The Tribeca Film Festival is shaping up to have a very impressive fifteenth year, if its latest batch of feature film announcements is to be believed. Last week, the New York City festival announced the first half of its 2016 slate, including such titles as "High-Rise" and "Equals," along with world premiere works from a batch of up-and-coming filmmakers, and now they've rounded out the rest of their lineup with an equally as impressive lineup. This list includes entries in the Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings and Works in Progress sections, along with the films that will screen as part of both Tribeca and the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Additionally, this list includes the festival's Centerpiece film, Liza Johnson's Michael Shannon- and Kevin Spacey-starring "Elvis & Nixon."
This portion of the slate features a number of intriguing picks, including the new horror anthology "Holidays," Katie Holmes' directorial debut "All We Had," Mike Birbiglia's "Don't Think Twice" (set for a SXSW debut this month), Tom Tykwer's Dave Eggers adaptation "A Hologram for the King," the charming Susan Sarandon-starrer "The Meddler" and the Sundance hit "Hunt for the Wilderpeople." The festival also boasts a number of films that feature musical performance tie-ins, like the Steve Aoki doc "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" and Lee Kirk's Billie Joe Armstrong-starring "Geezer.
This year's festival is also playing home to a record number of films made by female filmmakers, a full one-third of the festival's offerings. Of the feature slate, there will be 77 world premieres, with 42 filmmakers making their feature directorial debuts.
The films selected for Tribeca's Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings and Works in Progress sections, along with their Centerpiece film and the full lineup for the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, are listed below (all synopses provided by Tribeca):
"Elvis & Nixon," directed by Liza Johnson, written by Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal, and Cary Elwes. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In 1970, a few days before Christmas, Elvis Presley showed up on the White House lawn seeking to be deputized into the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs by the President himself. "Elvis & Nixon," starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey respectively, imagines the comical details of this outlandish historical encounter. Featuring supporting performances from Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, and Sky Ferreira. An Amazon Studios/Bleecker Street release.
"The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," directed by Bill Purple, written by Robbie Pickering & Bill Purple. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Henry (Jason Sudeikis) and Penny (Jessica Biel) are a New Orleans couple very much in love, until tragedy strikes and Henry is forced to rebuild. Quite literally, it turns out. After he befriends a tough street teen (Maisie Williams), he helps her construct the raft she’ll use to sail across the Atlantic in search of her long lost father. With Jason Sudeikis, Jessica Biel, Maisie Williams, Orlando Jones, Mary Steenburgen, and Paul Reiser.
"All We Had," directed by Katie Holmes, written by Josh Boone & Jill Killington. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Ruthie continually makes the best of her mother Rita’s hard luck. When their attempt at settling in a new town hits a stumbling block, even Ruthie struggles to keep it together. Based on Annie Weatherwax’s 2014 novel, Katie Holmes’s feature directorial debut is an enriching coming-of-age drama about a resilient mother and daughter who find strength in each other. With Stefania Owen, Katie Holmes, Luke Wilson, Richard Kind, Mark Consuelos, Judy Greer, and Eve Lindley.
"Bad Rap," directed and written by Salima Koroma. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Bad Rap follows the lives and careers of four Asian-American rappers trying to break into a world that often treats them as outsiders. Sharing dynamic live performance footage and revealing interviews, these artists will make the most skeptical critics into believers. With humor and insight, the film paints a portrait of artistic passion in the face of an unsung struggle. With Jonathan "Dumbfoundead" Park, Nora "Awkwafina" Lum, David "Rekstizzy" Lee, and Richard "Lyricks" Lee.
"The Banksy Job," directed and written by Ian Roderick Gray and Dylan Harvey. (U.K.) – World Premiere, Documentary. Simultaneously hilarious, wild, and bizarre The Banksy Job further illuminates the crazy world of street art and the peculiar relationships between the artists—in particular, Banksy and the artist known as AK47. An art world, mystery caper, The Banksy Job adds another whacky layer to the Banksy story that can’t be missed.
"Burden," directed by Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Illustrated with performance, private videos, and recollections from those who knew him, this detailed and innovative documentary looks at the life of the always provocative artist Chris Burden, whose work consistently challenged ideas about the limits and nature of modern art, from his notorious performances in the 1970s to his later assemblages, installations, kinetic and static sculptures, and scientific models.
