Running from April 17-28, the 12th incarnation of the Tribeca Film Festival starts this week. It's a festival which has only grown in stature and confidence over the years; those awkward toddler years in which the line-up was rather unwieldy and the standard a little haphazard are now just a distant memory. And if you consider the festival's timing -- sandwiched between the titans of Sundance and Cannes -- the fact that it has managed to carve out a well-respected identity for itself, and not simply be seen as a potted version of one or an extended trailer for the other, is all the more impressive. This year's selection looks to be just as well-curated, with perhaps fewer big splashy event screenings, but more than enough smaller, innovative events to keep the cinephile interested. As ever, we'll be bringing you a lot of coverage from the festival, which is sure to include at least a few surprises we never saw coming. But for right now, screening-wise, these are the 20 titles we're really excited about (in no particular order), plus a few more we've already seen that we strongly urge you to check out, too.
Synopsis: Two separate women (Amy Morton and Louisa Krause) awaken one morning to discover that tiny acts of negligence or distraction from the day before have devastating consequences for their lives and for the fragile calm of the small New England town they live in.
What You Need To Know: With one Playlister lucky enough to already have seen this directorial debut from Lance Edmands (editor on Lena Dunham's "Tiny Furniture"), we are very confident in our recommendation here. It's a mature debut boasting very strong performances from a supporting cast made up of veterans of some of our favorite TV of recent years (John Slattery of "Mad Men," Margo Martindale from "Justified" and Adam Driver from Dunham's "Girls" all feature), while leads, Jason Reitman-approved Morton (a stage actress with a small role in "Up in the Air") and Krause (from "Young Adult" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene") both rise to the occasion of their biggest screen roles to date.
When: THU 4/18 6:30 PM SVA Theater 1 Silas
"Run and Jump"
Synopsis: An unconventional romance develops between an Irish woman (Maxine Peake) struggling to hold her family together in the wake of her husband's debilitating illness and the American doctor (Will Forte) who comes to study the family's post-tragedy dynamic.
What You Need To Know: Whether or not his much mooted sequel to "MacGruber" ever actually happens, Forte ("Saturday Night Live," "30 Rock") should now have options in a more serious arena following this dramatic turn in director Steph Green's first feature. For some reason -- perhaps the pathos he brought to his "30 Rock" role -- we're fairly sure Forte has it in him to play it straight, with the eclectic family vibe putting us in mind of Steve Carell's "Little Miss Sunshine" moment. Green was previously nominated for a short film Oscar and counts Spike Jonze as a mentor, having worked as his assistant on "Where the Wild Things Are."
When: SAT 4/20 6:30 PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 6
Synopsis: In denial about her daughter Sylvie's (Marin Ireland) addiction to prescription painkillers, Faye (Melissa Leo) befriends Beckett (Josh Hamilton) in the hope that he will be able to help Sylvie through. Relationships evolve, though, and not necessarily as planned, and the selfless, hopeful Faye has to make a painful choice between attending the needs of Sylvie, and taking this chance for happiness herself.
What You Need To Know: The second feature from director Enid Zentelis ("Evergreen"), "Bottled Up" (originally titled "Something in the Water") was shot in 2011 and has apparently spent over a year in post-production. Rumored initially for a Sundance bow, it will actually be enjoying its World Premiere at Tribeca. How these delays bear on the finished product we can only guess, but with the ever-reliable Leo on board, we're still optimistic.
When: FRI 4/19 9:00 PM SVA Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 7
Synopsis: An unplanned but nonetheless welcome pregnancy may stretch the already threadbare finances of Melissa (Naomi Watts) and Richie (Matt Dillon) even tighter. But it's the arrival of Melissa's abusive ex and the possibility of eviction and losing her job that really threaten their hitherto modest-but-happy lives.
What You Need To Know: Director Laurie Collyer's last film, 2006's "Sherrybaby," which starred Maggie Gyllenhaal, also dealt with issues of poverty and disenfranchisement. It was a small-scale drama that stumbled a little in its later stages, but boasted an absolutely terrific central performance from Gyllenhaal. Liking Watts and Dillon as much as we do, we hope for similarly great things from them here, Watts to cement her post-"The Impossible"-Oscar-nod reputation as one of our best working actors, and Dillon to prove once again that he's one of our most unfairly overlooked.
When: SAT 4/20 6:00 PM BMCC Tribeca PAC
Synopsis: Popular and privileged Natasha (Haley Bennett) uses her charms on local blue-collar townie Danny (Shiloh Fernandez) and enlists his help to go on a drug run to Ecuador, as part of a tradition belonging to the boarding school secret society of which she is a member.
What You Need To Know: While the back catalogues of all involved may not instill huge confidence that this will be anything above an issues-driven series arc on "Gossip Girl," hope springs eternal, and Haley Bennett ("Marley & Me," "Music and Lyrics"), due to appear (or will she?) in Terrence Malick's music scene film (the one after the next one), is worth keeping an eye on. Similarly, Shiloh Fernandez seems to be graduating from the obligatory TV and horror-remake phase of his young career, so with a bit of luck, and if the elements come together this could be the film that starts them both on the track to better things. Pics and additional info here.
When: FRI 4/19 9:45 PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 8