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Try Some TriBeCa - What to See at This Year's Film Festival

by Frank J. Avella
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Apr 18, 2018
Try Some TriBeCa - What to See at This Year's Film Festival

Each year the Tribeca Film Festival grows in leaps and bounds and the 17th annual version is no exception. From April 18th through April 29th, moviegoers have an opportunity to saturate themselves in features, shorts, docs, immersive entertainment, prestigious panels, special events, and so much more.

The feature film program boasts 96 films from 103 filmmakers, 46% directed by women - the highest percentage ever! And 75 of those films are world premieres. "We are proud to present a lineup that celebrates American diversity and welcomes new international voices in a time of cultural and social activism," states Paula Weinstein, Executive Vice President of Tribeca Enterprises.

The competition films compete for cash prizes totaling $165,000, including the 6th annual Nora Ephron Award, presented by CHANEL, that will bestow a $25,000 prize to a woman who embodies the spirit and boldness of the late filmmaker.


The Fest opens with Lisa D'Apolito's tender and revealing "Love, Gilda," a new doc about SNL superstar, Gilda Radner. This loving portrait of an artist we lost far too early will make you spend hours YouTubing this enchanting, delicate comic genius.

The world premiere of Liz Garbus' investigative doc "The Fourth Estate" will close the festival and Drake Doremus' sci-fi romance "Zoe," starring Ewan McGregor, another world premiere, will be featured as the Centerpiece Gala.

In my early sampling of some of the Tribeca narrative feature slate, I was impressed with so many powerhouse female performances (including the inspirational doc, "Love, Gilda.") If this is an indication of where the 2018 film year is headed, I am excited and film lovers should be too.


One of the best films of 2018 so far is Sebastián Lelio's "Disobedience," about a photographer who returns to the North London Orthodox Jewish community where she grew up when her father dies. Lelio (who won an Oscar for "A Fantastic Woman") has made a daring, mesmerizing film with truly extraordinary performances by the amazing Rachel Weisz, a potent Alessandro Nivola, and an astonishing Rachel McAdams, who must be remembered at awards time. This is an important LGBTQ work.

Ken't Jones's "Diane" is piercing cinema that stars the gifted Mary Kay Place in the best movie role she's had since 1983's "The Big Chill." This haunting film about an older woman dealing with loss and heartache, has a terrific cast that includes Jake Lacy, excellent as Diane's drug-addicted son.

"Stockholm" is another favorite of mine, directed and written by Robert Budreau, about the 1973 mess of a bank robbery in Sweden that would define a new psychological phenomenon: Stockholm Syndrome. Ethan Hawke is wonderfully wackadoodle, but it's Noomi Rapace's nuanced turn that gives the film its gravitas.

Che Sandoval's delicious comedy, "Dry Martina," follows a former pop star, sometimes nymphomaniac (a fabulous Antonella Costa) journeying from Argentina to Chile in hot pursuit of a hottie (the stunning Pedro Campos). Along the Almodovarian way, she may also discover a lost family.

"Nico, 1988"

Susanna Nicchiarelli's engrossing "Nico, 1988," focuses on the last years of the superstar's life and rests on Trine Dyrholm's volcanic performance, which includes her singing all the vocals.

The Italian gem, "Daughter of Mine," directed by Laura Bispuri, takes place in Sardinia and focuses on two mothers competing for the love of a ten-year-old girl. Three outstanding female actors anchor the movie: Valeria Golino, Alba Rohrwacher and young Sara Casu.

Another trio of terrific female performances highlight Marianna Palka's perceptive "Egg," about two very different approaches to motherhood. Christina Hendricks, Anna Camp, and Alysia Reiner make this one soar.

"In a Relationship," directed and written by Sam Boyd, is a surprising engrossing millennial rom-com of sorts with a layered performance by Emma Roberts, who continues to grow and impress.


Jamie Jones's "Obey" takes place amidst the 2011 London riots and follows a young bloke (an excellent Marcus Rutherford) who is trying to survive the world he's been born into. A powerful film with an unforgettable ending.

Emma Forrest's "Untogether" is a fascinating look at two sisters (played by sisters Jemima and Lola Kirke) and their bizarre love lives. Jamie Dornan and Ben Mendelsohn (in a non-menacing part, for a change) co-star, but it's the sibs who enthrall.

Jemima Kirke also graces Melissa Miller Costanzo's endearing, "All These Small Moments," which centers on a teen boy (Brendan Meyer), his familial strife, and his crush on an older woman (Kirke).

"You Shall Not Sleep" is Gustavo Hernandez's genuinely chilling film set in an abandoned asylum that will elate both horror and theatre fans.

