With Sundance in the can, Berlin in the rearview, SXSW on the horizon, and Cannes looming off in the distance, tis the season for film festivals. And so, fittingly, today the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival announced its opening line-up, unveiling the slates for the U.S. Narrative, International Narrative, Viewpoints, and World Documentary Competition sections. 55 of the 101 feature-length titles were announced as part of the festival’s 15th edition, which runs from April 13 – 24.
Instead of one opening night film, Tribeca has chosen to go with four openers in three announced sections. U.S. Narrative is lead by “Kicks,” the directorial debut of Justin Tipping; the World Doc section features the world premiere of “Contemporary Color,” directed by Bill Ross and Turner Ross and featuring musician/artist David Byrne; and the International Narrative competition will feature the world premiere of “Madly,” an anthology film with segments directed by Gael García Bernal, Mia Wasikowska, Sebastian Silva, Anurag Kashyap, Sion Sono, and Natasha Khan.
It’s a very indie year, thus far, with few starry or mainstream titles, but highlights include Sophia Takal’s “Always Shine” with Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald; Demetri Martin’s directorial debut, “Dean,” starring Gillian Jacobs and Kevin Kline; “AWOL” starring Lola Kirke”; Robert Schwartzman’s directorial debut, “Dreamland,” which stars Johnny Simmons, Amy Landecker from “Transparent,” and the filmmaker’s older brother, Jason Schwartzman; “The Fixer” with James Franco; Jeff Grace’s “Folk Hero & Funny Guy,” starring Alex Karpovsky and Wyatt Russell; “Junction 48," co-written by Oren Moverman; the animated “Nerdland," voiced by Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt, and written by Andrew Kevin Walker (“Seven”); “Detour” with Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen, and Bel Powley; and “The Ticket” with Dan Stevens.
Films that have already premiered elsewhere, but feature a few bigger names, include Drake Doremus’ sci-fi romance “Equals” starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, and Ben Wheatley’s “High Rise,” featuring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, and James Purefoy.
The festival also boasts that one-third of this year's films are by women directors — a record number for Tribeca. Focused on discovery, this year there are 77 world premieres, and 42 filmmakers will make their feature directorial debuts. Check out the full line-up below.
U.S Narrative Competition
Launching in 2016, Tribeca introduces a new competitive section dedicated to American films and filmmakers. Largely made up of first-time directors, the inaugural US competition recognizes the extraordinary work emerging from independent communities. This freshman class of US competitors come from backgrounds as diverse as music (Robert Schwartzman, Dreamland), documentary (Ian Olds, The Fixer), webseries (Ingrid Jungermann, Women Who Kill), and stand-up comedy (Demetri Martin, Dean), but all possess the distinctive directorial vision that makes them a talent to watch. This new competition affirms Tribeca’s commitment to discovering and bolstering US voices. The ten films will compete for the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
Kicks, directed by Justin Tipping, written by Justin Tipping and Josh Beirne-Golden. (USA) – World Premiere. When his hard-earned kicks get snatched by a local hood, fifteen-year old Brandon and his two best friends go on an ill-advised mission across the Bay Area to retrieve the stolen sneakers. Featuring a soundtrack packed with hip-hop classics, Justin Tipping's debut feature is an urban coming-of-age tale told with grit, humor, and surprising lyricism. With Jahking Guillory, Mahershala Ali, Kofi Siriboe, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Christopher Meyer. A Focus World release.
Always Shine, directed by Sophia Takal, written by Lawrence Michael Levine. (USA) – World Premiere. This twisty psychological drama about obsession, fame, and femininity follows two friends, both actresses (Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald), on a trip to Big Sur, to reconnect with one another. Once alone, the women's suppressed jealousies and deep-seated resentments begin to rise, causing them to lose their grasp on not only the true nature of their relationship, but also their identities. With Lawrence Michael Levine, Alex Koch, Jane Adams
AWOL, directed by Deb Shoval, written by Deb Shoval and Karolina Waclawiak. (USA) – World Premiere. Joey (Lola Kirke) is a young woman in search of direction in her small town. A visit to an army recruiting office appears to provide a path, but when she meets and falls in love with Rayna (Breeda Wool) that path diverges in ways that neither woman anticipates. Building on the award-winning short of the same name, director Deb Shoval crafts a clear-eyed love story, and an impressive feature film debut.
