New York’s own Tribeca Film Festival has previously announced its Opening Night Film, rock doc Mistaken for Strangers, and now the fest has begun rolling out the rest of their slate, including today’s announcement of their World Narrative and Documentary Competition titles and their Viewpoints section. As part of newish Tribeca tradition, each section will also have its own “Opening Night” film, with Big Men opening the World Documentary competition, Bluebird opening the World Narrative competition, and the documentary Flex is Kings kicking off the Viewpoints section. All three films will premiere on April 18th. Guess which one features Adam Driver.
Check out the full listing of all the just-announced titles after the break.
World Narrative Feature Competition
Alì Blue Eyes (Alì ha gli occhi azzurri), directed by Claudio Giovannesi, written by Filippo Gravino and Giovannesi. (Italy) – International Premiere. Claudio Giovannesi’s award-winning second dramatic feature captures one week in the life of sixteen-year-old troublemaker Nader, who, despite his mother’s threats and family’s insistence that he respect his Muslim roots, fights, steals and pursues an Italian girlfriend. A stunning example of contemporary Italian neo-realism, Alì Blue Eyes is an engrossing coming-of-age story about an immigrant who will stop at nothing to fit in. In Italian with subtitles.
Before Snowfall (Før snøen faller), directed by Hisham Zaman, written by Kjell Ola Dahl and Zaman. (Norway, Germany, Iraqi Kurdistan Region) – International Premiere. Director Hisham Zaman brings the moral crisis of honor killing front and center in this dazzling, international drama. When his older sister Nermin flees an arranged marriage, Siyar must atone for the slight. He tracks her from Kurdistan to Istanbul, where a fateful encounter with a street girl creates cracks in his resolve. Then Nermin escapes into Europe, and Siyar must continue a search that will forever change his notions of loyalty, dignity, honor and love. In Kurdish with subtitles.
Bluebird, directed and written by Lance Edmands. (USA) – World Premiere. On a freezing January evening, school bus driver Lesley (Amy Morton) completes her route, but her final inspection abruptly ends when a bluebird comes into view. What happens next shakes her small Maine logging town, proving that even the slightest actions have enormous consequences. Co-starring Adam Driver, Margo Martindale, John Slattery, Louisa Krause and Emily Meade, Lance Edmands’s absorbing feature debut is a perfect encapsulation of the interconnectedness of life.
The Broken Circle Breakdown, directed by Felix van Groeningen, written by Carl Joos and van Groeningen. (Belgium, Netherlands) – North American Premiere. Elise runs a tattoo shop. Didier plays in a bluegrass band. When their daughter Maybelle is born, their happiness is complete, until a tangle of complications forces these two very different lovers to fight to save their marriage. Belgian director Felix van Groeningen follows his acclaimed Cannes entry The Misfortunates with this powerhouse melodrama of star-crossed lovers laced with emotional bluegrass performances. In Dutch with subtitles.
Hide Your Smiling Faces, directed and written by Daniel Patrick Carbone. (USA) – North American Premiere. During a hot summer in rural America, brothers Tommy (Ryan Jones) and Eric (Nathan Varnson) are confronted with devastation as death forces its way into their young lives. This stunning debut feature explores the nature of the relationship between boys, as both violence and support is encapsulated in quiet storytelling and breathtaking photography. With incredibly sensitive performances by its two leads, Hide Your Smiling Faces packs a subtle but powerful punch.
Just a Sigh (Le temps de l’aventure), directed and written by Jérôme Bonnell. (France) – International Premiere. In the short break between performances in Calais, stage actress Alix (the stunning Emmanuelle Devos) makes a quick escape to Paris. On the train she meets a mysterious English stranger (Gabriel Byrne) and, for the most fleeting of afternoons, imagines what the future could hold down a different road. With masterful performances by its two acclaimed stars, Just a Sigh is an imaginative, lushly filmed Parisian romance from young and versatile director Jérôme Bonnell. In English, French with subtitles.
