NEW YORK: Music documentary “Mistaken for Strangers,” a tale about two brothers and the indie rock group The National, opened the Tribeca Film Festival Wednesday, which this year features nearly 90 feature films from 30 countries.
The documentary was made by Tom Berninger, the younger brother of the Brooklyn group’s lead singer Matt, who follows the band behind the scenes on a world tour.
The filmmaker fires funny and often irrelevant questions at the five members of the band which is made up of Matt and two other pairs of brothers.
“It is a very personal movie,” said Berninger, 33, who shot the film while working as a roadie for the band, which also performed after Wednesday’s screening. Formed in Cincinnati in 1999 before moving Brooklyn, the band is known for its dark, moody music.
“With every younger brother there comes this desire to make something of himself in his [older] brother’s eyes,” Berninger said. “It is about self discovery, stepping out of the shadow and acceptance of who you are.”
Festival organizers said they selected the film to start Tribeca because it embodies the independent spirit of many of the emerging filmmakers showing their work at the 12-day festival.
“Not only is it a music documentary, it is a documentary about a young filmmaker making his first film,” said Genna Terranova, the director of programming for Tribeca. “It is funny and irreverent, a good laugh, and has great music.”
Jane Rosenthal, who co-founded the festival named for a New York City neighborhood with actor Robert De Niro after the September 2001 attacks in downtown Manhattan, described it as “a very poignant story,” with its title stemming from the band’s song of the same name.
“The festival was founded to expose filmmakers to the widest possible audiences and to bring people back downtown,” she said, “and it does both of those things.”
Berninger is among 38 first-time directors showing at Tribeca, which will feature 55 narrative films, 34 documentaries and 53 world premieres.
The festival, now in its second decade, will include free streaming of a number of films and has added a new section called Storyscapes, with five transmedia projects examining the intersection of technology and filmmaking.
“We are in an interesting time in our business now between technology and creating stories,” said Rosenthal. “The way we are viewing things is changing. Our habits are changing.”
Visitors can interact with the projects whose topics range from personal reflections on insomnia, accounts of the effects of Superstorm Sandy in the U.S. Northeast, and alternatives to the storyline of “Star Wars.”
The festival will close with a restored version of Martin Scorsese’s 1982 film “The King of Comedy” starring De Niro and Jerry Lewis.
The Tribeca Film Festival runs until April 28