The 15th Tribeca Film Festival has unveiled the first half of its 2016 film slate, showcasing a diverse lineup of documentaries, shorts, and feature films from around the world.
In addition to revealing the films in the documentary competition and the out-of-competition Viewpoints category, the festival also announced the creation of the new U.S. narrative and international narrative competition categories. Justin Tipping’s debut feature, Kicks, will open the U.S. narrative section, telling the story of a 15-year-old boy in the East Bay setting out to retrieve his stolen sneakers. The short film anthology Madly is the opening film in the international narrative competition, comprised of shorts directed by Gael García Bernal, Mia Wasikowska, Sebastian Silva, Anurag Kashyap, Sion Sono, and Natasha Khan, each exploring a different facet of contemporary love.
Bill and Turner Ross’ doc, Contemporary Color, chronicling a color guard event at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, will open the documentary competition, while Chris Prynoski’s R-rated animated comedy, Nerdland, will kick off the Viewpoints category. Nerdland stars Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt as two Hollywood unknowns desperate to become famous, with cameos from Hannibal Buress, Laraine Newman, Mike Judge, Molly Shannon, Kate Micucci, and Riki Lindhome.
Comedian Demetri Martin will make his directorial debut in Dean, which stars Martin as an illustrator who, still reeling from his mother’s death, tries to keep his father (Kevin Kline) from selling his childhood home while falling in love with a woman from Los Angeles (Gillian Jacobs). Other festival highlights include Equals, Drake Doremus’ sci-fi romance starring Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart, and High-Rise, the Tom Hiddleston-starring adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel.
In all, the festival revealed 55 of the total 101 feature-length films, and the rest of the slate will be announced March 8. The entire 2016 lineup includes films from 32 countries, with 77 world premieres. One third of this year’s feature films were directed by women, the highest number in the festival’s 15-year history.
See the full list of announced films below. The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 13-24.
U.S. NARRATIVE COMPETITION
Opening film: Kicks, directed by Justin Tipping, written by Justin Tipping and Josh Beirne-Golden. (USA) – World Premiere. When his hard-earned kicks get snatched by a local hood, fifteen-year old Brandon and his two best friends go on an ill-advised mission across the Bay Area to retrieve the stolen sneakers. Featuring a soundtrack packed with hip-hop classics, Justin Tipping’s debut feature is an urban coming-of-age tale told with grit, humor, and surprising lyricism. With Jahking Guillory, Mahershala Ali, Kofi Siriboe, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Christopher Meyer. A Focus World release.
Always Shine, directed by Sophia Takal, written by Lawrence Michael Levine. (USA) – World Premiere. This twisty psychological drama about obsession, fame, and femininity follows two friends, both actresses (Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald), on a trip to Big Sur, to reconnect with one another. Once alone, the women’s suppressed jealousies and deep-seated resentments begin to rise, causing them to lose their grasp on not only the true nature of their relationship, but also their identities. With Lawrence Michael Levine, Alex Koch, Jane Adams
AWOL, directed by Deb Shoval, written by Deb Shoval and Karolina Waclawiak. (USA) – World Premiere. Joey (Lola Kirke) is a young woman in search of direction in her small town. A visit to an army recruiting office appears to provide a path, but when she meets and falls in love with Rayna (Breeda Wool) that path diverges in ways that neither woman anticipates. Building on the award-winning short of the same name, director Deb Shoval crafts a clear-eyed love story, and an impressive feature film debut.
Dean, directed and written by Demetri Martin. (USA) – World Premiere. In comedian Demetri Martin’s funny and heartfelt directorial debut, Martin plays an illustrator who falls hard for an LA woman (Gillian Jacobs) while trying to prevent his father (Kevin Kline) from selling the family home in the wake of his mother’s death. With Rory Scovel, Ginger Gonzaga, Reid Scott, Mary Steenburgen, Christine Woods, Beck Bennett, Briga Heelan
Dreamland, directed by Robert Schwartzman, written by Benjamin Font and Robert Schwartzman. (USA) – World Premiere. Robert Schwartzman makes his directorial debut with this comedy about the cost of reaching your dreams. Part-time pianist Monty Fagan (Johnny Simmons) begins a May-December romance that upends his home life. A set of perfectly cast co-stars push or manipulate Monty along the way: Amy Landecker, Frankie Shaw, Alan Ruck, Beverly D’Angelo, along with Robert’s older brother Jason Schwartzman, and their mother Talia Shire.
