Celebrating its 16th year of bringing the best and brightest to moviegoers, the Tribeca Film Festival 2017 showcased cinematic gems in both feature- and short-length categories. With a total attendance of more than 153,000 attending over a staggering 531 screenings, talks, virtual reality and game events, representing work from 42 countries, the possibilities were endless. Toss in another 3,800,000 Facebook Live viewers checking out 15 talks and post film conversations, the power of the Tribeca Film Festival could be felt far and wide.
Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2002 in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center as a way to help the economic growth of the hard hit downtown region through storytelling and culture, the Tribeca Film Festival is one of the brightest points of the year for the thousands who attend to enjoy the films and events, both in person and online. Let’s look back at some of the highlights of this year’s festival as we begin to plan for the wonder that is sure to be TFF 2018.
Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives: This brilliant documentary by director Chris Perkel gives us a glimpse into the journey that brought music mogul Davis from a young lawyer to the phenomenon he is today, told through the words of Davis himself as well as a plethora of amazing talent he has worked with through the years.
The Circle: With megawatt talents like Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, Bill Paxton, Patton Oswalt and Ellar Coltrane, this eerie look at the future of technology, courtesy of writer/ director James Ponsoldt is a chilling cautionary tale of the boundaries of privacy.
Flower: Director Max Winkler (Henry’s son) gives us a dark comedic version of a coming of age tale. When 17 year old Erica and her friends spend their summer seducing older men to extort money from them, things take an unexpected turn, changing their lives in ways they could never imagine.
Bobbi Jene: This incredible documentary from Elvira Lind chronicles American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, who after 10 years as the star of the esteemed Israeli dance company Batsheva, leaves to come back to the states, leaving behind her boyfriend and the comradery and support of the troop.
The Death of And Life of Marsha P. Johnson: This fascinating documentary from Academy Award nominated director David France focuses on Johnson, a legendary fixture in New York City who co-founded Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries. She was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992 and though her death was ruled a suicide, many in her circle firmly believe that her death was suspicious.
True Conviction: Three exonerated men who racked up years behind bars unjustly join together to form their own detective agency and try to help other wrongfully convicted prisoners who reach out to them for help. Director James Meltzer brings humanity to the screen as he trails the three who have endless compassion and empathy but also their own demons they must deal with as they try to right the wrongs and help people who have traveled in their own shoes.
Elian: From Tim Golden and Ross McDonnell, this look at the story of Elian Gonzalez, from his trip from Cuba to Florida as a young boy in 1999 and the subsequent custody battle between his dad in Cuba and his family in Miami is captivating. Now, 18 years later, we hear Elian’s own words as a twenty three year old man.
A Gray State: A complex and disturbingly compelling documentary, the story of David Crowley, an Iraq veteran and filmmaker is at the heart of this film. His dystopian film sets the government as a malevolent agent and the trailer for the film received lots of support from a community of libertarians and the alt-right. When Crowley and his wife and daughter were found dead in their Minnesota home, many conspiracy theories emerged. But thanks to Crowley’s compulsive nature to document everything, from film to journals, director Erik Nelson was able to show the unraveling of Crowley’s sanity.
Hondros: This beautiful documentary details the work of photojournalist Chris Hondros by his childhood friend, director Greg Campbell, truly going behind the lens to celebrate Hondros’ life and spectacular work, especially as a conflict photographer, prior to his death in 2011 in Libya.
Year of the Scab: Director John Dorsey brings us the amazing tale of the men who crossed the picket line during the 1987 NFL strike, as pro teams went far and wide to fill their rosters. Focusing on the men playing for the Washington Redskins and their incredible ride during that season is fascinating for everyone, not just hardcore football fans.
Chuck: Liev Schreiber plays the Bayonne Bleeder, Chuck Wepner, a heavyweight boxer in the 1970s who faced off with some of the biggest names in boxing including George Forman and Muhammad Ali and serving as the inspiration for the character of Rocky in the movie franchise. Director Philippe Faladeau aptly shows the struggles of the real man as well as the glory of the good times.
The Dinner : Based on the brilliant novel by Herman Koch, this film is set at the formal dinner of two couples, comprised of two estranged brothers and their spouses. This tangled drama circles around the heart of the matter, digging deeper into the real reason for the tense meal. With fantastic performances from Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall and Chloe Sevigny, this is a must see film.
City of Ghosts: From Academy Award-nominated director Matthew Heineman comes another look at the front lines, this time via the coverage of citizen-journalists of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS). As the Islamic State invades their home city in Syria, we are given a bird’s eye view of the atrocities that people are living with as the crew struggles against the propaganda that ISIS uses in this media war.
Dog Years: A poignant but not sappy tale of an aging Hollywood actor who is invited to receive a lifetime achievement award and realized that things are not always as they seem. Burt Reynolds positively shines in this film, directed by Adam Rifkin, and the video clips of Reynolds’ own films scattered throughout the piece is a solid bit of nostalgia.
With films to satisfy the urges of any movie goer, the only question is how will the fine folks at the Tribeca Film Festival top this lineup? Thankfully, we only have a few short months to bask in the wonder of the 2018 edition.