In New York City, there are few large-scale cultural events that New Yorkers look forward to as much as the Tribeca Film Festival (April 18-29). And why shouldn’t we? It has everything! Pioneering new takes on world cinema, VR, attitude-changing documentaries, celebrities, eye-opening panels, free family-friendly events, and so much more. Two weeks packed with this much content can be daunting, so we’ve pulled together a list of the movies we’re most excited about.
Bathtubs Over Broadway
Not everyone has a job where they are required to flip through old records, but as a writer on Late Night with David Letterman, this was Steve Young’s norm. Little did he know that what started as segments for “Dave’s Record Collection” would set him off on a journey through a part of media history that rarely gets the spotlight: industrial musicals.
From the 1950’s all the way through the 1980’s, it wasn’t uncommon for major companies like General Electric, McDonald’s, Ford and Xerox to put on the razzle dazzle at their big sales meetings with Broadway-style productions. Think Lipton on the Move, Lucite, You and ’72, and Everything’s Coming Up Citgo.
This documentary follows Young as he dives into this world of off-off-off Broadway meets corporate America that gave performers like Florence Henderson, Martin Short, and Chita Rivera their start.
Into The Okavango
The greater Okavango River Basin is the largest freshwater wetland in southern Africa—and the main source of water for a million people. Its delta, located in northern Botswana, is one of Africa’s richest places for biodiversity, and home to the world’s largest remaining elephant population as well as lions, cheetahs and hundreds of species of birds. And now the water that fuels this ecosystem is under threat.
To protect the delta, National Geographic Explorer Dr. Steve Boyes and an international team of scientists, filmmakers, and African guides banded together on a journey from Angola to Namibia to Botswana to protect the Okavango watershed’s source rivers forever. In this documentary, Director Neil Gelinas uses his extensive background filming in the wild to bring audiences a stunningly photographed tale of passion and conservation.
Every Act of Life
With credits including Ragtime, Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Master Class, award-winning playwright Terrence McNally has had an illustrious career. All the while, McNally has fought for LGBTQ rights, beaten addiction, and used his talent in the arts to transform society.
Full of rare footage and photos, this new documentary about his life features interviews with and performances by Angela Lansbury, Audra McDonald, Larry Kramer, Nathan Lane, Edie Falco, F. Murray Abraham, Billy Porter, Tyne Daly, Chita Rivera, John Slattery, Rita Moreno, and Christine Baranski—just to name drop a few—as well as the voices of Bryan Cranston as John Steinbeck and Meryl Streep as McNally’s high school English teacher.
If you can score tickets to the premiere, you’ll be rewarded with a post-screening conversation with director Jeff Kaufman, playwright Terrence McNally, actor/director Joe Mantello, and actors F. Murray Abraham, Christine Baranski, Nathan Lane, and Chita Rivera – moderated by New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich.
The American Meme
The rise of social media stars as powerful influencers has sped up exponentially over the years to what some now call a fever pitch and others call just the beginning. They have millions of followers, work with top brands and, frankly, are brands of their own. But when they’re not inviting the world into their #NoFilter lives, even the likes of Paris Hilton, the Fat Jew, and Emily Ratajkowski put the selfie stick down.
In American Meme, the stories behind these larger-than-life images get revealed: the ultimate cost and inevitable backlash each has experienced from media and fans alike as their empires have taken off.
A steadily growing portion of the Tribeca program over the years, the virtual and augmented reality content is best in class at this festival. Between Tribeca’s Virtual Arcade and newly added Cinema360, viewers can experience 25 exhibits that dance around the intersection of compelling storytelling and cutting-edge technology under one roof.
Try the “Vacation Simulator,” or hear directly from victims and survivors of atomic bombings and nuclear arms testing in “The Day the World Changed,” or step into the powerfully immersive, large-scale, multi-sensory installation “Hero” that explores humanity in our modern era of civilian warfare. These projects will transport you into another world.
For more information on these and other films playing at Tribeca, visit www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide.