The Tribeca Film Festival unveiled 46 out of 90 feature-length films it has on tap this year with 12 films each screening in the festival’s World Narrative Feature and World Narrative Documentary competitions. The 11th annual event also revealed selections for its out-of-competition Viewpoints section, established last year to “highlight personal stories in international and independent cinema.” The festival is set for April 18-29 in New York City.
Following last year’s festival, Tribeca revamped its programming team following the departure of head of programming David Kwok. Former Cannes Directors Fortnight artistic director Frédéric Boyer came on board as TFF’s artistic director. Geoffrey Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, expanded his role overseeing the festival’s programming, while Genna Terranova was upped to director of programming. “Last year was the 10th anniversary of Tribeca and there was a sense that we wanted to see the festival step up this year,” Gilmore told Deadline. “The only way you can do this is if you find films that make you feel passionate.” Gilmore added that balance between American and international titles in the competitions had been off kilter in years past but the mix for 2010 is more aligned. “There wasn’t an agenda to make it more American, but there was an aspiration to keep more of a balance,” he said.
The 2012 film roster includes 54 world premieres, four international premieres, 16 North American premieres, 10 U.S. premieres and six New York premieres and 32 countries are represented. Here’s the lineup:
World Narrative Feature Competition
All In (La Suerte En Tus Manos), directed by Daniel Burman, written by Daniel Burman and Sergio Dubcovsky. (Argentina) – International Premiere. Professional poker player Uriel has been on a real hot streak—with the ladies—since his marriage fizzled out. But in between growing his online gambling business and helping to raise his kids, Uriel has rediscovered his old pre-marriage flame, Gloria…. Starring the great Valeria Bertuccelli (XXY) and Oscar®-winning songwriter Jorge Drexler, this romantic comedy from Daniel Burman (Lost Embrace) unfolds in the acclaimed director’s signature style: poignant, natural, and bitingly funny. In Spanish with subtitles.
Beyond the Hill (Tepenin Ardi), directed and written by Emin Alper. (Turkey, Greece) – North American Premiere. Faik, a proud old forester, is having trouble with nomads grazing their livestock on his land. For revenge, he and his hulking farm hand Mehmet snatch a goat to butcher for a family holiday, unwittingly sparking a dire blood feud. Debuting Turkish director Emin Alper creates an atmosphere of skin-crawling terror in this psychological drama by withholding, not showing, the escalating acts of violence that hurtle these feuding farmers toward a shocking confrontation. In Turkish with subtitles.
First Winter, directed and written by Benjamin Dickinson. (USA) – World Premiere. In the extraordinary debut feature, a blackout of apocalyptic proportions strands a group of Brooklyn hipsters in a remote country farmhouse with no heat and no electricity during the coldest winter on record. At first, it’s all sex and drugs and acoustic guitars. But as the days go on and the food supply dwindles, struggles of power, jealousy, and desire threaten the group’s ability to work together in order to survive.
The Girl, directed and written by David Riker. (USA, Mexico) – World Premiere. From the director of La Ciudad comes this moving drama about a single mother (Abbie Cornish) caught in emotional quicksand after losing her job and custody of her son. Desperate to earn cash for her custody battle, she makes the daring choice to help smuggle illegal immigrants over the border. A deep connection to a young Mexican girl will take her on a life-changing journey and force her to confront her past. In English, Spanish with subtitles.
Jack and Diane, directed and written by Bradley Rust Gray. (USA) – World Premiere. Tomboy Jack and bubbly Diane fall head over heels in love one hot summer in New York City. When Diane reveals she must leave the city for school in Europe, their budding love is tested. Weaving horror elements into a distinctive and fresh yet timeless and universal first-love story, TFF alum Bradley Rust Gray (The Exploding Girl) brings his unique vision to this idiosyncratic story of the joys and terrors of first love. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Nancy, Please, directed by Andrew Semans, written by Will Heinrich and Andrew Semans. (USA) – World Premiere. Paul’s life is good. He has a gig teaching literature at Yale, and he just moved in with his longtime girlfriend, finally shedding his casually sinister roommate, Nancy. There’s just one thing. Paul left an item of great importance at his old apartment, and Nancy doesn’t want to give it back.… Paul’s life is about to unravel. Debuting director Andrew Semans skillfully orchestrates a minor annoyance into an all consuming obsession in this smart, stunning psychodrama.
