The Tribeca Film Festival has unveiled films screening in its Spotlight and genre-centered Cinemania section as well as Special Screenings and its Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival lineup. Spotlight includes 34 films, 22 narratives and 12 documentaries, with 19 films having their world premieres. Seven narratives make up the international group of Tribeca’s Cinemania titles. Earlier this week, the festival released its competition slate. The 2012 festival is April 18-29 in New York. The latest selections include:
2 Days in New York, directed and written by Julie Delpy. (France) – New York Premiere, Narrative. This deliriously witty follow-up to 2 Days in Paris finds Marion (writer/director Julie Delpy) living a comfortable life in New York with her latest hipster boyfriend, Mingus (Chris Rock, brilliantly playing it straight), and their two young kids from prior relationships. A riotous comedy of cultural errors ensues when Marion’s totally unhinged, gleefully unfiltered family arrives from Paris to meet Mingus for the first time. In English, French with subtitles. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Any Day Now, directed by Travis Fine, written by Travis Fine and George Arthur Bloom. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In the late 1970s, when a mentally handicapped teenager is abandoned, a gay couple takes him in and becomes the family he’s never had. But once the unconventional living arrangement is discovered by authorities, the men must fight a biased legal system to adopt the child they have come to love as their own. Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt star in TFF alum Travis Fine’s (The Space Between) touching and occasionally incendiary drama.
As Luck Would Have It (La Chispa de la Vida), directed by Alex de la Iglesia, written by Randy Feldman. (Spain) – North American Premiere, Narrative. The economy has kept Roberto (José Mota) out of work for a long time. When a freak accident puts him at the center of a media frenzy, the enterprising ad exec hires a snaky agent to help him cash in on his life-or-death situation. It’s up to Roberto’s adoring wife (the vivacious Salma Hayek) to convince him he’s worth more alive than dead. Cult director Alex de la Iglesia takes a fresh new step, combining a darkly comic satire with an emotional drama of a family’s love. In Spanish with subtitles.
BAM150, directed by Michael Sládek (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Go behind the scenes like never before at BAM, the nation’s oldest performing arts center. Featuring footage of recent BAM performances, interviews with groundbreaking artists like Laurie Anderson and Robert Wilson, and the fascinating history of the creative home to such greats as Pina Bausch, Peter Brook, and Merce Cunningham, TFF alum Michael Sládek’s (Con Artist) doc shows that BAM’s 150 years were not always easy, but are a testament to the power and stamina of the institution that launched Brooklyn as a cultural mecca.
A Better Life (Une Vie Meilleure), directed by Cédric Kahn, written by Cédric Kahn and Catherine Paillé. (France, Canada) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Passionately in love from the moment they meet, idealistic chef Yann and single mother Nadia share big dreams for their future. Life gets complicated when they impulsively buy a secluded restaurant in the woods and take on risky loans, testing the strength of their relationship. Fiercely gritty in its romanticism, this is a story of the lengths one will go for the chance at a better life. In French, English with subtitles.
Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, directed by Raymond De Felitta. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. While filming a documentary on racism in Mississippi in 1965, Frank De Felitta forever changed the life of an African-American waiter and his family. More than 40 years later, Frank’s son Raymond (director of City Island) returns to the site of his father’s film to examine the repercussions of their fateful encounter. This intensely personal film about the struggle to understand one’s parents is also a heartbreaking portrait of the legacy of intolerance.
Broke, directed by Billy Corben. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. More money, more problems. Sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical issues, and naturally prone to showing off, most pro athletes end up broke within a few years of retirement. Drawing surprisingly vulnerable confessions from retired stars like Marvin Miller, Jamal Mashburn, Bernie Kosar, and Andre Rison, this fascinating documentary digs into the psychology of men whose competitive nature carries them to victory on the field and ruin off it.
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, directed by Donald Rice, written by Donald Rice and Mary Henely Magill. (UK) – World Premiere, Narrative. On the morning of her wedding, Dolly (FeliciTy Jones) is hiding out and dreaming of the idyllic summer before, helped along by a jug of rum. Her scatterbrained mother (Elizabeth McGovern) has perfected all the arrangements, but even she can’t prepare everyone for the arrival of Dolly’s unpredictable best friend, Joseph (Luke Treadaway). Lighthearted humor and a steamy romance add the perfect touch to a dysfunctional wedding whose key players seem anything but cheerful.
Chicken With Plums (Poulet Aux Prunes), directed and written by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. (France, Germany, Belgium) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Nasser Ali Khan (Mathieu Amalric) is the most celebrated violin player in 1950s Tehran, but his heart is broken. His true love is long lost, his marriage is passionless, and now his most precious instrument has met its demise. Convinced life without music is intolerable, he resigns to bed and loses himself in reveries from his youth. The Oscar®-nominated directors of Persepolis make magic again with a stylish fairy tale full of humor, whimsy, and melancholy. In French with subtitles. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Deadfall, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, written by Zach Dean. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In the wintry countryside near Canada, a smooth-talking heist man and his femme fatale sister are on the run with a bag full of cash. With a deadly blizzard swirling around them, they split up to make a desperate dash for the border, but a twist of fate puts them on a collision course with a troubled ex-con and his family. Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Sissy Spacek, and Kris Kristofferson highlight the ace cast in this icy thriller. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, directed by Ramona Diaz. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. It sounds like a dream: A charismatic Filipino singer from the slums of Manila posts videos of his cover band to YouTube, and soon he’s fronting an iconic rock band. Sounds crazy, but it’s the real-life rock-and-roll fairy tale that Arnel Pineda is living as the new lead singer of Journey. The pressure’s on Pineda as this rockin’ doc follows Journey’s dizzying world tour—can a man who has already overcome so many obstacles deal with the demands of his newfound fame? In English, Tagalog with subtitles.