"Check It," directed by Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Fed up with being abused and harassed on the brutal inner-city streets of Washington D.C., a group of gay and trans teens form a gang to fight back. This raw and intimate portrait follows four Check It members as they struggle to find a way out of gang life through an unlikely avenue: fashion.
"Command and Control," directed by Robert Kenner, written by Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. A high-stakes documentary thriller, Command and Control—based on Eric Schlosser’s 2013 book of the same name—explores the “human error” that led to an explosion at the Titan II nuclear site just outside Little Rock, Arkansas towards the end of the Cold War, and probes how mutually assured destruction might actually mean self-annihilation.
"Courted (L'Hermine)," directed and written by Christian Vincent. (France) – North American Premiere, Narrative. When a feared judge of the French court, Xavier Racine (Fabrice Luchini), encounters a French-Danish juror, Ditte Lorensen-Coteret (Sidse Babett Knudsen), at a murder trial, their shared past is slowly uncovered. Understated and engaging, director Christian Vincent (Four Stars, Haute Cuisine) lets two narratives unfold, playing with notions of how we present ourselves and how we wish to be perceived. In French with subtitles.
"Custody," directed and written by James Lapine. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Legal and intimate family dynamics dovetail in Custody. Starring Viola Davis as an embattled family court judge with a fraught marriage of her own; Hayden Panettiere as a recent law-school grad flung into a custody case; and Catalina Sandino Moreno as the single mother at the center of the case who risks losing her two children over an ill-timed argument. With Tony Shalhoub, Raul Esparza, Dan Fogler, and Ellen Burstyn.
"Don't Think Twice," written and directed by Mike Birbiglia. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Mike Birbiglia's funny and authentic second feature is set in the world of New York improv comedy, where the members of a tight-knit troupe are thrown into disarray when one of their ranks lands a coveted spot on a top TV show. Produced by Ira Glass and co-starring Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher and Mike Birbiglia.
"Team Foxcatcher," directed by Jon Greenhalgh. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Jon Greenhalgh's Team Foxcatcher chronicles the paranoid, downward spiral of millionaire John E. DuPont that led to the tragic murder of olympic wrestler David Schultz. Never-before-seen home videos shot during Schultz’s time at Foxcatcher Farms shed light on the disturbing events and serve as a poignant memoir to the legacy of the champion wrestler, husband, and father. A Netflix release.
"Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray," directed by Jenny Carchman. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. The self-help industry is worth $11 billion dollars a year; it captivates those seeking happiness, release from suffering, and those longing for a path and a leader to follow. James Arthur Ray, for many, was that sort of leader. But when a sweat lodge ceremony goes horribly wrong, we learn from Ray and some of his followers that their spiritual path was fraught with danger and perhaps even greater suffering.
"The Family Fang, "directed by Jason Bateman, written by David Lindsay-Abaire. (USA) – US Premiere, Narrative. Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman are Annie and Baxter Fang, children of celebrated performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett). When the elder Fangs go missing under mysterious circumstances, the siblings are forced to unpack long-dormant and unresolved issues from their unorthodox childhoods as they search for their parents, in Bateman’s caustically funny and deeply felt sophomore feature. With Jason Butler Harner and Kathryn Hahn. A Starz release.
"A Hologram for the King," directed and written by Tom Tykwer. (USA, Germany) – World Premiere, Narrative. In Tom Tykwer’s wryly comic adaptation of Dave Eggers’ novel, Tom Hanks stars as a struggling American businessman who travels to Saudi Arabia to sell a new technology to the King, only to be challenged by endless Middle Eastern bureaucracy, a perpetually absent monarch, and a suspicious growth on his back. With Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Whishaw, and Tom Skerritt. A Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions/Saban Films release.
"Hunt for the Wilderpeople," directed and written by Taika Waititi. (New Zealand) – New York Premiere, Narrative. A spunky orphan and his gruff guardian are forced to flee after a series of misunderstandings send them both into the wilderness as mismatched fugitives. Starring Sam Neill and featuring a hysterically funny performance from newcomer Julian Dennison, director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, and the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok) has crafted a truly touching adventure-comedy. An Orchard release.