Postcards From the Zoo (Kebun Binatang), directed by Edwin, written by Edwin, Daud Sumolang, and Titien Wattimena. (Indonesia) – North American Premiere. Acclaimed Chinese-Indonesian director Edwin (Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly) returns with a gorgeous, dreamlike fairy tale set inside Jakarta’s wondrous Ragunan Zoo. Abandoned in the zoo as a little girl and raised among the wild menagerie, Lana finally embarks outside the peculiar confines she has always known—and into the seedier side of Jakarta—when she falls in love with a charming magician. In Indonesian with subtitles.
Una Noche, directed and written by Lucy Mulloy. (UK, Cuba, USA) – North American Premiere. Fed up with catering to the privileged tourist class, Cuban teens Raul and Elio are tantalized by the promise of a new life in Miami. Accused of assaulting a foreigner, Raul has no choice but to flee, but Elio must decide whether his own escape is worth abandoning his beloved sister. Brimming with the nervous energy of Havana’s restless
youth and evocative cinematography of the sun-bleached capital, Una Noche follows one sweltering day, full of hope and fraught with tensions, that burns to a shocking climax. In Spanish with subtitles.
Unit 7 (Grupo 7), directed by Alberto Rodriguez, written by Rafael Cobos and Alberto Rodriguez. (Spain) – International Premiere. Unit 7 is a semi-official police detail with a seemingly impossible mission: kick Seville’s most vicious drug trafficking ring out of town ahead of a major international expo. By any means necessary. As they slip outside the bounds of the law in the name of duty, two officers fueled by violence, lies, and ambition end up on opposing paths. Spanish superstar Mario Casas (Neon Flesh) stars in this adrenaline-pumping action thriller. In Spanish with subtitles.
War Witch (Rebelle), directed and written by Kim Nguyen. (Canada) – North American Premiere, Narrative. At 14, Komona has lived through horrors that eclipse any adult’s worst nightmares. In this mesmerizing, otherworldly drama, shot entirely in the Congo, she confides to the baby growing inside of her the harrowing story of her life since rebel warlords stormed her village. Fortified by eerily mystical powers and the warming friendship of an albino boy, the sensitive girl battles through this dire, war-ravaged world enchained as a child soldier. In French, Lingala with subtitles.
While We Were Here, directed and written by Kat Coiro. (USA) – World Premiere. Jane (Kate Bosworth) and her English husband travel to Naples hoping to reinvigorate their silently disintegrating marriage and escape a personal tragedy that hangs heavily between them. When Jane, facing writer’s block, takes a day trip to a beautiful island off the coast, she meets a young American man living a hermetic life on the island. As the two embark on an unlikely emotional affair, Jane faces some drastic changes in her life.
Yossi (Ha-Sippur Shel Yossi), directed by Eytan Fox, written by Itay Segal. (Israel) World Premiere. Returning to the role that won him TFF’s Best Actor award in Eytan Fox’s Yossi & Jagger in 2003, Ohad Knoller is extraordinary as Yossi, a closeted gay man living a solitary existence in Tel Aviv. A chance encounter with a group of soldiers ignites Yossi’s desire to live an open, fulfilling life. Written and directed with uncommon honesty and compassion by Fox, this is a deeply moving film about the power of second chances. In Hebrew with subtitles.
World Documentary Feature Competition
Ballroom Dancer, directed and written by Christian Bonke and Andreas Koefoed. (Denmark) – North American Premiere. In 2000, Slavik Kryklyvyy became the World Latin American Dance Champion. Enduring success seemed assured, but instead Slavik’s career sputtered… until redemption seemed possible with his new partner and lover, Anna. But will Slavik’s unwavering ambition prove toxic to their romance? Subtly depicting the pair’s shifting relationship through gestures, glances, and the dance itself, Ballroom Dancer begins as a comeback story and evolves into a movingly intimate tragic romance In Russian, English with subtitles.
