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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Early Tribeca Slate Has Revealed a Feminist Batch of Films

Is it too early to call this slate of Tribeca Film Festival films "The Year of the Woman"? That was the first thought that came to my mind after viewing the first batch of films announced yesterday. Ranging in genre and showcasing a variety of narratives placing women at the center of the story, both emerging and veteran talent behind and in front of the camera are seizing this opportunity to bring their work to a larger audience.

Color me intrigued. Below are a few of the highlights:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. With the indigenous community torn, they find that more than just the championship is on the line.

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.

As a reminder, I am planning a Tribeca Blogger Meet-Up this year, so if you're interested in learning more about that, please let me know via the Contact box in the right sidebar of this page.

Stay tuned for my assessment of the next batch of films to be announced on March 8. The Tribeca Film Festival will take place in New York City April 13-24. 


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