Lily, directed by Matt Creed, written by Amy Grantham and Creed. (USA) – World Premiere. Nearing the end of her treatment for breast cancer, Lily focuses on life with newfound clarity, reevaluating her relationship with an older man and her feelings about her long-absent father. In wandering through atmospheric New York City streets and lingering in intimate, charged moments with Lily during this vulnerable period, first-time director Matt Creed and actress Amy Grantham create a mature, stylish character piece reminiscent of classic French New Wave.
The Rocket, directed and written by Kim Mordaunt. (Australia) – North American Premiere. Set against the lush backdrop of rural Laos, this spirited drama tells the story of scrappy ten-year-old Ahlo, who yearns to break free from his ill-fated destiny. After his village is displaced to make way for a massive dam, Ahlo escapes with his father and grandmother through the Laotian outback in search of a new home. Along the way, they come across a rocket festival that offers Ahlo a lucrative but dangerous chance to prove his worth.In Lao with subtitles.
Six Acts (Shesh Peamim), directed by Jonathan Gurfinkel, written by Rona Segal. (Israel) – North American Premiere. Naïve teen Gili is determined to improve her social status by hooking up with her new school’s coolest guy. Afterwards, he passes her off to his friend. Happy at first for the attention, Gili soon finds her situation deteriorating, as this average girl is increasingly consumed by a culture of oversexed teenhood. Director Jonathan Gurfinkel questions conventional ideas of consent, exploitation and complicity in this edgy and perceptive feature debut. In Hebrew with subtitles.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, directed by Sam Fleischner, written by Rose Lichter-Marck and Micah Bloomber. (USA) – World Premiere. When autistic teen Ricky is scolded for skipping class, he escapes into the subway for a days-long odyssey among the subway’s disparate denizens. Meanwhile, his mother wages an escalating search effort above ground. Based on a true story and set in Far Rockaway, Queens, in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy, these parallel stories of mother and son take the viewer on a touching journey of community and connection in and below New York City.
Sunlight Jr., directed and written by Laurie Collyer. (USA) – World Premiere. Quickie-mart employee Melissa (Naomi Watts) and paraplegic Richie (Matt Dillon) are very much in love. Supported only by Melissa’s small hourly wage, they are nevertheless thrilled to learn that Melissa is pregnant. Then their situation deteriorates, and their tenuous financial situation threatens to bring their happy life crashing down. Norman Reedus also stars in this a moving romantic drama from Laurie Collyer, director of the Golden Globe-nominated Sherrybaby.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, directed and written by Arvin Chen. (Taiwan R.O.C.) – North American Premiere. Straitlaced optometrist Weichung is finding the typical married life difficult. Then he bumps into an old flame, setting off an unexpected array of dormant emotions. Meanwhile, his sister Mandy flees her sad sack fiancé, coping via food and the fantastical appearance of a daytime soaps star on her couch. Arvin Chen’s sophomore feature is a fresh and playful comedy about the odd realities of desire in a traditional society and what happens when you seek a big change. In Korean, Mandarin with subtitles.
World Documentary Feature Competition
Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys, directed and written by Jessica Oreck. (Finland) – World Premiere. In the forests of Finnish Lapland, brothers Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki carry on the generations-old tradition of reindeer herding. These modern cowboys maintain an intricate bond with the environment that has allowed them to preserve their lifestyle in one of the harshest climates imaginable. Jessica Oreck’s intimate, gorgeously lensed documentary follows the brothers for a year, sharing in the hard work, daily rituals and small joys that make up life above the Arctic Circle. In Finnish with subtitles.
Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution, directed by Alex Meillier, written by Tanya Ager Meillier and Meillier. (USA) – North American Premiere. Kirsty Sword Gusmão went to Timor-Leste to document injustice in an area closed to Western journalists. Over the next decade, she became the lynchpin that sustained the nation’s harrowing struggle for independence and met the man who would redefine the cause for which she was fighting. Using astonishing footage of the years-long resistance, director Alex Meillier presents a highly personal account of the courage needed to create a new democracy in modern times.