The Fixer, directed by Ian Olds, written by Paul Felten and Ian Olds. (USA) – World Premiere. After an exiled Afghan journalist (Dominic Rains) arrives in a small town in Northern California, he lands a menial job as a crime reporter for the local newspaper. Restless in his new position, he teams up with an eccentric local (James Franco) to investigate the town’s peculiar subculture only to find things quickly taking a dangerous turn. With Melissa Leo, Rachel Brosnahan, Tim Kniffin, Thomas Jay Ryan
Folk Hero & Funny Guy, directed and written by Jeff Grace. (USA) – World Premiere. Alex Karpovsky and Wyatt Russell co-headline as two artistically inclined childhood friends, a comedian and a folk-rocker respectively, who set out on a tour together in hopes of regaining their “mojo” and finding love in the process. Jeff Grace’s debut film offers a fresh perspective on male friendship and a music infused spin on the classic road-trip buddy comedy. With Meredith Hagner, Michael Ian Black, Hannah Simone, Heather Morris, Melanie Lynskey, David Cross
Live Cargo, directed by Logan Sandler, written by Logan Sandler and Thymaya Payne. (USA, Bahamas) – World Premiere. Nadine (Dree Hemingway) and Lewis (Keith Stanfield) move to a small Bahamian island hoping to restore their relationship in the wake of a tragedy, only to find the picturesque island torn in two: on one side a dangerous human trafficker and on the other an aging patriarch, struggling to maintain order. With Leonard Earl Howze, Sam Dillon, Robert Wisdom
The Ticket, directed by Ido Fluk, written by Ido Fluk and Sharon Mashishi. (USA) – World Premiere. When a blind man inexplicably regains his vision, he becomes possessed by a drive for a better life—a nicer home, a higher paying job—leaving little room for the people who were part of his old life. Dan Stevens, Malin Åkerman, Oliver Platt, and Kerry Bishé star in this haunting parable of desire, perception, and ambition.
Women Who Kill, directed and written by Ingrid Jungermann. (USA) – World Premiere. Morgan and Jean work well together as true crime podcasters because they didn’t work well, at all, as a couple. When Morgan strikes up a new relationship with the mysterious Simone, their shared interest turns into suspicion, paranoia, and fear. Ingrid Jungermann’s whip smart feature debut is an adept and wry comedy on modern romance’s hollow results, set in an LGBTQ Brooklyn. With Ingrid Jungermann, Ann Carr, Sheila Vand, Shannon O’Neill, Annette O’Toole, Grace Rex
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE COMPETITION
Opening film: Madly, directed and written by Gael García Bernal, Mia Wasikowska, Sebastian Silva, Anurag Kashyap, Sion Sono, and Natasha Khan. (Argentina, Australia, USA, India, Japan, UK) – World Premiere. Madly is an international anthology of short films exploring love in all its permutations. Directed by some of the most vibrant filmmakers working today, the six stories in Madly portray contemporary love in all its glorious, sad, ecstatic, empowering, and erotic manifestations. With Radhika Apte, Satyadeep Misra, Adarsh Gourav, Kathryn Beck, Lex Santos, Mariko Tsutsui, Yuki Sakurai, Ami Tomite, Justina Bustos, Pablo Seijo, Tamsin Topolski. In English, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish with subtitles.
El Clásico, directed by Halkawt Mustafa, written by Anders Fagerholt and Halkawt Mustafa. (Norway, Iraqi Kurdistan Region) – North American Premiere. Alan and Gona are in love, but Gona’s father won’t approve their union because Alan is a little person. So, Alan hits the road with his brother, traveling from their small Iraqi village to the Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid. The plan: meet Cristiano Ronaldo, and earn the blessing of Gona’s father. El Clásico is a distinctly cinematic road movie, brimming with warmth and humor. With Wrya Ahmed, Dana Ahmed, Rozhin Sharifi, Kamaran Raoof, Nyan Aziz. In Arabic, Kurdish with subtitles.
