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This year’s selection of Queens−related films at the Tribeca Film Festival is as diverse as the borough itself, with two new movies about immigration, including the first from Serbia to ever play at the festival, as well as three documentaries and Woody Allen’s new comedy making their debuts.
The festival, which features more than 150 films from 36 countries this year, will run from April 22 through May 3 at various Manhattan theaters.
Queens has long maintained a presence in the festival, from film premieres and screenings in the borough to official selections that were shot in its various neighborhoods, and 2009’s roster is no exception.
Director Darko Lungulov’s sophomore feature “Here and There” will be the first film from Serbia to screen at the festival when it makes its debut Thursday at 9:15 p.m. at AMC’s Village VII theater on Third Avenue in Manhattan. The film, which will also screen at that theater April 26 at 1 p.m., May 1 at noon and May 2 at 8:45 p.m., was shot partly in Long Island City and Astoria.
“I think a lot of people will identify with the movie, especially new immigrants that have come here,” Lungulov said. “I think it will also give an inside look to U.S. citizens who don’t face these problems. It will give them a new outlook.”
The film, which includes two interconnected stories, follows middle−aged New Yorker Robert, who travels to Serbia to make quick cash by marrying a woman who needs U.S. immigration papers, and Serbian immigrant Branko, as he struggles in New York in order to raise enough money to bring his girlfriend to America.
Lungulov, who worked for years as a “man in a van” mover of furniture in the five boroughs, said he chose Queens locales for the film to give moviegoers a glimpse of city neighborhoods outside Manhattan.
“I feel Queens gets sidetracked in films,” he said. “People know Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, but I think Queens needs more recognition.”
“Here and There” features sequences along Long Island City’s Vernon Boulevard, Astoria’s 31st Avenue and the Queensborough Bridge, which plays a pivotal role in the film’s finale.
“I chose Vernon Boulevard because it is so colorful and has a mixture of residential [homes] and businesses,” he said. “And I picked the Queensborough Bridge because it gives a really majestic view of Manhattan for a newcomer seeing New York for the first time.”
Lungulov said he hopes to score a distributor at the festival, which will be the largest venue for his film so far.
Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte’s immigrant tale “Entre Nos” will also debut at the film, screening April 25 at 6 p.m., April 29 at 4:45 p.m. and May 2 at 3:45 p.m. All three screenings will take place at the AMC Village VII.
The film follows a young mother who leaves Bogota, Colombia, with her two children to reunite with her husband in America. But she is forced to scour the city’s trash and collect cans to feed her family after her husband abandons them. “Entre Nos,” which translates to “We Can,” was shot in Jackson Heights, Flushing and Corona.
Woody Allen’s latest comedy, “Whatever Works,” was slated to make its debut at Tribeca on April 22. The film, which featured shooting at Kaufman Astoria Studios, follows the story of an upper−class New Yorker (Larry David) who decides to live a bohemian existence and becomes involved with a young woman (Evan Rachel Wood).
Two punk−rock−themed documentaries with Queens connections will premiere at the festival, including Celine Danhier’s “Blank City” and Mandy Stein’s “Burning Down the House: The Story of CBGB.”
Danhier’s film chronicles the wave of “Do It Yourself” filmmaking that marked the late 1970s downtown New York scene. The picture’s soundtrack, which features music by Sonic Youth, The Contortions and Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, was supervised by Woodside DJ Dan Selzer.
Stein’s movie documents legendary but now−defunct Manhattan club CBGB. The film will screen at 7 p.m. at Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts and will be followed by a panel discussion with Forest Hills native Tommy Ramone, Ice−T, Fab Five Freddy and Legs McNeil.
The festival will also screen the documentary “Transcendent Man,” which profiles Queens native Ray Kurzweil, who is a futurist and inventor. In the film, Kurzweil discusses his ideas for the future in which he believes a fusion between humans and super−intelligent machines will lead to a new stage of evolution.
Other Tribeca highlights include Steven Soderbergh’s controversial “The Girlfriend Experience”; “In the Loop,” with James Gandolfini; “My Life in Ruins,” with Richard Dreyfuss and Nia Vardalos; Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna in “Rudo y Cursi”; and Japan’s “Departures,” the surprise winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.
Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at criticalconditions.net.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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