As unwieldy as the New York Film Festival is concise and focused, the Tribeca Film Festival is a cinematically diverse event whose nearly hundred feature films (88 this year) and even more shorts take in everything from high art to low trash. Part of the fun of Tribeca has always been wading through this mass of cinema in hopes of making some fresh discoveries.
Clearly some background knowledge is helpful. In 2007, those familiar with Chinese master Jia Zhang-ke’s already imposing body of work were primed to check out his masterful Still Life, while three years later, viewers who had seen Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof’s Iron Island made a beeline to his even more impressive The White Meadows. This year’s lineup has no shortage of offerings from name auteurs, particularly American filmmakers. Whether it’s Ramin Bahrani’s Iowa-set morality play At Any Price, David Gordon Green’s return to a more lyrical mode with Prince Avalanche, or Before Midnight, the brilliant capper to Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, fans of U.S. independent cinema have plenty to look forward to.
International cinema, though, is hardly neglected, and it’s often by looking to the films from overseas directors that the festivalgoer is able to locate the real gems. Contenders from this year’s edition include Kazakh filmmaker Emir Baigazin’s psychological drama Harmony Lessons and Christian Vincent’s crowd-pleasing Haute Cuisine, a French foodie comedy.
Finally, no Tribeca slate would be complete without a generous selection of documentaries. Given the recent vogue for politically charged exposés, this year’s slate offers up such fare as Josh Fox’s second anti-hydrofracking polemic, Gasland II, and Big Men, Rachel Boynton’s look at the human cost of American multi-nationals drilling for oil in Africa. Rounding out the programming is a selection of gory genre films that will screen at midnight.
Factor in a large number of Tribeca Talks panels featuring the likes of Clint Eastwood, Darren Aronofsky, and Ben Stiller, a Family Festival Street Day, and an outdoor screening series featuring enduring favorites like The Birds and Beetlejuice and it’s clear that Tribeca is more than just about watching movies. This is the film festival as cultural event and, if the product is still too inconsistent to warrant comparisons with other similarly conceived fests, like the Toronto International Film Festival, it still easily earns its reputation as a major happening for New York cinephiles of all inclinations.
Please check back daily for select reviews of the festival’s lineup. The Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 17—28. For tickets click here. Andrew Schenker
• Adult World (Scott Coffey)
• Alberi (Michelangelo Frammartino)
• Almost Christmas (Phil Morrison)
• At Any Price (Ramin Bahrani)
• Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
• Big Bad Wolves (Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado)
• Bluebird (Lance Edmands)
• A Case of You (Kat Coiro)
• Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling)
• Dark Touch (Marina De Van)
• Deep Powder (Mo Ogrodnik)
• Flex Is Kings (Dedre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols)
• Frankenstein’s Army (Richard Raaphorst)
• Fresh Meat (Danny Mulheron)
• G.B.F. (Darren Stein)
• Haute Cuisine (Christian Vincent)
• Just a Sigh (Jérôme Bonnell)
• Lenny Cooke (Joshua and Ben Safdie)
• The Machine (Caradog James)
• Möbius (Eric Rochant)
• Odayaka (Nobuteru Uchida)
• The Patience Stone (Atiq Rahimi)
• Prince Avalanche (David Gordon Green)
• Raze (Josh Waller)
• The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mira Nair)
• Run & Jump (Steph Green)
• Running from Crazy (Barbara Kopple)
• A Single Shot (David M. Rosenthal)
• Sunlight Jr. (Laurie Collyer)
• Taboor (Vahid Vakilifar)
• Tricked (Paul Verhoeven)
• V/H/S/2 (Various Artists)
• What Richard Did (Lenny Abrahamson)
• Whitewash (Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais)
• Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (Arvin Chen)