Big Men, directed by Rachel Boynton, written by Rachel Boynton. (USA) – World Premiere. For her latest industrial exposé, Rachel Boynton (Our Brand Is Crisis) gained unprecedented access to Africa’s oil companies. The result is a gripping account of the costly personal tolls levied when American corporate interests pursue oil in places like Ghana and the Niger River Delta. Executive produced by Steven Shainberg and Brad Pitt, Big Men investigates the caustic blend of ambition, corruption and greed that threatens to exacerbate Africa’s resource curse. In English, Other, Twi with subtitles.
The Genius of Marian, directed by Banker White and Anna Fitch. (USA) – World Premiere. Weaving past into present, filmmakers Banker White (Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars) and Anna Fitch immerse the audience in the daily life of White’s mother, Pam. Her Alzheimer’s threatens to wipe out the memory of her own mother, Marian, a celebrated artist who died of the same disease. Beautifully edited, The Genius of Marianretraces both women’s lives to paint a complex and powerful contemporary portrait of motherhood, chronic illness and legacy.
The Kill Team, directed by Dan Krauss, written by Lawrence Lerew, Linda Davis and Krauss. (USA) – World Premiere. In 2010, the media branded a platoon of U.S. Army infantry soldiers “The Kill Team” following reports of its killing for sport in Afghanistan. Now, one of the accused must fight the government he defended on the battlefield, while grappling with his own role in the alleged murders. Dan Krauss’s absorbing documentary examines the stories of four men implicated in heinous war crimes in a stark reminder that, in war, innocence may be relative to the insanity around you.
Let the Fire Burn, directed by Jason Osder. (USA) – World Premiere. Jason Osder makes an impressive feature film debut through his unbiased and thorough account of the incidents leading up to and during the 1985 standoff between the extremist African-American organization MOVE and Philadelphia authorities. The dramatic clash claimed eleven lives and literally and figuratively devastated an entire community. Let the Fire Burn is a real-life Wild West story absent the luxury of identifying its heroes by the color of their hats.
Michael H. Profession: Director, directed and written by Yves Montmayeur. (Austria, France) – World Premiere. Over the past twenty-five years, director Michael Haneke has established himself as a towering figure in modern cinema whose rigorous focus on the craft of filmmaking has produced works of profound artistry. This career-spanning documentary (gives unprecedented access and) covers the body of Haneke’s work, offering insight into his creative process through on-set footage and interviews with the man himself and collaborators including Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche. In French, German with subtitles.
Oxyana, directed by Sean Dunne. (USA) – World Premiere. Oceana, West Virginia—known as “Oxyana” after its residents’ epidemic abuse of OxyContin—is a tragically real example of the insidious spread of drug dependency throughout the country. Set against an abandoned coal mining landscape to the melodies of Deer Tick’s haunting score, this unflinchingly intimate documentary probes the lives of Oceana’s afflicted and exposes the day-to-day experience of a town living in the harsh grip of addiction.
Powerless (Katiyabaaz), directed by Fahad Mustafa, Deepti Kakkar, written by Mustafa. (India) – North American Premiere. Would you risk your life to flip a switch? In Kanpur, India, putting oneself in harm’s way to deliver electrical power is all too common. Powerless sheds light on the opposing corners of this political ring, from an electrical Robin Hood tapping wires for neighbors to the myopic utility company whose failure to understand economics forces it deeper into financial disarray. This vibrant exposé gives a whole new meaning to the words “power struggle.” In English, Hindi with subtitles.
Raw Herring (Hollandse Nieuwe), directed by Leonard Retel Helmrich and Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich. (Netherlands) – World Premiere. Every year millions of people look forward to the first preparation of Hollandse Nieuwe, the popular snack of raw herring from the North Sea’s spring catch. But how do you find glory in the grueling pursuit of a once-iconic fish that even the queen no longer accepts as definitively Dutch? Raw Herring celebrates the cultural legacy maintained by Holland’s last great herring fishers even as new trends and foreign competition threaten their way of life. In Dutch with subtitles.
