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James Bond 007 No time to die 2020 Daniel Craig, Rami Malek

Trailers in 2020

Claus Mueller

Claus Mueller is a Film Festival Ambassador to

He is based in New York where he covers the festival scene.


New York: Tribeca TV Festival 2019

Covering four days from September 12-15 with events including the celebration of the 25th anniversary of FRIENDS with their creators and actors and numerous screenings as well as panels, the third edition of the Tribeca TV Festival drew large audiences to mostly sold out events. The lineup of new series premieres and presentation of the next seasons for established favorites was aimed at an audience which consumes television in many ways. Tribeca TV Festival has become an innovative creative platform for the myriad ways in which episodic content is consumed.  The festival included first looks at world premieres of returning series and unique new ones. The festival program included Starz’s true crime docu-series LEAVENWORTH, executive produced by Steven Soderbergh, Epix’s GODFATHER OF HARLEM starring Forest Whitaker, the CBS series EVIL by Robert and Michelle King, CW’s Kathy Keene Freeform’s reboot of PARTY OF FIVE, and many others. In their seminar sessions James Spader, the noted television and film actor, was interviewed by Whoopi Goldberg and Hasan Minhaj, a well-established critical correspondent and comedy show creator, and the hosts shared their experiences with an intrigued audience of fans and observers.  Festival attendants were in the company of numerous directors and actors from the series presented on or off stage including several 2019 Emmy and Oscar nominees.

As in the first editions of Tribeca TV, virtually all interests of the audience in episodic story telling were met.  There is no question that the production  of television series has expanded significantly in recent years. With increasing avenues for access, from the smallest hand-held screens to the largest home screens, image resolution and sound quality matching or superior to expensive theatrical settings, the boundaries between film and television productions no longer exist in a way they once did. Major and minor screening platforms have achieved an enormous influence on productions.

For old and new screening services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Apple TV +, Tribeca TV offers an ideal curatorial function.  The Tribeca TV festival is replicating the success the Tribeca Film Festival had when introducing world premieres of CHERNOBYL, THE HOT ZONE, THE HANDMAID’S TALE, and other first run productions.

Seminar with James Spader

 As an acclaimed performer in films like PRETTY AND PINK and LESS THAN ZERO and recipient of the best actor award at Cannes for SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE and several Emmy Awards for his role as the attorney Alan Shore in THE PRACTICE and BOSTON LEGAL, James Spader has established himself as one of the most acclaimed  American actors. He is guided by the attraction to different life experiences superseding old ones and the need to inhabit the characters he plays. The variety of contrasting roles he has presented, and the circumstances in which he accepted them, the challenge of the unknown of the characters and themes all serve as a powerful motivation for Spader. The absence of a script for a film, a director showing ambiguity, constant need to improvise acting in a role never presented before has served as an incentive rather than as deterrent. The more multifaced and complex the story was and the greater Spader’s imagination and curiosity was called for, the more he was attracted to it.  He suggested that he never completely left the make-believe work of his childhood in growing into the characters he played.


ROOM 104

This late-night half-hour anthology series for HBO with Mark and Jay Duplass as executive producers returns with its third season world premiere with 12 new self-contained episodes. Running about 22 minutes each, they present original stories of individuals spending time in a typical motel room, Room 104.

In this episode a brother and his sister meet who have not seen each other for a long time in an open space designated 104 to sign papers for a motel to be built there.  In this tight well enacted episode, the sister kills her brother after he signs the deed transferring the property to her in case of death. But she succumbs in turn when a strange male enters the space from the background and guns her down. Surreal transactions transpire with the bodies of the siblings disappearing leaving only their clothes and the stranger’s head taking on an animal shape.

Now entering the 3rd season the episodes are shot on a lean budget with actors paid on a low scale, yet they are drawn to the series because it offers unusual roles which are even appealing to well established actors. Some of the 104 actors migrate to other HBO shows, as do young, often female, writers, getting employed by HBO or Showtime. From the producers’ perspective 104 has become a challenging training ground for actors and writers given the diversity of the topics covered by the episodes and the disregard for the rules used in traditional television productions. The producers prefer to hire “young hungry creative people rather than established actors and technicians with long resumes”.  What is also essential for the series success is the critical feedback for the work in progress elevating in most cases the quality of the episodes.

PARTY OF FIVE, Amy Lippman, Christopher Keyser and Rodrigo Garcia, executive producers

Presented as a Sneak Preview in Celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month PARTY OF FIVE is an effective new series rebooting the classic 90’s series Party of Five by the original series creator  Amy  Lippman and Christopher Keyser.  The new edition is a contemporary update and follows the five children of the Acosta family when and after their parents are deported by the ICE immigration service.  The parents had been living in New York for more than 20 years and build a middle-class existence operating a restaurant and rearing a family of five after they had migrated here from Mexico without papers. Arrested while serving their guests they are imprisoned and lose their case reflecting the fact that less than five percent of those contesting deportation succeed.  Depriving the children of their parents, subjecting them to welfare agencies and the destruction of their business are consequences which are irrelevant for the judge since his hands, so he argues, are bound by the law. The children are forced to survive on their own bond as siblings struggling to maintain their family under all circumstances.  The interpersonal dramatic transactions between the children and the coping strategies they apply are set in a contemporary context that has little space for parentless children apart from institutionalizing them.  By placing the story in a middle class setting with the Acostas owning a restaurant and a home, the story is rather removed from the migration and deportation issues most viewers are familiar with. Yet as the pilot shows through graphic presentation of the arrest, court proceedings, actual deportation, the struggles the children goes through and the suspension of their dreams about their future, the audience is confronted with the catastrophic results of our immigration policies. The contrast between the Acosta children trying to survive as a family sets a stark contrast to migrant families locked up in detention camps.  

LEAVENWORTH from STARZ is the world premiere of a new series executive produced by Paul Pawlowski, David Check, and the Oscar winner filmmaker Seven Soderbergh, shot in a documentary style. It portrays a series of true events leading to an army officer’s 19-year sentence of for an alleged murder he committed by ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men approaching them on a motorbike in July 2012.  Two were killed and one was wounded but escaped. Clint Lorance is now serving his sentence for two double and one attempted murder in the United States Penitentiary Leavenworth and his appeal was rejected by military judges two years ago. The civilian review his lawyers have filed is now pending in a federal court. Lorance’s conviction was in part based on the testimony of his soldiers in the platoon asserting that the motorbike riders posed no threat and the military prosecutor urging the jury that the riders were civilians.  The incident took place in a hotbed of insurgent activitis, the platoon had experienced several casualties before Lorance was appointed to lead it and his soldiers feared that civilian casualties would generate more insurgency, a view widely shared by journalists covering the war and military officials. Thus, the speedy conviction of Lorance for the alleged crime set a public example for the US military not tolerating the killing of Afghan civilians. His lawyers maintain that Lorance did not get a fair trial and that procedures were broken and explicatory evidence was withheld from the defense.

The two parts of the LEAVENWORTH series shown at the festival demonstrated a superb mastery of production and storytelling. What struck me most is that the producers and directors avoided taking a position on the case. They provided instead a clear demonstration of the political and social context of the war in Afghanistan and of the opposition of civilians to the American forces working there given the tremendous damage they have caused. The series also offers great insights into the biography and family of Lorance and the personal problems he was facing. For Steven Soderbergh the objective of the series is to have the audience reflect about the issues presented in LEAVANWORTH.


Claus Mueller


About Claus Mueller