Tribeca Film Festival: ‘Diane,’ ‘Smuggling Hendrix,’ ‘Island of the Hungry Ghosts’ Take Top Jury Awards


The Tribeca Film Festival announced the 2018 Jury Award winners Thursday night, and director Kent Jones took home the top prize.

Jones, a first-time narrative director and writer, won the Founders Award for best narrative feature and best screenplay in the U.S. narrative feature film category for his film “Diane.”

The film, which had its world premiere at the festival, is about a devoted friend and caretaker,  Diane, who is left to reckon with past choices and long-dormant memories as those around her begin to drift away in the last quarter of her life.

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“After careful consideration we have chosen a film that we believe encompasses the beauty, aesthetic, as well as the powerful themes of love, struggle, life, death, and womanhood that are the spirit of this year’s Festival,” the jury said in detailing its decision.

“Smuggling Hendrix” won for best international narrative feature, and “Island of the Hungry Ghosts” won for best documentary feature.

The Nora Ephron Award went to writer and director Nia DaCosta for her film “Little Woods,” starring Tessa Thompson. The award was created six years ago to honor excellence in storytelling by female writers and directors who embody the spirit and boldness of the late filmmaker.

Also Read: ‘Diane’ Film Review: Mary Kay Place Is Spellbinding as a Woman Whose Life Has Slipped Away

“It is rewarding to honor films that tell important stories and moved our juries in profound way,” commented Jane Rosenthal, CEO, Executive Chair, and Co-Founder, Tribeca Film Festival. “Whether they excite, incite, inspire or simply entertain, it is a privilege to launch this worthy group with this special honor at Tribeca.”

Below is a full list of winners.


“Diane,” directed and written by Kent Jones. Produced by Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman. (USA) – World Premiere. Diane is a devoted friend and caretaker,  particularly to her drug-addicted son. But as those around her begin to drift away in the last quarter of her life, she is left to reckon with past choices and long-dormant memories in this haunting character study. With Mary Kay Place, Jake Lacy, Estelle, Andrea Martin, Deirdre O’Connell, Glynis O’Connor, Phyllis Somerville, Joyce Van Patten.

“Duck Butter,” directed by Miguel Arteta, written by Miguel Arteta, Alia Shawkat. Produced by Mel Eslyn, Natalie Qasabian. (USA) – World Premiere. Two women, jaded by dishonest and broken relationships, make a pact to spend 24 uninterrupted hours together, having sex on the hour. Their romantic experiment intends to create a new form of intimacy, but it doesn’t quite go as planned. With Alia Shawkat, Laia Costa, Hong Chau, Kate Berlant, Kumail Nanjia.

“O.G.,” directed by Madeleine Sackler, written by Stephen Belber. Produced by Madeleine Sackler, Boyd Holbrook. (USA) – World Premiere. An inmate entering the final weeks of a twenty-plus-year sentence must navigate between old loyalties and a new protégé, while he also grapples with the looming uncertainty of his return to life outside bars. With Jeffrey Wright, William Fichtner, Theothus Carter, Mare Winningham, Boyd Holbrook, David Patrick Kelly.


“Obey,” directed and written by Jamie Jones. Produced by Emily Jones, Ross Williams. (UK) – World Premiere. In the midst of the London riots, Leon grapples with the stark reality of his life and his relationship with his alcoholic mother while falling in love for the first time. With Marcus Rutherford, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Sam Gittens, T’Nia Miller, James Atwell.

 “The Saint Bernard Syndicate,” directed by Mads Brugger, written by Lærke Sanderhoff. Produced by Emilie Lebech Kaae, Jakob Kirstein Høgel. (Denmark) – World Premiere. Subversive satirist Mads Brugger’s latest is an odd-couple comedy about the pitfalls of striking out into the economic frontier; it charts two hapless Danes’ scheme to sell Saint Bernards to China’s middle class.

“Smuggling Hendrix,” directed and written by Marios Piperides. Produced by Janine Teerling, Marios Piperides, Thanassis Karathanos, Martin Hampel, Costas Lambropoulos. (Cyprus, Germany, and Greece) – World Premiere. Though caught between the mob and border patrol, washed-up musician Yiannis must put his plans to leave Cyprus on hold his when his beloved dog escapes across the wall to the island’s Turkish side. With Adam Bousdoukos, Fatih Al, Vicky Papadopoulou, ?-zgür Karadeniz.

 “Virgins (Vierges),” directed by Keren Ben Rafael, written by Keren Ben Rafael, Elise Benroubi. Produced by Caroline Bonmarchand. (France, Israel, Belgium) – World Premiere. Teenage Lana is languishing in her run-down hometown on Israel’s sun-soaked north coast–until an older, attractive writer arrives with tales of a mermaid sighting off the shore of the declining resort town. With Joy Rieger, Evgenia Dodina, Michael Aloni, Manuel Elkaslassy Vardi, Rami Heuberger.


