s a star, but I didn’t know her. Her name is Del Kathryn Barton. The film is called Blaze. It’s with Simon Baker; we hope he’s coming.
AKT: Another one I’ve had a great conversation with!
AKT: Yes, all my guys are coming to Tribeca!
FB: Yes, all your guys! And by the way, The Wild One about Jack Garfein is narrated specially by Willem Dafoe. I think he is coming. In Blaze there is animation but not only. I think it’s better for you to know nothing about the film to have the full surprise. For a first film it’s really exceptional. It’s last minute or it would have been in Cannes, but in Cannes they have Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, which is an Australian production and they have another Australian film [Thomas M. Wright’s The Stranger] in Un Certain Regard, so it was too much. But I think it’s perfect for us.
AKT: Looking forward!
FB: Let me know if you need something. You’re always doing great reviews and it’s always interesting what you are doing. What I like is also that the features are very long.
Frédéric Boyer on Moshe Rosenthal’s Karaoke, starring Lior Ashkenazi: “When it starts it looks like a little bit TV and then after ten minutes you have a twist and everything is almost in one building in an apartment.”
AKT: Yes, I don’t like it short. We’ll definitely have to meet in person again this year! Of course, France just dodged a bullet [on April 24].
FB: [exhales dramatically] But it’s not finished. We have the Parliament elections in a month and it’s going to be tough. The problem is not Marine Le Pen, it’s that 40% of the French are far-right. That’s it.
AKT: The world is going absolutely crazy.
FB: Everywhere! I was scared about the news yesterday when I heard that Elon Musk bought Twitter. Wow, one person is buying Twitter?! How can you do that? Imagine it’s a dictatorship and maybe it will be. Imagine you reopen the Donald Trump Twitter account! This is forbidden in Europe now since two days. They worked for three years on new rules to close accounts. It’s not censorship but when it’s racist, offensive, you cannot do it. Facebook is working on it but not Elon Musk. He is for the free speech for everybody. No, I don’t agree.
AKT: Also if you compare the money spent by one person buying Twitter and the money that goes to help Ukraine, there is something that is not right.
FB: It’s not right! There is something wrong. Anyway, I hope to see you soon. Let me know if you need any details, any help. And if I’m thinking about some film, oh Anne-Katrin, maybe she should have a look, I’ll let you know. But these films, I think they are diverse and interesting.
Coming up - More with Frédéric Boyer on further highlights in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
The Tribeca Film Festival runs from June 8 through June 19.