It is my second day here at Tribeca Film Festival. I have a Tribeca Film Institute "All Access" filmmaker's pass, meaning I get to bring my in-progress film project to the festival and hobnob with decision-makers and gate-keepers who turn up at film festivals the way NCAA scouts turn up at varsity high school exhibitions.
Weeks in advance, we filmmakers send a logline, synopsis, and short demo reel to be put on a secret server for these scouts to peruse. Based on our film description, artist statement, headshot, or combination of all of the above, the scouts choose with whom they're interested in meeting. The meetings between filmmakers and scouts is then packed into a two-day gauntlet of rapid-fire speed-dating. As the gauntlet looms closer (four days and counting), it dawns on me that I know diddly-squat about the Tribeca Film Institute.
(Wikipedia: The Tribeca Film Institute was founded in 2001 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff. TFI officially has six artist support programs that award grants between $10k-$50k and provides professional guidance to filmmakers.)
After the LaGuardia to Brooklyn AirBNB gauntlet, I report to Spring Studios, TFI's sprawling studio space on Spring Street, to pick up my filmmaker badge. A roped-off red carpet runs alongside SS's Western wall leading to its main entrance. Inside, the receptionist desk includes reps from both Tribeca Film Festival and some sort of Bombay Sapphire Lounge check-in. I forgo asking questions and just follow signs with arrows pointing to the filmmaker check-in. I end up in a room populated with plastic pop-up tables. The sounds of raucous keyboard typing, paper shuffling, and question answering makes one think of stumbling into a news room floor. I wade through the fray to the documentary filmmaker table but find out the difference between filmmakers with films in the festival and filmmakers who are bringing their in-development films to the festival, which is the difference between Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Film Institute, respectively.
I'm redirected to the person who's been coordinating TFI filmmakers and scouts, Jodi Johnson. Amidst the departments of program directors, assistants, and interns, Jodi is an island of one. Her table is canted inward from a main strip of tables, like the tip of a “J”. She possesses a soft-spoken, sunny presence, pausing in-between answering my questions to push her glasses up the bridge of her nose. Originally from Boston, she cut her teeth doing rights and clearances for features before joining TFI this year. Although her job is difficult, it’s a relief from her old one (she explains rights and clearance work with the wide-eyed, palm to sternum gasp-face one makes when a rat scampers underfoot). I am given a spiral-bound, full-color festival program replete with protruding tabs: “schedule,” “special events,” “film guide,” etc. With the thick spirals, color-ink, and matte cardstock, the book’s got some serious bulk and heft; if I wanted, I could probably use it to hammer nails or knock out a would-be mugger. I also receive a sleek Manhattan Portage TFF messenger bag, in which I later discover various Tribeca sponsors’ postcards and swag.
Disclosure: My application to TFI's AA program was actually rejected. The way I got into TFI's AA program is circuitous and unprecedented, making my virginal Tribeca experience a little awkward. But when TFI decided, for the first year ever, to donate two AA passes (sans seed funding) to two Kartemquin DVID alumni, I applied again and by some stroke of luck got a $1000 stipend to pay for my trip. I later learn that AA grantees receive $10,000 in seed funding for their projects. I did not. So, when hanging out with other TFI filmmakers, I winced at any mention of the $10,000. Long story short, I spend my week feeling picked last for the team and only being put in the game in the final quarter because my mother guilt-tripped the coach.
Currently I'm in the Lincoln Black Label Filmmaker Lounge on the 7th floor of Spring Studios. Spring Studios spans an entire city block and even has its own alleyway (a rarity in Manhattan); it seems to serve multiple purposes in the festival off-season, likely event-conference or corporate-shoot type thingies. The LBLF lounge is open-floored, painted an immaculate white, and lit above by incandescents tucked into square alcoves. To the West is a floor-to-ceiling window vista of the Tribeca skyline towering over a plaza formed into an Omega shape by a looping road from which Holland Tunnel traffic emerges.