Red Obsession, directed and written by David Roach and Warwick Ross. (Australia) – North American Premiere. France’s Bordeaux region has long commanded respect for its coveted wine, but shifts in the global marketplace mean that a new, voracious consumer base in China is buying up this finite product. Bordeaux both struggles with and courts the spike in demand, sending prices skyrocketing. Narrated by Russell Crowe, Red Obsession is a fascinating look at our changing international economy and how an obsession in Shanghai affects the most illustrious vineyards in France. In English, Mandarin with subtitles.
Teenage, directed by Matt Wolf, written by Jon Savage and Wolf. (USA) – World Premiere. Teenagers did not exist before the 20th century. Not until the early 1950s did the term gain widespread recognition, but with Teenage, Matt Wolf offers compelling evidence that “teenagers” had a tumultuous effect on the previous half-decade. Narrated by actors Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jesse Usher, this fascinating documentary repositions the historical origin of teenagers and shows why those years are more than just a stepping-stone to adulthood. In English, German with subtitles.
A Birder’s Guide to Everything, directed by Rob Meyer, written by Luke Matheny and Meyer. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. On the eve of his widowed father’s second wedding, fifteen-year-old David Portnoy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) leads the stalwart members of his local Young Birders Society on rollicking, interstate search for an extremely rare duck. Marvelous supporting performances by Ben Kingsley and James LeGros color Rob Meyer’s feature film debut, a poignant, funny and ultimately winning look at the moments that change even the most intensely focused lives.
Bending Steel, directed by Dave Carroll, written by Ryan Scafuro and Carroll. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. The Cyclone, The Freakshow, The Mermaid Parade: all Coney Island icons. But Chris “Wonder” Schoeck has always preferred the Coney Island Strongman. Bending Steel follows the sweet, unassuming Schoeck as he parlays his extraordinary strength into the pursuit of his lifelong dream. Training with an elite group of men whose hands bend, drag, twist and shred metal, he tackles an enormous physical and mental challenge, taking a surprisingly emotional journey as a result.
BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton, directed by Stephen Silha, Eric Slade, and Dawn Logsdon. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. A charismatic and visionary poet and filmmaker who emerged in the artistic renaissance of post-WWII San Francisco, James Broughton led a completely unconventional existence in his lifelong quest for creative artistry, sexual and spiritual love and an evolved state of happiness. BIG JOY is a celebratory mosaic of Broughton¹s deeply intertwined creative and personal lives, vividly depicted through his involvement with a wide array of artists, activists and spiritual guides.
Bridegroom, directed and written by Linda Bloodworth Thomason. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Bridegroom gives an intensely personal edge to the ongoing debate over the legal rights of same-sex couples. Interviews, photos and video footage all testify to the uncommon connection that drew together Shane and Tom. For six years they remained united despite extreme challenges from both family and society, until a tragic accident tears apart their dreams. Now one must fight to be recognized as his soulmate’s legitimate counterpart.
Cutie and the Boxer, directed by Zachary Heinzerling, written by Ada Bligaard Søby. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. Once a rising if unruly star in the ’70s art scene, eighty-year-old “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara now struggles to establish his artistic legacy. His wife Noriko is now widely renowned for her “Cutie” drawings, depicting their chaotic, forty-year marriage. Under Zachary Heinzerling’s guidance, this candid New York story about troubled lives united by a dedication to art becomes a touching portrait on the eternal themes of love, sacrifice, disappointment and aging. A RADiUS release.
Dancing in Jaffa, directed by Hilla Medalia, written by Philip Shane and Medalia. (Israel, USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulain stars in this charming documentary that offers a unique perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Three diverse Jaffa-based schools host Dulain’s Dancing Classrooms program. Ballroom basics are taught to an ethnically mixed group of children, the most passionate members of which are trained for a citywide competition. What results is a sweet and incredibly moving tale filled with moments of truth, poignancy and hope. In Arabic, English, Hebrew with subtitles.