Downeast, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. (USA) – World Premiere. Gouldsboro, Maine. Hit hard by the closure of the sardine canning factory, its laid-off residents—mostly 70-year-olds—just want to get back to work. So why is Italian immigrant Antonio Bussone having so much trouble getting federal funds to open a new lobster processing plant? Charged with the spirit of a generation that still gives it 110 percent, this poignant and poetic documentary sheds new light on the trying task of putting America back to work.
Fame High, directed and written by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. (USA) – World Premiere. Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s follow-up to his Oscar®-nominated The Garden captures all the drama, competition, heartbreak, and triumph among a group of struggling students at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. From the nail-biting freshman auditions to the spectacular senior graduation performance, this endearing coming-of-age documentary is a tribute to discovering your passion and deciding whether you have the talent to take it to the next level.
The Flat (Ha-dira), directed and written by Arnon Goldfinger. (Israel, Germany) – North American Premiere. At age 98, director Arnon Goldfinger’s grandmother passed away, leaving him the task of clearing out the Tel Aviv flat that she and her husband shared since immigrating to Palestine from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. In this emotionally riveting documentary, Goldfinger follows the hints they left behind in a lifetime’s collection of documents to investigate long-buried family secrets and uncover the mystery of his grandparents’ painful past. In Hebrew, German, English with subtitles.
High Tech, Low Life, directed by Stephen Maing. (USA, China) – World Premiere. With the Chinese government employing 40,000 “internet police,” more than half a million websites are blocked in the country. Local TV stations only publicize “the good news.” The rising tide of censorship has aroused a wave of citizen reporters committed to investigating local news stories and crime scenes. This timely and probing documentary tracks rogue bloggers Zola and Tiger Temple as they risk political persecution to become China’s uncensored eyes and ears. In Mandarin with subtitles.
The List, directed by Beth Murphy. (USA) – World Premiere. After leading rebuilding teams in war-torn cities in Iraq, Kirk Johnson returned to America to establish and advocate for a growing number of Iraqi citizens now targeted by radical militias because they aided the U.S. in the reconstruction effort. TFF alum Beth Murphy (Beyond Belief) creates an affecting portrait of an unlikely but passionate humanitarian who has championed the cause of Iraqi refugees largely ignored by the U.S. government. In English, Arabic with subtitles.
Off Label, directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher. (USA) – World Premiere. The term “off-label” refers to the use of pharmaceuticals in any way counter to their prescribed dosage and function. Weaving together the powerful, personal stories of misdiagnosed patients, professional guinea pigs, recreational drug users, and soldiers struggling with PTSD, Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher (October Country) expose the breadth of off-label drug use and take us on an emotional road trip through an overmedicated, misdiagnosed, and drug-addled America.
Planet of Snail, directed by Seung-Jun Yi. (South Korea) – North American Premiere. Deaf and blind, Young-Chan lives in a quiet, isolated world in his small apartment. But when Soon-Ho, an empathetic woman compromised by a spinal disability, comes into his life, a unique love story begins. Poetic and gently paced, Planet of Snail brings to life the sensual world shared by this special couple, and illustrates that the greatest beauty can be found in the smallest and most unlikely love stories. In Korean with subtitles.
The Revisionaries, directed by Scott Thurman, written by Jawad Metni and Scott Thurman. (USA) – World Premiere. Once in a decade, the 15 members of the Texas State Board of Education meet in Austin to revise the textbook standards for five million schoolchildren. Led by Don McLeroy, a Young-Earth Creationist and Evangelical Christian, the panel implements standards that will ultimately go into effect in science and history textbooks for schoolchildren across the nation. The Revisionaries is a galvanizing peek behind the curtain at the politicization of education.
