Vara: A Blessing
A still from "Vara: A Blessing"
A still from "Zero Motivation"
A still from “Zero Motivation”

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival closed this weekend, and the award winners have already been announced. Here are short reviews of two of them – both highly recommended.

“Zero Motivation” is an Israeli film by female writer/director Talya Lavie. Not only did the film win the Best Narrative Feature award, but Lavie won the coveted Nora Ephron Prize. It’s a funny movie about female Israeli soldiers who are stuck in a desert post on boring desk jobs – so boring, in fact, that they’re going out of their minds.

There is no real commentary about war here. It’s largely a coming-of-age story. These young women know intellectually (and are frequently reminded) that there are soldiers putting their lives on the line, but due to the age of these girls, they remain self-involved and immature. The characters are well-drawn, and it’s fun to watch from start to finish. I can’t find a trailer for it yet, however.

“Vara: A Blessing” is a Romeo and Juliet story set in rural India in which a Hindu dancer falls in love with a Muslim sculptor. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a culture that many westerners know nothing about. It’s visually beautiful, and there is a lot of great dancing and music.

Despite the teaser below, which is more a music video than a trailer for the film, this is not a breezy Bollywood musical flick. It’s set in an area with very specific rules that people are expected to follow, and the pain felt by the lovers is very real.

The film won the Best Online Feature award … and (inexplicably) it’s in English.