Urban Cinefile
"At 14 I'd play tennis with Jean Harlow's dad. He was a dentist. My uncle dated Joan Crawford."  -Robert Altman on growing up in Kansas City
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday June 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Australian drama, Accidents Happen, directed by Andrew Lancaster, written by Brian Carbee, will have its world premiere at this year’s Tribeca film festival (April 22-May 3) in New York, as part of the 86 feature length and 46 short film selections from around the world, while The Burning Season, directed by Cathy Henkel, will have its international premiere at the fest.

The 2009 film selection encompasses feature films from 33 different countries, including 48 World Premieres, 5 International Premieres, 14 North American Premieres, 3 U.S. Premieres and 11 New York City Premieres, as well as 8 titles, which are part of the third annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. 81 directors will be presenting feature works at the Festival, with 37 of these filmmakers presenting their feature directorial debuts. 23 of the 81 directors are women. The 2009 feature films were chosen from a total of 2,254 feature submissions.

“Each year we look forward to bringing our films to the most engaged movie-going audience and providing filmmakers a global stage,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. “Film festivals play a critical role in the life of a film. Tribeca is here to support these films and filmmakers along their journey. We are very proud of the slate this year and hope everyone will come and enjoy the festival.”

“The films this year will either entertain you, allow you to escape to faraway places, or encourage you to think about familiar stories in new ways,” said Nancy Schafer, Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Festival.

“I’m really excited about the fantastic mix of talent we have this year. There are many impressive debut directors and astounding performances by up-and-coming actors whom I believe have strong futures ahead of them,” said David Kwok, Director of Programming. “When considering these films alongside the remarkable new work being presented by established talent, I think viewers will be pleased by what they find in our competition and discovery sections.”

This year, twelve narrative and twelve documentary features will compete for combined unrestricted cash prizes amounting to $100,000, including prizes totalling $50,000 from American Express for the Best New Narrative and Documentary Filmmakers.

World Narrative Feature Competition:
A compelling cross-section of bold creative visions from every corner of the globe come together in this year’s World Narrative Feature Competition. Presenting a diverse array of unique voices, this international film collection includes premieres from a wide range of directors, such as U.S. indie veterans the Polish brothers and Tony-nominated Conor McPherson, as well as exciting newcomers. Together, these filmmakers introduce us to tales on life, death and all the various forms of love in between – from a girl-loves-girl story set in Buenos Aires, to a dysfunctional family in a Connecticut suburb in the 80’s, to a young Israeli woman’s attempt at stitching together the shattered fragments of her life after surviving a suicide bomber explosion. The 12 films in this section will compete for Best Film, Best New Filmmaker and Best Actor and Actress prizes.

About Elly (Darbareye Elly), directed and written by Asghar Farhadi. (Iran) – North American Premiere. A group of old college pals reunites for a weekend adventure on the sea, but compounding lies and deception quickly lead to catastrophe. Everyone hopes Sepideh’s new friend Elly will hit it off with Ahmad, newly divorced from his German wife and in search of an Iranian bride, but Elly disappears on the second day, plunging the group into a complex mystery. Asghar Farhadi took the Best Director prize at Berlin. In Persian with English subtitles.

Accidents Happen, directed by Andrew Lancaster, written by Brian Carbee. (Australia) – World Premiere. There are dysfunctional families… and then there are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mom (Geena Davis), distant brother, and stoic dad. But when Billy starts to act out, everything changes for him and his family in this visually stunning, bittersweet drama.

The Eclipse, directed and written by Conor McPherson. (Ireland) – World Premiere. Award-winning screenwriter and Tony-nominated playwright McPherson crafts an exquisite atmospheric drama about a widower (Ciarán Hinds, Munich) who sees and hears strange things in his house. His life converges with a beautiful author of supernatural fiction (Iben Hjejle, High Fidelity) and a full-of-himself pop novelist (Aidan Quinn) at an international literary festival that will alter their lives in surprising ways.

The Exploding Girl, directed and written by Bradley Rust Gray. (USA) – North American Premiere. A tender performance by Zoe Kazan is the centerpiece of this delicate, beautifully shot character study. Cherubic college student Ivy is back home in Brooklyn for spring break with her longtime platonic guy pal Al in tow. As her relationship with her boyfriend slowly disintegrates via cell phone, Al’s friendship is cast in a new light.

