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Tribeca Report: A serious slate of films inspires emotion

A serious slate of films inspires emotion. In addition to other 9/11 films, Wednesday’s schedule features a controversial documentary about suicide

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The peak moment of my depression might have been when the DJ started scratching his turntable to Phil Collins’ ”Easy Lover” on Wednesday night, after the first full day of screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival. You just can?t scratch to Phil Collins.

Up to that point, I had watched several very intense films. So I thought a premiere party would cheer me up — specifically the one for Walker Payne, a period piece about poor people and dog fighting that stars Jason Patric and Drea de Matteo. The party was on the Lower East Side, which used to be cool and I think Drea goes out with Shooter Jennings, which is definitely still cool. Sadly, all I got was Bruce Dern and someone who looked remarkably like the guy who played Henry Bowers in the miniseries of Stephen King?s IT.

So I was depressed. Not because the movies I?d seen were awful. Quite the contrary. No, I was depressed because I?ve been watching movies for at least 20 years and had almost forgotten that cinema can make you feel in a very genuine, non-manipulative way. And I knew that once Tribeca ends, I would be stuck watching movies like Phat Girlz again.

With Saint of 9/11, I felt admiration. Saint is Glenn Holsten?s appropriately fawning documentary about Father Mychal Judge, the New York City Fire Department chaplain who died when the first Twin Tower fell. In addition to being a gay priest and a recovering alcoholic, he was also someone so good and holy that the movie made me — like Jack Nicholson said in that movie — want to be a better man.

With Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross? visceral The Road to Guantanamo, I felt anger. Winterbottom is easily one of the world?s most active and interesting directors (his other movie of 2005 is the hilarious Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story), and this docudrama about a group of British Muslims sent to Camp X-Ray after being in the wrong place at a very wrong time stirred up anger at the Bush Administration and frustration about my inability to do anything about it.

And finally, Eric Steel?s controversial documentary The Bridge made me feel conflicted. Steel trained cameras on the Golden Gate Bridge for a year and caught more than 20 people committing suicide. In addition to interviews with victim?s families and friends, several of the suicides are shown. It?s a unique movie and it?ll get you thinking about the morality of filming death, not to mention your own death. Sound depressing enough? Well, it is. But it?s still not as sad as Phat Girlz.