By Peter Knegt, Eric Kohn and Nigel Smith | Indiewire April 17, 2012 at 12:57PM
The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival kicks off Wednesday night with a lineup that many are suggesting could be its strongest in recent memory. Indiewire will on the scene for the entire fest (which runs through April 29th), offering reviews and features from all things Tribeca. But before we kick off our coverage, here's a list of 12 films -- each having their world premiere - that we're particularly excited for this year.
"Any Day Now"
"The Space Between" helmer Travis Fine is back at Tribeca this year with his sophomore feature "Any Day Now," a drama that stars Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt ("Winter's Bone") as a gay couple struggling for equality in the 70s. Based on a true story, the story centers on Marco, a teenager with Down syndrome, who finds himself at the center of nasty custody battle when Los Angeles authorities discover his guardians are a gay couple. Indiewire checked in on the progress of the feature back in October when the cameras were still rolling. "I'm a huge fan of the gritty, character-driven dramas that were made during the 1970s," Fine told Indiewire. "This offers me an opportunity as a filmmaker to revisit that time period cinematically, address social issues that are just as relevant today as they were 35 years ago, and explore unique characters who discover love in the most unlikely of places." We can't wait to see how it turned out. [Nigel M. Smith]
"Cheerful Weather for the Wedding"
All eyes are on Felicity Jones following her award-winning breakout turn in "Like Crazy." She had a supporting part in "Hysteria," which made its world premiere at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, but "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" marks her first lead since the film that put her on the map. Set in 1932, "Cheerful Weather" centers on Dolly (Jones), a bride-to-be who locks herself in her bedroom with a jug of rum on the morning of her wedding. Elizabeth McGovern ("Downton Abbey"'s Lady Crawley) plays Dolly's exasperated mother who puts on a brave face when family and friends start gossiping about her daughter's whereabouts. Sounds like a fun romp to us. [Nigel M. Smith]
Doc directing team David Redmon and Ashley Sabin's are following up to their fantastic modeling industry expose "Girl Model" with "Downeast." Screening in Tribeca's World Documentary Competition, the film examines hard times in Gouldsboro, a small coastal town in Maine. After the closure of a sardine canning factory brings hard times to the residents, hope floats via the announcement that a new lobster processing plant with open in the town. Sure to bring the poignant style evident in Redmon and Sabin's previous work (which also includes "Intimidad" and "Kamp Katrina"), this could be one of the festival's standout docs. [Peter Knegt]
Ben Dickinson's hauntingly naturalistic look at a rural community trapped in the country following an urban disaster plays like "Martha Marcy May Marlene" transported to a post-apocalyptic survival narrative -- with lots of yoga and sex. The character types, mostly self-important Brooklynites, seemingly hail from your average mumblecore formula, but the wide open country setting introduces a more profound level of abstraction -- as does the end of the world. [Eric Kohn]
"The Fourth Dimension"
Produced by Vice magazine, this bizarre anthology project contains three short films exploring an otherworldly plane broadly defined as "the fourth dimension," a realm cryptically explained by opening quotes from both Albert Einstein and Sergei Eisenstein. The proceeding shorts, directed by Jan Kwiecnski, Alexey Fedorchenko and Harmony Korine, hover in a strange place between familiarity and dreams: A Russian man invents the ability to project the past on a small TV screen; young hooligans explore a post-apocalyptic landscape; Val Kilmer retires from acting and delivers motivational speeches at a community center. If that last one sounds comparatively normal, just wait -- the Korine-directed short features one of Kilmer's wildest performances ever, and highly imaginative take on the gulf between celebrity image and reality, a truly Korinian conceit. [Eric Kohn]