The Fish Child (El niño pez), directed and written by Lucía Puenzo. (Argentina, Spain, France) – North American Premiere. Likened to a bold Argentine Thelma and Louise, Lucía Puenzo's follow-up to her Cannes winner XXY wraps a passionate love story in the arms of a pulsating thriller. When an upper-class Argentine falls for her family's sultry Paraguayan maid, the two make plans to run away together, but their hope for escape is derailed when shocking secrets become unveiled. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Handsome Harry, directed by Bette Gordon, written by Nicholas T. Proferes. (USA) - World Premiere. Harry (Jamey Sheridan), a divorced father and former sailor, lives a simple life in his small town. But when his dying best friend sparks Harry¹s drive to confront his past, buried secrets resurface and force him to deal with painful memories. This unique and eloquent film also features Aidan Quinn, John Savage, and Campbell Scott.

Here and There (Tamo i ovde), directed and written by Darko Lungulov. (Serbia) – World Premiere. Miserable middle-aged musician Robert suddenly finds himself homeless and in need of quick cash. He accepts an offer from a young, enterprising Serbian immigrant named Branko: Travel to Belgrade, marry Branko's girlfriend, and bring her back to the US. But while on the trip, Robert meets Branko's mother, discovers that happiness comes when least expected, and begins to question whether money or love would be the true cure to his ills. In English and Serbian with English subtitles.

North (Nord), directed by Rune Denstad Langlo, written by Erlend Loe. (Norway) – North American Premiere. A road movie without a road, North is a wry comedy about a former ski champion recovering from a mental breakdown and on a journey to start anew. Having just learned he has a five-year-old son, he hops on his snowmobile with some moonshine, bound for ex-girlfriend’s home in Norway’s Far North. His oddball encounters along the way make this fresh and original debut both tender and amusing. In Norwegian with English subtitles.

Queen To Play (Joueuse) – directed and written by Caroline Bottaro. (France, Germany) – World Premiere. Sandrine Bonnaire plays an inquisitive hotel maid captivated by a vacationing couple (Jennifer Beals, Francis Renaud) playing chess. Thus begins her obsession with mastering the game and transforming her uninspired life. An American expat (Kevin Kline) mentors her in the game that alters both their lives in this delightful feel-good French import. In French with English subtitles.

Seven Minutes in Heaven (Sheva Dakot Be'gan Eden), directed and written by Omri Givon. (Israel) – International Premiere. A young woman struggles to reconstruct her memory of the events immediately following the Jerusalem bus bombing that took the life of her boyfriend and left her back badly scarred. Part memory play, part love story, and part metaphysical thriller, this startling debut feature announces Givon as a forceful storyteller and exciting new voice in international cinema. In Hebrew with English subtitles.

Stay Cool, directed by Michael Polish, written by Mark Polish. (USA) – World Premiere. Henry McCarthey (Mark Polish) returns home to give the commencement speech at his high school. But even after almost 20 years, it’s as if he never left - he again wants the girl, gets suspended by the principal, and is grounded by his parents. This charming comedy, featuring Winona Ryder and Hilary Duff, reminds us that time certainly does fly and old flames are hard to put out.

Vegas: Based on a True Story, directed by Amir Naderi, written by Susan Brennan, Bliss Esposito, Charlie Lake Keaton and Naderi. (USA) – North American Premiere. Returning to the Festival, acclaimed director Amir Naderi applies his inimitable cinematic style to Vegas. The film takes place away from the glittering strip of luxury mega casinos, but the judgment-clouding greed of Sin City is just as pervasive on the desert outskirts of town, where an otherwise happy family is thrown into turmoil after learning of a forgotten fortune that may be buried beneath their scrubby little home.

World Documentary Feature Competition:
The Burning Season, directed by Cathy Henkel. (Australia) – International Premiere. TFF award winner Henkel returns with this powerful portrait of three lives affected by deliberately lit fires raging across Indonesia. Destroying pristine rainforest, endangering wildlife, and contributing to climate change, these fires only benefit the lucrative palm oil industry. Following a carbon-trading entrepreneur, an orangutan rescuer, and a palm oil farmer, this doc inspirationally shows those caught at the intersection of big business and conservation. Hugh Jackman narrates. In English, Indonesian with English subtitles.

Defamation (Hashmatsa), directed by Yoav Shamir. (Denmark, Austria, USA, Israel) – North American Premiere. Is anti-Semitism an extant threat on the verge of coalescing into a second Holocaust? Or is it a scare tactic used by right-wing Zionists to discredit their critics? Speaking with the head of the Anti-Defamation League, controversial author Norman Finkelstein, and others, Shamir sets out to discover the realities of anti-Semitism today. His findings are both shocking and wryly funny. In English, Hebrew, Russian with English subtitles.

Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi, directed by Ian Olds. (USA) – North American Premiere. In 2007, the Taliban kidnapped 24-year-old Ajmal Naqshbandi and an Italian journalist. Naqshbandi was one of Afghanistan’s best “fixers”—someone hired by foreign journalists to facilitate, translate, and gain access for their stories. This gripping, tragic story is a behind-the-scenes look into the dangerous and unseen world that happens before we get the news. In English, Dari, Pashto, Italian with English subtitles.

Garapa, directed by José Padilha. (Brazil) – North American Premiere. Director José Padilha follows up his Golden Bear-winning Elite Squad with this austere, unflinching examination of the realities of chronic hunger for three Brazilian families. At once intimate and universal, Padilha’s hauntingly visual film humanizes the enormity of the global hunger crisis. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Only When I Dance, directed by Beadie Finzi. (Brazil, UK) – World Premiere.
Two teenage ballet dancers from the working-class favelas of Rio are determined to dance their way to a better life, but to do so they must grow up against harsh prejudice, doubt, and some of the best dancers in the world. This inspiring doc trails their path to beat the odds and follow their dream of making it in the elite world of professional ballet. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Outrage, directed by Kirby Dick. (USA) – World Premiere. Academy Award® nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) delivers a searing indictment of the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who actively campaign against the LGBT community they covertly belong to. Outrage boldly reveals the hidden lives of some of our nation’s most powerful policymakers, details the harm they've inflicted on millions of Americans, and examines the media’s complicity in keeping their secrets. A Magnolia Pictures Release.

Partly Private, directed by Danae Elon. (Canada) – World Premiere. To cut or not to cut? Pregnant with a baby boy, director Danae Elon and her husband face “a big choice about his little penis.” From New York to London, Istanbul to Israel, Elon travels the world in a shockingly funny, sometimes cringe-inducing (they show it, fellas) effort to understand the controversial ritual of male circumcision.

Racing Dreams
, directed by Marshall Curry. (USA) – World Premiere. What Little League is to baseball, go-karting is to auto racing. Oscar®-nominated director Marshall Curry (Street Fight) follows the exhilarating and emotional journeys of three top racers competing for the national championship. Three adolescents and their families must discover if they have the talent and dedication—and sponsorship dollars—to one day become NASCAR superstars. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

Shadow Billionaire, directed by Alexis Manya Spraic. (USA) – World Premiere. When DHL founder Larry Hillblom disappeared following a 1995 plane crash off his Micronesian island home, dozens of would-be heirs from the Philippines came out of the woodwork to lay claim to his mega fortune. Within the framework of the fantastic legal battle, Spraic’s debut doc slowly uncovers the stranger-than-fiction life of this eccentric billionaire.

Team Qatar, directed by Liz Mermin. (UK) – World Premiere. Equal parts competition movie and cultural examination, Team Qatar follows the first Qatari national debate team and their springy English coach as they train in Doha, London, and New York in preparation for the world championship in DC. Will this vibrant multicultural team handle the pressure and succeed on the world stage? Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

Transcendent Man, directed by Barry Ptolemy. (USA) – World Premiere. Some hail him as a modern-day Nostradamus, others dismiss him as a crackpot. Futurist and famed inventor Ray Kurzweil is the preeminent theorist on the pending fusion of humans and super-intelligent machines as the next phase of evolution, a "singularity" he predicts will occur within 30 years. This fascinating (and at times terrifying) doc explores the personal ideals behind his controversial ideas.

Yodok Stories, directed by Andrzej Fidyk. (Norway, Poland) – North American Premiere. Exposing subject matter notoriously shrouded in secrecy, this uplifting and sobering doc chronicles a group of North Korean concentration camp escapees and their contributions to a powerful musical based on their experiences. Blending interviews and scenes from the controversial stage show, director Andrzej Fidyk explores the atrocities they faced as prisoners—and the challenges they face while trying to express them through art. In English, Korean with English subtitles.

Discovery section:
Fourteen innovative visions from emerging voices encompass the Discovery section. From lighthearted and amusing to provocative and timely, this rich collection of documentaries explores the implosion of Wall Street at the expense of working Americans, an adopted young African American's search for her roots, an irony laden docu-comedy on 80s 'business artist' Mark Kostabi and one last affectionate look at New York’s original punk institution CBGB. The section also features an array of engaging narrative films, including the story of a group of overweight Israeli men who are taken by the art of Sumo to get their mojo back, an all male Swedish synchronized swimming team trying to make it to the world championship, a love story complicated by a device that scientifically predicts one’s soul mate and a B&W jazz musical with a fresh and youthful take on the old MGM tradition.

Published March 12, 2009

Email this article

Accidents Happen

Director Andrew Lancaster

Burning Season

Director Cathy Henkel

About Elly

Fish Child


© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020