The Cinema of Pessimism: Eleven Films in the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival

By Weinbren, Grahame | Millennium Film Journal, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

The Cinema of Pessimism: Eleven Films in the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival


Weinbren, Grahame, Millennium Film Journal


THE CINEMA OF PESSIMISM: ELEVEN FILMS IN THE 2008 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

It wasn't an individual film.

I am quite accustomed to seeing a depressing (or depressive) movie, and whether it has an effect on my own mood or outlook is as much connected with my current state of mind as anything in the film. No, it was the depiction of intolerable situations in film after film, situations never caused or controlled by the characters, though they usually struggled valiantly to do their best against overwhelming odds, sometimes in vain, sometimes with limited success.

It was the accumulation.

Here are capsule descriptions of some of the films I saw in back-to-back press screenings of the Tribeca Film Festival 2008.

Seven Days Sunday (Germany 2008) written and directed by Niels Laupert

Feature length fiction film (based on a true story) about 16 year olds in former East Germany, so bored and disaffected that they go on a killing spree, targeting random older men. The boys seem nice enough, and neither they, nor we, ever get to know their victims.

War Child (USA 2008) by C. Karim Chrobog

Feature length documentary about Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel JaI, who became an international hip hop star. The film includes archival footage of him at age 9, as the interview subject of a UN film about child soldiers: he was a bright, endearing and innocent child, expertly handling his AK47.

Newcastle (Australia 2008) written and directed by Dan Castle

Australian feature-length surfing film about sinister family relationships that emerge after a surfer's accidental death.

New Boy (Ireland 2007) directed by Steph Green

Eleven-minute dramatic short about an African kid on his first day at his new elementary school in Ireland, haunted by the memory of his previous teacher getting dragged out of the classroom and shot to death. The assassination is convincingly depicted-and the child's graphic mental images put the typical problems of a quiet new boy into a different perspective.

Worlds Apart (Denmark 2008) directed by Niels Arden Oplev

Feature-length fiction film (based on a true story) of a girl and her brother banished from the tight-knit Jehovah's Witness community for fraternizing with outsiders. It is especially poignant when the girl's beloved younger sister looks at her like a stranger, refusing even to nod at her, when they happen to cross paths on the street. …

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