What’s better than hanging out in New York City on a (partially) beautiful weekend and wearing around your neck pass that enables you to see any movie that you could want? If you said, “Nothing.”, then we’re on the same page. This past weekend I had the honor and delight to experience what IS the annual Tribeca Film Festival. This years festival, which runs until May 4th, is not only packed with your favorite celebrities walking up and down red carpets but encompasses all the rich, diverse and beautiful culture of New York City and of course the whole point, over 500 films to be seen.
If you’re a film junkie like me you can probably understand how hard it was for me to pick what movies to see and which movies to scratch. It was a very painful process. I’d have to compare it to when I go out to dinner with friends and I’ve waited hours to eat, as to not spoil my appetite, and by the time I get to the restaurant I’m so hungry the gum underneath the table looks like a suitable appetizer.
When I’m that crazy for nutrition I want everything on the menu, but logically (and financially) I can’t have everything. I stare at the menu as the smell of all the glorious food fill my nostrils, my stomach growls and I begin to feel faint. By that point I just want to close my eyes, point and pick whatever my finger lands on. But my brain always interjects and says, “Hold on a minute hungry Helga, I know your starvin’ but you can’t make any hasty decisions. You don’t want to try anything too risky because if it turns out you don’t like it you just wasted 20 bucks on a squid steak and its most likely going to end up on the sidewalk outside; and then again you don’t want to play it safe either because if you were just going to get a grilled cheese then you could have stayed home”.
So, I end up studying the menu and narrowing down my choices and then based on certain criteria, (like if someone else at the table is going to order something on my list I scratch it off because why order it when you can have a bite of theirs), I can make a pretty good choice.
Figuring out the movies I wanted to see for the festival was just like that. I had only a limited amount of time and hundreds of movies to pick from. I had to make calculated decisions and hope to god I didn’t waste 2 hours of my life watching a French documentary about the life and times of a poodle’s scrotum. I am happy to say that I think that I made the best choices. Today I am going to write about one film I saw and over the next couple of days I’ll add more and more to the list. Hopefully after reading this you’ll inquire about the film(s) and take a gander sometime.
The Universe of Keith Haring
Directed by Christina Clausen
When I found out that there was a documentary about the life and works of Keith Haring I said to myself “Kel, there is no fucking way your missing this movie.” (and I would never lie to myself). I knew I only had one shot to see this movie so Friday night I began my mad dash from Jersey into the city. After a long day at the office I ran out of work, went to my car, got my luggage, ran to the train station, hopped on the train, took a brief nap, got of the train, dragged my luggage 9 blocks to west 23rd street, to dropped it off with a friend, hauled ass over to East 12th and 2nd ran inside the movie theater and then finally with moments to spare watched a beautiful film.
When I was a kid and I would venture into the city and see all these drawings and painting covering buildings, subways, sidewalks and the like. New York City was a breeding ground for graffiti artists. Some people thought of it as vandalism but like any little kid I thought it was just pretty cool.
There was one artist in particular whose work strewn all over the city. They were these simple abstract images of people, dogs, babies or groups of people often paired with vibrant colors. I remember seeing people wearing t-shirts with these images on them and at the time I thought they were just fun… and they were… but later I would learn that they were more than that. I was a little too young to realize what I was experiencing but I knew that something had caught my eye.
As I got a bit older I found out that all those fun and vibrant pieces were the works of gay New York pop artist Keith Haring. I was a big fan and was very much drawn to his work and as I learned more about him I understood or saw the more sophisticated messages that he was expressing but by that time he had gotten sick and died of AIDS.
This documentary brought back to life and showed and honest portrayal of an artist that inspired the world with his imagination, heart, creativity and hope. I got to experience Haring in a way that I could have never dreamed. This film transcends most films I’ve seen about other artists because it’s not just an interpretation of the artist, it is the artist. It shows him from his early beginnings in small town PA to his world wide success and then sadly to his untimely death. The film focuses on how his work grew from home grown art shows to grand masterpieces that inspired the world. It includes pieces of footage of Haring himself, his family and his friends and not to mention the numerous amounts of his work that still exist and draw in people today.
This was not only a brilliant film but an experience. I recommend anyone who has a vocation to take a look at this film because it encompasses the important message that if you have real passion and believe in yourself that you can accomplish anything and inspire others. Keith Haring did and he still does.
To find out more information about this film and scheduled screenings please go to