“Island of the Hungry Ghosts,” directed and written by Gabrielle Brady. Produced by Alexander Wadouh, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Gizem Acarla, Gabrielle Brady. (Australia, Germany, UK) – World Premiere. Christmas Island, Australia is home to one of the largest land migrations on earth–that of forty million crabs journeying from jungle to sea. But the jungle holds another secret: a high-security facility that indefinitely detained individuals seeking asylum.

“Tanzania Transit,” directed by Jeroen van Velzen, written by Jeroen van Velzen, Esther Eenstroom. Produced by Digna Sinke. (Netherlands) – World Premiere. A train journey across Tanzania captures a microcosm of contemporary African society in Tribeca alum Jeroen van Velzen’s captivating and visually stunning road movie.
“When Lambs Become Lions,” directed by Jon Kasbe. Produced by Jon Kasbe, Innbo Shim, Tom Yellin, Andrew Harrison Brown. (USA) – World Premiere. In the Kenyan bush, a crackdown on ivory poaching forces a silver-tongued second-generation poacher to seek out an unlikely ally in this fly-on-the-wall look at both sides of the conservation divide.


“To Dust,” directed by Shawn Snyder, written by Shawn Snyder, Jason Duran. Produced by Emily Mortimer, Alessandro Nivola, Ron Perlman, Josh Crook, Scott Lochmus. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Narrative. Traumatized by the death of his wife, a Hasidic cantor obsesses over how her body will decay. He seeks answers from a local biology professor in this, unlikeliest of buddy comedies. With Geza Rohrig, Matthew Broderick.


“Bathtubs Over Broadway,” directed by Dava Whisenant, written by Ozzy Inguanzo, Dava Whisenant. Produced by Amanda Spain, Dava Whisenant, Susan Littenberg. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Documentary. Comedy writer Steve Young’s assignment to scour bargain-bin vinyl for a Late Night segment becomes an unexpected, decades-spanning obsession when he stumbles upon the strange and hilarious world of industrial musicals in this musical-comedy-documentary. With David Letterman, Chita Rivera, Martin Short, Susan Stroman, Sheldon Harnick, Jello Biafra.


“Late Afternoon,” directed and written by Louise Bagnall. (Ireland) – New York Premiere, Short Narrative. Disconnected from the world around her, Emily drifts back through her own memories, looking to her past in order to fully embrace her present. With Fionnula Flanagan, Niamh Moyles, Lucy O’Connell, Michael McGrath.

“The Life of Esteban (Het Leven van Esteban),” directed and written by Inès Eshun. (Belgium) – International Premiere, Short Narrative. Esteban, a future Olympic swimmer, has grown up with a single mother and doesn’t know who his father is. As he searches for his identity in this poetic short film, he determines swimming is a metaphor for life itself. With Noah Mavuela, Mathis Mavuela, Joshua Tassin, Tine Cartuyvels, Goua Grovogui, Lamine Diouf. In Dutch with English subtitles.

“Notes from Dunblane: Lessons from a School Shooting,” directed by Kim Snyder. (USA) – World Premiere, Short Documentary. Following the Sandy Hook Massacre, a priest from Dunblane, Scotland reaches out to Father Bob offering support 16 years after a school shooting in his own town. The men bond over personal trauma and responsibilities… In the aftermath the UK reformed its gun laws; the US responded with inaction. With Monsignor Bob Weiss, Monsignor Basil O’Sullivan.

“Phone Duty (?”ежурство),” directed and written by Lenar Kamalov. (Russia) – World Premiere, Short Narrative. A Donbass rebel fighter, whose nom de guerre is Cat, receives orders to sit on phone duty–which, he quickly learns, is not as easy as it first seems. With Zakhar Prilepin, Oleg Chernov, Gleb Kornilov, Mikhail Sivorin, Yuriy Maslak. In Russian with English subtitles.


“Hero” (New York Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Navid Khonsari, Vassiliki Khonsari, Brooks Brown

Key Collaborators: Mark Harwood, Sinclair Fleming, Andres Perez-Duarte, Sam Butin, iNK Stories, Starbreeze Studios,Thea Ulrich

This powerfully immersive, large-scale, multi-sensory installation explores humanity in our modern era of civilian warfare. When everyday life is disrupted by a barrel bomb falling from the sky, provoking a profound crisis in this vérité virtual-reality experience, only connection among humans can inspire hope, and participants must embark on a visceral hero’s journey. Cast: Masoume Khonsari, Perla Daoud, Samer Sakka, Sam Sako, Said Faraj, Sue Shaheen


“Little Woods,” directed and written by Nia DaCosta. Produced by Rachael Fung, Gabrielle Nadig. (USA) – World Premiere. In this dramatic thriller set in the fracking boomtown of Little Woods, North Dakota, two estranged sisters are driven to extremes when their mother dies, leaving them with one week to pay back her mortgage. With Tessa Thompson, Lily James, Luke Kirby, James Badge Dale, Lance Reddick.

