Tribeca Film Festival
As you scout around the Tribeca Film Festival guide and schedule, you might notice that a lot of the events are not exactly cheap, with most screenings running between twenty-five and forty-five bucks and some special presentations costing several hundred dollars. But there are a bunch of free programs as well, including film screenings, master classes, and gaming, particularly on April 27, which is free Friday. Make sure to check whether advance registration is necessary or it’s first come, first served.
Friday, April 20
Tribeca Talks: Master Class — Sound & Music Design for Film, moderated by Glenn Kiser, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, 4:00
Sunday, April 22
Special Screenings: Hotel Transylvania (Genndy Tartakovsky, 2012), with a dance parade, costume parade, trivia contest, character meet-and-greets, Manhattan Youth performance, and more, BMCC Tribeca PAC, 9:00 am
Tuesday, April 24
Tribeca Talks: Master Class — BAO Animation Workshop, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, free, 3:00
Tribeca Talks — 30 for 30 Podcast: Bikram, discussion with reporter and producer Julia Lowrie Henderson and host and editor Jody Avirgan, Cinépolis Chelsea 4, 7:15
Friday, April 27
Shorts: Animated Shorts Curated by Whoopi G, Cinépolis Chelsea 2, 3:45
Tribeca Games: A Special Preview of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, BMCC Tribeca PAC, 4:00
Phantom Cowboys (Daniel Patrick Carbone, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 6, 5:00
After the Screening: Little Women (Vanessa Caswill, 2017), followed by a conversation with executive producers Colin Callender and Rebecca Eaton, cast member Maya Hawke, and dramatist Heidi Thomas, SVA Theater 1 Silas, 5:00
Crossroads (Ron Yassen, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 1, 5:15
Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland (Kate Davis & David Heilbroner, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 3, 5:30
O.G. (Madeleine Sackler, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-3, 5:45
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (Stephen Nomura Schible, 2017), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-10, 6:00
Tribeca Games — Reimagining God of War: The Inside Story, BMCC Tribeca PAC, 6:00
Diane (Kent Jones, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 7, 6:00
Tribeca TV: The Last Defense, conversation with executive producers Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, 6:00
Momentum Generation (Jeff Zimbalist & Michael Zimbalist, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-5, 6:30
Shorts — NY Shorts: Homemade, Cinépolis Chelsea 8, 6:30
Shorts: Magic Act, Cinépolis Chelsea 2, 6:45
Shorts: Make or Break, Cinépolis Chelsea 9, 7:00
Special Screenings: Netizens (Cynthia Lowen, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 4, 7:30
Special Screenings: Radium Girls (Ginny Mohler & Lydia Dean Pilcher, 2018), SVA Theater 1 Silas, 8:00
Tanzania Transit (Jeroen van Velzen, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-9, 8:00
Time for Ilhan (Norah Shapiro, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-6, 8:15
Special Screenings: The Girl and the Picture (Vanessa Roth, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 3, 8:30
The Elephant and the Butterfly (Amélie van Elmbt & Amelie van Elmbt, 2017), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-4, 8:30
It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It (Madeleine Sackler, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-3, 8:45
The Serengeti Rules (Nicolas Brown, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 7, 9:00
Nico, 1988 (Susanna Nicchiarelli, 2017), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-10, 9:00
Mapplethorpe (Ondi Timoner, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-5, 9:30
The Night Eats the World (Dominique Rocher, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 8, 9:30
Shorts: Into the Void, Cinépolis Chelsea 2, 9:45
Shorts: Loose Ends, Cinépolis Chelsea 9, 10:00
Saturday, April 28
Tribeca Film Institute: Tribeca Teaches Showcase, BMCC Tribeca PAC, 10:00 am
Tribeca Talks: Master Class — Show Runners and Writing for TV, with Robert and Michelle King, Steve Bodow, and Jennifer Flanz, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, 2:00
Tribeca Campus Docs: Campus Movie Fest, Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-9, 3:00
According to a disturbing new survey published this week by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and conducted by Schoen Consulting, twenty-two percent of millennials have never heard of the Holocaust, while fifty-eight percent of Americans believe that “something like the Holocaust could happen again.” The report was released just in time for Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. At least one millennial is doing something about that. On April 13, Serena Dykman’s extraordinary documentary, Nana, opens at Cinema Village, where the twenty-five-year-old first-time full-length feature director will participate in Q&As following the 7:00 screenings on Friday and Saturday. When she was a child, Serena had heard such words as “Holocaust,” “Auschwitz,” and “Mengele” but didn’t know exactly what they meant, though she knew they had something to do with her grandmother, Maryla Michalowski-Dyamant, whom she called Nana and who died when Serena was eleven. A decade later, after being in Brussels during the attack on the Jewish Museum and in Paris during the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Serena decided it was time to read the book she had been carrying around with her for two years but had been reluctant to open: her grandmother’s memoir. She then finally understood what all those words meant, and the impact they continue to have on her and her mother, Alice Michalowski, Maryla’s daughter.
