Tribeca Film Festival 2013: Flixist Awards and Recap


And so another film festival comes to a close. This year’s Tribeca wasn’t the most spectacular fest of all time, but it had a solid lineup and we saw some good movies. As per usual, Hubert rocked things hardcore, and Alec picked up the scraps. There was quite a bit of variety, and as per usual, we didn’t see eye-to-eye with all of our colleagues. But that leads to interesting discussions about the role of critics and criticism, and if those discussions are civil, it can only be a good thing.

As far as the actual criticism goes, we tried a few new things. For a number of films, we wrote some shorter, pseudo-capsule reviews as well as one review of two films. Although we’re proud of what we wrote, we don’t know how they worked out, but if anyone has any thoughts, we’d love to hear them. This is for all of you as much as it is for us.

Below you will find our festival awards. There are fewer this year than last, but we wanted to highlight the movies that made us really happy and the ones that made us absolutely irate. Also, a list of all of our reviews and interviews from the fest. It was a pretty crazy time. And now it’s time for a break.

Best Narrative Film

Before Midnight

Yeah, Before Midnight won our Best of Sundance award back in January, so maybe it shouldn’t be up for this award here, but you know what? Don’t care. This movie is absolutely, truly incredible. If you haven’t seen Before Sunrise or Before Sunset (and I hadn’t until the days leading up to seeing Before Midnight), you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. You have to see those films, and then you have to see this one. I don’t know what else there is to say. Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine may be cinema’s two most consistently compelling characters, and the commitment that the actors bring to their roles is unparalleled. If this movie doesn’t end up my favorite film of 2013, I will be shocked. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read the full review here!)

The Rocket

The Rocket is a charming real-life fairy tale about a boy who believes he’s cursed and the travails of his displaced family. There’s a rich subtext to the film about home, belonging, tradition, and old culture, and it’s also got explosions and a guy in a purple suit who loves James Brown — so what’s not to love? Director Kim Mordaunt’s seemingly intuitive direction avoids exoticizing Laotian culture and yet captures the childlike awe of the world. The first-time actors deliver fine performances, especially the young lead Sitthiphon Disamoe, possibly because none of them are trying to underact or overact the others. It’s great to see heart-warming movie like this which is free of sentimentality or manipulative filmmaking. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

Best Documentary

Bending Steel - Yay!

Bending Steel took me by surprise. Going in I was expecting some light exploration of the strongman in pop culture, but instead Dave Carroll’s film is an inspiring look at a man finally realizing what his calling is in life. At 43 years old, Chris “Wonder” Schoeck’s quest to become an old-time strongman reveals a close-knit community of performers whose feats of strength are a reminder of our capacity to do incredible things. It’s also a reminder of the importance of friends and mentors, because sometimes having someone who sincerely believes in your potential is what you really need to start believing in yourself. The act of bending steel is not only an incredible feat of strength, it’s a metaphor for every struggle in life and the inexhaustible drive in each of us to accomplish something, anything, worthwhile. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

The Genius of Marian

Sometimes when films are very personal, emotions can become guarded or sentimentality can take over. In The Genius of Marian, neither is the case. This intimate documentary is an emotionally raw and incredibly sensitive look at Pam White, the mother of co-director Banker White, as she succumbs to the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The film is also a meditation on family and memory, as it also celebrates the work of Pam’s mother, the painter Marian Steele, who also suffered from Alzheimer’s later in life. The sheer love in the work is palpable, which is why even the little moments of joy and sadness can become so heartbreaking. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

Worst Film

Oxyana - Ugh

It’s interesting that two years in a row I have found myself disappointed by a film about drug use in America. Last year’s Off Label was well presented but lacked depth. I didn’t actively hate it, but it was a missed opportunity to discuss the issues surround off label uses for prescription medication. Oxyana, on the other hand, I actively hate. No matter how you look at it, either as an ethnography of a town apparently destroyed by addiction or as a look into the people who addiction has affected, it is a failure. It lacks context, content, and any sort of relevance. It’s a shoddy attempt at pulling on heartstrings, and that’s a damn shame. It could have been good, possibly even great, but it’s not. It’s terrible, and should be avoided every bit as much as the addictions it depicts. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Mr. Jones

It’s all a simple matter of form and content: you tell your story in the form that best serves the story. Full stop. Like so many other movies out there, Mr. Jones shows that found footage can ruin a good thing when it’s done wrong. As a conceit and as a tool, found footage just makes no sense for this film, which starts out as a fake documentary, and then just has a bunch of raw footage, and then stops being a found footage movie at the end. It’s such a sloppy handling of rich material, and I think I was so aggravated with it because the potential for something really good is in there but it’s totally botched. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

Everything Else


Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves – 75 (Good) and 60 (Decent)

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? – 69 (Decent)

Northwest – 82 (Great) Flixist Editor's Choice banner

The Trials of Muhammad Ali – 78 (Good)

The Project – 73 (Good)

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic – 71 (Good)

Powerless – 77 (Good)

The Moment – 34 (Bad)

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors – 53 (Average)

Fresh Meat – 69 (Decent)

The Rocket – 84 (Great) Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia – 80 (Great) Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Oxyana – 29 (Terrible)

The Machine – 45 (Sub-par)

Tricked – 62 (Decent)

Raze – 35 (Bad)

Kill Team – 75 (Good)

Let the Fire Burn – 61 (Decent)

Cutie and the Boxer – 83 (Great) Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Lil Bub & Friendz – 72 (Good)

Run and Jump – 75 (Good)

Mistaken for Strangers – 78 (Good)

Mr. Jones – 32 (Bad)

Bending Steel – 84 (Great) Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Dark Touch – 77 (Good)

Adult World – 43 (Sub-par)

The Genius of Marian – 84 (Great) Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Möbius – 44 (Sub-par)

What Richard Did – 69 (Decent)

Byzantium – 70 (Good)

Odayaka – 66 (Decent)

Reaching for the Moon – 78 (Good)

V/H/S/2 (Repost) – 84 (Great – Alec) / 76 (Good – Hubert)

Prince Avalanche (Repost) – 59 (Average – Hubert)

Before Midnight (Repost) – 93 (Spectacular – Alec) / 92 (Spectacular – Hubert) Flixist Editor's Choice banner



Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Eduardo Sánchez, and Adam Wingard – V/H/S/2

Chris “Wonder” Schoeck, Dave Carroll, and Ryan Scafuro – Bending Steel, Part 1

Chris “Wonder” Schoeck, Dave Carroll, and Ryan Scafuro – Bending Steel, Part 2

Danny Mulheron – Fresh Meat

Kate Elliot – Fresh Meat

Richard Raaphorst – Frankenstein’s Army

Juliette Eisner, Andy Capper, Mike Bridavsky, and Lil Bub – Lil Bub & Friendz