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Festival Feature: The Films of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

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NEW YORK CITY – The 17th Tribeca Film Festival wrapped a couple weeks ago (April 29th, 2018) and the award winning films of the festival have been named. Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com was there for the first week of Tribeca, and files his personal best of the films that he experienced.

The films are either in release (“Disobedience,” “Tully”) or are still looking for distributors, but many of them are already scheduled for 2018 theatrical runs. The Tribeca Film Festival screenings occur mostly in the Chelsea neighborhood, steps from the famed Hotel Chelsea (now under renovation).

The following are the prime 11 of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival…

BATHTUBS OVER BROADWAY

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’Bathtubs Over Broadway,’ Directed by Dava Whisenant
Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival

When is the last time you really saw a miracle take place? The story of “Bathtubs Over Broadway” is one such happenstance, as a disaffected comedy writer named Steve Young unwittingly stumbled upon a lost piece of 1950s/’60s art… the corporate meeting stage show, also known as “industrial musicals.” Companies like General Electric, Ford, BF Goodrich, Owens-Corning and more would often hire Broadway level songwriters and performers to come into their sales or corporate meetings to do a show. How did Young stumble upon them? He wrote the “Dave’s Record Collection” comedy bit for the Letterman show, and found company-only album souvenirs of these shows for that bit. The journey that Young takes with this odd obsession is truly magical, culminating in his own connection to the phenomenon. Truly a miracle.

No release date yet, still in festival run.

GHOSTBOX COWBOY

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’Ghostbox Cowboy’ Directed by John Maringouin
Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival

This oddball film starts out like a documentary, then switches to a nightmare that symbolizes the economic relationship between China and the USA. David Zellner portrays Jimmy Van Horn, who takes his last $40K and invests it into a “ghostbox,” a novelty toy that supposedly detects otherworldly spirits. He searches for a Chinese investor/manufacturer, and learns a lesson in business. The film gets darker as it goes on, up to a point where Jimmy is impersonating cowboys for Chinese events and gets lost in the ghost towns of China’s excruciating economy and post-millennial life.

No release date yet, still in festival run.

TULLY

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‘Tully’ Directed by Jason Reitman
Photo credit: Focus Features

A remarkably empathetic overview of motherhood, told through the Mom character of Charlize Theron, going through the challenges and insanity of birthing the “third child.” When her wealthy brother gifts her a night nanny (basically a helper who allows Mom to sleep by taking overnight duties), her life begins to change for the better. Director Jason Reitman is working again with writer Diablo Cody, the same team that produced “Juno,” but “Tully” is a grown up perspective on the sheer sacrifice that humans make to raise kids in a time of more stress, and more of everything. It’s both a life lesson and a cultural perspective.

Opened in Chicago and nationwide on May 4th.

LOVE GILDA

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’Love Gilda’ Directed by Lisa Dapolito
Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

The Opening Night film of the 17th Tribeca Film Festival was a documentary about Gilda Radner, the accidental star in the first (1975) cast of ”Saturday Night Live.” She grew up in Detroit, in a well-off family, but every aspect of her performance life came through the prism of her freedom and joy. As she put it, “I was just taking the next job,” until that job rose all the way to a one woman show on Broadway. Her triumphs, her challenges and her relationships (most famously with eventual husband Gene Wilder, but her first live-in boyfriend resulted in her joining The Second City comedy troupe in Toronto) are explored, culminating in her battle with ovarian cancer. It’s always something.

Picked up by Magnolia Pictures, no release date yet.

BLUE NIGHT

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’Blue Night’ Directed by Fabien Constant
Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival

Carrie Bradshaw goes through the looking glass, with Sarah Jessica Parker portraying a jazz singer who receives some devastating news. Like Carrie, Parker’s character uses New York City as her path of redemption, and the film follows her for one tumultuous day. She deals with her distant mother (Jacqueline Bisset), her Sex-and-the-City type pal Tessa (Renée Zellweger) and ex-husband (Simon Baker), among others. Truly a remarkable performance by Parker, which includes her own singing in a centerpiece song that defines everything. A must see for SJP fans.

No distributor or release date yet.

FREAKS AND GEEKS: THE DOCUMENTARY

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‘Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary,’ Directed by Brent Hodge
Photo credit: A&E Network

One of the most passionate shows in television history finally gets its due, with a documentary that also expresses how “Freaks and Geeks” was a training ground for some of the biggest names in entertainment today… cast members Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and James Franco, executive producer Judd Apatow and show creator/executive producer Paul Feig. The one season cult show was a realistic perspective on the early 1980s in a Michigan high school, and the doc’s step-by-step overview about its time in the spotlight is enhanced by interviews with the principle cast, production crew and network executives, in an era (1999) where the TV landscape was completely different. An excellent history, both in nostalgia and as a reminder to binge watch the 18 episodes again.

Produced for the A&E Network’s “Cultureshock” docuseries. No air date yet.

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