Fest takes 'Flight,' 'Frankie'

The Tribeca Film Festival has unveiled its lineup for five competitive sections, studded by 30 world premieres, with Brit pics and U.S. indies going up against productions from Europe, Asia and the Middle East in the main narrative feature competition.

Third annual downtown Gotham event also includes six international premieres, 13 North American bows and 10 U.S. preems.

Highlights include Scottish director Shona Auerbach’s “Dear Frankie,” which stars Emily Mortimer and Gerard Butler. Miramax recently picked up the drama, about a single mother attempting to protect her son from the truth about his father.

Other notable preems in the main competition include Brit helmer John Furse’s “Blind Flight,” about the unlikely bond between an Irish nationalist and an English journalist, played by Ian Hart and Linus Roache, respectively; John Simpson’s stylized Irish thriller “Freeze Frame”; and Spanish actress-turned-director Luna’s prostitution drama “Whore,” starring Daryl Hannah, Denise Richards and Joaquim de Almeida.

Representing the U.S. is Zak Tucker’s “Poster Boy,” about the gay son of a U.S. senator on the campaign trail, starring Karen Allen, Michael Lerner and Jack Noseworthy; and Richard Ledes’ stranger-than-fiction tale of 1950s small-town life, “A Hole in One,” with Michelle Williams and Meat Loaf Aday.

Also competing is Iranian helmer Mani Haghighi’s “Abadan,” about a woman’s search for her runaway father in a city devastated by war; and Amer Alwan’s dramatic chronicle of the final days of life under Saddam Hussein, “Zaman, the Man From the Reeds,” the first feature shot in Iraq in more than a decade.

Entries from Europe include 21-year-old French actress Isild le Besco’s directing debut “Half-Price,” about children fending for themselves in the adult world; Russian Aleksei German Jr.’s surreal WWII tale “Last Train”; Italian Paolo Franchi’s drama of voyeurism and obsession “The Spectator”; and Greek director Tassos Boulmetis’ national box office hit about cultural separation, “Touch of Spice.”

Also competing is Chinese director Liu Sen Dou’s sexually candid look at different notions of love, “Green Hat”; and Brazilian drama “The Other Side of the Street,” about a woman romantically entangled with a murder suspect, starring Fernanda Montenegro (“Central Station”) and directed by Marcos Bernstein.

Fest exec director Peter Scarlet –along with founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff — announced the competition lineup Thursday, noting that submissions this year were up by 900 over last year with a total of 3,300 films entered.

This year’s fest will feature a new category for New York filmmakers, the NY, NY Feature and Documentary competitions, to be judged by the New York Film Critics Circle. Locally made narrative features include Brett C. Leonard’s “Jailbait,” with Michael Pitt; stage-to-screen adaptation “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” by Roger Paradiso; and Randel Cole’s “2B Perfectly Honest,” with Adam Trese, Andrew McCarthy and John Turturro.

“This festival was born in part to show the worth of the independent film scene in New York, and the fact that we now have two competitions for local filmmakers is another step toward recognition,” Scarlet told Daily Variety. “Beyond that, this is a very broad and eclectic international selection with filmmakers moving in interesting new directions.”

Event offers five competition categories: Features, Documentary Features, Documentaries >2 (for experienced filmmakers with more than two features under their belts), NY, NY Features and NY, NY Documentaries.

Several docu entries focus on hot zones of conflict, including Liz Mermin’s “Beauty Academy of Kabul,” a Wellspring pickup about American women teaching beauty skills to Afghan women; Juliano Mer Khamis and Danniel Danniel’s “Arna’s Children,” about kids who came through an alternative education system in Israel’s occupied West Bank; Michael McHugh’s “Unreliable Witness,” about the Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland; and Yassamin Maleknasr’s “Afghanistan, the Lost Truth,” about the war-ravaged country after the fall of the Taliban.

NY, NY docu selections include “Crazy Legs Conti,” about a champion competitive eater; “Kill Your iDols,” which looks at the Gotham art-punk music scene; “Resist,” a tribute to the Living Theater and its founders; and “Last of the First,” about the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band.

Further features in the Tribeca lineup, including gala premieres and Showcase titles, will be announced in the coming weeks. Fest opens May 1 with Disney romantic comedy “Raising Helen,” starring Kate Hudson and directed by Garry Marshall, and runs through May 9 at a series of Lower Manhattan venues.

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