AMTRAK NORTHEAST REGIONAL, EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK — Spending an hour-and-a-half immersed in the minutiae of retired Rep. Barney Frank’s day-to-day existence may sound like an odd way to spend a Sunday. But it’s part of the peek-behind-the-political-curtain cinephiles have come to expect from the intellectually challenging Tribeca Film Festival .
Audiences will get their first taste of “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank ,” later this afternoon.
An aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler picked the California Democrat’s brain as part of the process — told HOH his boss had seen an early cut of the flick and enjoyed the look back at her colleague's illustrious career. Other House lawmakers and former congressional aides are very interested in seeing how Frank’s larger-than-life personality will come across on the big screen.
None of this, however, is particularly new to the Tribeca crowd.
TFF spokeswoman Tammie Rosen said the 13-year-old celebration of independent cinema has made a habit of welcoming those willing to get up close and personal with decision makers, as well as in-the-line-of-fire world leaders.
“We always have really buzzed-about docs that are political,” Rosen said of the festival’s rich history.
That tradition is alive and well this year, manifesting itself via hard looks at thought provoking subjects, including:
- "1971" — an examination of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI’s attempt at breaking into the top cop’s Media, Pa., HQ
- "All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State" — reflections on the first woman to serve as governor of Texas
- "In Guns We Trust" — a glimpse into mandatory firearms ownership in Kennesaw, Ga.
- "Of Many" — Political scion (and mom-in-training) Chelsea Clinton showed off the religiously themed documentary she co-produced a handful of times during the festival. (The final showing is today at 2:30 p.m.)
- "Silenced" — delving into the plight of whistleblowers in a post-9/11 world
- "True Son" — chronicling aspiring pol Michael Tubbs’ run for city council in Stockton, Calif.
- "Use of Force" — a “fully immersive documentary experience” that places viewers in the middle of the fatal confrontation (2010) between immigrant Anastasio Hernandez Rojas and the U.S. border patrol
Rosen was unsure whether Frank was the first congressman to participate in a world premiere at TFF; she noted that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Rwandan President Paul Kagame added political power in previous years.