Icaros: A Vision, directed by Leonor Caraballo and Matteo Norzi, written by Leonor Caraballo, Matteo Norzi, and Abou Farman. (Peru, USA) – World Premiere. An American woman in search of a miracle embarks on an adventure in the Peruvian Amazon. At a healing center, she finds hope in the form of an ancient psychedelic plant known as ayahuasca. With her perception forever altered, she bonds with a young indigenous shaman who is treating a group of psychonauts seeking transcendence, companionship, and the secrets of life and death. With Ana Cecilia Stieglitz, Arturo Izquierdo, Filippo Timi. In English, Spanish with subtitles.
Junction 48, directed by Udi Aloni, written by Oren Moverman and Tamer Nafar. (Israel, Germany, USA) – International Premiere. Set against a backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Junction 48 charts the musical ambitions of Kareem, an aspiring rapper from the town of Lod. A heartbreaking portrayal of the intersection of personal and political tragedies, Junction 48 questions to what extent music can be dissociated from politics. With Tamer Nafar, Samar Qupty, Salwa Nakkara, Ayed Fadel, Sameh “SAZ” Zakout, Saeed Dassuki. In Arabic, Hebrew with subtitles.
Mother (Ema), directed by Kadri Kousaar, written by Leana Jalukse and Al Wallcat. (Estonia) – International Premiere. This darkly comic, crime mystery set in small-town Estonia centers on Elsa, the full time caretaker of her comatose son, Lauri, and the locals, who are abuzz with rumors about who shot Lauri and why. But in this tight-knit town, where everyone seems to know everyone and everything except for what’s right under their nose, the world’s clumsiest crime may go unsolved. With Tiina Mälberg, Jaan Pehk, Andres Tabun, Andres Noormets, Rea Lest, Jaak Prints, Siim Maaten In Estonian with subtitles.
Parents (Forældre), directed and written by Christian Tafdrup. (Denmark) – World Premiere. Told with deadpan Nordic humor and a touch of surrealism, Parents follows Kjelde and Vibeke, two empty-nesters who find themselves unable to let go of the past. Stripped of their identity without their son, who recently moved away to college, they attempt to reclaim their youthful vigor by moving back into the old apartment where they first fell in love. They soon realize that everything that once defined them might no longer exist. With Søren Malling, Bodil Jørgensen, Elliott Crosset Hove, Miri-Ann Beuschel, Anton Honik In Danish with subtitles.
Perfect Strangers (Perfetti sconosciuti), directed by Paolo Genovese, written by Filippo Bologna, Paolo Costella, Paolo Genovese, Paola Mammini, and Rolando Ravello. (Italy) – International Premiere. Paolo Genovese’s new film brings us a bitter ensemble with an all-star cast that poses the question: How well do we really know those close to us? During a dinner party, three couples and a bachelor decide to play a dangerous game with their cell phones. Brilliantly executed and scripted, Perfect Strangers reveals the true nature of how we connect to each other. With Marco Giallini, Kasia Smutniak, Valerio Mastandrea, Anna Foglietta, Edoardo Leo, Alba Rohrwacher, Giuseppe Battiston In Italian with subtitles.
The Tenth Man (El Rey Del Once), directed and written by Daniel Burman. (Argentina) – North American Premiere. Ariel is summoned to Buenos Aires by his distant father, who runs a Jewish aid foundation in El Once, the bustling Jewish neighborhood where he spent his youth. Writer-director Daniel Burman (All In) returns to Tribeca with this tender exploration of community, and the intricacies of the father-son relationship. With Alan Sabbagh, Julieta Zylberberg, Usher, Elvira Onetto, Adrian Stoppelman, Elisa Carricajo. In Spanish with subtitles.
WORLD DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Opening film: Contemporary Color, directed by Bill Ross and Turner Ross. (USA) – World Premiere. In the summer of 2015, legendary musician David Byrne staged an unprecedented event at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to celebrate the art of color guard—synchronized dance involving flags, rifles, and sabers—by pairing regional color guard teams with performers, including St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado, and Ad-Rock. More than a concert film, Contemporary Color is a cinematic interpretation of a one-of-a-kind live event, courtesy of visionary filmmakers Bill and Turner Ross.
