The Tribeca Film Festival hits New York next week and runs from April 19 – 30 th. Now in its sixteenth year, the annual event was co-founded by screen legend Robert De Niro in the wake of the September 11th attacks in an effort to revitalise Lower Manhattan. Retaining an element of its original commitment to US indie cinema, it has evolved to encompass TV, VR, online work, music and gaming. As ever, the festival will welcome a dizzying array of big name guests including Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, Jon Favreau, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Quentin Tarantino, Scarlett Johansson and Ron Howard. Here are just some of the highlights, for the full line up and to buy tickets check out the official festival website here.
Opening and Closing night Galas at Radio City Music Hall
Kicking off the festival is the world premiere of music doc Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. The screening at New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall will be followed by a concert with a stellar lineup including Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind & Fire.
A special closing night event on Saturday 29th April marks the 45th anniversary of The Godfather’s original US theatrical release. There will be marathon back-to-back screenings of the much-acclaimed, nine Oscar-winning crime saga’s first two features, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. After the screenings an epic on stage reunion will feature director Francis Ford Coppola and stars Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro.
The 25th anniversary of Disney’s animated classic Aladdin will be celebrated with a screening and live performance of a soundtrack favourite by the original singing voice of Aladdin, Brad Kane. Tribeca will also mark the 15th anniversary of Michael Moore’s Oscar-winning doc Bowling for Columbine, which explores the origins of America’s relationships with guns and the firearms industry following the devastating mass shooting at Columbine High School. The documentary will screen on the same date the massacre took place 18 years ago and will be followed by a discussion with Michael Moore, addressing the current climate of frequent mass shootings in the US and the ongoing legislative battles. The 25th anniversary of Quentin Tarantino’s influential classic Reservoir Dogs will be commemorated by a festival screening using a 35mm print from Tarantino’s own archive. It will be followed by a on stage conversation with the auteur filmmaker himself along with members of the movie’s cast including Steve Buscemi.
Among the festival’s many special screenings and galas is the World Premiere of James Ponsoldt’s The Circle, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. The film follows Mae (Watson) who’s hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech and social media company. As she rises through the ranks, she’s encouraged by the company’s founder (Hanks), to engage in a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics and ultimately her personal freedom. The cast also features John Boyega, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt and the late Bill Paxton.
Providing a chance to see some of this year’s hottest new independent films, Tribeca’s Spotlight Narrative section boasts new features from well-established names both in front of and behind the camera.
Receiving its New York premiere is Sarah Adina Smith’s second feature, Buster’s Mal Heart. Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek has already received some positive reviews for his first feature film lead performance playing a fugitive in this twisting, mind-bending thriller.
Another film that’s already received acclaim for its leading man’s performance is boxing drama Chuck. Based on a true story, Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber), is a liquor salesman from New Jersey who went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali, a feat that inspired the billion-dollar film series Rocky (Morgan Spector plays a young Stallone in the film). The drama follows Wepner’s losses, knockouts, and broken noses in in the ring, and his life of drugs, booze, and women outside of it. The supporting cast features Elisabeth Moss as Wepner’s wife, Ron Perlman as his manager and Naomi Watts as a barmaid he has an immediate spark with.
Again based on a true story is Bryan Buckley’s Dabka. Receiving its World Premiere at Tribeca, the film follows rookie journalist (Evan Peters). An inspiring chance encounter with his idol (Al Pacino) leads him to uproot his life to Somalia. Hooking up with a local fixer (played by Oscar-nominated Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi), the journalist attempts to embed himself with Somali pirates, only to find himself quickly in over his head. Melanie Griffith also appears in the film.
Another World Premiere sees Brits Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall play a couple in Brian Crano’s Permission. The definition of long-term monogamy, Anna (Hall) and Will (Stevens) have great careers, an impending marriage, and a potential new home, things couldn’t be better. But after a close friend’s joke about her non-existent sexual experience hits too close to home, Anna proposes to Will an experiment to broaden their horizons without sabotaging their relationship: to try an open relationship – together. The cast also features Gina Gershon and Jason Sudeikis.
Guillaume Canet’s satirical comedy Rock’n Roll sees real-life couple Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard play themselves dealing with ageing in the limelight. After Guillaume gets told by a co-star that he’s just not that cool anymore, he goes to increasingly extreme lengths to prove her wrong, putting his happy domestic life to the test.