"A Kind of Murder," directed by Andy Goddard, written by Susan Boyd. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. The Blunderer, written by Carol author Patricia Highsmith, gets a classic film noir treatment in A Kind of Murder, a ’60s-set Hitchcockian thriller that explores how we judge culpability in the death of another. Starring Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, and Vincent Kartheiser.
"The Last Laugh," directed by Ferne Pearlstein, written by Robert Edwards and Ferne Pearlstein. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. When is comedy not funny? Some would argue, when it’s about the Holocaust. Through interviews and performances featuring people on either side of the issue—including Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Joan Rivers, Chris Rock, and Abe Foxman—as well as a portrait of a resilient survivor, The Last Laugh offers an intelligent and hilarious survey of what is and is not off-limits in comedy, from the Holocaust and beyond.
"Lavender," directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly, written by Ed Gass-Donnelly and Colin Frizzel. (Canada) – World Premiere, Narrative. Abbie Cornish, Dermot Mulroney, and Justin Long star in this hallucinatory thriller about Jane, a photographer who suffers severe memory loss following a horrific car accident. Putting her life at risk, as well as those of her husband and daughter, she must piece together and confront the traumatic past that is haunting her.
"Life, Animated," directed by Roger Ross Williams, written by Roger Ross Williams and David Teague. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams tells the remarkable story of an autistic young man, unable to speak for much of his childhood, who regained his ability to communicate through a life-long commitment to Disney animated movies. Life, Animated is a moving illustration of the power of love and understanding to fix those things in life that appear irreparable. An Orchard release.
"Little Boxes," directed by Rob Meyer, written by Annie J Howell. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. It's the summer before 6th grade, and Clark is the new-in-town biracial kid in a sea of white. Discovering that to be cool he needs to act ‘more black,' he fumbles to meet expectations as rifts are exposed in his tight-knit family, his parents also striving to adjust. This poignant comedy about understanding identity is the second feature from TFF alumnus Rob Meyer. Executive Produced by Cary Fukunaga. With Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garofalo, and Christine Taylor.
"Magnus," directed by Benjamin Ree, written by Linn-Jeanethe Kyed and Benjamin Ree. (Norway) – World Premiere, Documentary. Carlsen is known as the ‘Mozart of Chess’ because, unlike many chess grandmasters, he possesses innate ability, an unbelievable memory, and unrivaled creativity. Memorized moves and calculated probability can only carry a chess player so far; Magnus exploits this weakness in his opponents on his way to becoming the World Chess Champion. In English, Norwegian with subtitles.
"The Meddler," directed and written by Lorene Scafaria. (USA) – US Premiere, Narrative. Susan Sarandon delivers a magnetic performance as the doting, mother supreme Marnie Minervini, who crosses coasts to drop into the life of her screenwriter daughter Lori (Rose Byrne). Loosely autobiographical, Lorene Scafaria’s heartfelt comedy offers a wryly scripted defense of a woman struggling to cope with familial loss. Co-starring J.K. Simmons, Cecily Strong, Jerrod Carmichael, and Jason Ritter. A Sony Pictures Classic release.
"Midsummer in Newtown," directed by Lloyd Kramer. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. "Midsummer in Newtown" is a testament to the transformative force of artistic expression to pierce through the shadow cast by trauma. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, one grieving couple honors their daughter through music, while community children find their voice through a rock-pop version of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"Mr. Church," directed by Bruce Beresford, written by Susan McMartin. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. When a dying mother hires a talented cook (Eddie Murphy) to help take care of her young daughter, a lifelong friendship blooms. A tender coming-of-age family drama directed by the Oscar-nominated, Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy). With Britt Robertson, Xavier Samuel, Natascha McElhone, Lucy Fry
"My Blind Brother," directed and written by Sophie Goodhart. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. In Sophie Goodhart’s utterly original romantic comedy, Robbie (Adam Scott) is a champion blind athlete and local sports hero whose brother Bill (Nick Kroll) is always overlooked, even though he runs every marathon by his side. When both fall for the same lady (Jenny Slate), Bill must decide if he will put himself second again, or finally stand up to his blind brother. With Zoe Kazan, Charlie Hewson, Maryann Nagel, and Greg Violand.
"My Scientology Movie," directed by John Dower, written by John Dower and Louis Theroux. (U.K.) – International Premiere, Documentary. BBC journalist Louis Theroux joins forces with director John Dower to explore the elusive Church of Scientology. With the help of a former high-ranking Scientologist, Theroux sets out to understand the furtive goings-on of the Church, armed with his irreverent humor and biting irony.
