Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Be Yourself


Be Yourself is one of nine collections of short films presented at the Tribeca Film Festival, focusing on personal stories about self-identity. Out of the six films in the collection, four of the films are reviewed below. All-American Family, a documentary about an all-deaf high school football team, and Eternal Princess, a portrait of gymnast Nadia Comaneci, were also part of the collection. The subject matter ranges from faith and love to art and passion for an era long gone. All of them are unique and personal, and all of them are part of the human experience. Read on for a rundown of Be Yourself.

American RenaissanceAmerican Renaissance is a look into the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, New York and a profile of some of the performers, including jugglers, fairies, and a Queen Elizabeth. For people who are already familiar with these kinds of events, American Renaissance only scratches the surface of the subject matter. The interviews are entertaining, particularly the Queen Elizabeth actress, and the film has some good cinematography with some great shots of the jousting. Overall, though, the filmmakers could have gone deeper with the material, gotten more into this subculture and why someone dedicates so much time or their career to celebrating this era in history. I have family members who work a lot of these festivals, and there is plenty more to explore.

ElderElder is a true life love story about Tom Clark, a gay Mormon youth who fell in love for the first time during his mission in Italy. The story is recounted by Tom Clark with pictures and video taken by Clark during that time. He talks about how he was treated for his homosexuality with medication and so-called reparative therapy, and even as he was in love, he was praying to God and struggling with reconciling his faith and his sexuality. Elder is incredibly moving film. In its short runtime, it captures the elation and butterflies of first love and the aching heartbreak when it ends. It also shows why staying in the closet or seeking reparative therapy is so damaging, how it deprives people of love and affection while also forcing them to lie on a regular basis.

Live Fast Draw YungLive Fast Draw Yung follows the career of Yung Lenox, a six-year-old artist who specializes in illustrated hip-hop album covers. His work first got noticed after his father shared his drawings on Instagram, and since then, he has done portraits of Biggie Smalls, 2 Live Crew, and Tupac. Like Yung’s work, Live Fast Draw Yung is colorful, loose, and a little rough around the edges, and Yung is a charming kid and the perfect kind of subject for a short-form documentary.

In the short running time, the interviews delve into whether it is appropriate for a kid Yung’s age to be listening to music by artists like Biggie, and on a similar note, whether it is appropriate for him to be drawing some of these album covers. The 2 Live Crew cover, a popular one, prominently features women in bikinis with their butts taking up most of the cover. Also, Yung’s father talks about the allegations made by critics that he is pushing his son into it and that he is using his son to gain fame or a quick buck. It doesn’t necessarily resolve all of these questions that it brings up, but as a portrait of a six-year-old who loves drawing hip-hop artists, Live Fast Draw Yung is worth a watch.

My Enemy, My BrotherMy Enemy, My Brother tells the true story of Zahed and Najah, two soldiers who were on opposite sides during the Iran-Iraq war. During a battle, Najah was the only soldier still alive in his bunker, and Zahed was sent in to kill any survivors. Instead, Zahed decided to spare him and hid Najah, saving his life. Against all odds, the two were reunited years later when they both visited the same veteran’s hospital in Toronto. Their story is incredible, almost unbelievable if it was not true, and seeing these men brought back together all these years later is an emotional experience of itself. The reenacted flashbacks are also acted and filmed expertly. I am not usually a fan of these kinds of re-enactments in documentaries, but they are done well and used sparingly. This is a story that has stuck with me, and My Enemy, My Brother is one of the few films from the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival that I have recommended whole-heartedly without reservation to anyone. It is a powerful film, and its message of shared humanity is universal.

Rachel Kolb • Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at


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