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Entertainment behind the scenes

Joan Rivers at Tribeca — brash, annoying or brave comedian?

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Should we respect Joan Rivers for forging the way for female comedians, or cry at her need for attention?

One of the most surprising and buzzed about documentaries at the Tribeca Film Festival this week has been a bittersweet portrait of Joan Rivers, beginning with the aging comedian and actress telling jokes at a club, telling stories about her daughter refusing to do a Playboy photoshoot and looking around at the small audience before quipping that after 40 years in showbiz, “This is my career, I mean, how depressing is this!”

Rivers, is perhaps best known for reality TV, plastic surgery and snarky fashion comments on the red carpet. “Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work” shows extreme close-ups of make-up being applied to Rivers’ bare face that, she says, gives her “the willies.” On her 75th birthday, she laments “it’s a youth society and nobody wants you,” and her manager tells stories of her chronic workaholic ways and desperate fear of being completely without a gig.

But the film also shows vintage footage of Rivers’ groundbreaking comedy about topics like abortion, her years of working with Johnny Carson, and praise from modern female comedians like Kathy Griffin calling her a true inspiration. In the video above, the film’s director Ricki Stern, who previously has turned her attention to topics such as the genocide in Darfur, talks about Rivers’ pioneering career and her ability to survive Hollywood. Stern also takes a stab at a controversial topic at this year’s festival — what filmmakers think of watching movies online, which has been a key effort by Tribeca.

“Ticked-Off Trannies,” and detractors, take on Tribeca

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(Reporting by Edith Honan) “Transploitation.” Depending on your definition, it means either a) an exciting, entertaining way of celebrating transgender women, or b) a reinforcement of an unfair stereotype. Either way, one thing is for certain, the question of what “transploitation” is, has become a controversial subject at this week’s Tribeca Film Festival.
The fuss centers on a new movie, “Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives,” a revenge fantasy that is as violent as it is campy which had premiere here over the weekend. The movie tells of a group of transgender friends who seek vengeance on their attackers. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) several weeks ago called for it to be pulled from the event that has become a key stop on the global film festival circuit.  At the film’s debut, about 25 protesters passed out literature and held up signs saying the story dehumanized the transgender community.  “This is not a gig for us. We are women who were born with birth challenges,” said the protest’s organizer, Ashley Love. “These people are mocking our lives.” But director Israel Luna said he hoped people would watch the entire film and give it a chance.  
We were out the red carpet to ask the question and in the videos above you can watch  Krystal Summers and Erica Andrews, who appear in the movie, defend it.  And Stefanie Rivera, one of the protesters, explains why she thinks Tribeca should shut it down.

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