I sit on a ledge that runs along the entire length of the Northern wall. There are smudges and blemishes on the ledge from the previous day, perhaps caused by the way people like to clutch their knees close to their bodies whilst conversing sideways, depositing from their shoes and jeans a black pollen of NYC residue. A collegiate-aged employee is wiping and scrubbing the ledge back into uniform whiteness. She wears all black: slippers, jeans, and a t-shirt printed with SPRING on its back like a sports jersey. Occasionally, she steps back into the middle of the room, taps a finger on her mouth contemplatively, and ponders the ledge as if it were a mural. There seems to be an endless horde of dark-clad Spring Studios employees of similar age—their mute faces slackened into a cool blasé whatever as they clear soiled napkins from cocktail tables, sweep stairways, and stand by elevators with their hands folded unctuously, greeting and directing. Yesterday afternoon I stumbled into some sort of unadorned backstage area and overhear some of them leaning against dish racks, sharing the latest NYU gossip.
Posted up near elevators, bathrooms, and lounge entrances are beefy security guards in black polos. Many of them have hands so big you almost think they have some sort of disease. They are hawk-eyed and vigilantly check necks and sternums for credentials. Basically anyone wearing a badge around their neck on an orange lanyard printed with blue AT&T logos has some sort of credential beyond the normal TFF paying patron. But the levels of access depend on the badges themselves, which is a complicated system of different letters and colors. I am assigned an orange "B" badge and am given a list of places, events, and screenings I have access to. But even after much online sleuthing and combing every page of the hefty program book, I cannot find any hard-and-fast information on the levels of others' access.
Maybe because it's the way I dart around with an expression on my face like a nervously lost puppy, but the guards, more than a few times, yell “Excuse me, sir!” and stop me to check my badge as I scamper around the hallways, snooping and furtively helping myself to all the free shit being given away. Although I decline gin-and-tonics from the open-bar in the Bombay Sapphire Passholder Lounge and wine from the open-bar in the Lincoln Black Label Filmmaker Lounge, I readily indulge in multiple cappuccinos and canned iced coffee from the Illy Instant Cappuccino Machine booth, Smartwaters from ice-filled tubs of Smartwater, Chobani yogurts from electrically-cooled Chobani self-serve carts, permanent markers from the little circular tables around the lounge.
The Lincoln Blacklabel Filmmaker Lounge, at 10:45a, is nearly empty. I put my Spotify playlist on pause to eavesdrop on an English-accented representative from a company called Company 3 fielding questions from a recent graduate of Full Sail. (Google: Company 3 is a multi-national company that primarily does coloring on blockbuster movies (think Star Wars, Mission Impossible)). They have representatives behind a duvetyn-draped table and have left around the room Sharpies, notepads, and postcards embossed and printed with their logo. Yesterday Panavision occupied the booth and had their respective logo-covered swag and pamphlets scattered about. There’s something pleasantly disarming about seeing representatives of big-name film brands wolfing down gratis chocolate-pretzel Chobanis early in the morning, before the rush of the day.
Four women in black dresses and red heels lurk by the lounge entrance, offering complimentary hand massages to those who sign up for some sort of Lincoln Black Label email list. Even after I decline twice, I am thoroughly assaulted by solicitations and sycophantic greetings and farewells every time I enter or leave. A barkeep paces inside a circular-bar in the center of the room, her thumbs working a frantic text conversation on her phone. I imagine her either making plans for after work or listing complaints of the 20-something post-college condition in 140 characters. Fanned around her are columns of Vitamin Water, coconut water, orange juice, Smart Water, apple juice, chocolate coconut water, etc. I try a chocolate coconut water and she replaces it immediately while maintaining her thumb-to-word velocity. The drink disappoints me, although it was exactly what I expected.
I head to the 6th floor and check out the Bombay Sapphire Passholder Lounge, where the vibe is something like Alice in Wonderland meets boutique furniture store meets the set of Only God Forgives. Hung from trusses on the ceiling’s perimeter are rows of studio lights filtered through theatrical CTB gels that endows the room with the sensation of being in an underwater aquarium. The seating consists of one dinner table and three areas of upscale wingback chairs upholstered in intricate floral patterns. Affixed to the wall behind the futuristically under-lit bar are dozens of numberless hand-clocks inside picture frames canted at obscure angles. It is all somewhat like a Pier 1 Imports sales floor, or more like a movie set lit by an eccentric gaffer for a Lynch scene set in a Pier 1 Imports sales floor. One decoration choice that sticks to memory: wheatgrass rooted in squares of dirt-clod, as if they’d been troweled out and dumped right on the counters.