All This Panic, directed by Jenny Gage. (USA) – World Premiere. What is it like to come of age in New York City? First-time director Jenny Gage follows vivacious sisters, Ginger and Dusty, and their high school friends over the course of their crucial teen years. In this sensitive and cinematic documentary, Gage captures all the urgency, drama, and bittersweetness of girlhood as her subjects grapple with love, friendship, and what their futures hold.
Betting on Zero, directed and written by Ted Braun. (USA) – World Premiere.A llegations of corporate criminality and high-stakes Wall Street vendettas swirl throughout this riveting financial docu-thriller. Controversial hedge fund titan Bill Ackman is on a crusade to expose global nutritional giant Herbalife as the largest pyramid scheme in history while Herbalife execs claim Ackman is a market manipulator out to bankrupt them and make a killing off his billion dollar short.
BUGS, directed and written by Andreas Johnsen. (Denmark) – World Premiere. Head Chef Ben Reade and Lead Researcher Josh Evans from Nordic Food Lab are on a mission to investigate the next big trend in food: edible insects. Filmmaker Andreas Johnsen follows the duo on a globe-trotting tour as they put their own haute-cuisine spin on local insect delicacies (bee larva ceviche, anyone?) in the pursuit of food diversity and deliciousness.
Do Not Resist, directed by Craig Atkinson. (USA) – World Premiere. In Do Not Resist, director Craig Atkinson, through keen and thoughtful observances, presents a startling and powerful exploration into the rapid militarization of police forces in the United States. Filmed over two years, in 11 states, Do Not Resist reveals a rare and surprising look into the increasingly disturbing realities of American police culture.
The Happy Film: a GRAPHIC Design Experiment, directed by Stefan Sagmeister, Ben Nabors, and Hillman Curtis. (USA) – World Premiere. Designer Stefan Sagmeister takes us on a personal journey to find out what causes happiness. Experimenting with three different approaches—meditation, therapy, and drugs—Sagmeister embarks on an entertaining and introspective quest, accented with a whimsical panoply of graphics, charts, and proverbs. The Happy Film may not make you happier, but it will surely move you to reexamine your own pursuit of happiness.
Keep Quiet, directed by Joseph Martin and Sam Blair. (U.K., Hungary) – World Premiere. Passionate in his anti-Semitic beliefs, Csanád Szegedi was the rising star of Hungary’s far-right party until he discovers his family’s secret—his maternal grandparents were Jewish. The revelation prompts an improbable but seemingly heartfelt conversion from anti-Semite to Orthodox Jew. This captivating and confrontational film explores the complex and contradictory character of Szegedi, prompting deep questions about Szegedi’s supposed epiphany. In English, Hungarian with subtitles.
LoveTrue, directed by Alma Har’el. (USA) – World Premiere. Alma Har’el, director and cinematographer of the 2011 TFF Best Documentary Feature Bombay Beach, returns with LoveTrue, a genre-bending documentary, demystifying the fantasy of true love. From an Alaskan strip club, a Hawaiian island, and the streets of NYC—revelatory stories emerge about a deeper definition of love. Set to a hypnotizing score by Flying Lotus and executive produced by Shia LaBeouf.
Memories of a Penitent Heart, directed by Cecilia Aldarondo. (USA, Puerto Rico) – World Premiere. Like many gay men in the 1980s, Miguel moved from Puerto Rico to New York City; he found a career in theater and a rewarding relationship. Yet, on his deathbed he grappled to reconcile his homosexuality with his Catholic upbringing. Now, decades after his death, his niece Cecilia locates Miguel’s estranged lover to understand the truth, and in the process opens up long-dormant family secrets. In English, Spanish with subtitles.
The Return, directed by Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway, written by Kelly Duane de la Vega, Katie Galloway, and Greg O’Toole. (USA) – World Premiere. How does one reintegrate into society after making peace with a life sentence? California’s controversial and notoriously harsh three-strikes law was repealed in 2012, consequently releasing large numbers of convicts back into society. The Return presents an unbiased observation of the many issues with re-entry through the varied experiences of recently freed lifers.