Dean, directed and written by Demetri Martin. (USA) – World Premiere. In comedian Demetri Martin’s funny and heartfelt directorial debut, Martin plays an illustrator who falls hard for an LA woman (Gillian Jacobs) while trying to prevent his father (Kevin Kline) from selling the family home in the wake of his mother’s death. With Rory Scovel, Ginger Gonzaga, Reid Scott, Mary Steenburgen, Christine Woods, Beck Bennett, Briga Heelan
Dreamland, directed by Robert Schwartzman, written by Benjamin Font and Robert Schwartzman. (USA) – World Premiere. Robert Schwartzman makes his directorial debut with this comedy about the cost of reaching your dreams. Part-time pianist Monty Fagan (Johnny Simmons) begins a May-December romance that upends his home life. A set of perfectly cast co-stars push or manipulate Monty along the way: Amy Landecker, Frankie Shaw, Alan Ruck, Beverly D’Angelo, along with Robert’s older brother Jason Schwartzman, and their mother Talia Shire.
The Fixer, directed by Ian Olds, written by Paul Felten and Ian Olds. (USA) – World Premiere. After an exiled Afghan journalist (Dominic Rains) arrives in a small town in Northern California, he lands a menial job as a crime reporter for the local newspaper. Restless in his new position, he teams up with an eccentric local (James Franco) to investigate the town’s peculiar subculture only to find things quickly taking a dangerous turn. With Melissa Leo, Rachel Brosnahan, Tim Kniffin, Thomas Jay Ryan
Folk Hero & Funny Guy, directed and written by Jeff Grace. (USA) – World Premiere. Alex Karpovsky and Wyatt Russell co-headline as two artistically inclined childhood friends, a comedian and a folk-rocker respectively, who set out on a tour together in hopes of regaining their “mojo” and finding love in the process. Jeff Grace's debut film offers a fresh perspective on male friendship and a music infused spin on the classic road-trip buddy comedy. With Meredith Hagner, Michael Ian Black, Hannah Simone, Heather Morris, Melanie Lynskey, David Cross
Live Cargo, directed by Logan Sandler, written by Logan Sandler and Thymaya Payne. (USA, Bahamas) – World Premiere. Nadine (Dree Hemingway) and Lewis (Keith Stanfield) move to a small Bahamian island hoping to restore their relationship in the wake of a tragedy, only to find the picturesque island torn in two: on one side a dangerous human trafficker and on the other an aging patriarch, struggling to maintain order. With Leonard Earl Howze, Sam Dillon, Robert Wisdom
The Ticket, directed by Ido Fluk, written by Ido Fluk and Sharon Mashishi. (USA) – World Premiere. When a blind man inexplicably regains his vision, he becomes possessed by a drive for a better life—a nicer home, a higher paying job—leaving little room for the people who were part of his old life. Dan Stevens, Malin Åkerman, Oliver Platt, and Kerry Bishé star in this haunting parable of desire, perception, and ambition.
Women Who Kill, directed and written by Ingrid Jungermann. (USA) – World Premiere. Morgan and Jean work well together as true crime podcasters because they didn’t work well, at all, as a couple. When Morgan strikes up a new relationship with the mysterious Simone, their shared interest turns into suspicion, paranoia, and fear. Ingrid Jungermann’s whip smart feature debut is an adept and wry comedy on modern romance’s hollow results, set in an LGBTQ Brooklyn. With Ingrid Jungermann, Ann Carr, Sheila Vand, Shannon O'Neill, Annette O'Toole, Grace Rex
International Narrative Competition
With work spanning five continents, the themes and perspectives of Tribeca’s first International Competition are literally all over the map. Not surprisingly then, travel features strongly in the films. Whether it’s two brothers heading out on a road trip to meet their idol Cristiano Ronaldo in El Clásico, or an American woman on a pilgrimage to Peru to experience an ayahuasca ceremony (Icaros: A Vision), or even an Argentinian expat returning to his roots in the Jewish district of Buenos Aires in The Tenth Man, the characters, like their audience, are crossing borders for new and enlightening experiences. The international competition is a cinematic world tour sure to surprise and satisfy any viewer. The eight films will compete for Best Narrative Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
Madly, directed and written by Gael García Bernal, Mia Wasikowska, Sebastian Silva, Anurag Kashyap, Sion Sono, and Natasha Khan. (Argentina, Australia, USA, India, Japan, UK) – World Premiere. Madly is an international anthology of short films exploring love in all its permutations. Directed by some of the most vibrant filmmakers working today, the six stories in Madly portray contemporary love in all its glorious, sad, ecstatic, empowering, and erotic manifestations. With Radhika Apte, Satyadeep Misra, Adarsh Gourav, Kathryn Beck, Lex Santos, Mariko Tsutsui, Yuki Sakurai, Ami Tomite, Justina Bustos, Pablo Seijo, Tamsin Topolski. In English, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish with subtitles.