Elles, directed by Malgoska Szumowska, written by Tine Byrckel and Malgoska Szumowska. (France, Poland, Germany) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Juliette Binoche, exquisite and involved as always, stars in this sophisticated, sexually charged drama as Anne, a journalist getting in too deep with the research for her article on college students working as prostitutes. As the surprising stories of her two candid subjects stir up Anne’s image of femininity, she wonders if life with her workaholic husband and two spacey sons is all that different from her subjects’ lives. A Kino Lorber release.
Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie, directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger, written by Daniel A. Miller. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Long before the days of Jersey Shore or Glenn Beck, there was one man who gleefully gave those on the fringes of the society a national mouthpiece. Witness Morton Downey Jr.’s meteoric rise and fall as the original shock television emcee, and check your sense of decorum at the door. Here we learn about the man behind the mouth, and how the pursuit of fame and fortune over the airwaves can ultimately destroy your soul.
Free Samples, directed by Jay Gammill, written by Jim Beggarly. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Jillian is having a bad day. She’s got a raging hangover, she’s starting to think dropping out of Stanford Law to become an artist wasn’t the best career move, and things are weird with her faraway fiancé. Can spending the day parked in an ice cream truck doling out samples—and a good dose of sass—to oddball Angelenos shake her out of her quarter-life crisis? Jess Weixler, Jesse Eisenberg, and Jason Ritter star in this quirky comedy.
The Giant Mechanical Man, directed and written by Lee Kirk. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Thirtysomethings Janice (Jenna Fischer) and Tim (Chris Messina) haven’t quite learned how to navigate adulthood. Tim is a street performer whose unique talents as a “living statue” don’t exactly pay the bills. Janice is out of work and under pressure by her sister (Malin Akerman) to date an egotistical self-help guru (Topher Grace). In this charming comedic romance, these two strangers help each other to realize that it only takes one person to make you feel important. A Tribeca Film release.
Headshot (Fon Tok Kuen Fah), directed and written by Pen-ek Ratanaruang. (Thailand, France) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. A return to the crime genre for celebrated Thai auteur Pen-ek Ratanaruang (6ixtynin9, Last Life in the Universe), Headshot is a noir-laced thriller centered on Tul, a hit man who is shot in the head and wakes up to find that he sees everything upside down. Working backwards (and often upside down) to tell a brooding and convoluted tale of underworld double dealings, this is an unexpected and artful take on the action thriller from a genre master. In Thai with subtitles. A Kino Lorber release.
Hysteria, directed by Tanya Wexler, written by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer. (USA, UK, Luxembourg, France) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Set in 19th-century London at the peak of Victorian prudishness, this racy romantic comedy tells the surprising story of the birth of the electro-mechanical vibrator. A progressive young doctor (Hugh Dancy, Adam) has his hands full relieving the city’s affluent society women of their melancholy, until an accidental discovery electrifies their lives forever—and sends sparks flying between him and a feminist rabble-rouser (Maggie Gyllenhaal). A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Keep the Lights On, directed by Ira Sachs, written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias. (USA) New York Premiere, Narrative. For Erik and Paul, what begins as a meaningless late-night hookup evolves into a serious, committed relationship. Acclaimed director Ira Sachs offers an honest, unflinching portrait of a relationship that is by equal measure loving and destructive. Uncompromising in its depiction of drug addiction and the sacrifices we make for the ones we love, Sachs’ film is a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful look at the way love changes over time.
Knuckleball!, directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, written by Christine Schomer, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. This classic sports story recounts the trials and triumphs of two of the best known knuckleball pitchers currently playing in the MLB: Tim Wakefield, a Red Sox veteran struggling to clinch his 200th career win, and R.A. Dickey, an up-and-comer with the Mets looking to make a name for himself. This energetic documentary from the directors of Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work deconstructs the controversial and erratic knuckleball style.
Let Fury Have the Hour, directed and written by Antonino D’Ambrosio. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. A generation of artists used their creativity as a response to the reactionary politics that came to define our culture in the 1980s. This dynamic and exhilarating documentary brings together more than 50 big-name musicians, writers, artists, and thinkers to trace a momentous social history from the cynical heyday of Reagan and Thatcher to today—and impart a message of hope. Featuring Chuck D, John Sayles, Eve Ensler, Tom Morello, Lewis Black, and many others.
Lola Versus, directed by Daryl Wein, written by Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Greta Gerwig stars as Lola, a New Yorker who gets dumped by her fiancé mere weeks before their wedding. With the help of her close friends Henry (Hamish Linklater) and Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones), Lola embarks on a series of unexpected encounters in an attempt to find her place in the world as a single woman approaching 30. Daryl Wein (Breaking Upwards) infuses this story of the post-breakup spiral with humor and authenticity. A Fox Searchlight Pictures release.
Mansome, directed by Morgan Spurlock, written by Jeremy Chilnick and Morgan Spurlock. (USA) World Premiere, Documentary. In the age of manscaping, metrosexuals, and grooming products galore—what does it mean to be a man? Oscar® nominee Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and executive producers Ben Silverman, Will Arnett, and Jason Bateman present a delightfully entertaining doc featuring candid interviews from Arnett, Bateman, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, and everyday people weighing in on everything from the obsession with facial hair to body dysmorphic disorder.
One Nation Under Dog, directed by Jenny Carchman, Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Amanda Micheli. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. This heartfelt documentary explores people’s conflicted relationships with dogs and inspires us to rethink how we treat them. From a man who spends a fortune to defend his dogs in court, to a woman who can’t turn away a stray, to pet loss support groups to rescuers who take on difficult-to-place dogs and save them from death row, this is a film about love, loss, betrayal, and hope.