Tickling Giants, directed and written by Sara Taksler. (USA) – World Premiere. Charting Bassem Youssef’s rise as Egypt’s foremost on-screen satirist, Tickling Giants offers a rousing celebration of free speech and a showcase for the power of satire to speak for the people against a repressive government. Where this story differs from the familiar success of Youssef’s idol, Jon Stewart: Bassem’s jokes come with serious, dangerous, and at times revolutionary consequences. In Arabic, English with subtitles.
Untouchable, directed by David Feige. (USA) – World Premiere. When a powerful Florida lobbyist discovered his daughter was sexually abused, he launched a crusade to pass some of the strictest sex offender laws in the country. Today, 800,000 people are listed in the sex offender registry, yet the cycles of abuse continue. David Feige’s enlightening documentary argues for a new understanding of how we think about and legislate sexual abuse.
Opening film: Nerdland, directed by Chris Prynoski, written by Andy Kevin Walker. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Nerdland is an R-rated cartoon comedy about celebrity, excess, and two showbiz nobodies, John (Paul Rudd) and Elliott (Patton Oswalt), with a plan to become famous—or even infamous—by the end of the night. Featuring an army of comedy cameos including Hannibal Buress, Laraine Newman, Mike Judge, Kate Micucci & Riki Lindhome, and Molly Shannon.
Abortion: Stories Women Tell, directed by Tracy Droz Tragos. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In 1973, the US Supreme court decision Roe v. Wade gave every woman the right to have an abortion. In 2016, abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in America, especially in Missouri. Award-winning director and Missouri native Tracy Droz Tragos sheds new light on the contentious issue by focusing on the women and their stories, rather than the debate. An HBO Documentary Film.
Actor Martinez, directed and written by Nathan Silver and Mike Ott. (USA) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Arthur Martinez is a computer repairman and aspiring actor who commissions indie directors Mike Ott and Nathan Silver to film his life. In the directors’ first collaboration, we see them follow Arthur as he goes to work, drives around, and auditions for a love interest (Lindsay Burdge), leading them to question the meaning of the project, and ultimately that of identity and stardom.
Adult Life Skills, directed and written by Rachel Tunnard. (U.K.) – World Premiere, Narrative. Anna (Jodie Whittaker) is stuck: she’s approaching 30, living in her mother’s shed, and spending her time making movies with her thumbs. Her mom wants her to move out; she just wants to be left alone. Adult Life Skills is an off-beat comedy about a woman who’s lost, finding herself. With Jodie Whittaker, Brett Goldstein, Lorraine Ashbourne, Alice Lowe, Edward Hogg, Eileen Davies, Rachael Deering, Ozzy Myers
After Spring, directed by Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Close to 80,000 Syrian refugees live in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. After Spring immerses us in the rhythms of the camp, the role of the aid workers, and the daily lives of two families as they contemplate an uncertain future. Executive produced by Jon Stewart, this is a fascinating journey through the camp’s physical and human landscapes. In Arabic, English, Korean with subtitles.
As I Open My Eyes (À peine j’ouvre les yeux), directed by Leyla Bouzid, written by Leyla Bouzid and Marie-Sophie Chambon. (France, Tunisia, Belgium, United Arab Emirates) – US Premiere, Narrative. As I Open My Eyes depicts the clash between culture and family as seen through the eyes of a young Tunisian woman balancing the traditional expectations of her family with her creative life as the singer in a politically charged rock band. Director Leyla Bouzid’s musical feature debut offers a nuanced portrait of the individual implications of the incipient Arab Spring. With Baya Medhaffer, Ghalia Benali, Montassar Ayari, Aymen Omrani, Lassaad Jamoussi, Deena Abdelwahed, Youssef Soltana, Marwen Soltana. In Arabic with subtitles. Presented in association with Venice Days.