Nana is a deeply personal transgenerational documentary that focuses on Maryla’s remarkable story of surviving Ravensbruck, Malchow, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, serving as a translator for Dr. Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, and going on to share her tale in an endless stream of interviews, school visits, and tours at Auschwitz, making sure that the world will never forget what happened. Once word got out that Maryla’s granddaughter was making a film about her, Serena received more than a hundred hours of footage from men and women who had interviewed her grandmother in television studios, at her home, and at Auschwitz, to go along with the new material she was filming. Serena and Alice retrace Maryla’s steps, traveling to Belgium, Poland, Germany, France, and Brooklyn, meeting with people who knew Maryla and reading excerpts from her memoir outside relevant historic locations. Maryla’s legacy is apparent as person after person speaks of her dedication to her cause, her sense of humor, and the matter-of-fact way she related her experiences — and her fears that anti-Semitism and intolerance were on the rise again. “I tell this to the youth so they understand everything that can happen if we adhere to regimes like the Hitlerian regime and others,” Maryla says. Television reporter Yvan Sevanans explains, “We have to constantly restart the work because there are constantly new generations.”
“Malevolent politicians still exist. Political manipulators like Hitler still exist. And even in the most democratic countries, we’re never shielded from a bad election,” notes journalist Christian Laporte, who visited Auschwitz with Maryla. “I’m really scared. These days, I’m scared,” says library director Joelle Baumerder, who also went to Auschwitz with Maryla and is the daughter of survivors. German-born professor Johannes Blum, who was the first one to record Maryla’s story, asks, “How does this woman find the strength to live? How is it possible? I’d even say that she passed on this strength to others. She knows the cost of life. And she knows the richness of life.” Alice herself explains how hard it is to be the child of a survivor. “It takes away from you the full right to live. You want to trust people, and to trust life. But you know that this is impossible,” she says. Serena, who graduated from NYU film school and has made several shorts (Welcome, The Doorman), and editor Corentin Soibinet potently move between the interviews with Maryla, Alice and Serena’s journey, the new interviews, and archival footage of ghettos and concentration camps from the 1930s and 1940s. One word that keeps coming up when people describe Maryla is “tolerance”; Maryla was adamant about not making the Holocaust a Jewish thing but instead about discrimination against any group.
But at the heart of the film, which was written by Dykman, David Breger, and Soibinet and has a lovely, emotive score by Carine Gutlerner, is the relationship among three generations of strong, determined women, Maryla, Alice, and Serena. Sitting in the last remaining synagogue in Warsaw, Alice asks her daughter what her first impressions are of what she’s encountered while making the film, and Serena replies, “That I hadn’t understood too much . . . Or that I didn’t want to understand. I’ve learned more in ten days about Nana and the Shoah than I learned in all twenty-two years of my life.” Alice also tells her daughter, “She survived so you don’t have to. And so that you can live.” Maryla was initially compelled to speak her mind after hearing too many Holocaust deniers claim the genocide never happened. Serena is now keeping her grandmother’s legacy alive at a time when there are fewer and fewer survivors and witnesses and more and more white supremacists and fascist leaders around the globe. But like her grandmother, Serena is filled with the hope that things can change, and films like Nana, which has won awards at numerous international festivals, need to be made and widely seen to accomplish just that.