Aussie actress Abbie Cornish gave one of 2010's best turns as Fanny Brawne, doomed lover to poet John Keats in Jane Campion's criminally underrated "Bright Star." She didn't fare so well the following year, turning in decent turns in two huge critical misfires ("Sucker Punch" and "W.E."), but things are looking up with "The Girl," a thriller from Gotham award-winning director David Riker ("La Ciudad"). In the film, Cornish stars as a Texan single mother who becomes an immigrant smuggler in the hope of making enough money to regain custody of her son. We know Cornish has the chops to deliver, and with Riker at the helm, chances are she will. [Nigel M. Smith]
"Let Fury Have the Hour"
Antonino D'Ambrosio's documentary about the intersection between music and political activism reaches back to '80s counterculture and tracks its progress today. Sharing a title with the filmmaker's 2004 book about The Clash frontman Joe Strummer, "Let Fury Have the Hour" boasts an impressive array of subjects, including Chuck D., Tom Morello and Shepard Ferry. Less a history of art than a history of what art can do, the documentary has the potential to testify to the power of artistic expression -- and also become a version of it. [Eric Kohn]
Sure, its plot sounds like pretty standard indie rom-com fare: Woman on the edge of 30 gets dumped and thus needs to rebuild her life after assuming it was all good and settled. But "Lola Verus" has quite a few things going for to suggest it will rise above convention. First off, its star Greta Gerwig is almost always a joy to watch, and it looks like she's in every frame of this film. And then there's director Daryl Wein, whose previous film "Breaking Upwards" was suggestive of great things to come. Perhaps "Lola" is just that. [Peter Knegt]
Doc duo Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher won considerable raves for 2009's "October Country," a portrait of an American family struggling for stability. For their follow-up, Palmieri and Mosher are taking on the pharmaceuticals industry through this look at various folks affected by it, from a couple who work as "professional guinea pigs" to a woman morning a son that committed suicide while taking part in an antidepressent marketing study. Sure to shed light on the horrifying drug-addled state of America, "Off Label" is screening in the World Documentary Competition at Tribeca. [Peter Knegt]
"Revenge For Jolly!"
The presence of Kristin Wiig is pretty much all that's necessary for a film to warrant attention, even if it's not a leading role. In "Revenge For Jolly!," Wiig is part of an impressive supporting ensemble that also includes Elijah Wood, Ryan Phillippe and Adam Brody. But the lead belongs to Brian Pestos, who just happens to be Wiig's long term boyfriend. Pestos plays Harry, a man who comes home from an all-night drinking binge to discover his one true love -- his little dog Jolly -- has been murdered. The event results in a booze-fueled journey of, yep, revenge for Jolly with the help of his cousin Cecil (Oscar Isaac). The directorial debut of Chadd Harbold, "Jolly!" looks like it could be a whole lot of fun. [Peter Knegt]
"Struck By Lightening"
'Gleeks' in New York will no doubt be flocking to see "Glee" star Chris Colfer's screenwriting debut, "Struck By Lightening," starring Colfer, Allison Janney, Dermot Mulroney, Christina Hendricks and "Bridesmaids"'s roommate from hell Rebel Wilson. If the curiosity factor and stellar cast didn't sell you, then the director, Brian Dannelly, should. He's the guy behind "Saved!," one of the best and darkest teen comedies to come out in the past decade. "Struck By Lightening" finds Dannelly back in high-school mode, with a coming-of-age indie centered on Carson (Colfer), a senior who will do anything to get into his dream school, Northwestern University. The story seems pretty routine for the teen genre, but with Dannelly calling the shots, and a charismatic performer like Colfer leading the way, "Struck By Lightening" has the makings of something special. [Nigel M. Smith]
Director Daniel Schecter ("Goodbye Baby") is currently in pre-production on a prequel to "Jackie Brown" starring John Hawkes and Mos Def. One hopes he's having an easier time than the neurotic anti-heroes of "Supporting Characters," a pair of New York film editors (Alex Karpovsky and Tarik Lowe) constantly bickering about their working relationship while dealing with equally frustrating romantic problems with their respective girlfriends (Sophia Takal and Melonie Diaz). On the surface a sarcastic work about the challenge of making a good movie -- dangerous territory for any movie to investigate -- "Supporting Characters" is, in fact, a very funny and perceptive look at the way life isn't as simple and clean as the dramas we extract from it. [Eric Kohn]