Between Us, directed and written by Rafael Palacio Illingworth. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Longtime couple Henry (Ben Feldman) and Dianne (Olivia Thirlby) are afraid that if they finally tie the knot it would mean the end of their days as free-spirited urbanites. But a whirlwind night apart involving temptations from a duo of strangers (Analeigh Tipton and Adam Goldberg) will either make them realize why they are together in the first place or finally drive them apart forever. With Scott Haze, Peter Bogdanovich, Lesley Ann Warren
Califórnia, directed by Marina Person, written by Marina Person, Mariana Veríssimo, and Francisco Guarnieri. (Brazil) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Nostalgic, sweet, and at moments poignantly funny, Califórnia is a coming-of-age tale about a high school student, Estela, growing up in São Paulo in the 1980s. Estela is doing all she can to get to California to visit her glamorous and cultured uncle. While focused on keeping her grades up, her life is complicated by romance, sex, and social pressures. With Clara Gallo, Caio Blat, and Caio Horowicz. In Portuguese with subtitles.
The Charro of Toluquilla (El Charro De Toluquilla), directed and written by Jose Villalobos Romero. (Mexico) – International Premiere, Documentary. Jaime García appears to be the quintessentially machismo mariachi singer, yet beneath his magnetic confidence lies a man struggling to maintain a relationship with his estranged family while living as an HIV-positive man. In Jose Villalobos Romero’s remarkable cinematic debut, he utilizes vivid tableaus and stylized perspective to paint a beautifully unique and emotional portrait of a man divided. With Analia Garcia Hernandez, Rocio Hernandez, La Paloma, Andrea Dominguez, Ventura Garcia. In Spanish with subtitles.
Children of the Mountain, directed and written by Priscilla Anany. (USA, Ghana) – World Premiere, Narrative. When a young woman gives birth to a deformed and sickly child, she becomes the victim of cruelty and superstition in her Ghanaian community. Discarded by her lover, she is convinced she suffers from a ‘dirty womb,’ and embarks on a journey to heal her son and create a future for them both. With Rukiyat Masud, Grace Omaboe, Akofa Edjeani, Adjetey Annang, Agbeko Mortty (Bex), Dzifa Glikpo, Mynna Otoo. In Twi with subtitles.
Detour, directed and written by Christopher Smith. (U.K.) – World Premiere, Narrative. After his mother ends up in a coma under suspicious circumstances, a law student (Tye Sheridan) decides to drown his sorrows at a seedy bar. The next morning, he wakes up to the realization that he may have hired a hitman (Emory Cohen) and his girlfriend (Bel Powley) to take out the suspected perpetrator (Stephen Moyer) of his mother’s life-threatening accident. With Theo James
Equals, directed by Drake Doremus, written by Nathan Parker. (USA) – US Premiere, Narrative.Set in a sleek and stylish future world, Drake Doremus’ sci-fi romance envisions an understated dystopia, where all human emotion is seen as a disease that must be treated and cured. Against this backdrop, coworkers Nia (Kristen Stewart) and Silas (Nicholas Hoult) begin to feel dangerous stirrings for one another. An A24 release
14 Minutes from Earth, directed and written by Jerry Kolber, Adam “Tex” Davis, Trey Nelson, and Erich Sturm. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. On October 24th, 2014, a secret three-year mission by a small crew of engineers came to fruition deep in the desert of New Mexico. There, a human being (Alan Eustace ) was launched higher than ever before without the aid of a spacecraft—shattering all records. This film documents the mission and its greater implications for the scientific community and stratospheric exploration.
haveababy, directed by Amanda Micheli. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Amanda Micheli’s haveababy opens with a YouTube-based competition for a free round of in vitro fertilization, courtesy of a Las Vegas fertility clinic. Through this controversial contest, Micheli explores the complexities of America’s burgeoning fertility industry and paints an intimate portrait of the many resilient couples determined to have a baby against all odds.
High-Rise, directed by Ben Wheatley, written by Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley. (U.K.) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Based on J.G. Ballard’s novel of the same name, High-Rise stars Tom Hiddleston as Dr. Robert Lang, a newcomer to a recently constructed complex in which the residents are stratified by social class. But when the power goes out, the tenuous hierarchy rapidly descends into chaos. Luke Evans, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, and Elisabeth Moss co-star. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Houston, We Have a Problem!, directed by Žiga Virc, written by Žiga Virc and Boštjan Virc. (Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, Qatar) – World Premiere. The space race and NASA’s moon landing are as much part of our national identity as they are fodder for conspiracy theories. Houston, We Have a Problem! adds new material to the discussion on both fronts, as filmmaker Žiga Virc investigates the myth of a secret multi-billion-dollar deal involving America’s purchase of Yugoslavia’s space program in the early 1960s. In Croatian, English, Serbian, Slovene with subtitles.
