Looking ahead to Tribeca

Artistic Director Frédéric Boyer on the 2023 selections

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Tribeca Film Festival Artistic Director Frédéric Boyer with Anne-Katrin Titze: “There’s a first film from Germany, which I think is brilliant.”
Tribeca Film Festival Artistic Director Frédéric Boyer with Anne-Katrin Titze: “There’s a first film from Germany, which I think is brilliant.”

In the first instalment with Tribeca Film Festival Artistic Director Frédéric Boyer we discuss Christian Petzold’s Afire (Roter Himmel, starring Paula Beer, Thomas Schubert, Enno Trebs, Langston Uibel); Frédéric Tcheng and Bethann Hardison’s Invisible Beauty; Ethan Berger’s The Line (on the recommendation of Robert Eggers’ The Witch producer Jay Van Hoy); Michael Shannon’s Eric LaRue (Judy Greer, Alexander Skarsgård, Alison Pill, Tracy Letts, Paul Sparks); David Duchovny’s Bucky F*cking Dent; John Slattery’s Maggie Moore(s) (Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, Micah Stock, Nick Mohammed, Happy Anderson, Mary Holland); Steve Buscemi’s The Listener (Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Hall, Jamie Hector, Alia Shawkat); Anna Roller’s Dead Girls Dancing (Luna Jordan, Noemi Liv Nicolaisen, Katharina Stark, Sara Giannelli); Maria Fredriksson’s The Gullspáng Miracle; Michael Selditch’s Happy Clothes: A Film About Patricia Fields, and Stephen Kijak’s Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed.

Christian Petzold’s Afire, starring Paula Beer, Enno Trebs, Langston Uibel, and Thomas Schubert
Christian Petzold’s Afire, starring Paula Beer, Enno Trebs, Langston Uibel, and Thomas Schubert

The 21st edition of the Tribeca Film Festival had quite a few highlights including Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari’s Land Of Dreams (screenplay by Jean-Claude Carrière and Azari. starring Sheila Vand, Matt Dillon, Anna Gunn, William Moseley, Isabella Rossellini); Del Kathryn Barton’s Blaze (Simon Baker, Julia Savage, Yael Stone, Josh Lawson, Sofia Hampson); Moshe Rosenthal’s Karaoke (Sasson Gabay, Rita Shukrun, Lior Ashkenazi); Lena Góra and Michal Chmielewski’s Roving Woman (executive produced by Wim Wenders); Tessa Louise-Salomé’s The Wild One (on Jack Garfein); Vérane Frédiani and Franck Ribière’s Reinventing Mirazur (on Chef Mauro Colagreco); Becky Hutner’s Fashion Reimagined (on Amy Powney); Tommy Walker and Ross Hockrow’s Kaepernick & America (on Colin Kaepernick); Annette K Olesen’s A Matter Of Trust (Trine Dyrholm and Morten Hee Andersen); Clara Stern’s Breaking The Ice (Judith Altenberger, Alina Schaller, Tobias Samuel Resch, Pia Hierzegger, Wolfgang Böck); Peter Hengl's Family Dinner (Nina Katlein, Michael Pink, Alexander Slade, Pia Hierzegger); Amélie van Elmbt and Maya Duverdier’s Dreaming Walls: Inside The Chelsea Hotel; Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller’s Oscar-shortlisted Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song, and Ethan Silverman’s Angelheaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan & T. Rex.

From Paris, Frédéric Boyer joined me on Zoom for an in-depth conversation on the 22nd edition of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Frédéric Boyer on Christian Petzold’s Afire: “It was such a difficulty to bring the film, but it’s done. I’m so happy, finally.”
Frédéric Boyer on Christian Petzold’s Afire: “It was such a difficulty to bring the film, but it’s done. I’m so happy, finally.” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Anne-Katrin Titze: Hello! How is Paris?

Frédéric Boyer: Hello! Paris is beautiful. I mean the world is very tense everywhere. We are really close to Ukraine, so for us Europeans, and also for you, because you are European, there is something which is new - we didn’t know this.

AKT: I spoke with Bernard-Henri Lévy the day before yesterday, about his new film about Ukraine to première at the United Nations [on May 4]. It’s terrifying what is going on.

FB: It is terrifying. Not only the war, but people in the world who are totally against what we call democracy. At the same time the planet is collapsing.

AKT: We are at a crucial point - just yesterday I showed my college students a clip of Mr. Rogers talking in front of the US Senate in 1969 to rescue funding for PBS. They saw a world of caring and listening that doesn’t exist anymore.

FB: Absolutely.

AKT: There is something missing. They are in a world of constant bombardment with what gives no nourishment. But let’s talk Tribeca!

Frédéric Boyer on Invisible Beauty director Frédéric Tcheng: “He’s a great person, very elegant.”
Frédéric Boyer on Invisible Beauty director Frédéric Tcheng: “He’s a great person, very elegant.”

FB: Tribeca!

AKT: Yes, on to happier fields! Last year’s crop was quite good, Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari’s Land of Dreams, for example. After our annual pre-Tribeca talk last year, I spoke to many of the filmmakers.

FB: This year, a lot of films we call docs are to have a conversation afterwards. I find a way to find good filmmakers, there is enough for everybody. A bit of gaming, by the way the concerts are going to be very good. I would love to see Gloria Gaynor because I think she’s a diva. Even the talks - Fincher, Soderberg - and also in films there are things that are really good.

AKT: Well, the one that I have been hunting for to see since Berlin is Afire, Christian Petzold’s latest.

FB: Of course!

AKT: I spoke with Christian many times. He wanted to talk to me since Afire premiered in Berlin, but it has been impossible to get to see the film. So I’m looking forward to that.