Who: Benedict Cumberbatch and surprise guests
What: Letters Live New York
Where: The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd St. between Sixth Ave. & Broadway, 212-997-6661
When: Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, $62-$202 (use presale code LLNYC), 8:00
Why: On May 18-19, Letters Live will make its New York City debut, with Oscar nominee and Olivier and Emmy winner Benedict Cumberbatch and special guests reading letters at the Town Hall. Past events have featured letters by David Bowie, Mohandas Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Kurt Vonnegut, Charlotte Brontë, Tom Hanks, Katherine Hepburn, Richard Burton, Patti Smith, Abraham Lincoln, James Baldwin, and Che Guevara, read by Gillian Anderson, Sir Ian McKellen, Kylie Minogue, Russell Brand, Thandie Newton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rose McGowan, LeVar Burton, Mark Hamill, Anjelica Huston, James Corden, Oscar Isaac, Mary J Blige, Jude Law, Nick Cave, Sir Ben Kingsley, and others. Presale tickets for the epistolary presentation, which was inspired by Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note anthologies and Simon Garfield’s To the Letter, are now available using the code LLNYC. Part of the proceeds will be donated to 826NYC and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Saturday, April 14, 12 noon - 4:00 pm
In conjunction with the exhibit “Mel Chin: All Over the Place,” the Queens Museum is hosting four Second Saturday programs, in April, June, July, and August. Each afternoon will feature special events tied to one of the four thematic parts of the show by the Houston-born artist. On April 14, “As Above, So Below: Scientific Inquiry, Activism, and the Environment” responds to the theme “Cruel Light of the Sun,” consisting of a tour of the exhibition led by Amy Lipton; a hands-on workshop with Jan Mun creating protective ground covers using geotextile; a conversation with Chin and William Pope.L, moderated by Laura Raicovich; a performance by Metropolis Composer-in-Residence Mike Sayre of “Music for Icebergs”; and a Skype session with research scientist Emelia DeForce, who collaborated with Chin on the installation “Sea to See.” In addition, “Lead Toxicity Summit: A Public Health Crisis” will include a presentation by Dr. David K. Rosner; a panel on lead poisoning in New York City and Flint, Michigan, with Claire McClinton, Charlene Nimmons, and Stephan Roundtree; and a screening of Cedric Taylor’s documentary Nor any drop to drink, followed by a Q&A with the director. Second Saturdays continues June 9 with “The Artifice of Facts and Belief,” July 14 with “Destroying Angels of Our Creation,” and August 11 with “Levity’s Wounds and Gravity’s Well.” On May 12, in place of Second Saturdays, the museum will host “Open Engagement,” a conference on sustainability and socially engaged art, with presentations by Lucy Lippard and Chin. A coproduction with No Longer Empty, “Mel Chin: All Over the Place” is on view through August 12, comprising works at the Queens Museum, Times Square, and the Broadway-Lafayette subway station, with such new commissions as Flint Fit, Soundtrack, Unmoored, and Wake along with pieces from throughout the conceptual artist’s career.
Nobody builds an artistic community quite the way Emily Johnson does in her interdisciplinary, immersive works. With her Catalyst company, Johnson, a native Alaskan of Yup’ik descent who is based in Minneapolis and New York, creates unique, multisensory experiences that bond the performers with the audience. For Shore, she led ticket holders on a walk from a public school playground to New York Live Arts, following the path of the old Minetta Creek. For Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars, dozens of people came together on Randall’s Island from dusk to dawn, with art, dance, storytelling, cooking, eating, napping, and more. Her latest participatory presentation is Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter, taking place April 13, May 25, June 8, and July 24 from 7:00 to 10:00 in the outdoor amphitheater at Abrons Arts Center. On April 13, the celebratory fireside gathering will feature story and song offerings from Rick Chavolla, Tatyana Tenenbaum, and Georgia Lucas, a look at the stars, and dancing. Admission is free, and no RSVP is necessary. You can bring food, but sharing is up to you. The event will not be held in case of inclement weather. Prepare to be charmed by the effervescent Johnson, whose other works include Niicugni, The Thank-You Bar, Pamela, and Give Me a Story, Tell Me You Love Me.
