Tribeca in 60 Seconds - 2009

My, my, the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) has certainly grown up. It seems like it was born only yesterday, and already it's celebrating its eighth edition. This year's festivities got started on Wednesday evening with a "by invitation only" screening of Woody Allen's Whatever Works, the director's first NYC-based film in five years. Only a few members of the press were allowed to attend: three of the four reviews linked at Rotten Tomatoes were negative. Coincidence?

Deals. ESPN picked up TV rights to Jonathan Hock's documentary The Lost Son of Havana, according to indieWIRE, and will broadcast the film in August. The doc follows Luis Tiant, a Major League Baseball pitcher from 1964 to 1982, as he returns to his homeland of Cuba after 46 years of exile. Tiant once said: "We should never forget what has happened to the people in Cuba for forty years."

First Run Features acquired Yoav Shamir's Defamation, and plans a fall release. As reported by indieWIRE, "In the doc, Shamir embarks on a quest to answer the question 'What is anti-Semitism today?'" Ex-paratrooper Shamir previously made the excellent Checkpoint; when his latest debuted at the Berlin fest in February, Howard Feinstein in Screen International praised the director's "lighter approach," calling the film "a well-researched but unapologetically subjective essay."

Our Coverage. Public screenings began on Thursday afternoon, and our own Eric D. Snider caught The Swimsuit Issue, which is "about a group of ordinary men of varying ages and physiques who combine to create Sweden's first all-male synchronized swimming team." He observed: "Hard to believe this and Ingmar Bergman came from the same place." Eric also reviewed Fear Me Not, "a slow-burning psychological thriller" from Denmark, starring Ulrich Thomsen and Paprika Steen.

After the jump: Blog Talk (i.e., what other people are saying.)

Blog Talk. Our friends at indieWIRE have been providing extensive coverage of the fest; to begin, why not check out the index to all the director interviews they've conducted?

Karina Longworth at Spout is covering the fest solo this year and wondered: "Why waste time on films in which I have no interest just because so-and-so publicist says it's a 'must see'?" Instead, she's decided on a series of "diary-like" posts (hmm, you mean like a blog?) and has published her first entry, insightful as always.

"The general consensus is that outing is appropriate, at least for those who govern one way and fuck another," writes A.J. Schnack at All These Wonderful Things in his review of Kirby Dick's new doc Outrage. The film was touted in advance as being the most controversial title in the fest; Schnack comments: "If the revelations are not particularly startling, the cumulative effect of their stories is very effective."

Reviewing The Exploding Girl for Hammer to Nail, Michael Ryan says: "What gets me most excited, cinematically speaking, is not just the experience of seeing something new, but engaging with a story or character in a way that is unique to the medium of cinema ... Our viewing experience is controlled through writer/director Bradley Rust Gray's framing, lighting, sound design, and editing ... Unlike most mumblecore films, this is a visual experience."

Tribeca Scene (via Twitter; thanks to Gawker's Stalking TFF feed and all the other Twitterers). Harry Belafonte was spotted at the Soundrtack of a Revolution screening ... Bruce Hornsby and Spike Lee walked the red carpet last night ... "dude who played weird brother on 'grounded for life'" attended a screening ... "New Yorkers are pretty amusing festival attendees. They get so pissed off at the line systems."