TFF 2012: Furious by


“Capitalism is not natural, it’s just brainwashed into us,” Antonino D’Ambrosio director and producer of Let Fury Have The Hour, a documentary of art as a political statement, as a “creative response,” tells me in the foyer of Tribeca’s Cadillac Lounge. “Dialogue is the beginning of change,” Antonino says as he turns to his publicist, who brings him a vegetarian sandwich.

In his first feature documentary, Antonino goes back thirty years to the cultural resistance of the 80’s, “when America changed forever.” He features dozens of mavericks of thought, science, and humor: artists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and futurists, including semi-legends like Wayne Kramer and John Sayles, and a string of brilliant left-wing counter-culture charming-motherfuckers. During quick interviews, they leave very little unchallenged: From our collective apathy, to our acceptance of hierarchy in politics, to capitalism and religion, all the way to the top – “How can there be God? God struck Haiti when there is Las Vegas?” More…

TFF 2012: Dinner with Unit 7 at the Chelsea Hotel by

Mario Casas in UNIT 7

“In 1992, Spain went to her Baile de Debutante. Our country was presented to the global scene,” Alberto Rodriguez the director of Unit 7 tells me over beer and appetizers at the Chelsea Hotel. The film is about a group of cops who break all the rules to clean up Spain’s ghettos in the 80’s. Bearded, in a dark navy coat, he has a seaman’s wrinkles from time in the wind and sun, the way directors in Southern Europe should look. His English is potentially adequate, but the translator steps in. “Drug trafficking areas in major cities were supposed to be eradicated for the ’92 Olympics. They were not aided or rehabilitated. They had to disappear!” Alberto curves his hand hyperbolically. More…

TFF 2012: To Live And Die For Globalization by


I saw press crying at Tribeca’s pre-festival screenings. Actually, I heard them sobbing in the dark. Old-timers here told me it rarely happens. If ever. “Never.” So why was I so “lucky?”

Maybe it’s the recession, but man’s isolation in his fight against the “machine” is at the festival’s core. “When you’re cut off from social network you get lonely and die,” an artist explains in Antonino D’Ambrosio’s breathtaking Let Fury Have The Hour. But before death, Tribeca shows how haunted we are. A rallying cry of a fight we can’t resist. My first week here I felt depressed and encouraged all at once. More…

Tribeca Film Festival: The Importance of Being Silent by


This is the first  dispatch from “Our Man in Tribeca” Ioannis Pappos, who is  covering the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival  (April 18-29).

In part, we owe the Tribeca Film Festival to Al Qaeda. After the 9/11 attacks, Robert De Niro co-founded the festival to raise the spirit and economy of Lower Manhattan. Ten years and five thousand screenings later, the festival’s Doha Tribeca spin-off is well established in Qatar. De Niro’s way of teaching fanatics a lesson in their own backyard? Or just another convenient symbiosis between super-rich Arabs and independent filmmakers?

I took my first stroll through Tribeca in the spring of 1993, soon after I moved to New York. I recall the neighborhood’s architecture resembling the trendy, then-gallery-packed Soho: the same textile cast-iron buildings. But the similarities stopped here. Once you crossed Canal Street, you relaxed. Tribeca was the quieter, less viable downtown. The conversion of buildings into condos had already begun, but the blocks retained an 80’s undiscovered artists-lofts feel. A sort of no-man’s land, where alienated walkers disappeared. Night-lights were few and far between. People went to Odeon, a restaurant as noir as its neighborhood, and to De Niro’s Tribeca Bar and Grill, a space as elusive as its famous owner, an actor notorious for his privacy. After two decades of hyper-invasive journalism, we still know very little about De Niro’s personal life. More…

Our Man In Tribeca: A Fish Out of Water at the TFF by


A film festival is really nothing more than a community gathering, a selective, economically defined, cultural experience that in many ways is just as sociologically constructed as the neighborhood bar, or the set of people assembled on the A train, or a group of friends gathered at the Piers. The New York Film Festival looks very much like one neighborhood, one anthropologically gathered group of humans; Rooftop Films‘ summer film series another; MIX NYC a third,  Human Rights Watch a very different other.

For this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Keep the Lights On has asked writer and man-about-town Ioannis Pappos — himself a fish out of water from Pelio, Greece — to keep his own eye on the goings ons at Tribeca from a very human perspective. What’s going on here, during these 10 days in April? Which New York do we see here?  In a continuation of the sites interest in understanding New York as an organism made up of stories, join us for the next few two weeks as we see the Tribeca Film Festival through the eyes of one astute outsider.