I sit in a wingback chair and flip through my TFF schedule. Two people with press badges are chatting candidly next to me before abruptly stopping because one of them realizes I have a filmmaker badge around my neck. I assure him I'm nobody to worry about, hoping for them to resume chatting so I can pick up juicy dirt about celebrities, producers, or the TFF upper echelon, but instead he shifts into an anecdote about being an online movie critic and goes on to recall the days, about a decade ago, when being an online critic meant something because nobody was writing for the web back then. “I used to be a superhero,” he says with a sad smile and a sigh of unmistakably genuine nostalgia.
I leave and check out the 5th floor, where there’s an interactive documentary exposition, also sponsored by Bombay Sapphire. There I watched my first "film" that was not so much watched as it was experienced--a project called Do Not Track, which asks you for some personal information in return for informing you what the internet knows about you. DNT is an online web-based interactive documentary that changes its actors and videos depending on whether you view it in Canada, the U.S., Spain, France, etc. It aims to inform the public, raise awareness, and galvanize a movement against the booming business of Big Web exploiting consumer internet data. They are apparently a big success story in the growing interactive documentary genre. The DNT viewing area felt a little like visiting a Genius Bar—I experienced the project from one of a row of MacBook Pros lined along a long countertop which had behind it DNT representatives pacing to-and-fro answering questions, alcohol-swabbing ear-buds, and, in one exchange I overheard, providing consultation to a visitor about improving computer performance by not clicking on ads and periodically running a virus-scanning program. This is not to say I didn't enjoy the project. There's just something odd about the way it was presented; the same oddity of book readings or karaoke, when the things you're used to doing in private are done in public.
For the most part, the film festival and its events are spread out among the areas of Tribeca, Chelsea, and Union Square. At the Barnes & Noble in Union Square I attend a panel discussion on dealing with adolescence and coming-of-age in film—why are we so attracted to adolescence and how do we portray it on the screen? The panelists are King Jack director Felix Thompson, Bridgend director Jeppe Ronde, and Gored director Ido Mizrahy. The hefty TFF book lists these B&N-TFF talks as free, but only half of the approximately fifty foldout chairs are filled, many of them film students (the ticketed talks, which includes the likes of Christopher Nolan and George Lucas, are almost always sold out and are scheduled for the more ritzy, blazer-and-tie evening hours). A dude from Variety magazine moderates with prepared questions that I suspect may be known by the filmmakers ahead of time (for both talks and screenings, when the floor is open to audience Q&A, the questions are often absurd, tangential, and therefore difficult to sustain discussion from). This is likely why there's always a TFF program director after films are screened who asks the first questions before opening up the floor to the audience.
Ido Mizrahy, doing a documentary about the world’s most gored matador preparing for his final bull fight, says he was originally anticipating a short film. But when he received an old VHS tape of the subject's father dragging him into the ring for his first fight, he knew that "that was it" and that all he had to do was build his story around that crucial childhood moment. As I scrub through hours and hours of banal footage for MINDING THE GAP, I sometimes wish for a catalytic discovery when I can say "that's it!" I believe life is full of these moments, which is why I enjoy documentaries.
Jeppe Ronde, whose feature film is about a string of teen suicides in Wales based on real occurrences of over 79 teen suicides since 2007, says he doesn't distinguish between narrative and documentary filmmaking--his last film was categorized as a documentary in some festivals and a narrative in others. Ido adds that even when you've got a script (and even in non-fiction you often do), when you’re filming children it's always going to be a documentary. Felix Thompson comments about how casting is everything, which applies especially to documentaries.
During the audience Q&A, when someone asks about director's cuts and 10-year-anniversary cuts, Felix Thompson equates the idea of going back and re-editing a project from ten years ago to "some form of torture." The audience laughs but the other two filmmakers nod in agreement. Felix says you could make an infinite amount of tweaks—he twists imaginary knobs in the air as he says this—“but at some point, you begin to ruin the painting.”