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How Marvel Bounced Back From Bankruptcy to Become Hollywood’s Biggest Brand


Marvel Studios’ interconnected universe of films, now spanning 10 years and 19 individual projects, has earned $6 billion in domestic box office and nearly $15 billion worldwide, according to data from Box Office Mojo.

That ain’t bad considering that in 1996 Marvel mired in bankruptcy, and a decade later banked its nascent film franchise on a second-tier superhero called Iron Man.

“There was a lot of skepticism in the beginning,” Barton Crockett, a media and entertainment analyst at B. Riley FBR, told TheWrap. “Who did these guys think they were trying to make movies out of characters people hadn’t heard of before? Who would want to see a movie about Iron Man? What’s amazed me is the ability to make these tertiary characters popular, and that really started right out the gate.”

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“Iron Man,” which helped pull Robert Downey Jr. from the depths of a scandal-ridden career, went on to make $318.4 million domestically and $585.2 million worldwide.

In 1996, Marvel was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the comic book industry started to collapse in the ’90s. After tense legal battles and struggles to pay back creditors, the company was salvaged in 1997 and merged with Isaac Perlmutter’s Toy Biz.

The Israel-born toy manufacturer entrusted his business partner Avi Arad to help dig Marvel out of its slump. Arad wooed bankers and preached the value of Marvel’s characters, according to a 2012 Slate article on the studio’s rise.

Marvel also auctioned off the film rights to some of its most prized characters. Spider-Man went to Sony, the Hulk went to Paramount and 21st Century Fox bought the rights to Daredevil, the X-Men and Fantastic Four.

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By that time, Marvel Studios no longer had the film rights to its most bankable characters. So Arad & Co. found a “brilliant way to operate out of the licensing box” in which it had placed itself, Crockett said.

The company, with toy sales in its DNA, thought first: What character could sell the most toys? “Mr. Perlmutter didn’t expect to make much money off the movies, but he thought they’d make great advertisements for toys,” Ben Fritz wrote in his book “The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies.” “The question wasn’t who the kids would want to watch on the big screen, but which action figure would they want to play with. The answer was Iron Man.”

Under Kevin Feige, a young producer promoted to Marvel’s president of production in 2007, the company doubled down on its strategy. The following year, Paramount released “Iron Man” — the first in a series of blockbuster films from source material that few fathomed would find mainstream success.

Also Read: The Complete Timeline of Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies, From ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Infinity War’

It starts with the comics and us getting to rip pages out, put them on the walls and start to be inspired,” Feige told the press on the eve of Marvel’s latest film, “Avengers: Infinity War.” “It is always a guide point, a North Star for us as we lead these giant productions into reality are right from those books where it all started.”

The success of “Iron Man” caught the eye of Disney, which bought Marvel for $4 billion in 2009. The acquisition gave Marvel the platform and the pocketbook to chase the audacious multi-superhero, multi-film crossover project that’s coming to fruition with “Avengers: Infinity War” and its untitled “Avengers” sequel due next summer.

Perhaps the first real test of whether Marvel could actually pull off a universe films based on virtually unknown comic book characters was 2014’s “The Guardians of the Galaxy” — based on a long-dormant comic that few diehards even remembered.

When Djimon Hounsou’s Korath jokes that he doesn’t know who Star Lord (Chris Pratt) is, the character wasn’t alone. A talking raccoon? A sentient tree? Two oddly colored alien warriors and a half-man, half-celestial captain? Who were these characters that Disney, with a history of capitalizing on established IP, was willing to invest nearly $200 million in?

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Since that film broke opening weekend records on its way to $773.3 million worldwide, Marvel has been able to make hits out of similarly unlikely characters like Black Panther and Doctor Strange.

“It’s incredible. The whole idea is working,” Crockett said. “We’re approaching a weekend where a Marvel movie might very well have the biggest box office opening of all time, which is stunning when you consider where they came from.”

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Annapurna, Plan B Team Up for Film About NY Times Investigation Into Harvey Weinstein


Annapurna and Plan B Entertainment have teamed to acquire rights to develop a feature film about the investigation that led New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s to break the story of Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long history of sexual harassment and assault, a source told TheWrap.

The scandal wound up being the biggest Hollywood has seen in decades, leading to a slew of powerful men in the industry, including Weinstein, to lose their positions of power.

The stories from Kantor and Twohey won The New York Times a Pulitzer Prize earlier this month.

