2019 Tribeca Film Festival
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project. What would be an auspicious double pairing with Frank Beauvais’s recent Art of the Real opener, Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream, is the latest documentary from Matt Wolf (Teenage), a film that also, and in its own way, explores the psychological impact and social meanings of massive image-overproduction and consumption. In Beauvais’s memoiristic doc, the intake is cinema; in Wolf’s, a portrait of Philadelphia activist Marion Stokes, it’s 24-hour cable news. From 1979 to her death in 2012, Stokes, in her upscale Philadelphia apartment, recorded on VHS tapes continuous streams of all the major channels. As Wolf’s film sharply and engagingly reveals, Stokes’s archive functions as a history of popular news media, a critique of that mainstream media’s perceptions and biases and, finally a case study of the way in which one woman processed the gap between her ideals and the world she lived in.
Initials S.G.: Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia are two of the most inventive filmmakers around. They landed on our 25 New Faces list in 2011 prior to the production of their astonishing and underseen allegorical drama, H. That film was a huge leap forward in storytelling, performance and technical prowess, so I’m excited to see what they do here with Julianne Nicholson (fresh off her tour de force performance in Manos) and Diego Peretti, who plays a film extra obsessed with Serge Gainsbourg and whose career has led him to virtual reality porn.
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound. Directors who just want to “hear the dialogue,” or ones slavishly devoted to audio realism, are the bugbears of independent film. Such audio-impaired filmmakers should hightail it to this Dolby Institute-presented documentary by sound editor Midge Costigan and its post-screening talk, which features legends Walter Murch and Gary Rydstrom.
17 Blocks. This American Life contributor and Found Magazine founder Davy Rothbart follows up his Medora (co-directed with Andrew Cohn) with another film built around an archive — in this case, the self-taping of a DC family growing up in a tough neighborhood just 17 blocks from the White House.