FB: Yes, Petzold is coming. It was such a difficulty to bring the film, but it’s done. I’m so happy, finally. The film has a distributor, for them it’s a summer movie, and in a way it is. Because it’s about fire; it’s for a release in July.

AKT: In the Doc Competition I saw some titles that may be interesting, for instance Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed?

FB: I tell my colleagues, Rock Hudson, you can watch it for the pleasure, but first invite it blindly. It is really extraordinary. When I was at Directors' Fortnight [in Cannes], I presented the film about the Stones in 1972 at the Villa Nellote in Antibes, called Exile on Main St. We had been in touch and he [Stephen Kijak] did this film and I think it’s really wonderful. For me it’s probably my favourite; it’s absolutely not a biopic. It’s a love letter to cinema.

Frédéric Boyer on The Line director Ethan Berger: “I think he’s really a good filmmaker.”
Frédéric Boyer on The Line director Ethan Berger: “I think he’s really a good filmmaker.”

AKT: A doc I noticed simply by the the description is called The Gullspång Miracle [by Maria Fredriksson]?

FB: It’s very interesting. Sometimes I was wondering if everything is true. Probably true? Is it reenacted? Because in documentaries the question of the truth it’s essential. But I like it, it’s absolutely one of my favourites.

There’s a first film from Germany, which I think is brilliant. Anna Roller’s Dead Girls Dancing. It doesn’t look like a Berlin School film, it’s quite interesting how the young generation is going away from the Berlin School, which of course I love. Like the French cinema in a way, they don’t want to be a Rohmerian, or Truffaut - though we are still in the heritage of these masters. It’s very interesting - I would say, in a good way between The Virgin Suicides [by Sofia Coppola] and [Luca] Guadagnino’s first films.

AKT: That sounds great, actually!

FB: I think she’s going to be a shooting star. I think it’s very interesting in terms of German cinema. The opposite of Petzold in a way.

AKT: That’s why we speak of waves in cinema, isn’t it?

FB: It’s exactly that! I really appreciate the filmmakers who think about what they are doing and are not automatic.

Tessa Thompson in Steve Buscemi’s The Listener
Tessa Thompson in Steve Buscemi’s The Listener

AKT: Some big-name actors directed films in this year’s program. There is Michael Shannon’s directorial debut [Eric LaRue].

FB: Yes, I didn’t see it. I really like the guy, he’s a fascinating person.

AKT: I agree and felt the same when I spoke with him about Midnight Special [directed by Jeff Nichols].

FB: I’m not sure this is a total masterpiece, but it looks good. Michael Shannon is not Nicholas Cage, but he’s cult enough to have attention. Like Woody Harrelson, this is the type of actor who is in the middle of their life and they are trying to do something.

AKT: Another one is David Duchovny’s film. Did you see that one? Bucky F*cking Dent?

FB: Yeah, it’s not bad.

AKT: It’s the baseball thing. I like David Duchovny.

FB: Yes exactly! Sometimes we are watching films for different reasons.

AKT: John Slattery [Maggie Moore(s)]? A Mad Men reunion film?

FB: It’s fine!

Frédéric Boyer on Stephen Kijak’s Rock Hudson All That Heaven Allowed: “For me it’s probably my favourite; it’s absolutely not a biopic. It’s a love letter to cinema.”
Frédéric Boyer on Stephen Kijak’s Rock Hudson All That Heaven Allowed: “For me it’s probably my favourite; it’s absolutely not a biopic. It’s a love letter to cinema.”

AKT: And Steve Buscemi [The Listener]? To get all the names in one!

FB: It’s a bit better. There’s a film I really like a lot. There’s a film recommended by the producer of The Witch, Jay Van Hoy, a friend of mine. It’s in Spotlight Narrative; a film [Ethan Berger’s The Line] about the frat boys. I think he’s really a good filmmaker.

AKT: What else did I notice? Happy Clothes: [A Film About Patricia Fields by Michael Selditch] - there’s always at least one film on fashion in Tribeca. Last Year it was Fashion Reimagined. I spoke to the director Becky Hutner about sustainable fashion. This one is about Patricia Field.

FB: Yeah, it’s good. But prefer the one by Frédéric Tcheng [Invisible Beauty].

AKT: That was the next one I wanted to talk to you about!

FB: He’s fantastic. They decided to première in Sundance, but we decided to include it because we play all the films by Frédéric Tcheng.

AKT: For good reason! I spoke with Frédéric about Halston and Dior And I - he’s great.

FB: He’s a great person, very elegant.

AKT: I am on my way now to meet Volker Schlöndorff in Midtown, do you know him?

FB: Ah, I love him. I was in a jury last year in Bergamo. The guy is speaking so many languages, he knows everything! He’s fun, he’s almost 90 years old, he’s so cool! He’s really a smart guy.

Tina Fey and Jon Hamm in John Slattery's Maggie Moore(s)
Tina Fey and Jon Hamm in John Slattery's Maggie Moore(s)

AKT: He is! We’ve known each other for many years.

FB: Extraordinary! I love him!

AKT: I’ll pass on your greetings. I did not know Bergamo had a film festival! I’m meeting him at the Austrian Cultural Forum where they have a Hedy Lamarr exhibition at the moment.

FB: Wow!

AKT: I did a feature with the curator on it.

FB: Please send it to me! I’ll be back in New York and will tell you about events! Maybe something you’ll find exciting, not to review, just for you as a friend!

AKT: That would be great. Always wonderful to talk!

FB: Oh, thank you! June 1 I’m going to Cannes for two weeks and after that I’ll be in New York!

Coming up - More with Frédéric Boyer on the 22nd edition of the Tribeca Film Festival.

The 22nd edition of the Tribeca Film Festival runs from June 7 through June 18.

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