Meredith Danluck's "State Like Sleep," an odd, moody piece unravels the mystery of a famous actor's death in Brussels. Katherine Waterston stars and the ubiquitous Mary Kay Place adds her magic.

"Mary Shelley"

The life of "Mary Shelley" is given standard treatment in Haifaa Al Mansour's film. Elle Fanning makes her as interesting as she can. Douglas Booth proves he's more than just as pretty face as Percy and a dashing Tom Sturridge makes an indelible impression as Lord Byron.

"Duck Butter," directed by Miguel Arteta, is a virtual two-hander that traps the viewer together with two women (Alia Shawkat and Laia Costa) trying to connect with one another. Costa, who also stars in "Maine," is a beguiling standout.

Nathan Silver's "The Great Pretender," is an evocative, self-reflexive tale of four theatre folk intertwined in an autobiographical (Woody Allen-esque) work. Both Esther Garrel and Maelle Poesy captivate.

On the doc side and for all lovers of theatre, Jeff Kaufman's "Every Act of Life" provides an affectionate look at a true LGBT icon and one of our greatest living playwrights, Terrence McNally. The film brims with great footage and irresistible tidbits from theatre greats like Chita Rivera, Nathan Lane, and Audra McDonald.

And some films I am looking forward to seeing:



Ondi Timoner "Mapplethorpe," about the life of the enfant terrible photographer and starring Matt Smith.

Karen Gillan's "The Party's Just Beginning," is surreal coming-of-age tale set in Gillan's hometown in the Scottish Highlands.

Alex Pettyfer's directorial debut, "Back Roads," is a noir thriller that examines long-dormant family secrets. Jennifer Morrison and Juliette Lewis co-star with Pettyfer.

Sarah Jessica Parker stars in the French New Wave-inspired, "Blue Night," directed by Fabien Constant, about a famous singer who is given a devastating diagnosis.

"Jonathan" is a sci-fi drama about a young man with a strange life. Bill Oliver directs a cast that includes, Ansel Elgort, Suki Waterhouse, and Patricia Clarkson.

"The Miseducation of Cameron Post"

A winner at Sundance, Desiree Akhavan's "The Miseducation of Cameron Post," takes on gay conversion therapy and features Chloë Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane.

Tony-winner Michael Mayer directs Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, and Elisabeth Moss in his version of Chekhov's "The Seagull."

Hagar Ben-Asher's "Dead Women Walking" chronicles the stages leading up to the execution of death row women.

Susanna White's "Woman Walks Ahead" stars Jessica Chastain and is based on a true story about a 19th-century Brooklyn artist who goes west to paint a portrait of Chief Sitting Bull.



"Call Her Ganda," directed by PJ Raval, demands accountability in the death of a transgender Filipina woman.

Gabrielle Brady's "Island of the Hungry Ghosts" explores the powerful and threatening landscape of an isolated island in the Indian Ocean.

Marco Proserpio's "The Man Who Stole Banksy" is about how someone cut down and sold the anonymous graffiti artist's political works. Narrated by Iggy Pop.

"When Lambs Become Lions," directed by Jon Kasbe, takes on Kenyan ivory poaching cinema vérité style.

Michael Epstein's "House Two" investigates how a group of U.S. Marines killed 24 unarmed Iraqi men, women, and children in a matter of minutes in 2005.

Don Hahn's "Howard" is a biodoc about the lyricist Howard Ashman, ("Little Shop of Horrors," The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast.")

"McQueen," directed Ian Bonhôte, examines couturier Alexander McQueen's rags to riches life story.

"Studio 54," directed by Matt Tyrnauer, is about the meteoric rise and catastrophic fall of that den of '70s hedonism.

For more on the Tribeca Film Festival, visit the Festival's website, Tickets can be purchased online at this website, or by telephone at (646) 502-5296 or toll free at (866) 941-FEST (3378).

Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He is also a proud Dramatists Guild member and a recipient of a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded a 2015 Fellowship Award from the NJ State Council on the Arts, the 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and the Chesley/Bumbalo Foundation Playwright Award for his play Consent, which was also a 2012 semifinalist for the O'Neill. His play, Vatican Falls, took part in the 2017 Planet Connections Festivity and Frank was nominated for Outstanding Playwriting. Lured was a semifinalist for the 2018 O'Neill and received a 2018 Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Grant. Lured will premiere in 2018 in NYC and 2019 in Rome, Italy. LuredThePlay.com

Film Festivals 2018

This story is part of our special report titled "Film Festivals 2018." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


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