Tribeca Film Festival Catch them if you can

Most people won’t have a chance to go to New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival (www.tribecafilmfestival.org) May 3-11 but here are three entries to watch for if you’re lucky enough to live in a town that offers more than just the usual blockbusters.

Cinemania: When I was in college I used to go to class during the day, work all night, and go to movies in the evening so that I’d end up going for days without sleep. And, sure, if I had the time and money – which means no kids – I’d still happily go to at least one movie a day. But that doesn’t make me obsessed! No, I’m not obsessed but the people featured in the documentary Cinemania certainly are.

These five New Yorkers make time – eight to 10 hours a day – for movies by not doing anything else. Their psychiatrists call them “compulsive.” One man tries to stay constipated so he won’t have to make bathroom stops and the lone woman once tried to strangle a ticket-taker for tearing her stub. Don’t laugh – because these people may just strike a little too close to home. (Not for me because, well, I’m not obsessed.)

Hush: Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky simply put a camera in his apartment window in St. Petersburg and filmed a year in the life of his street – primarily the paving and repaving of a few yards of street in preparation for the city’s 300th anniversary celebration. Hush, the only word of dialogue, plays out like a modern-day Charlie Chaplin film and is just as much fun to watch. This slice of life is so simple it’s brilliant.

Finally, A Boy’s Life, which HBO will show in 2004, is the powerful new film by Rory Kennedy. Kennedy followed the story of a poor, rural Mississippi family and its effect on 7-year-old Robert, the product of a rape when his mother was 15. Over the course of two years, Kennedy chronicled a custody battle between the boy’s mother and his grandmother. It’s a chilling story – especially at first, when you’re not sure who the “crazy” one is – but also an optimistic one about the power of individuals to triumph over their environment.

– Carolyn Rummel (crummel@pww.org)