Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Felix reports from Tribeca Film Festival, Part 1

While we've been sunning ourselves over the long weekend in the UK, New York has been enjoying a feast of films at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Our man in NY, Felix Endara, has given up sleeping, eating and mooching about in order to round up the festival for Branchage folk far and wide.

Please give it up for Part 1 of Felix's Tribeca round up:

For me, the tenth annual Tribeca Film Festival started not with a bang, perhaps; but rather with several drip-drops of the remaining Spring showers. And yet, the first film I caught was the charming portrait of sushi chef as master artist, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Beautifully shot, the doc records minutely all the elements that go into the creation of a master chef - not just Jiro’s attention to detail, but his willingness to sacrifice family and leisure for a larger purpose. Jiro’s two sons follow in his footsteps, with varying degrees of success. I enjoyed learning about this fascinating character; less interesting was the repeated use of shots of chefs constructing a roll and placing it on a square plate. 

Another fascinating portrait was revealed in Marie Losier’s Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, which premiered earlier this year at Berlinale. The film depicts the romantic relationship between Genesis P-Orridge, British pioneer musician of industrial sounds with bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV; and Lady Jaye, an American dominatrix and performance artist. Their connection so deep, the couple decides to merge into one by undergoing cosmetic surgery to resemble each other. The remarkable result is named “Pandrogyne,” their ultimate art collaboration. I found their connection moving, and I also appreciated learning about industrial music and Genesis’ process in creating music. At the same time, his voice and point of view were so dominant, I missed hearing Lady Jaye’s perspective. In this sense, as dedicated a lover as Genesis appears, this ballad comes off one-sided. 

In The Loving Story, we are witnesses to an important mark in U.S. history. Richard and Mildred Loving were a married inter-racial couple in the 1960s, a time when miscegenation was still illegal in 20 states. The film makes extensive use of archival footage to recount their fight to have their relationship recognized and accepted. Ultimately, by taking their case to the Supreme Court, in 1967, the Lovings helped to change the course of racial relations in this country, inching us closer to fairness and justice. 

Another pioneer who chooses to take it to the legal courts - to fight for her right to play on a tennis court - is the subject of Renee. Born Richard Raskind in New York, 1934, and becoming Renee Richards in the 1970s, she moves to California to start life anew; but leaves behind an ex-wife and young son. While there, she makes waves as the newest tennis sensation to surface in women’s tennis. Rumors of her transsexual status create controversy and backlash, to the point of the U.S. Tennis Association banning her from entering the U.S. Open unless she can confirm her female status. Richards sues and wins her right to play in the tournament. As an amateur tennis player, I vaguely recall hearing of Richards as a teenager. Watching this doc helped to fill in some memory gaps, and added another layer of complexity to Richards, shown self-realized as a woman, but deeply guilty for abandoning her son, an adult struggling with addiction.

It’s been an impressive first week of movie-watching and I commend Tribeca for a great line-up. I caught up briefly with filmmaker Mona Nicoara, whose documentary about Roma schoolchildren, Our School, is making its debut here. I met Mona a year ago, as we were both fellows of IFP’s Documentary Rough Cut Labs. We had great chats about where we were both at with our projects, and met her production team, including her editor, the lovely Erin Casper (recipient of the first Karen Schmeer Editing Fellowship). I know all screenings of Our School are currently sold out, but I’m still going to line-up in the RUSH queue and try to see this amazing project.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011



What would a movie filmed in Jersey over a period of 50 years be like? What if the camera operators were the people who live in the Island? If the stars were their families and friends? And if the setting was the living rooms, gardens, fields and beaches of Jersey?

We want to make this film installation, and we want to make it with you.  If you have a stash of Super 8 footage, make it part of Super 8 Island – a film installation featuring footage of Jersey, shot by the people of Jersey.    

Fritz Stolberg is an artist who works with found footage and archive material.  He’ll be coming to Jersey to gather as much footage as possible and transform it into a film installation that documents Island life over the decades.   He’ll be working with Bristol-based musicians This Is The Kit to create a soundtrack to the installation, and the whole thing will culminate in a special one-off event at Branchage Festival 2011. Or so is the aim!

What will the film installation be about? That all depends on your footage.  It’s an exciting and unknown quantity and Fritz will use the footage itself to guide him.

Liberate the Super 8 memories in your attics and see them become part of a document of Jersey.


If you have footage you’d like to share, however special or seemingly ordinary, please contact Sam Heinrichs on marketing@branchagefestival.com, or call the Branchage office on 020 7739 1074 and tell us a bit about it.

(please ensure you contact us before this date so that we have enough time to make the magic happen!) 

PLEASE NOTE: Fritz and the Branchage Team understand how special this personal footage is and will treat it with the utmost care, you won’t lose a frame.