SINGING LOVEBIRDS (OSHIDORI UTAGASSEN) (鴛鴦歌合戦) (Masahiro Makino, 1939)
Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Film
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Friday, April 13, 4:30, and Saturday, April 14, 1:30
Series runs April 12-29 at MoMA and Japan Society
In the 1930s, on the cusp of WWII, Japan was in the process of creating its own cinematic musical genre. One of the all-time classics is the wonderful Singing Lovebirds, a period romantic rectangle set in the days of the samurai. Oharu (Haruyo Ichikawa) is in love with handsome ronin Reisaburō (Chiezō Kataoka), but he is also being pursued by the wealthy and vain Otomi (Tomiko Hattori) and the merchant’s daughter, Fujio (Fujiko Fukamizu), who has been promised to him. Meanwhile, Lord Minezawa (jazz singer Dick Mine) has set his sights on Oharu and plans to get to her through her father, Kyōsai Shimura (Takashi Shimura), a former samurai who now paints umbrellas and spends all of his minuscule earnings collecting antiques. “It’s love at first sight for me with this beautiful young woman,” Lord Minezawa sings about Oharu before telling his underlings, “Someone, go buy her for me.” But Oharu’s love is not for sale. Directed by Masahiro Makino, the son of Japanese film pioneer Shōzō Makino, Singing Lovebirds is utterly charming from start to finish, primarily because it knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else, throwing in a few sly self-references for good measure.
Made in a mere two weeks while Kataoka was ill and needed a break from another movie Masahiro Makino was making — he tended to make films rather quickly, compiling a resume of more than 250 works between 1926 and 1972 — Singing Lovebirds features a basic but cute script by Koji Edogawa, playful choreography by Reijiro Adachi, a wide-ranging score by Tokujirō Ōkubo, silly but fun lyrics by Kinya Shimada, and sharp black-and-white cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa, who would go on to shoot seminal films by Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujirō Ozu, and Kon Ichikawa. There are fab touches throughout the film, from the comic-relief group of men who follow Otomi around, professing their love, to the field of umbrellas made by Kyōsai that resembles a mural by Takashi Murakami, to a musical number sung by Lord Minezawa in which the musicians are clearly not playing the instruments that can be heard on the soundtrack. And of course, it’s also worth it just to hear the great Takashi Shimura, who appeared in so many classic Kurosawa films, sing, although he doesn’t dance. Singing Lovebirds might not have tremendous depth, primarily focusing on money and greed, love and honesty, but the umbrellas do serve as clever metaphors for the many different shades of humanity, for places to hide, and for ways of seeking protection from a world that can be both harsh and beautiful.
Singing Lovebirds is screening April 13 and 14 in the MoMA / Japan Society series “Kazuo Miyagawa: Japan’s Greatest Cinematographer,” which runs April 12-29 at both venues and includes such other Miyagawa-photographed gems as Hiroshi Inagaki’s rarely shown The Rickshaw Man, Yasujirô Ozu’s Floating Weeds, Kenji Mizoguchi’s Tales of the Taira Clan, and Kozaburo Yoshimura’s Bamboo Doll of Echizen in addition to works by Daisuke Ito, Akira Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa, Kazuo Mori, Masahiro Shinoda, Kazuo Ikehiro, Yasuzô Masumura, and Kenji Misumi. Miyagawa passed away in 1999 at the age of ninety-one, having shot more than eighty films over a fifty-year career. This first major U.S. retrospective of his work, which explores his innovative techniques with the camera and influential legacy, was organized by MoMA’s Joshua Siegel and Japan Society’s Aiko Masubuchi and Kazu Watanabe. In conjunction with the series, Film Forum is showing new 4K restorations of Mizoguchi’s Sansho the Bailiff and A Story from Chikamatsu through April 12. As a bonus, Japan Society is hosting the talk “Cinematographer, Kazuo Miyagawa” on April 14 at 3:00 (free with any series ticket), with Miyagawa’s eldest son, Ichiro Miyagawa, and Miyagawa’s longtime camera assistant, Masahiro Miyajima, moderated by Joanne Bernardi.
