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‘Roger’ takes Tribeca

Kidd pic, 'Chiefs' docu top inaugural film fest

NEW YORK — Dylan Kidd’s “Roger Dodger,” which made its world premiere at the inaugural Tribeca Film Festival, nabbed the fest’s narrative feature kudos as the five-day event wrapped Sunday, with an awards ceremony at Pace U.’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, near City Hall.

International showcase programmer Eamonn Bowles told Daily Variety that the festival had “exceeded our wildest expectations, considering the enormity of the projects.”

The feature doc prize went to Daniel Junge’s “Chiefs,” a chronicle of two seasons of Wyoming Indian High School basketball. Narrative features “Washington Heights,” helmed by Alfredo De Villa, and “12 Hours,” from director Raul Marchand-Sanchez, were awarded a special mention.

Eric Eason nabbed the emerging filmmaker nod, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize from American Express, for “Manito.” Marchand-Sanchez also received a special mention in the fest’s emerging filmmaker category.

Luis Prieto’s “Bamboleho” won the narrative short nod, while Jessica Sharzer took the special mention for “The Wormhole.”

‘Water’ wins doc short

Mexican-born Natalia Almada, who recently moved to Brooklyn, won the doc short prize for “All Water Has a Perfect Memory.” Eva Saks’ “Family Values” won the special mention.

The TFF bestowed a student award on the short “Magnet Man,” directed by Marcin Wrona.

Special acting mentions went to Travis Brandon Rosa in Liat Dahan’s short pic “Climbing Miss Sofia” and Graeme Rhodes for his perf in Aussie Nicholas Tomnay’s short “The Host.”

Although distrib presence was slim at the TFF, “Roger Dodger” is one film distribs had already been eyeing, and its feature kudos will no doubt increase the likelihood of a theatrical pact. Pic stars newcomer Jesse Eisenberg as a suburban teen on the loose in Manhattan who seeks tips on women from his cynical uncle, played by Campbell Scott. Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkley co-star.

Other pics that have attracted acquisition buzz were Matthew Buzzell’s doc “Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew,” Mark Moskowitz’s doc “Stone Reader” and the features “Emmett’s Mark,” helmed by Keith Snyder, and “Manito.”

Spacey project

The Kevin Spacey-produced “Uncle Frank,” from director Matthew Ginsberg, drew an appreciative crowd, particularly since Spacey was on hand to support the pic.

“I have a real respect and admiration for citizens who are older,” said the thesp, who recalled volunteering at a retirement home when he was 11. “Older people need people to visit them. This film is an uplifting journey about how to live life and embrace one’s golden years with dignity. I could not say no to this visit.”

Rosenthal, circulating at the after-party for Warner Bros.’ “Insomnia” over the weekend, said the fest’s family street fair had attracted 100,000 visitors to Tribeca. Though no official numbers were released, the streets of lower Manhattan bustled with activity on Saturday, the day of the TFF street family fest. A bartender at a Greenwich Street salon called business “insane.” Many of the fest’s pics were screened at the United Artists Battery Park Theater, located within the Embassy Suites hotel, one block from ground zero.

Bowie surprise

An estimated 10,000 happy fans took to Gotham’s Battery Park on Friday evening for the MTV/TFF music and comedy fest. David Bowie made a surprise appearance joining Sheryl Crow, Counting Crows, Wyclef Jean and comedians Robin Williams, Jimmy Fallon and Billy Crystal. On a large-screen television, MTV also unveiled a musicvid featuring U2 singing a new song from the forthcoming Martin Scorsese pic “Gangs of New York,” from Miramax.

Despite the fest’s apparent success in terms of the sheer numbers of attendees, industry insiders cautioned Sunday that it was too early to assess whether the fest was a one-hit wonder or would become a staple in the fest circuit.

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