Brad Pitt’s politics, Michael Haneke’s life top 2013 Tribeca slate


World premieres of new dramas starring Adam Driver and Naomi Watts, a nonfiction look at director Michael Haneke and a documentary about African oil-drilling executives produced by Brad Pitt are to be among the films in competition at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, organizers said Tuesday.

Laurie Collyer, director of 2006 indie darling “Sherrybaby,” helmed the Watts film, “Sunlight Jr.,” which stars the British-Australian actress as a convenience store operator in a relationship with a paraplegic (Matt Dillon) who together must weather some unexpected circumstances.

Meanwhile, Driver and Amy Morton star in “Bluebird,” Lance Edmands’ story about a tragedy that strikes a small Maine logging town on a frigid winter night. In addition to “Girls” star Driver, the movie also features current cable fixtures Margo Martindale (“Justified”) and John Slattery (“Mad Men”).


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In the documentary section, the Pitt-godfathered “Big Men” examines the provocative practices of American oil companies in places such as Ghana and the Niger River Delta. Executive produced by Pitt and “Secretary” director Steven Shainberg,” the film is directed by Rachel Boynton, who created a stir with her earlier overseas exploration, “Our Brand Is Crisis,” a film about hardball U.S.-style electoral tactics during the 2002 Bolivian election. It won the International Documentary Assn.’s top prize in 2005.

“Big Men” looks at the increasingly fraught quest for energy in the West African hinterland over the last four years.

The documentary competition, which like the narrative competition includes 12 new movies, also features “The Kill Team,” Dan Krauss’ look at the controversy surrounding a U.S. military unit’s practices in Afghanistan; “Oxyana,” Sean Dunne’s examination of a West Virginia town whose inhabitants have become mired in an Oxycontin addiction; and “Michael H. Profession: Director,” Yves Montmayeur’s on- and off-set exploration of Austrian auteur Haneke, who won his first Oscar last week with the French-language aging drama “Amour.”

Some of the titles filling out the Tribeca narrative competition are “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors,” Sam Fleischner’s look at the parallel stories of a mother and son in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy, and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” Taiwanese American filmmaker Arvin Chen’s romance-themed dramedy set against the backdrop of a traditional society.

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In the recently created Viewpoints section, Tribeca is set to also offer the world and U.S. premieres, respectively, of “Lenny Cook,” the Safdie brothers’ look at the former basketball sensation, and Haifaa Al-Mansour’s coming-of-age film “Wadjda,” which is being touted as the first feature shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first feature shot by a Saudi woman. Those films will screen out of competition.

International titles are a priority at the festival, organizers said, with 30 countries represented at this year’s edition. In addition to “Wadjda,” offerings include films from Iran (Vahid Vakilifar’s “Taboor,” a narrative tale of a lonely soul in Tehran), India (“Powerless,” Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar, a documentary examination of the politics of electricity in that country) and Japan (“Odayaka,” Nobuteru Uchida’s scripted film set during and after the 2011 Japanese tsunami).

Frederic Boyer, Tribeca’s artistic director, noted that the competition this year “embod[ies] the quality and diversity of contemporary cinema from across the globe.”

The festival said 53 of its 89 feature titles this year will be world premieres.

The 12-day gathering, which in the past has provided the North American springboard for indie hits such as “Let The Right One In” and “City Island,” is to kick off April 17 with the music documentary “Mistaken for Strangers.” “Bluebeard” and “Big Men” are considered the opening-night films in their respective categories of narrative and documentary and are to each debut on April 18. Premieres in the Spotlight and other sections are to be announced later this week.


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