If you’ve wondered what that strangely curious building going up on West Thirtieth St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves. is, we now know. It’s called the Shed, which bills itself as “the first arts center designed to commission, produce, and present all types of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture.” The Shed, a 200,000-square-foot structure designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with the Rockwell Group, will open next spring with intriguing, exciting projects by Steve McQueen and Quincy Jones; Gerhard Richter and Steve Reich; Anne Carson with Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming; Trisha Donnelly; Agnes Denes; and others. “The original idea for the Shed was relatively simple: provide a place for artists working in all disciplines to make and present work for audiences from all walks of life,” Shed artistic director and CEO Alex Poots, formerly director of the Park Ave. Armory, said in a statement. “Our opening programs begin to show how these artists, art forms, and audiences can thrive together under one roof.” But before the Shed officially opens, it will be holding a preopening program, “A Prelude to the Shed,” in a flexible, transformable venue in an undeveloped lot at Tenth Ave. and West Thirty-First St., designed by architect Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Works and conceptual artist Tino Sehgal. “‘A Prelude to the Shed’ is an exploration of architecture as an extension of human body, culture, and environment. Can architecture be more human?” Adeyemi explained in a statement. “This curiosity led us to reconfigure a steel shed into a comfortable interface to interact with people physically; inside and outside, in light and darkness, individually and collectively. Using simple technologies, we made the structure so that it can be moved and transformed by people, enabling its participation in different formats of art, education, events, and public life.”
From May 1 to 13, visitors with advance free tickets can see live music and dance, panel discussions, art installations, and more. (There should be some walk-up availability as well.) Each session includes Sehgal’s continuous, immersive dance/sound piece This variation, which interacts with choreographer William Forsythe’s Pas de Deux Cent Douze, a reimagining of the central duet from his 1987 ballet In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. On some nights, Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray will lead “D.R.E.A.M. Ring Dance Battles,” part of FlexNYC. Several nights will feature live solo concerts by ABRA, Arca, and Azealia Banks; on other nights there will be panel discussions organized by Bard professor Dorothea von Hantelmann with Shed senior program adviser Hans Ulrich Obrist and chief science and technology officer Kevin Slavin. Among the topics are “Transformative Topologies: Past, Present, and Future Functions of Art Institutions,” “Beyond the Mind/Body Division: Neuroscience, Technology, Spirituality,” “Agnes Denes: Animale, Rationale, Mortale,” and “A Global Dialogue That Is Not Globalization,” boasting such international thinkers as Manthia Diawara, Tim Morton, Avital Ronell, Barbara Browning, Moncell Durden, Nelson George, Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson, Akeel Bilgrami, Joy Connolly, Tim Ingold, Emily Segal, and Richard Sennett. And on May 5 and 12 at 11:30 am, Asad Raza, Jeff Dolven, and D. Graham Burnett’s “Schema for a School” experimental course for students will be open to the public. “Prelude” will also pay tribute to architect Cedric Price’s unrealized 1961 building “The Fun Palace” with an archival interactive display. We’re out of breath already, and this is only the preopening. So we’ll let von Hantelmann sum it all up: “Art institutions — museums, exhibitions, theaters, concert halls, festivals — have always been spaces in which a social structure becomes manifest. To find ritual forms that correspond to contemporary forms of life and to the social structures of the early twenty-first century, that is the aspiration to which this project is dedicated.”