Deep Powder, directed by Mo Ogrodnik. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Natasha is a reckless boarding school senior tabbed by her exclusive club to make its yearly cocaine run to Ecuador. Coming along for the ride is Danny, a twenty-year-old aspiring hockey player from the other side of the tracks, who may just discover that he has fallen for the wrong girl. Starring up-and-comers Haley Bennett and Shiloh Fernandez, this ’80s-set love story based on true events is a sexy, fast-paced and intense drama.
Farah Goes Bang, directed by Meera Menon, written by Laura Goode and Menon. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Farah hits the road with her buddies to stump for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, hoping the trip will be her opportunity to finally shed her unwanted virginity. She soon finds her efforts on both political and sexual fronts continuously thwarted. Comically balancing that moment’s climate of intolerance with a universal coming-of-age tale, Farah Goes Bang paints a comic portrait of the overdue growing pains of a group of girlfriends and the country itself.
Flex Is Kings, directed by Deidre Schoo and Michael Nichols. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Journey to the edge of Brooklyn and of street performance itself in this sparkling portrait of the freeing power of art. Reem is the savvy promoter, Flizzo the undefeated local legend, Jay Don the innovator with the talent to carry him far away from home. Uniting them is a competitive dance form of dramatic contortions, simulated violence, flowing footsteps and the occasional humorous touch. Welcome to the world of Flex.
Floating Skyscrapers (Płynące wieżowce), directed and written by Tomasz Wasilewski. (Poland) – World Premiere, Narrative. Kuba attends an art opening with his girlfriend of two years and bumps into Mikal. The connection between these two young men is instantaneous and intoxicating, and despite opposition from all sides, he allows Mikal into his life. The results go beyond anything he could have imagined. This intimate and bold second feature from Polish director Tomasz Wasilewski captures the often-complicated consequences of finding love where others do not want it. In Polish with subtitles.
Harmony Lessons (Uroki Garmonii), directed and written by Emir Baigazin. (Kazakhstan, Germany, France) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Symbolism and striking cinematography help us navigate the complicated landscape of a teenager’s mind in this insightful Kazakh film about violence among children. After enduring frequent humiliation at the hands of the class bully, thirteen-year old Aslan snaps, triggering an intense psychological reaction. Emir Baigazin artfully explores the strength of the survival instinct when public life pushes us beyond our limits. In Kazakh with subtitles.
Jîn, directed and written by Reha Erdem. (Turkey) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Reha Erdem relays in radiant detail the effects of the decades-long Turkish-Kurdish conflict. Seventeen-year-old freedom fighter Jîn abandons her post and crosses between the opposing forces, navigating a beautiful mountain range made brutal by gunfire and random bombings. Her courage is repeatedly tested, until she finds comfort among unexpected allies. Erdem creates a soul-stirring odyssey that reflects on the permanent damage to humanity and the natural world caused by unremitting war. In Turkish with subtitles.
Kiss The Water, directed by Eric Steel (USA, U.K.) – World Premiere, Documentary. Travel to Scotland’s far northern highlands and explore the life and remarkable influence of Megan Boyd, fishing fly-maker extraordinaire. Self-taught in this enigmatic, artful craft, Boyd became an internationally renowned artisan and supplier to, among others, Prince Charles. Interviews, animations and images of the stunning Scottish countryside define Eric Steel’s lyrical tale of solitary celebrity and the joy of making your mark, even when it was the last thing you planned to do.
Lenny Cooke, directed by Benny Safdie and Joshua Safdie. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In 2001, Lenny Cooke was the most hyped high school basketball player in the country, ranked above future greats LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. A decade later, Lenny has never played a minute in the NBA. In this quintessentially American documentary, filmmaking brothers Joshua and Benny Safdie track the unfulfilled destiny of a man for whom superstardom was only just out of reach.
