2013 Tribeca Film Festival Preview


I’m counting down the days until I crash New York for what’s become an annual tradition for me—the Tribeca Film Festival. In its 12th year, the festival has never been stronger. A Tribeca narrative film was nominated for an Oscar for the first time earlier this year (War Witch), and this year’s lineup has attracted a number of hotly anticipated titles, including a few dandy world premieres. It’s also home to the always juicy Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

This will be my sixth year attending Tribeca, and it promises to be the most fruitful year I’ve had there. Now, I could probably write a good 4,000 words on all the films playing this year that sound interesting to me, including titles like At Any Price, Before Midnight, Gasland Part II, Prince Avalanche, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Instead, I’m simply going to highlight the titles I expect to catch up with at this year’s festival They are:

Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution

“Kirsty Sword Gusmão went to Timor-Leste to document injustice in an area closed to Western journalists. Over the next decade, she became the lynchpin that sustained the nation’s harrowing struggle for independence and met the man who would redefine the cause for which she was fighting. Using astonishing footage of the years-long resistance, director Alex Meillier presents a highly personal account of the courage needed to create a new democracy in modern times.” —TribecaFilm.com

My take: This is supposed to be the part where I explain what’s drawing me to this particular movie, but I’m not sure anything else needs to be said. A fascinating-sounding story that seems to combine two interests of mine (journalism and international relations…my two majors in college). Just hits my sweet spot is all. I have high hopes.

The English Teacher

“Teacher Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) balances her staid home life with an incredible passion for her subject, but her routine is forever altered when a former star pupil and his unsupportive father reenter her life. Go-to television director Craig Zisk, whose credits include Scrubs, Weeds and United States of Tara, takes a turn on the big screen with this insightful comedy about self-discovery co-starring Greg Kinnear, Nathan Lane, Michael Angarano and Lily Collins.” —TribecaFilm.com

My take: It’s the cast that’s drawing me in here—Julianne Moore being someone who I’d watch in just about anything. I remember hearing about this well over a year ago when I was starting to craft my original 2013 Oscar predictions. The film fell off my radar completely, but I’m glad to see it surfacing. Not expecting much in terms of Oscar, but I’m still expecting a solid movie.

Farah Goes Bang

“Farah hits the road with her buddies to stump for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, hoping the trip will be her opportunity to finally shed her unwanted virginity. She soon finds her efforts on both political and sexual fronts continuously thwarted. Comically balancing that moment’s climate of intolerance with a universal coming-of-age tale, Farah Goes Bang paints a comic portrait of the overdue growing pains of a group of girlfriends and the country itself.” —TribecaFilm.com

My take: This one could go either way for me, as I don’t expect to identify much with Farah and her, um, banging. That said, setting this film during the John Kerry election effort intrigues me for some reason, and there’s definitely the possibility that this turns out to be quite funny.

Greetings from Tim Buckley

“‘Like father, like son’ is a demanding expression for someone who never knew his dad. When young Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgley) is asked to participate in a tribute concert for his late musician father Tim, music opens his eyes to the artistic legacy that he is destined to follow. Imogen Poots co-stars in this quiet and powerful tribute to those legends sustained by admiration, love and, in this case, beautiful music.” —TribecaFilm.com

My take: Penn Badgley seems like an odd choice for a role like this, but he’s a guy I’ve had my eye on since Easy A, and I think he can do great things in the right film. This one will likely stretch him beyond anything we’ve seen before, and it should feature some great music to boot.

In God We Trust

“Bernie Madoff ruined many lives before his arrest in 2008. Perhaps no one was so personally affected as his longtime personal secretary, Eleanor Squillari. Meet Squillari in the days and months after the arrest, as her obsession with the case grows into her own unique search for clues. In God We Trust follows Squillari on her personal journey for justice, exposing previously unknown facts about the greatest financial crime ever committed.” —TribecaFilm.com

My take: Arguably my most anticipated of any film on this list, In God We Trust can be a great doc, I think, if it stays close to telling the Madoff story from Squillari’s eyes. I’m less interested in the redemptive qualities that might pop up here and there, but the film’s unique POV is what sold me. Fingers crossed.

The Kill Team

“In 2010, the media branded a platoon of U.S. Army infantry soldiers “The Kill Team” following reports of its killing for sport in Afghanistan. Now, one of the accused must fight the government he defended on the battlefield, while grappling with his own role in the alleged murders. Dan Krauss’s absorbing documentary examines the stories of four men implicated in heinous war crimes in a stark reminder that, in war, innocence may be relative to the insanity around you.” —TribecaFilm.com

My take: Here, I’m reminded, at least on one level, of Hell and Back Again, the Oscar-nominated documentary from a 2011 that focused on a soldier who’s returned home both physically and mentally injured. That individual was frightening, which isn’t to say The Kill Team‘s protagonist will be too, but he and I, presumably, come from very different backgrounds, and like Hell and Back Again, that could mean a tad bit of trouble identifying with him. But if that isn’t the case, this should be a really powerful film.

Lil Bub & Friendz

“Called ‘the most famous cat on the Internet,’ the wide-eyed perma-kitten Lil Bub is the adorable embodiment of the Web’s fascination with all things cats. Join Lil Bub and her owner on a wild cross-country romp as they meet the Internet’s most famous cat-lebrities. Chock full of adorable kitties, hilarious videos and the dedicated cat enthusiasts who love them, Lil Bub & Friendz is a fun and hip peek behind the memes we know and love.” —TribecaFilm.com

My take: OK, so I like cats. Don’t worry about it.

What Richard Did

“Charismatic Richard leads a group of devoted friends through the rituals of their final summer break together: partying on the beach, hazing younger students, hooking up. But the good times will not last forever. When jealousy leads to a senseless act, Richard’s perfect life unravels amid self-doubt, shame, grief and guilt. What Richard Did is a gripping dissection of an action and its consequences, featuring a stellar lead performance by Jack Reynor.” —TribecaFilm.com

My take: In a sea of docs and quirky comedies, this one brings the drama to my Tribeca 2013. I feel like I’ve seen this story on film before, but it’s usually told powerfully, and I hope/suspect What Richard Did will be no different.

PLUS: Ten more titles to watch…
Ali Blue Eyes
Big Men
Deep Powder
Hide Your Smiling Faces
Michael H. Profession: Director
The Pretty One
The Project
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Sunlight Jr.

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