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The upcoming film, which is in early development, will follow the investigation into Weinstein, not the man himself. The focus is on the team of reporters who tracked, chased and fought through threats to brake the story — think “Spotlight” or “All The President’s Men.”

Kantor and Twohey broke the story detailing Weinstein’s 30-year history of sexual harassment and assault in October last year. It included details of how Weinstein paid off accusers in attempts to hush them up for decades.

The New York Times story, and the many from the New Yorker and other outlets that followed, spotlighted a culture of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct that had run rampant in Hollywood.

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The reporting led to The Weinstein Co. board firing Weinstein, as other powerful men in the industry were also pushed out of their positions.

Weinstein is currently under criminal investigation in at least four jurisdictions, including New York, Los Angeles and London, as the company he founded preps to sell-off assets in bankruptcy court.

Plan B, the production partnership from Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, last year moved its production deal from New Regency to Megan Ellison’s Annapurna. The film the two have out coming under the new partnership is Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic starring Christian Bale.

A source confirmed that the rights deal was put together by Anonymous Content. The production and management company recently signed The New York Times to broker deals for movie and TV opportunities relating to its investigative journalism.

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Power Lunch With Dakota Fanning: ‘You’re Not Telling a Women’s Story, You’re Telling a Human Story’ (Exclusive Video)


There’s a major shift happening in terms of the voices and points of view that have started to take a more central, dominating role in Hollywood.

As the change continues to take shape, TheWrap CEO and editor in chief Sharon Waxman is sitting down with a group of smart and talented women in the entertainment industry to discuss the evolution since the dawn of #MeToo.

After being in the spotlight for 18 years since her breakout role in 2001’s “I Am Sam” at age six, Dakota Fanning has now turned her attention to toward directing.

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In her latest role on the TNT drama “The Alienist,” which wrapped up its first season in late March, the now-24-year-old plays the lone female in a group of mid-1890s detectives in New York City.

“I got to make a short film a couple of months ago and it was as hard or harder than I expected,” Fanning told Waxman in their sit-down. “As scary of an experience as directing was, it was also thrilling.”

The film, titled “Hello Apartment,” is about a young woman who moves into an apartment, the memories she creates there and what happens to the memories tied to that space when she leaves.

It’s part of the Miu Miu “Women’s Tales” series. The Prada-owned brand finances short stories by female directors.

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“As you start making more [films], you realize you’re not telling a women’s story, you’re telling a human story,” Fanning said of more female-centric stories making it on screen.

However, while Fanning says she’s not quite ready to direct a feature and will stick to short films and TV for now, she’s already working to develop Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” into a film for when she is ready to take that plunge.

Check out the video above. And stayed tuned for our next Power Lunch.

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AT&T Q1 Earnings Fail to Meet Wall Street Expectations


AT&T reported first-quarter earnings on Wednesday that were just below Wall Street expectations.

The telecommunications company said in its quarterly filing that earnings per share were 85 cents, which was just below analysts’ consensus expectations of 87 cents per share, according to forecasts on Yahoo Finance. The earnings were up 15 percent compared with the 74 cents per-share earnings the company reported for the same quarter a year ago.

Revenue for the first quarter was $38 billion, below the $39.3 billion analysts on Wall Street projected. AT&T’s revenue was down compared with the $39.4 billion it reported a year ago.

AT&T shares fell more than 4 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

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The company said that total wireless subscriptions were up 8.9 percent to 159.5 million customers, while total video subscribers fell slightly to 38.97 million from 39.08 million a year ago.

AT&T’s DIRECTV Now TV streaming service added 312,000 new subscribers during the quarter. The platform is nearing 1.5 million subscribers, the company said.

Chief Financial Officer John  Stephens told analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings call that the company has more video subscribers now than it did two years ago thanks to DIRECTV Now.

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The company didn’t say much about the part of the business analysts and investors are undoubtedly most interested in — it’s proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

“Not sure I really need to update anyone on our ongoing bid to merge with Time Warner,” AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said during the company’s quarterly conference call with analysts and investors. “There’s not much more we can add at this point.”

Over the last several weeks AT&T has been arguing its case against the U.S. Department of Justice’s attempt to block the merger. The DOJ worries that a combined AT&T-Time Warner would allow the company to raise licensing fees and blackout pay-TV operators in the midst of negotiations.

Also Read: Jeff Bewkes Says DOJ’s Key Antitrust Argument Against AT&T-Time Warner Merger Is ‘Ridiculous’

Both the DOJ and AT&T-Time Warner have wrapped up their arguments in DC District Court. All that’s left are closing arguments on April 30 followed by the decision of District Judge Richard Leon.

Depending on the Judge Leon’s decision, which experts say could go either way, AT&T said all the financing is in place and the company is ready to close the deal with Time Warner.

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