'Rebirth' for Tribeca fest slate


NEW YORK -- As the Tribeca Film Festival unveiled lineups for its Midnight, Restored/Rediscovered and new Encounters sections Tuesday, co-founder Jane Rosenthal explained the downsizing of her star-filled slate.

"Everyone told us there was so much to choose from last year, so hopefully this raises the bar for pictures and allows us to be a bit more selective," said Rosenthal, recovering from a flu that left her virtually unable to talk Monday. "Our curatorial program is a stronger program for it."

Organizers on Monday had announced the elimination of two NY/NY sections and plans to screen 159 features this year, down from 174 in 2006 (HR 3/13).

Rosenthal added that the number of screening venues, which increased and expanded uptown last year, will increase and allow for more screenings of each film. The AMC Loews Kips Bay 15, AMC Loews 72nd Street 1 and Clearview Chelsea West will be added.

She seemed most enthusiastic about DJ Spooky's "Rebirth of a Nation," a "remix" of D.W. Griffith's 1915 epic "The Birth of a Nation" that deconstructs the controversial film. In an equally unusual event, film archivist Paolo Cherchi Usai will screen historical films to the "Passio of Arvo Part" music at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Trinity Church.

The new Encounters program -- developed by festival executive director Peter Scarlet, managing director and programmer Nancy Schafer and senior programmer David Kwok -- will "focus on people stretching themselves, either the subjects or the filmmakers," Rosenthal said. The 23-film slate will include world premieres from actors-turned-producers Rosario Dawson ("Descent") and Benicio Del Toro ("Lovesickness") and actors-turned-directors Mary Stuart Masterson ("The Cake Eaters"), James Franco ("Good Time Max") and Diego Luna ("Chavez").

Other features in the new section are "The Air I Breathe," featuring five actors (Forest Whitaker, Brendan Fraser, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Andy Garcia and Kevin Bacon) as characters in life-altering situations; Italy's Ellis Island-themed Oscar entry "Golden Door" (Nuovomondo); and "Suburban Girl," Marc Klein's adaptation of the best-selling novel "The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing."

Martin Scorsese and Scarlet have curated Restored/Rediscovered, preserving and presenting rare films. Cinda Firestone's prison riot docu "Attica," Grigori Chukrai's post-Stalin-era Russian love story "The Forty-First" (Sorok Fervyi) and actor Gerard Blain's 1973 French directorial effort "The Pelican" (Le Pelican) made this year's cut.

The 11-film Midnight program follows the offbeat, more commercial taste of similar late-night fest sections. Films include Michael Addis' fame docu "Hecklers," featuring Jamie Kennedy; Jim Hickey's gross-out comedy "Dirty Sanchez," featuring the eponymous U.K. comedy troupe; and John Erick Dowdle's serial killer thriller "The Poughkeepsie Tapes."

The entire 2007 Tribeca slate encompasses 244 films, including 75 world, 32 North American and 18 domestic premieres. Some 4,550 films were submitted to the fest, including 2,250 features.