This year’s Tribeca Film Festival boasts a slate that includes a record number of films helmed by female filmmakers: A full one-third of the lineup. The films run the gamut from narrative to documentary, short to feature-length, dramas to comedies and just about everything in between. Tribeca has long pushed for more diversity among their filmmaking ranks, and this year’s robust lineup indicates a big step in that direction.
Here are 11 filmmakers to keep your eyes out for at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival (who just so happen to be women).
Amanda Micheli, “haveababy”
A former Project of the Day participant, Micheli’s newest feature focuses on a controversial competition that gives its winners a hell of a bouncing gift: IVF treatment. Micheli, who was previously nominated for an Oscar of her doc short “La corona,” has long been interested in telling unique and often uncomfortable stories about women that we rarely seen put on the big screen (“La corona,” which she helmed alongside Isabel Vega, is about a beauty contest held for female inmates, for example). From her stuntwoman-focused “Double Dare” to her cinematography work on Lauren Greenfield’s “Thin,” Micheli turns an unrelenting eye on tough stories that transcend sex and gender.
Tracy Droz Tragos, “Abortion: Stories Women Tell”
The “Rich Hill” co-director and producer is back with another intimate and fearless look at very personal stories. For Droz Tragos, the focus is on storytelling and honesty, and her filmmaking refuses to issue judgements about her subject matter. Droz Tragos’ even-handedness often leads to deeply emotional reactions from both her subjects and her audience, and she’s poised to break out in the doc world with her latest feature.
Sophia Takal, “Always Shine”
Takal is a canny observer of human interactions and
interpersonal relationships and the long-simmering emotions that can often threaten them. She’s especially adept at applying those skills to stories about the bonds
between women, as she previously did in her feature “Green.” For her
latest film, Takal again positions two strong women – Mackenzie Davis and
Caitlin FitzGerald – at the forefront of a psychologically driven plot that
bursts with tensions of all stripes. Takal never takes the easy way out in her
films, but she does take the most emotionally resonant.
Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway, “The Return”
Duane de la Vega and Galloway previously hit the festival circuit in 2011 with their fascinating “Better This World,” which attempted to unpack the motivations behind an ill-fated attack on the 2008 Republican National Convention by some homegrown activists who were soon billed terrorists, and now they’re back with another look at complicated legal issues. “The Return” tracks what happened when thousands of non-violent offenders were released after the passing of California’s Proposition 36, which basically recalled the so-called three strikes law. Duane de la Vega and Galloway excel at maneuvering around complicated stories and finding the humanity underneath.
Jenny Gage, “All This Panic”
Gage’s “All This Panic” may prove to be the documentary discovery of this year’s festival, thanks to the filmmaker’s creativity, passion and unique vision. Filmed over the course of three years, Gage’s film focuses on the teenage coming-of-age of her neighbors Ginger and Dusty and their pack of high school pals. A fine art photography by training, Gage’s own eye was caught by the girls’ exuberance and energy, and that same wildness infuses a film that announces the arrival of bold new documentary talent.
Lorene Scafaria, “The Meddler”
Scafaria’s follow-up to the mostly under-appreciated “Seeking a Friend For the End of The World” focuses on the sometimes smothering relationship between an over-involved mother (Susan Sarandon, brassy and bold as ever) and her mostly resistant daughter (Rose Byrne). Scafaria has never been afraid to spend lots of time with characters who are beautifully and deeply flawed, and “The Meddler” embraces that mentality. Sure, Sarandon’s Marnie is a meddler, but Byrne’s Lori really does need help, and when those truths bubble up, the cliched-sounding film joyously turns into its own, very lovely thing. Scafaria knows a thing or two about chemistry, too: Sarandon and Byrne are wonderfully matched here, and their smart casting elevates the film even more.
Deb Shoval, “AWOL”
For her first feature, Shoval has adapted her own short of the same name. A big love story told against the backdrop of small-town America, “AWOL” shows off Shoval’s rich attention to emotional honesty and her impressive ability to pull out passionate performances from emerging stars like Lola Kirke and Breeda Wool (who also starred in the original short).
Meera Menon, “Equity”
Menon already had a hell of a coming out with 2013’s charming, sexy and funny “Farah Goes Bang,” but her latest film (which premiered at Sundance in January) attempts to show off a new side of the filmmaker’s abilities. A slick thriller set on Wall Street, the film notably follows a female lead (Anna Gunn, in an impressively tense performance) as she navigates a complicated corporate culture during the most difficult time of her career. Menon excels at world-building, and the result is a taunt and snappy financial thriller that argues for her multi-faceted talents as a filmmaker.
Alma Har’el, “LoveTrue”
The visually inventive Har’el continues her close association with Tribeca after winning the festival’s best documentary feature award in 2011 for her feature debut “Bombay Beach” and showing off a work-in-progress piece from “LoveTrue” at last year’s festival. The new doc blends and bends genres, folding in visually bold elements with three unique stories of modern love. Har’el has a keen eye for striking images, and “LoveTrue” looks to continue to her pattern of making artistically audacious films with unexpected results.
Ingrid Jungermann, “Women Who Kill”
Frequent web series creator Jungermann’s feature debut is about a darkly funny podcast (also called “Women Who Kill”) that starts to bleed into its creators’ lives in very unexpected ways. Jungermann’s brand of humor is whip smart, deeply observational and dead funny, and it’s high time it was expanding to a feature-length offering. Jungermann is poised to walk away from Tribeca with scads of new fans and plenty of happy old-schoolers who will be able to proclaim that they liked her before everyone else did.
The Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 14 – 23.