The LBLF Lounge is much more animated now. There are swarms of filmmakers, press, and studio workers. The descending sun tints the room golden. A portly photographer lumbers around, snapping verite shots of folks conversing on phones and typing on laptops. When he stands squarely in front of me and blatantly photographs me typing this, I try to look slack-jawed and cooly blasé. He checks the frame, appears bored, and meanders away (it worked!). A "Spring" worker sidles by me and sits in the corner of the room, behind a massive floor-to-ceiling white monolithic structure that has a 50" flatscreen television mounted to it. The worker, from behind the monolith, is out of sight of supervisors. He checks his phone and then stares wistfully at the glowing and twinkling Tribeca skyline. His cool blasé attitude appears to fizzle away into a spent-gray-chewing-gum type of fatigue. I can empathize with him. I think we both feel somewhat outside of the commotion that's buzzing around the lounge, which is a formalized, structured excitement. It's somewhat reminiscent of the loneliness of shopping malls and car dealerships. Maybe it has to do with the paradoxical nature of a filmmaking "community," wherein filmmakers must simultaneously compete against and support one another. But it probably has a lot to do with the awkwardness of pretending to be someone you're not, which is why a lot of skateboarders I know hate adulthood.
As a first-time filmmaker emerging from a background of camera assisting, I especially empathize with crewmembers that hump around C-stands, lights, shotbags and backdrops. They are of a different ilk than the younger, twenty-somethings who scrub ledges and clear tables and hide from supervisors. These latter employees, mostly bearded and tattooed, carry on their belts tool pouches, pocket-knives, work gloves, gaff tape, and walkie-talkies. They speak to each other using those secret-service surveillance headsets and go about their jobs with solemn earnestness. There's a blue-collar pride in their work, and you can almost picture them with their families over the holidays, describing to their nephews the duties of a studio mechanic over green bean casserole.
The LBLF lounge is mostly empty again this morning. It is being re-arranged to make way for some sort of Dolby presentation. Three men affiliated with Dolby have moved the white monolith out into the open, opening and revealing a side door that offers a view of the interior which turns out to be a mélange of wires, cables, and controls mounted to lumber sheeting. There's even a cheap looking DVD player and stereo control console on a crude stand.
I saw two films last night. Both tickets were comped by TFI (you can request up to eight regular-priced comped tickets as a TFI filmmaker, but you must request them ahead of time using a Microsoft Word form, which is a process that requires switching between multiple web-browser tabs to cross-reference film descriptions, film venues, dates, show times, and alternate dates and show times (you also must completely refill and resubmit the form anytime you've inadvertently chosen a non-regular-priced film or a film that’s already sold out (and, as a noob, scheduling is further complicated by being unfamiliar with the venues and their proximities to one another, being unaware of all the special industry screenings/cocktail hours/talks available to TFI filmmakers, and having to choose between countless brilliant films whose screening times aggravatingly overlap))). Luckily, I only had to fill and send the form three times.
I saw In My Father's House, a documentary about Che "Rhymefest" Smith, a rapper from South-Side Chicago whose claim to fame was being the "Jesus Walks" co-writer which Kanye won a Grammy for. In the film, Che buys his childhood home in Hyde Park, the house where his father abandoned Che and his mother when he was 10. After Che discovers his dad living homeless just a few blocks away, they reunite in hopes of rebuilding a father/son relationship. Things look up—his dad checks into rehab, becomes sober, gets a job, and moves into an apartment next to Che's house. But then he relapses, loses his job, and begins hanging with his alcoholic buddies again. Che is furious, heartbroken, and feels betrayed. "When I was young, my father abandoned me. Now I'm abandoning my father,” he says near the end of the film.
The other film, Toto & His Sisters, follows a 10-year-old boy living in a marginalized part of Bucharest, Romania. He and his two older sisters look after themselves while their mother is in prison. In their dingy apartment, Toto’s oldest sister Ana and his uncles spend their meager resources scoring, selling, and shooting up heroin. Eventually, Ana goes to prison and Toto and his other sister Andrea check themselves into an orphanage. As months pass by and their mother is released from prison, the incredible final scene (SPOILER ALERT) of the film is of Toto refusing to come to her open arms, declaring that that he doesn’t love her anymore.
The great accomplishment of T&HS is that it is 99.9% pure cinema-verite. Aside from one song near the last scene, there is no musical score in the film. I believe that because T&HS is devoid of interviews, music, animation, archival footage, b-roll, superimposed texts, etc., and because it moves with such brilliant pacing (I later learn from a Sundance Doc Programer that the director spent two years editing), the audience didn’t quite know what to say afterward—their questions were either broadly nonspecific (“how did you get so many intimate moments of all those kids?”) or wildly distorted (“I'm curious to know why you chose a marginalized group of kids in Romania and not somewhere, like, say, inner-city America?”). The director, Alex, a native of Romania, literally had his jaw dropped at some of these questions and during his attempts to respond, he's sometimes glance at the TFF program director beside him with a raised eyebrow.
