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The Tribeca Film Festival is throwing NYC’s normally dense exhibition signal-to-noise ratio way out of whack this week, but one film you should definitely not miss that’s opening today is Robinson Devor’s Police Beat. It was one of our “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” Gotham Award nominees last year, and it was also a critical highlight of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

Distilling influences ranging from Alain Resnais to Rick Linklater to Jim Jarmusch, Police Beat is an utterly gorgeous portrait of lovesickness set against the psychic turmoil that is post 9/11 American life. A Muslim-American police officer goes on bike patrol all over Seattle — which is shot in anamorphic 35mm like some exotic new country by d.p. Sean Kirby — while obsessing over his girlfriend, who has gone on a camping trip with a male “friend.” The script was written by Charles Mudede (one of our “25 New Faces’ last year), and it incorporates material from his weekly column of the same name in the Seattle Stranger while adding a lovely melancholy romanticism.

Here’s what director Devor has to say about his film: “[Police Beat] a highly unconventional crime film in which the protagonist Z is so preoccupied with his possibly unfaithful girlfriend that he never once acknowledges the criminal world that swirls around him. The crimes Z encounters become mirrors of his turbulent inner state, allowing him to philosophize about his unstable romantic relationship as well as his own development as an emotional being. While Z’s regular interactions are in English, his thoughts – the film’s narration – are in his native Wolof, the primary language of West Africa. In this way, POLICE BEAT is an unusual portrait of an immigrant new to the United States that focuses less on the protagonist’s socio-economic difficulties than on his emotional responses to American life.”

The film runs today through May 4 at the Anthology Film Archives, and I highly recommend you check it out. (For more, here’s Manohla Dargis’s New York Times review.

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