Tribeca 2014 Festival Report
By Gary M. Kramer
The 13th annual Tribeca Film Festival wrapped up on April 27th, and by and large the documentary films were the festival’s highlights. The narrative features were more of a mixed bag, with strong performances saving familiar stories. Here is a run down of several films that played at this year’s fest.
The incredible documentary Point and Shoot deservedly won the Festival’s award for Best Documentary Feature. In the opening scene, 29 year-old Matthew VanDyke introduces himself on camera and presents his Smith and Wesson extreme ops knife, armored vest, and his helmet with a camera mount. He is setting off to join rebel fighters in Libya. But how did a mild-mannered guy from Baltimore end up fighting a war in Libya? For Matthew, who was raised on action movies and grew up with “choose your own adventure” stories, Point and Shoot shows it was easy. He took a road trip through the Middle East on his motorcycle to film his adventures. It was, he eloquently explains, a “crash course in manhood”—albeit one that involves a crash resulting in a broken collarbone. He also had to overcome his OCD issues, such as his constant hand washing and fear of sugar. Seamlessly weaving Matthew’s footage with interviews and news reports, Point and Shoot shows how the adrenaline rush Matthew experiences prompts him to take the other side of the camera and shape the events he is documenting. Meeting Nuri in his travels, he feels compelled to help fight after the Arab Spring breaks out. His efforts extend to participating in the war in Libya. Even after a tense stretch in prison (a beautifully animated sequence where his OCD is really tested), Matthew refuses to return home, preferring instead to test his manhood further—ultimately to the point of filming himself shooting at an enemy soldier on camera. Point and Shoot asks quite boldly: Can we become the idealized image we had of ourselves? The answers as Matthew discovers and filmmaker Marshall Curry reveals are both staggering and thought-provoking.