This week marks the beginning of Tribeca Film Festival. Running from April 24th through May 5th, the festival’s selection this year is notable for its diversity, with respect to the race and gender of the filmmakers and their stories. Here are my seven most anticipated films making their World Premieres at Tribeca:
Set in Washington D.C., and filmed over the course of 20 years, director Davy Rothbart’s film chronicles nine-year old Emmanuel Sanford-Durant’s struggling family as they live with gun violence within their neighborhood. Rothbart previously gained acclaim through his documentary Medora (another work that chronicles a community’s fight for survival). With its scale, beginning in 1999 and tracing to the present day, 17 Blocks is sure to provide a very intimate telling of a struggle within violent neighborhoods that still isn’t told enough.
A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem
With the rise of ESPN’s 30 for 30, there’s been greater interest in sports docs. Director Yu Gu’s A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem wasn’t produced under the same umbrella as the aforementioned docu-series, but arises with the promise of providing an intimate examination of a systemically sexist profession. Gu touches on subjects of wage theft and illegal hiring practices that have plagued football for generations.
Tragedy strikes the center of directors Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman’s documentary After Parkland. Following students, families, and teachers who experienced 2018’s deadly and devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the film marks the flashpoint of activism and grief, and the political consequences (or lack there of) of one of the most traumatizing and far-reaching events in the gun control debate.
At the Heart of Gold
Director Erin Lee Carter arrives in Tribeca with a documentary revolving around the biggest United States sports scandal since Penn State. At the Heart of Gold details the 2016 news of USA Gymnastics’ team doctor Larry Nassar’s crimes of sexual abuse against young women. The film follows the cover up and aftermath of a scandal that brought down an entire sport and saw the nation’s most treasured athletes set aside for the price of gold.
Representing the feature directorial debut of 19-year old filmmaker Phillip Youmans, Burning Cane starring Wendell Pierce might be the most anticipated film of Tribeca Film Festival. Pierce, who has dutifully put in tremendous work on television with Chicago P.D., Suits, and The Wire, and had a stellar performance with a small role in Clemency, is finally given a leading vehicle. Set in rural Louisiana, Pierce plays a local reverend as the film examines themes of toxic masculinity and religion.
If Burning Cane is the most anticipated narrative feature of Tribeca, a very close second is Christoph Waltz’s directorial debut Georgetown. The film features the glitziest cast of the festival, with Vanessa Redgrave, Corey Hawkins, Annette Bening, and Caroline Palmer joining Waltz. Inspired by true events, the film follows couple Elsa Breht (Redgrave) and Ulrich Mott (Waltz) living in the D.C. suburb of Georgetown. The two are political powerhouses, but their union is somewhat of a mystery as the pair seem like an unlikely match. Embroiled in intrigue, Georgetown (which was apparently completed in 2017) has finally found a premiere home with Tribeca.
Our Time Machine
Making its world premiere at Tribeca, the documentary’s synopsis already reads like a heartbreaking tissue grabber. Directors Yang Sun and S. Leo Chiang follow Chinese artist Maleonn as he creates a theater project for his Alzheimer’s stricken father. Of devastating diseases, Alzheimer’s remains the most grave. The memory-sapping condition has risen as a film topic as the spread of its tentacles have affected more-and-more. Our Time Machine will no doubt add another complex and heavy layer to a disease with a devastating effect on families and victims alike.
Images courtesy of HBO, and Tribeca Film Festival