The Moment, directed by Jane Weinstock, written by Jane Gloria Norris and Weinstock. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. After a tumultuous affair between international photojournalist Lee (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and troubled artist John (Martin Henderson) ends in John’s disappearance, Lee lands in a mental hospital to recuperate. She strikes up a friendship with a fellow patient bearing an uncanny resemblance to her missing lover. The pair works to uncover the truth behind the disappearance, but Lee’s precarious sanity comes under threat when the clues lead to the last place she would ever expect.
Northwest (Nordvest), directed by Michael Noer, written by Rasmus Heisterberg and Noer. (Denmark) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Territory, power and pride are the seismic forces in this adrenaline-fueled crime thriller. Living in one of the most impoverished areas of Copenhagen, Casper does what he must to survive. When organized crime grabs hold of the community, life becomes even more desperate. Casper digs in or risks being run over by gangsters sure to remove anyone in their way. From one of Denmark’s most celebrated directors comes a complex tale of criminal psychology and survival. In Danish with subtitles.
Odayaka, directed and written by Nobuteru Uchida. (Japan) – North American Premiere, Narrative. The Great East Japan Earthquake has just struck, the waters of the ensuing tsunami finally rolling back into the sea. In the comparative safety of Tokyo, two wives and a child living in the same apartment building have nothing to do but wait for their husbands’ return. Nobuteru Uchida finds a striking emotional core to the shock of March 11, 2011, crafting a tender and intelligent narrative on the internal effects of an unspeakable national tragedy. In Japanese with subtitles.
The Patience Stone (Syngué Sabour), directed by Atiq Rahimi, written by Jean-Claude Carrère and Atiq Rahimi. (Afghanistan, France, Germany) – New York Premiere, Narrative. A woman tends to her comatose husband, an injured rebel fighter in an unnamed, war-torn village, only whispering of her fear for their two young daughters’ lives. Weeks go by, and as her desperation grows, she gives voice to previously unuttered thoughts and memories without regard for anyone’s reaction. In a mesmerizing performance, Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani portrays a woman who, under the most extreme circumstances, discovers the core of her identity. In Farsi with subtitles. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Run and Jump, directed by Steph Green, written by Ailbhe Keogan. (Ireland, Germany) – World Premiere, Narrative. After a stroke leaves her husband disabled and fundamentally changed, a spirited Irish wife struggles to keep her family members together. All the while they are under the microscope of an American researcher documenting their recovery process. From Academy Award®-nominated director and TFF alumna Steph Green comes an emotional journey of family and recovery featuring Saturday Night Live star Will Forte in an impressive dramatic debut.
Taboor, directed and written by Vahid Vakilifar. (Iran) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. A lone motorcyclist travels the empty streets of Tehran at night. He wears an aluminum suit to guard against the electromagnetic waves that raise his body temperature. Yet he is determined to make his appointments to kill cockroaches and fumigate factories, the night placing many strange encounters along his route. Artfully shot cityscapes expound on the man’s solitude in this atmospheric take on science fiction from the heart of Iran. In Farsi with subtitles.
Wadjda, directed and written by Haifaa Al-Mansour. (Saudi Arabia, Germany) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Meet Wadjda (Waad Mohammed), a feisty, funny and wholly unconventional ten-year-old girl determined to scrounge up enough money to buy a bicycle, despite the societal repercussions sure to follow. The groundbreaking first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female Saudi filmmaker, Wadjda offers a moving, rarely seen picture of everyday life in Riyadh: through the eyes of a girl unwilling to surrender what she wants. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
What Richard Did, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, written by Malcolm Campbell. (Ireland) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Charismatic Richard leads a group of devoted friends through the rituals of their final summer break together: partying on the beach, hazing younger students, hooking up. But the good times will not last forever. When jealousy leads to a senseless act, Richard’s perfect life unravels amid self-doubt, shame, grief and guilt. What Richard Did is a gripping dissection of an action and its consequences, featuring a stellar lead performance by Jack Reynor. A Tribeca Film Release.
The rest of the festival’s feature film slate will be announced on March 6th. The Tribeca Film Festival runs in New York City from April 17th until April 28th. [Press Release]