British comedy legends Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reunite with director Michael Winterbottom for another chapter in their road trip series with the World Premiere of The Trip to Spain. Trading celebrity impressions and witty banter over paella and gazpacho, Coogan and Brydon’s comic observations are likely to be as dry as the finest Spanish wine.
Among the many documentaries screening at this year’s festival, one of the most anticipated, screening as part of the Tribeca TV section, is I AM HEATH LEDGER. With footage shot by Ledger himself, as well as clips of his greatest screen performances, the doc also includes interviews with the likes of Ben Mendelsohn, Naomi Watts and Ang Lee. It’s billed as an “intimate celebration of the actor, artist, and icon”.
Tribeca ESPN Sports Film Festival
Now in its 11th year, the ESPN sports movie strand of the festival includes feature films, documentaries and shorts with, unsurprisingly, a sports theme. This year’s selection includes a new doc by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney, No Stone Unturned. In 1994, six men were gunned down and five wounded in a pub while watching a World Cup soccer match in Loughinisland, Northern Ireland. Alex Gibney reopens the still unsolved case to investigate why no culprit was ever brought to justice.
An exciting aspect of any festival is getting to hear your favourite actors and filmmakers discuss their work. As well as the opportunity for this at the many post-screening Q&As, the Tribeca Talks series will see some groundbreaking talent discuss their careers. Highlights include Jon Favreau talking to Scarlett Johansson about his career as a filmmaker, from indie hit Swingers to the blockbuster Iron Man series. Alejandro González Iñárritu, one of only three directors to ever win consecutive Oscars and the first to do so in 65 years, will talk about his work, while Dustin Hoffman will interview Noah Baumbach.
Bruce Springsteen will sit down with his longtime movie star pal Tom Hanks to discuss the musician’s illustrious 40 year career. Barbra Streisand will be interviewed about her professional life by director Robert Rodriguez. Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow will discuss her new National Geographic virtual reality documentary The Protectors: A Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes, which chronicles a day in the life of the rangers in Garamba National Park.
U.S. Narrative Competition
Aiming to recognise today’s emerging indie filmmaking talent, Tribeca’s Narrative Competition has ten films set to receive their world premieres over the festival and all vying for prizes including Best Feature, Screenplay, Cinematography, Actor and Actress.
The Narrative Competition titles comprise: Brian Shoaf’s Aardvark, featuring Zachary Quinto and Jon Hamm, the film follows a therapist who falls for the brother of one of her patients. Angus MacLachlan’s Abundant Acreage Available follows two siblings (Terry Kinney and Amy Ryan) attempting to come to terms with their father’s death when three mysterious brothers arrive at their family farm. Blame is written and directed by Quinn Shephard, who also stars in the film as a high schooler cast in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible by her drama teacher (Chris Messina). As their relationship develops it fuels a vengeful jealousy and events begin to draw parallels with the Salem of Miller’s play.
Following the success of their Tribeca hit Resolution, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead direct and star in another genre hybrid, The Endless. The film follows two brothers who escaped a cult as teenagers, but return to their former home after receiving a mysterious message. Max Winkler’s dark comedy Flower, features Zoey Deutch as a rebellious, quick-witted 17-year-old whose life is shaken up when her mother asks her boyfriend and his troubled, fresh-out-of-rehab son to move in with them.
Written and directed by Rachel Israel, Keep the Change stars a cast of nonprofessional actors on the autism spectrum. In a support group for adults living with autism, smooth-talking David meets a woman with similar learning challenges and quickly forges an intimate bond with her. Russell Harbaugh’s Love After Love sees a family struggling in the wake of the death of their patriarch and features performances by Andie MacDowell and Chris O’Dowd.
Liz W. Garcia’s One Percent More Humid follows two childhood friends (Julia Garner and Juno Temple) as they return home from college for a hot New England summer. As the wedge between them grows, they each pursue forbidden affairs. Damon Cardasis’ directorial debut Saturday Church, follows Ulysses, a shy and effeminate teen being raised in the Bronx by his strict aunt. The teenager finds escape in a rich fantasy life of music and dance, and with a vibrant transgender youth community called Saturday Church.
Taking cues from ‘70s Euro psychodramas, Nathan Silver returns to Tribeca with Thirst Street, focusing on a flight attendant in grief over her lover’s suicide who loses her grip on reality after falling for a suave Parisian bartender.
The 16th Annual Tribeca Film Festival takes place April 19 – 30.