The Human Thing (La Cosa Humana), directed by Gerardo Chijona, written by Francisco García and Gerardo Chijona. (Cuba) – International Premiere, Narrative. Gerardo Chijona’s (Ticket to Paradise) newest film opens with a thief breaking into the home of a famous writer, and unknowingly stealing what turns out to be the only manuscript of his upcoming story. In desperate need of money, he submits it to a contest, which will see him competing with the very writer he robbed. With Héctor Medina, Enrique Molina, Carlos Enrique Almirante, Vladimir Cruz, Miriel Cejas, Amarilis Núñez, Osvaldo Doimeadiós, Mario Guerra, Alejandro Rivera. In Spanish with subtitles. Presented in association with the Havana Film Festival New York.
Keepers of the Game, directed by Judd Ehrlich. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Lacrosse is a sacred game for Native Americans, traditionally reserved for men. When a women’s varsity team forms in upstate New York, they aim to be the first Native women’s team to take the championship title away from their rivals Massena High. But when their funding is slashed, and the indigenous community is torn, they find more than just the championship is on the line.
The Loner, directed and written by Daniel Grove. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Daniel Grove’s neon-soaked feature debut follows reformed mobster Behrouz, who is haunted by memories of being a child soldier in Iran in the 1980s. As he pursues the American Dream in Los Angeles Behrouz finds it increasingly difficult to stay away from the seedy underbelly of the city. Grove’s neo-noir is a smart, action-packed, and colorful thriller with an electrifying score. With Reza Sixo Safai, Helena Mattsson, Parviz Sayyad, Julian Sands, Laura Harring, Dominic Rains. In English, Farsi, Russian with subtitles.
Night School, directed and written by Andrew Cohn. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Indianapolis has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. For adult learners Greg, Melissa, and Shynika, a high school diploma could be a life-changing achievement. Andrew Cohn’s absorbing documentary observes their individual pursuits, fraught with the challenges of daily life and also the broader systemic roadblocks faced by many low income Americans, including wages and working conditions.
Obit, directed by Vanessa Gould. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Within the storied walls of The New York Times, a team of writers is entrusted with reflecting upon the luminaries, icons, and world leaders of our day. Vanessa Gould’s fascinating documentary introduces us to those responsible for crafting the unequaled obituaries of the NYT. As we’re taken through their painstaking process we learn about the pressures accompanying a career spent shaping the story of a life.
Poor Boy, directed by Robert Scott Wildes, written by Robert Scott Wildes and Logan Antill. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Romeo and Samson Griggs, two reckless, misfit brothers living on the outskirts of town, survive by hustling, gambling, and thieving. In an attempt to leave their lot behind for good, they design their most complex and financially rewarding long con yet. With Lou Taylor Pucci, Michael Shannon, Justin Chatwin, and Amanda Crew.
The Ride, directed and written by Stéphanie Gillard. (France) – World Premiere, Documentary. The Ride takes us along the annual 300-mile trek through the South Dakota Badlands. There, young men and women of the Lakota Sioux ride horseback and reflect upon the history of their ancestors. This intimate, stunningly photographed account captures the thoughts and emotions of the young riders and the adults who guide them along their journey.
SOLITARY, directed by Kristi Jacobson. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. With unprecedented access, director Kristi Jacobson offers a deeply moving portrait of life inside solitary confinement within a supermax prison. Filmed over the course of one year, this riveting film tells the story of the complex personalities that dwell on either side of a cell door while raising provocative questions about the nature of crime and punishment in America today. An HBO Documentary Film.
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In 1994, four women were tried and convicted of a heinous assault on two young girls in a court case that was infused with homophobic prejudice and the Satanic Panic sweeping the nation at that time. Southwest of Salem is a fascinating true crime story that puts the trial of the San Antonio Four in context of their ongoing search for exoneration.