Tribeca festival jury rewards first time directors

Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:28pm EDT
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By Basil Katz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Swedish film about two teenage girls whose friendship turns to rivalry, and a documentary about people in a barren California former resort town won the top prizes at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday.

"She Monkeys" by Lisa Aschan won best narrative feature and "Bombay Beach" by Israeli director Alma Har'el won the best documentary prize. Both films were the first feature length productions for the women.

"Bombay Beach," which earned a unanimous vote by the jury for its "beauty, lyricism, empathy and invention," takes place in the desolate desert by California's Salton Sea. It is a portrait of its inhabitants and the ghost town that remains after the area was virtually abandoned by vacationers decades ago.

Now in its tenth year, the Tribeca Film Festival was created as a bid to revive the New York neighborhood after the devastating September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The city estimates the festival has since generated $600 million.

This year more than 5,000 films were submitted, resulting in 93 feature films, which include 41 documentaries and 52 narrative fiction films.

The jury this year included directors David O. Russell and Atom Egoyan, and actors Paul Dano, Whoopi Goldberg, and Michael Cera.

"She Monkeys" was described in a jury statement as "haunting, resonant, but never posed." The tension between the two girls who become friends and rivals on an equestrian acrobatics team was recognized by the jury as a unique exploration of girlhood at that age.

"This film speaks of sex, adolescence, power, and ambition. It is original and authentic," the jury noted.   Continued...