The Virgin, the Copts and Me (La Vierges, les Coptes et Moi), directed by Namir Abdel Messeeh, written by Namir Abdel Messeeh, Nathalie Najem, and Anne Paschetta. (France, Qatar) – North American Premiere. In his feature debut, French Egyptian filmmaker Namir Abdel Messeeh sets out to investigate the phenomenon of supposedly miraculous Virgin Mary apparitions in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community. But when the secular director faces opposition from skittish producers and his Coptic family, Namir turns the camera on his wonderfully smart-alecky mother and reimagines his film as a touching, uniquely hilarious portrait of family and heritage. In Arabic, French with subtitles.
Wavumba, directed by Jeroen van Velzen, written by Jeroen van Velzen and Sara Kee. (Netherlands) – North American Premiere. Mysticism and color reign in this stunning documentary steeped in the fishermen lore of Kenya. Revisiting a childhood fairy tale of a spirit-filled island with the magic to either bless or curse a fisherman’s journey, Dutch filmmaker Jeroen van Velzen explores his memories via Masoud, a real-life legend of shark fishing. His glory days long gone, Masoud relives his youth through grandiose stories told with swaggering pride and heartbreaking nostalgia. In English, Swahili with subtitles.
The World Before Her, directed by Nisha Pahuja. (Canada) – World Premiere. Weaving together the seemingly opposing stories of the Miss India beauty pageant and a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls, director Nisha Pahuja illuminates the situation of women across contemporary India, drawing surprising parallels in the way women are perceived and the opportunities that are afforded them in both modernizing and traditional cultures. The World Before Her is a riveting, thoughtful profile of the fundamental contradictions of a country in transition. In English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati with subtitles.
Babygirl, directed and written by Macdara Vallely. (Ireland, USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. For as long as she can remember, Bronx teenager Lena has watched her mom Lucy squander her life on a series of deadbeat men. When Victor, her mom’s latest boy toy, starts hitting on Lena, she sets up a trap to expose Victor for the creep he is… but the plan backfires. Macdara Vallely crafts a heartfelt drama about the emotional highs and lows in the moment between childhood and adulthood.
Benji, directed by Coodie and Chike. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In 1984, 17-year-old Ben Wilson was a symbol of everything promising about Chicago: a sweet-natured youngster from the city’s fabled South Side, and America’s top high school basketball prospect. His senseless murder on the day before his senior season devastated the city of Chicago and sent ripples of anguish nationwide. A stirring portrait of a phenomenon admired both on the court and off, Benji tells the story of a legend who might’ve been.
Burn, directed by Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Detroit is burning. Meet the men and women charged with saving the once-roaring American city that many have written off as dead. With vast stretches of forsaken buildings left as kindling, they face one of the worst arson rates in the world. From executive producer Denis Leary, Burn drives us straight into the heart-pounding fire and introduces us to the characters and controversies that make up the most overworked and under-equipped firehouse in the country.
Caroline and Jackie, directed and written by Adam Christian Clark. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. When Caroline throws a surprise birthday party for her sister Jackie, what starts as an evening with friends devolves into a night that will change everything, as their bond is tested by the emotional mayhem only sisters can wring. Injecting his dinner-party-gone-wrong story with genuine tension, first-time filmmaker Adam Christian Clark strips away the layers of Caroline and Jackie’s fraught relationship right up until the film’s raw and moving conclusion.
Certain People (Katinkas Kalas), directed by Levan Akin, written by Lisa Östberg. (Sweden) – World Premiere, Narrative. A small group of friends—upper-class, art world bohemians in their thirties—gather at Katinka’s summer house to celebrate her birthday. Suddenly during dinner, Katinka’s brother arrives with Linda, a blonde game show hostess whose brusque and liberated manners are entertaining and fresh… at first. During the course of the evening Linda stretches the group’s invisible social rules of hospitality. Contempt starts to grow, and hidden prejudices flare up.In Swedish with subtitles.
Consuming Spirits, directed and written by Chris Sullivan. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Nearly 15 years in the making, Chris Sullivan’s Consuming Spirits is a meticulously constructed tour de force of experimental animation. Shooting frame by frame in 16mm, Sullivan seamlessly blends together a range of techniques into a distinct, signature visual style. In the process, he constructs a hypnotic, layered narrative, a suspenseful gothic tale that tracks the intertwined lives of three kindred spirits working at a local newspaper in a Midwestern rust belt town.