El Clásico, directed by Halkawt Mustafa, written by Anders Fagerholt and Halkawt Mustafa. (Norway, Iraqi Kurdistan Region) – North American Premiere. Alan and Gona are in love, but Gona's father won’t approve their union because Alan is a little person. So, Alan hits the road with his brother, traveling from their small Iraqi village to the Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid. The plan: meet Cristiano Ronaldo, and earn the blessing of Gona’s father. El Clásico is a distinctly cinematic road movie, brimming with warmth and humor. With Wrya Ahmed, Dana Ahmed, Rozhin Sharifi, Kamaran Raoof, Nyan Aziz. In Arabic, Kurdish with subtitles.
Icaros: A Vision, directed by Leonor Caraballo and Matteo Norzi, written by Leonor Caraballo, Matteo Norzi, and Abou Farman. (Peru, USA) – World Premiere. An American woman in search of a miracle embarks on an adventure in the Peruvian Amazon. At a healing center, she finds hope in the form of an ancient psychedelic plant known as ayahuasca. With her perception forever altered, she bonds with a young indigenous shaman who is treating a group of psychonauts seeking transcendence, companionship, and the secrets of life and death. With Ana Cecilia Stieglitz, Arturo Izquierdo, Filippo Timi. In English, Spanish with subtitles.
Junction 48, directed by Udi Aloni, written by Oren Moverman and Tamer Nafar. (Israel, Germany, USA) – International Premiere. Set against a backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Junction 48 charts the musical ambitions of Kareem, an aspiring rapper from the town of Lod. A heartbreaking portrayal of the intersection of personal and political tragedies, Junction 48 questions to what extent music can be dissociated from politics. With Tamer Nafar, Samar Qupty, Salwa Nakkara, Ayed Fadel, Sameh "SAZ" Zakout, Saeed Dassuki. In Arabic, Hebrew with subtitles.
Mother (Ema), directed by Kadri Kousaar, written by Leana Jalukse and Al Wallcat. (Estonia) – International Premiere. This darkly comic, crime mystery set in small-town Estonia centers on Elsa, the full time caretaker of her comatose son, Lauri, and the locals, who are abuzz with rumors about who shot Lauri and why. But in this tight-knit town, where everyone seems to know everyone and everything except for what’s right under their nose, the world’s clumsiest crime may go unsolved. With Tiina Mälberg, Jaan Pehk, Andres Tabun, Andres Noormets, Rea Lest, Jaak Prints, Siim Maaten In Estonian with subtitles.
Parents (Forældre), directed and written by Christian Tafdrup. (Denmark) – World Premiere. Told with deadpan Nordic humor and a touch of surrealism, Parents follows Kjelde and Vibeke, two empty-nesters who find themselves unable to let go of the past. Stripped of their identity without their son, who recently moved away to college, they attempt to reclaim their youthful vigor by moving back into the old apartment where they first fell in love. They soon realize that everything that once defined them might no longer exist. With Søren Malling, Bodil Jørgensen, Elliott Crosset Hove, Miri-Ann Beuschel, Anton Honik In Danish with subtitles.
Perfect Strangers (Perfetti sconosciuti), directed by Paolo Genovese, written by Filippo Bologna, Paolo Costella, Paolo Genovese, Paola Mammini, and Rolando Ravello. (Italy) – International Premiere. Paolo Genovese's new film brings us a bitter ensemble with an all-star cast that poses the question: How well do we really know those close to us? During a dinner party, three couples and a bachelor decide to play a dangerous game with their cell phones. Brilliantly executed and scripted, Perfect Strangers reveals the true nature of how we connect to each other. With Marco Giallini, Kasia Smutniak, Valerio Mastandrea, Anna Foglietta, Edoardo Leo, Alba Rohrwacher, Giuseppe Battiston In Italian with subtitles.
The Tenth Man (El Rey Del Once), directed and written by Daniel Burman. (Argentina) – North American Premiere. Ariel is summoned to Buenos Aires by his distant father, who runs a Jewish aid foundation in El Once, the bustling Jewish neighborhood where he spent his youth. Writer-director Daniel Burman (All In) returns to Tribeca with this tender exploration of community, and the intricacies of the father-son relationship. With Alan Sabbagh, Julieta Zylberberg, Usher, Elvira Onetto, Adrian Stoppelman, Elisa Carricajo. In Spanish with subtitles.