The scenes in T&HS tend toward silent moments, preferring the subjects’ existence in film-time to breathe at a slower pace, something someone later describes as very European. IMFH is more American: the story is one of hard punctuations and apparent intentions, of letting you know what this film is about. IMFH prompted a palpable reaction, causing the audience to share tear-inducing self-narratives. During the Q&A, every audience member that time allotted for (and there was a veritable prairie-dog field of hands wanting to speak) spoke of their own father’s absence, alcoholism, etc. Three of these anecdotes were incredibly difficult to open up about and were interspersed by sniffling and sobbing. The tears prompted Rhymefest to walk amongst the crowd, doling out hugs.
Although In My Father's House, a story about revisiting ill fatherhood relations, shares more similarities with my film, it's actually T&HS that's burrowed deeper in my chest. Toto is who I still think about, even two days later. His story affects me not with conclusive facts but with latent meanings and a gestalt reflective of the loose-ends found in real-life. Eventually, I realized it is my own relationship with my mother that makes Toto's story cling to me. It’s a shame I couldn't verbalize my moved reaction to his film. But short of taking a soul-searching type of road trip with him, I wouldn't even know how to begin to explain.
Yesterday I watched the late Albert Maysles’ documentary In Transit, which captures candid moments aboard America’s busiest long-distance train route, The Empire Builder, that runs from Chicago, IL to Portland, OR. On the train, the camera crew eavesdrops on heard conversations, endearing interactions, and impactful personal narratives. It’s a bit like Slacker or Waking Life, where one moment and conversation segues seamlessly onto the next—a film, like T&HS, without any graspable directive or hit-you-on-the-head point.
The other film I saw yesterday was Thank You For Playing. It follows Ryan and his wife Amy’s final months with their terminally-ill son. They cope by writing and designing an experiential video game that literally puts you in their shoes; the player must care for their terminally-ill son, who's real voice is recorded and used. TYFP seamlessly blends the animated, surreal, expressionist scenes of the game with live footage of the family (the game designers, who were present at the Q&A, spoke of a Terrence Malick influence). Although it's beautiful, its story is contour-less. “Is watching the distress of a middle class white family for two hours compelling?” I remember thinking. Earlier in the day I’d attended a B&N Talk on the subject of films about suffering and whether there's a line that filmmakers cross. The two filmmakers of TYFP were on the panel and neither felt they'd overstepped their bounds. One of them recalls asking a friend who’d watched a rough cut if the film was "too depressing"; the friend responded by saying that that’s the wrong question to ask. But the filmmakers didn't appear to have sought a better question! I think maybe the right question is, “is it only depressing?” That is to say, perhaps a journey is measured by both its peaks and its valleys.
After the screening of TYFP, an audience member told a personal narrative about losing a child himself, barely keeping his tears from flowing. I thought of In My Father’s House again and how much easier it is to see that visceral, immediate response and how much more difficult it is to measure complicated responses.
Another thing of note: TYFP and IMFH follow subjects who tell their own story (rather than having the filmmaker tell their story). IMFH, a film that Rhymefest began making independently before seeking outside producers, barely mentions Rhymefest's relationship with his estranged daughter and seems to dwell on Kanye getting all the credit for "Jesus Walks." TYFP exposes its subjects' independently-funded video game to a humongous audience. That is to say, both subjects understand how to use the films they're starring in to manipulate their stories. They understand the power of perspective. Perhaps I am overly cynical because, like Toto & His Sisters and In Transit, my own film's subjects also have little stake in the film I'm making--which makes for a more complicated story and/but makes for a more complicated story to get access to without their help. Or perhaps its related to an idea I heard in a Fresh Air interview recently about intelligent people being less enjoyable to watch.
This morning, after a painstaking inner-dialogue of debate, I decided to attend a Press & Industry Screening of the 2015 Sundance Jury Prize Winner, The Wolfpack, instead of a B&N TFF Talk about non-fiction storytelling. I heard The Wolfpack was five years in the making. I wanted to see the exhaustion in the filmmakers' eyes, the gray in their hairlines, the fatigue in their voice. But The Wolfpack's director was so peppy and upbeat and young that I wasn't sure how to feel. She made it look so damn easy.
