Tribeca 2013 Revisited – All About the Docs

This one definitely falls into the category of better late than never

I could not let any more time without giving a narrative assessment of my time at last month’s Tribeca Film Festival. For a diarist’s take on my first day at TFF, I draw your attention to my coverage as part of the LAMB’s One Day, One Blogger @Tribeca event.

But I did not want you all to think that was all; aside from my preview picks, I caught a series of thought provoking feature-length documentaries.

Consciously or not, this year was all about the documentaries. This was not necessarily by design but due to scheduling, etc. it just worked out that way and honestly it made for a wonderful experience (please see previous post for my narrative picks). All synopses are from the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival Film Guide.


Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013)


  • Directed By: Chiemi Karasawa

Broadway legend Elaine Stritch remains in the spotlight at eighty-seven years old. Join the uncompromising Tony and Emmy Award-winner both on and off stage in this revealing documentary. With interviews from Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Hal Prince and others, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me blends rare archival footage and intimate cinema vérité to reach beyond Stritch’s brassy exterior, revealing a multi-dimensional portrait of a complex woman and an inspiring artist.

ILC’s Take: Even if you do not know anything about this legendary stage performer (Fore shame! By the way, this is a must see documentary for a glimpse into a remarkable life lived to its fullest).


I’ve Got Somethin’ to Tell You (2013)


  • Directed By: Whoopi Goldberg

Having broken racial and sexual boundaries as a pioneering comic talent, the late Moms Mabley has long been an icon in the comedy world. Now Whoopi Goldberg takes a deep dive into Mabley’s legacy via recently unearthed photography, rediscovered performance footage and the words of numerous celebrated comedians. A true passion project for Goldberg, I Got Somethin’ to Tell You shows Mabley’s historical significance and profound influence as a performer vastly ahead of her time.

ILC’s Take: A very captivating look at a woman who might have gone unnoticed to the annuls of history. After watching this documentary, there is no mistaking the impact she continues to have on contemporary comedians of all genders, ages and ethnicities nearly forty years after her passing.


Let the Fire Burn (2013)


  • Directed By: Jason Osder

Jason Osder makes an impressive feature film debut through his unbiased and thorough account of the incidents leading up to and during the 1985 standoff between the extremist African-American organization MOVE and Philadelphia authorities. The dramatic clash claimed eleven lives and literally and figuratively devastated an entire community. Let the Fire Burn is a real-life Wild West story absent the luxury of identifying its heroes by the color of their hats.

ILC’s Take: I wanted to like this film more than I ended up. As a former resident of the City of Brotherly Love, I was fascinated by a part of the city’s history I was previously unaware of. Unfortunately, I found bits of the execution a bit lacking. While the story certainly tells itself courtesy of  the plethora of archive footage available, I would have also liked to see some contemporary interviews/footage interwoven into the narrative.


Teenage (2013)


  • Directed By: Matt Wolf

Teenagers did not exist before the 20th century. Not until the early 1950s did the term gain widespread recognition, but with Teenage, Matt Wolf offers compelling evidence that “teenagers” had a tumultuous effect on the previous half-decade. Narrated by actors Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jessie Usher, this fascinating documentary repositions the historical origin of teenagers and shows why those years are more than just a stepping-stone to adulthood.

ILC’s Take: I loved this film and the narration that went along with it. Basically I could listen to Ben Whishaw read the telephone directory. In fact I liked it so much the time just flew by … it felt like the house lights had just dimmed and then BAM – CREDITS! One of my summer plans is to get the book on which the doc is based.

Of all the feature documentaries I saw during the festival this is the one I recommend above the others as a wonderful piece of social history.


Do any of these interest you readers? Hit me in the Comments section.

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