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War is a heavy theme at Tribeca

This year's festival includes documentaries dealing with a soldier in Iraq and the killing of an Afghan taxi driver.

March 13, 2007|A Times staff writer

Retaining its distinctly international flavor, this year's Tribeca Film Festival in New York is once again heavy with documentaries that deal unflinchingly with Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Lebanon, provide uplifting looks at the worlds of kids who compete at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington Festival and detail a spirited group of orphans whose parents died of AIDS.

Prominent among the documentaries competing when the April 25 through May 6 festival gets underway is "I Am an American Soldier: One Year in Iraq With the 101st Airborne." Directed by British filmmaker John Laurence, the movie follows soldiers from the elite division for 14 months, from training through deployment and home again.

Alex Gibney's "Taxi to the Dark Side," described as a "documentary murder mystery," looks at U.S. policy by examining the death of an Afghan taxi driver from injuries inflicted by U.S. troops.

An entry from Britain, "A Slim Peace," shows the discovery through the shared experience of a weight-loss program that a group of Israeli, Palestinian and Bedouin women along with American settlers from the West Bank have more in common than they would have imagined.

Documentaries also include "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song," with Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen attesting to the enduring influence of the folk artist. With compelling game footage and personal stories, Michael Apted's "The Power of the Game" illuminates soccer's powerful influence on the world.

Among the features, "The Killing of John Lennon" uses lines taken from Mark David Chapman's journal in its chilling depiction of the days leading up to their fateful encounter outside Lennon's apartment building in New York.

Ben Kingsley plays an alcoholic hit man forced into recovery and a job at a mortuary in John Dahl's "You Kill Me." French director Patrice Leconte probes the meaning of friendship with "My Best Friend," which centers on an indifferent art dealer challenged to come up with a single friend or forfeit a valuable vase.

Zak Penn delivers "The Grand," a mockumentary about the world of poker that stars Woody Harrelson as an heir hoping to hang onto his father's casino by winning the Grand Championship of Poker.

For the complete lineup, visit www.tribecafilmfestival.org.

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