What do a depressed cartoon character, a loony landlord, an artist's son and a rabbi with a Muslim best friend have in common?
To anyone outside of New York City, that statement would seem completely absurd. But it's that mutual understanding that yeah, our home is at once a strange, quirky, challenging and wonderful place, and no one else quite gets it, that makes us New Yorkers.
That seems to be the idea behind this year's Tribeca Film Festival New York Shorts program, titled "City Limits," a mash-up of four films that capture very real moments and struggles that city dwellers deal with every day.
"My Depression: The Up and Down and Up of It"
This animated short, based on a picture book written by Elizabeth Swados and featuring the voices of Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi, tells it how it is through a series of snarky jingles, blunt observations and a heart-breakingly honest main character, Liz, who's one seriously depressed redhead. She has a good job-- even a glamorous one, at times, a loving poodle, musical talent and plenty of friends. But no matter how much yoga she practices, psychics she visits or kale she eats, she just can't chase that little black cloud away. Or can she?
"70 Hester Street"
What do you remember about your childhood home? You probably didn't grow up in a synagogue turned whiskey distillery turned raincoat/shower curtain factory turned art studio like Casimir Nozkowski, but still the types of memories you have are more or less the same. As his parents prepare to move out after almost 46 years, Nozkowski recalls the creaky stairs, the dried paint on the walls, the smells and even the possible ghosts with a pang of nostalgia not just for the loft he called home, but for the Lower East Side, where buildings with fire escapes and remnants of events that took place a hundreds years ago are being replaced by elevators and doormen.
"One Year Lease"
Ever rented an apartment you thought was a great find only to realize your folly after it was already too late? We've all been there. One year can be an awfully long time with a landlord who feels the need to put you on speed dial in case you didn't pick up your mail fast enough, a neighborhood pigeon needs care or you dared to leave your cat in your apartment with the lights off again-- but when it happens to someone else, it's just so much funnier.
Even in the melting pot capital of the world, religious and racial tensions remain. But when New York University's Jewish and Muslim chaplains form an unlikely bond that surprises even them, their students are inspired to follow suit. This look at how tragedies near and far-- from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Muhammad cartoon turmoil to Hurricane Katrina and 9/11-- affect relationships in our diverse city might change the way you look at those around you.
IF YOU GO
Sunday, April 20, 4 p.m. and Thursday, April 24, 9 p.m. at AMC Loews Village 7 (66 3rd Ave.)
Sunday, April 27, 2:30 p.m. at Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick St.)
Run time: 83 minutes
Tickets: $17, more info at tribecafilm.com