I’m sitting in a coffee shop, weeks later, trying to remember the blur of faces, introductions, and business-card swappings that comprised the gauntlet pitch session days. Preceding the meetings we had a workshop day, at the Time-Warner building in Uptown, which included a morning of TED-style presentations by representatives from NBC, IDA, VHX, and the U.S. State Dept. Film Program, to name a few. At 20-minutes per speech, almost every presenter ran over. After heaping a deli-style buffet-lunch onto faux-glass plates and silvery-tinted plastic forks, we sat in our assigned white tablecloth draped tables. Next to me were three filmmaker teams and two TFI-selected mentors. We all pitched our pitches, analyzed our pitches, and analyzed each others’ pitches. The filmmakers at my table included a team telling the story of a sex op-ed columnist in India and a team making a film about skin-whitening creams the world over. If ever there was a time I wish I had a co-producer, it was this one. With so many aspects of my project to cover in 20-minutes, my practice pitch was basically a discomfiting nervous breakdown of stuttering, wildly ungrammatical sentences, and a breakout of facial sweat comparable only to the surface of a glass of ice water on a Summer’s day. The whole snafu is something I’d rather not revisit in detail.
After the workshop I worked well into the night in the Time-Warner lobby. I was furiously diagraming my film’s storyline, themes, and social issues and frantically typing a more streamlined pitch out in a Word document. I felt like an underdog rising from the dead. It was basically the indie-doc film-pitch version of the Rocky IV montage of Sylvester Stallone doing pushups in a barn and pulling a car through the snow like a sled dog, the rhizome of bulging veins in his neck and face nearly bursting from determination and newfound willpower.
By the time I did my actual pitches on the two official pitch days, which were held in a beautiful two-story open-air gallery restaurant in the West Village, I was ready. I began to think of my meetings less like pitch sessions and more like casual conversations. The more I spoke with fellow filmmakers and industry folks, the more I realized the meetings aren’t some NFL draft session or butcher's block or death panel for nascent projects. It's more about putting faces on various radars and learning where different organizations fit in the bewildering film landscape. I certainly didn’t witness or overhear of any confetti-strewn filmmaker/industry-gatekeeper mergers or suitcases full of money trading hands in exchange for signed contracts.
Now that I’m back in Chicago, with the memories all behind me, I haven’t followed up with any of the industry folks I pitched to. Not that it went badly; aside from one unfortunate incident when I inadvertently trash-talked a documentary to use it as a foil to describe my own film (the trash-talked film was supported by the very production company I was trash-talking to), the meetings went beyond expectations. My demo and pitch blew everyone away and they understood the importance of the story I was trying to tell.
Although there's a meeting with a representative from a major outreach/distribution company that is very troubling to me. After showing her my demo reel, I talk about how my film follows two skateboarders as they deal with different forms of violence from their fathers. I tell her MINDING THE GAP is a very personal project because I myself am a skateboarder and a victim of domestic violence. She allowed a moment of solemn silence before opening up about being a domestic violence survivor herself. “Once, my friends couldn’t find me all day. They dropped by my apartment and found me trapped underneath a bookshelf,” she said. She stared at me intensely and with complete trust—suddenly we were bonded as trauma survivors. "Nobody ever thought or would've guessed...I mean I'm such an independent woman," she continued. As I recounted a telling detail from my own childhood, her expression went from empathy to perplexity. Suddenly, a TFI employee walked by and informed us we were out of time. The representative promptly said her goodbye and steeled herself for the next filmmaker's pitch.
I've found her perplexed reaction equally perplexing until, today, while writing a grant application, I realized that I am actually not a victim of domestic violence but of child abuse. I’d been conflating child abuse underneath the umbrella of domestic violence my entire life (GAH!)! I am still dwelling in the shame and embarrassment of the incident. All those pitches and I’d been leading those bigwigs on to believe I’d been one sort of victim when I was another type.
I want so badly to end this on an ironic note. Something about trying to compose a documentary narrative without having understood my personal narrative. But I've learned an important lesson in terminology. I’ll end by correcting the title to a more accurate “Confessions of a Tribeca Film Festival Newb.”