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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.

Another good day! I finally feel I’ve hit my stride. One of the unique aspects of a festival is running into people. Today, I walked by teens featured in Sons of Perdition. I couldn’t think how far they have come – both literally and figuratively. Yesterday as I was leaving I ran into Jim Browne, one of Tribeca’s programmers, who had to dash in to introduce a screening that I was slated to see first thing the next day.

First up: When We Leave, from Germany, Director & Screenwriter Feo Aladag. This moving drama concerns the cultural/religious traditions regarding family. Like Sons of Perdition from day one and Loose Cannons, (which I’ll write more on soon), it explores the consequences of seeking out a life different than the one your family expects for you. Here, a 25 year-old woman leaves Istanbul with her young son to return to her parents in Berlin.

The heartache comes on all sides – the parents and her brothers from the disgrace they feel – the father to be separated from his son (though the less sympathetic point of view presented), the sister who may lose her own hoped for dreams because of her sister’s actions, the boy to bear witness to the sudden moves and anger around him and the mother’s anguish at feeling she has to make a choice while being presented with no good options. Here, a woman must obey her husband – she belongs to him. If she should leave, the son belongs to the father and the woman is a whore. The most fully developed characters of the parents and the mother express a wide and believable range of emotions about the situation. You truly see the warring sides of the emotional conflict written on their faces. To do what they should do vs. what they must do. One thinks one has an idea of how it will all end because of the opening scene, which starts near the end of the story, so what does happen comes as much more of a shock.

Next up was a total romp from Ireland. In Zonad, by brothers Kieran and John Carney (Once), a small town that seems stuck in the 50’s receives a mysterious stranger…from Space? One family takes him in and hilarity ensues as he explores the joys of booze and every teenager…make that every woman – in town. Think Sleeper meets Pleasantville meets Down and Out in Beverly Hills (or the French original). The performances are dead on – especially of Zonad, the teenager whose home he stays in and her boyfriend. And the joke remains funny right until the end.

Loose Cannons, from Italy by Ferzan Ozpetek is billed as a comedy. And it certainly is genuinely funny. Laugh-out-loud funny at times. But it is much more than that. It is also a richly nuanced and beautifully told story of the choices we make. A young man from a wealthy pasta manufacturing family is about to be named a partner by his father in a company merger. He, however, wants to write. More importantly, he decides to tell the family he’s gay – something he knows will shock his father. Thwarted by his older brother, he wrestles between following his mind (and heart) or pleasing his father. So much is conveyed throughout the film – by the spare, pitch-perfect dialogue, but also by what is not said or by a subtle look. This is a very fine film. See it!

My day ended with Just Like Us, from the US by stand-up comedian and first-time director Ahmed Ahmed. It documents a comedy tour of the Middle East: Dubai, Beirut, Riyadh and Cairo. While anything goes in Beirut, one can’t even say the word ‘shit’ let alone talk about religion or politics in the other cities. Despite these restrictions, this talented group of established and new comedians – including the first woman to ever do stand-up in that region – show that the more we can laugh at ourselves, the better we come to understanding each other. I almost went to see another film, but the idea of waiting another hour made me take the chance on this, and I’m glad I did. Ahmed’s time spent with family both in Egypt and New York rounded out an already good film.

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

Image credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid


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