The 2018 Tribeca Film Festival starts this Wednesday, which means that some of the world's best independent films are coming to New York City, and we couldn't be more ready to attend a screening (or 20).
Spanning 12 days, 51 narratives, and 45 documentaries, there's a little bit for everyone, whether you're a casual theater-goer, a hard-core MoviePass addict, or an A-list celebrity. Plus, this year's slate is particularly special. In an industry not exactly known for its gender parity, 46 percent of the 96 films being screened at Tribeca have been directed by a woman, which is the highest proportion in the festival's history. So, in addition to having something to celebrate, we also have plenty of great women-helmed films to watch, from blood-curdling psychological thrillers (Braid) to highly anticipated biopics (Mapplethorpe).
Check out our 10 Tribeca must-sees below.
The Tribeca Film Festival takes place from April 18 to 29 in New York City. Check out the full schedule here.
Disillusioned by the artifice and dishonesty of their past relationships, Naima and Sergio embark on a romantic experiment in Duck Butter, wherein they try to spend 24 hours together and have sex every hour. Needless to say, putting a budding relationship in this kind of pressure cooker breeds intense feelings, exuberant highs, and, subsequently, the lowest of lows. Starring Spanish actor Laia Costa and former NYLON cover star Alia Shawkat (who co-wrote the film), it’s a heart-wrenching exploration of love and lust that focuses on a type of anxiety familiar to anyone dating in the Tinder age.
Braid is a psychological thriller that sees two dealers attempt to rob their wealthy childhood friend in order to pay back their drug lord within 48 hours. Little do they know, they’ll have to take part in a torture-filled, murderous game of make-believe based on a fantasy world they created together as children to get the cash they need. Described as "a female version of A Clockwork Orange, Mulholland Drive meets Heavenly Creatures meets Funny Games, with The Others twist," Braid stars The Handmaid’s Tale’s Madeline Brewer, as the twisted Daphne Peters, and looks to be a shocking, perverse film exploring the dark side of friendship. Fun fact: Braid is also the first film to be crowdfunded via the cryptocurrency Ethereum.
Blowin’ Up is a documentary from director Stephanie Wang-Breal that's centered on an experimental court in Queens, New York, run by Judge Toko Serita. Geared toward aiding rather than criminalizing those charged with prostitution-related offenses, defendants have the ability to complete a series of mandatory counseling sessions before getting their charges sealed and dismissed. A title that references when a woman leaves her pimp, Blowin’ Up is a fascinating look at a viable alternative to the current legal system’s treatment of sex workers.
An adaptation of Anton Chekov’s classic play, The Seagull tells the story of a group of friends whose intertwined romantic and artistic relationships end up complicating and impeding their individual friendships. Considered one of theater’s best character studies, it only makes sense that the film version premiering at Tribeca is filled with formidable talent. Starring Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, and Corey Stoll, it’s bound to be a master class in acting.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Caught with another girl in a car on prom night, Chloë Grace Moretz’s Cameron Post is sent to a conversion therapy center that employs horrendous “de-gaying” methods. Adapted from Emily Danforth’s novel of the same name, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an earnest drama about a young girl who finds and creates her own family and learns to embrace her identity wholeheartedly, despite the pushback she's getting from the bigoted society around her.
The narrative feature debut of documentarian Ondi Timoner, Mapplethorpe stars The Crown’s Matt Smith as the eponymous artist. A biopic chronicling the late artist’s legacy, it begins right before his early days at the Chelsea Hotel and ends with his death from AIDS complications in 1989. Mapplethorpe is a stark examination of the acclaimed artist’s struggle for recognition during the '70s, as well as his troubling tendency toward self-destruction.
Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland
In 2015, Sandra Bland was found dead in police custody, three days after she was pulled over and arrested in Waller County, Texas, for failing to signal a lane change. A vocal Black Lives Matter activist, her case sparked nationwide protests as her loved ones were forced the reckon with their grief and anger in the national spotlight. Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, Say Her Name follows Bland’s family as they continue to keep her memory alive by asking questions about her death.
The centerpiece film of the festival, Drake Doremus’ sci-fi romance Zoe imagines a near-future world in which a computerized test can determine the success rate of a relationship and designs androids (aka “synthetics”) as perfect, faithful partners. Against this backdrop, Ewan McGregor and Léa Seydoux star as two coworkers trying to sort out their own relationship, which, according to the Tribeca Film Festival, “opens a division between them, threatening their nascent relationship and pointing to larger philosophical questions about love, humanity, and authenticity.” Also, if Rashida Jones and Christina Aguilera in supporting roles can’t convince you to see this, then I don’t know what would.
Directed by Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio—who just received the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for his critically acclaimed film A Fantastic Woman—Disobedience follows the story of Ronit, a shunned photographer returning to the Orthodox Jewish community she grew up in to attend the funeral of her estranged father. Reunited with her childhood friends Esti and Dovid (who are also now married), Ronit rekindles her forbidden sexual relationship with Esti and tests the boundaries of the community that exiled her many years before. Starring Rachel Weisz as Ronit, Rachel McAdams as Esti, and Alessandro Nivola as Dovid, Disobedience is a definitive Tribeca stand-out.
In a Relationship
In a Relationship is an indie rom-com starring Emma Roberts and Michael Angarano as a long-term couple who are thinking about breaking up, alongside Dree Hemingway and Patrick Gibson as a couple just beginning their own romance. An immersive study of what really creates divides and rifts within contemporary relationships, In a Relationship will hit close to home for anyone who’s experienced that heart-wrenching moment when you realize your partner is at a different stage of love.