Cut, directed by Amir Naderi, written by Amir Naderi and Abou Farman. (Japan) – U.S. premiere, Narrative. Award-winning Iranian filmmaker and TFF alum (Vegas: Based on a True Story) Amir Naderi travels to Tokyo to tell this striking, fiercely unconventional tale of a struggling young filmmaker, Shuji. Desperate to create great cinema, Shuji obtains financing for a few utterly forgettable pictures from his brother—who got the money from the mob. Now Shuji must repay his debts and test his love of the movies by working as a human punching bag for yakuza thugs. In Japanese with subtitles.
Death of a Superhero, directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, written by Anthony McCarten. (Ireland, Germany) – U.S. premiere, Narrative. Donald is a teenager with extraordinary talents, wild daydreams, and a bright future as an artist of fantastical graphic novels. But when Donald discovers that a very real enemy is trying to kill him, an unorthodox psychologist tries to help him find the light in an otherwise dark world. Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Andy Serkis star in this exceptionally honest drama about discovering life, love, and death. A Tribeca Film release.
El Gusto, directed and written by Safinez Bousbia. (Algeria, Ireland, UAE) – North American Premiere, Documentary. A rhythmic cocktail of European and Arabic traditions, chaabi music was the heart and soul of cosmopolitan Algiers in the 1940s, but the war of independence with France tore apart the peaceful Muslim and Jewish communities that came together to play this unique music. A group of over-the-hill but still fiery musicians reunites after five decades apart in this spirited, gorgeously shot documentary about music’s power to transcend cultural boundaries. In French, Arabic with subtitles.
Fairhaven, directed and written by Tom O’Brien. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Jon is well past his glory days on the football field and searching for meaning in the small town of Fairhaven. When his friend Dave comes home for his father’s funeral, the limits of friendship are tested as the past is uncovered. This thoughtful meditation on love, loss, and minor triumphs reminds us that sometimes the most important things in life are the little moments we cherish forever.
The Fourth Dimension, directed by Harmony Korine, Alexey Fedorchenko, and Jan Kwiecinski, written by Harmony Korine, Alexey Fedorchenko, Jan Kwiecinski, Oleg Loevsky, and Yaroslava Pulinovich. (USA, Poland, Russia) – World Premiere, Narrative. A motivational speaker named Val Kilmer (played by Val Kilmer) delivers a sermon at a roller rink. A Russian scientist builds a time machine in his apartment. Four friends stumble upon an abandoned village in the Polish countryside. All are in search of the fourth dimension—whether they know it or not. Weird, ominous, cool, compelling: These three short films could only be inspired by the creative vision of Harmony Korine and Vice Media’s Eddy Moretti. In English, Polish, Russian with subtitles.
Francophrenia (or: Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is), directed by Ian Olds and James Franco, written by Ian Olds and Paul Felten. (USA) – North American Premiere, Narrative. James Franco stunned the film world when he committed to a regular gig on General Hospital, but the Oscar®-nominated actor had a clever trick up his sleeve. While shooting a key GH episode, Franco brought along a film crew. TFF award winner Ian Olds (Fixer, 2009) then repurposed Franco’s behind-the-scenes footage into an experimental psychological thriller set amid the spectacle of a celebrity’s escalating paranoia, creating a mind-bending exploration of identity.
Journey to Planet X, directed by Josh Koury and Myles Kane. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. By day Eric Swain and Troy Bernier are a couple of mild-mannered, middle-aged desk jockeys from Florida, but their wildest dreams come to life after hours when they get together to make fantastical sci-fi movies with the help of a green screen, amateur actors, and retro-futuristic computer graphics. As they embark on their most ambitious production yet, this hip and heartwarming documentary shows how boundless imagination can hilariously stretch the limits of DIY moviemaking.
On The Mat, directed and written by Fredric Golding. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Achieving greatness in high school wrestling requires a level of devotion unmatched perhaps by any other sport. That greatness has become a yearly expectation at Lake Stevens High, winner of seven Washington state championships in the past 10 years. Narrated by Lake Stevens wrestling alum Chris Pratt (Moneyball), this riveting documentary follows the team over the course of a season as they fight through injuries and academic issues to maintain their school’s legacy.
Resolution, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, written by Justin Benson. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Michael is committed to getting his best friend Chris to sober up and put his life back on track. But what begins as an attempt to save his friend’s life quickly takes an unexpected turn as the two friends confront personal demons, the consequences of past actions, and forces beyond their control. Expertly balancing dark humor, heart, and thrills, Resolution is an utterly unique cinematic experience that defies genre classification.
Room 514, directed and written by Sharon Bar-Ziv. (Israel) – North American Premiere, Narrative. When a young, idealistic military investigator confronts an elite soldier with accusations of unnecessary violence against a Palestinian man in the Occupied Territories, her quest for justice ends up having far-reaching consequences. Director Sharon Bar-Ziv’s feature debut is a gritty minimalist drama that provides a raw, direct look at the psyche of contemporary Israeli culture as shaped by the effects of the ongoing conflict. In Hebrew, Russian with subtitles.
Rubberneck, directed by Alex Karpovsky, written by Alex Karpovsky and Garth Donovan. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Months after a one-night-stand-gone-nowhere with a sexy coworker, sad-sack Boston scientist Paul still finds himself increasingly consumed with obsessive thoughts toward his uninterested colleague. As his impulses become increasingly irresistible, and the repercussions of his actions snowball, the tension mounts. Indie stalwart Alex Karpovsky directs this slow-burn psychosexual character study.
Sexy Baby, directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In the age of runaway social media and “sexting,” raunchy rap songs on pop radio and hardcore pornography at the click of a mouse—what’s it like to be a woman? A girl? A teenage boy? A parent? Following a middle-aged former porn star, a young woman undergoing a controversial surgery, and a 12-year-old girl who’s growing up faster than her parents can handle, Sexy Baby is a startling look at America’s increasingly sex-saturated culture.
Stones in the Sun (Woch nan Soley), directed and written by P. Benoit. (USA, Haiti) – World Premiere, Narrative. In the 1980s, in the midst of increasing political violence, a young couple, two sisters, and a father and son are driven from Haiti to New York, where they must confront the truths of their interlocked pasts. In her impassioned, penetrating feature film debut, Haitian director P. Benoit steers clear of clichés about immigrants and refugees, authentically tapping into the reality of the unique Haitian-American experience. In English, Haitian Creole with subtitles.
Supporting Characters, directed by Daniel Schechter, written by Tarik Lowe and Daniel Schechter. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In this funny and authentic take on modern relationships, best friends Darryl (Tarik Lowe) and Nick (Alex Karpovsky) are a film editing duo hired to rework a movie in crisis, only to find themselves increasingly consumed with reworking their own personal lives. While Nick begins to question his stable relationship after receiving attentions from the film’s flirtatious starlet, Darryl finds himself falling hard for tempestuous dancer Liana (Melonie Diaz).
Town of Runners, directed by Jerry Rothwell. (UK) – World Premiere, Documentary. Over the past two decades the small, rural Ethiopian town of Bekoji has been the unlikely home to numerous Olympic champion long-distance runners, whose athletic success has paved the way for a generation of young Ethiopians searching for a better future. With a keen artistic eye, TFF award winner Jerry Rothwell (Donor Unknown) follows two teenage track hopefuls who face the challenge of growing up and striving for greatness in a developing nation. In Amharic, Oromo with subtitles.
Turn Off the Lights, directed by Ivana Mladenovic, written by Ivana Mladenovic and Bianca Oana. (Romania) – World Premiere, Documentary. After years behind bars, three young men begin to rediscover lives of aggression and excess in their raucous Roma community. Among them is Alex, a captivating figure with a disturbingly blasé attitude toward violence, women, and guilt. In this absorbing documentary, offering a rare peek into contemporary Roma culture, Alex and his fellow ex-cons reconcile the outside world with the gray-shaded areas of morality with which they all struggle. In Romanian with subtitles.
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