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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

Ed Budz is blogging the films he sees at the Tribeca Film Festival. To see his thoughts on the rest of the festival, clicking here.

While there are effective moments in Climate of Change, Brian Hill, USA/UK, the overall message comes off too touchy-feely and as heavy-handed propaganda – admittedly for a good cause. We are bludgeoned throughout by kids smugly preaching, a score of new-age music, and what comes across as a noir-ish, Seussian paean to the glories of nature and the consequences of its destruction. By itself, the narration written by British Poet Simon Armitage and read by Tilda Swinton would probably be moving – just not in this context. Some scenes are staged, and look hokey. The film works when the activists – ordinary men and women from Appalachia to Papua New Guinea to Togo – talk about their efforts to end mountaintop removal mining, to preserve a way of life or to save the rainforests from deforestation. They are eloquent and we feel their pain.

Budrus, (USA/Palestine/Israel, by Julia Bacha), is about the titular town in Palestine and its’ non-violent demonstrations against the security fence that Israel is building – in this case, through the generations old olive groves, far from the border. As the protests grow, the women of the village join in, then Israeli Jews and international activists. And tensions mount to the point where the village is occupied. It’s clear that the soldiers, many of them 18-year-old kids, are just following orders from the government, and it’s also clear that the village has a commitment to non-violence as a strategy they hope and believe will be effective. This coming together for a common cause – the rights and livelihood of it’s villagers – helps promote understanding and sets an example of non-armed resistance for it’s people. This is inspiring..

I was deeply moved by Mika Ronkainen’s documentary Freetime Machos, (Finland/Germany), which follows one of Finland’s worst amateur rugby teams. Focusing mostly on a pair of best pals, one married with four kids, the other engaged, it follows them as they play (and lose), travel buses, drink and sit around half naked in saunas talking about women, sex, feelings, and homosexuals. Skillfully edited to the point that it often plays like a narrative fiction, the charm, playfulness, camaraderie, tenderness, strength and insecurities of these men shines through. It’s full of humor and honest moments. Very special.

Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed Faith Akin’s Soul Kitchen (Germany). Set in Hamburg, this sweet-natured comedy of errors involves the just-getting-by owner of a bar/restaurant in an old building at the edge of town. His customers love his pre-fab, no frills food, but when his girlfriend’s job sends her off to China, he is divided between his existing life and a more committed one with his girlfriend. Add a shiftless brother on parole, a drunken, but brilliant new chef – mix in a slipped disc and an unscrupulous businessman and a whole lotta good music and you have a really fun film.

Catch the rest of Ed’s thoughts about the Tribeca Film Festival by clicking here


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