"National Bird," directed by Sonia Kennebeck. (USA) – International Premiere, Documentary. Sonia Kennebeck takes on the controversial tactic of drone warfare, and demands accountability through the personal accounts—recollections, traumas, and responses—of three American military veterans whose lives have been shaken by the roles they played in this controversial method of attack. Executive produced by Wim Wenders and Errol Morris. In Dari, English with subtitles.
"The Phenom," directed and written by Noah Buschel. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. When major-league rookie pitcher Hopper Gibson (Johnny Simmons) chokes on the mound, he’s sidelined to the minor leagues and prescribed sessions with an unorthodox sports psychologist (Paul Giamatti). In the process, long-dormant conflicts with his overbearing father (Ethan Hawke) are brought to light. The Phenom is a captivating psychological study of an individual caught up in the expectations of the big-league sports machine.
"Pistol Shrimps," directed and written by Brent Hodge. (USA, Canada) – World Premiere, Documentary. Sometimes girls just wanna have fun… and ball. Brent Hodge (A Brony Tale, TFF 2014) and Morgan Spurlock (Mansome, TFF 2012) introduce us to an eclectic group of women who play in an LA recreational basketball league, focusing on the Pistol Shrimps, a rag-tag group of actresses (including Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation), comedians, musicians, and mothers who brought nationwide attention to the league that could.
"Reset (Relève)," directed and written by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai. (France) – International Premiere, Documentary. Stunningly gorgeous and delicate in both subject and treatment, Reset depicts renowned choreographer and dancer Benjamin Millepied (also known for choreographing the dance sequences in Black Swan) as he attempts to rejuvenate the Paris Opera Ballet in his new position as director. With appearances by composer Nico Muhly, Opera alumna Aurélie Dupont, and designer Iris van Herpen, Reset is a delightfully aesthetic affair. In French with subtitles.
"Shadow World," directed by Johan Grimonprez. (USA, Belgium, Denmark) – World Premiere, Documentary. In this eye-popping montage of archival and news footage and interviews, Johan Grimonprez exposes the shadow world of the global arms trade, where corruption, lies, and greed drive covert relationships between politicians, industry executives, military and intelligence officials, and arms dealers. Their aim: to perpetuate war in order to generate more profit, no matter what the human cost. In Arabic, English, Spanish with subtitles.
"Strike a Pose," directed and written by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan. (Netherlands) – North American Premiere, Documentary. To the fans, they were the unforgettably talented men who supported the career of one of the world's most beloved and controversial music artists: Madonna. Behind the scenes they were an impressionable group of young dancers whose lives were forever changed by her influence. Strike a Pose reunites the men 25 years later, providing the chance to learn about the emotional truth behind the glamorous facade.
"Vincent N Roxxy," directed and written by Gary Michael Schultz. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Vincent (Emile Hirsch) is a small town loner, and Roxxy (Zoë Kravitz) a rebellious punk rocker. When they find themselves on the run from the same dangerous criminals, their feelings for one another deepen, despite their dangerous circumstances. Soon, the star-crossed lovers discover violence is never far behind them, in Gary Michael Schultz’s alternately romantic and brutal drama. With Emory Cohen, Zoey Deutch, Jason Mitchell, Scott Mescudi.
"Win!," directed and written by Justin Webster. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. With inside access to the players, decision makers, and supporters who were central to the formation of New York City Football Club and its historic inaugural season, Win! offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to build a Major League Soccer team from the ground up, in the country’s most competitive sports market. In English, Spanish with subtitles.
"Wolves," directed and written by Bart Freundlich. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Anthony Keller (Taylor John Smith), star of his NYC high school basketball team, is riding his way to Cornell on a sports scholarship. He can only maintain his popular jock facade for so long, as his troubled father Lee (Michael Shannon) has a gambling addiction that threatens to derail his dreams both on and off the court. Bart Freundlich’s powerfully directed drama co-stars Carla Gugino.
"Youth In Oregon," directed by Joel David Moore, written by Andrew Eisen. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Frank Langella, Billy Crudup, Christina Applegate, Mary Kay Place, and Josh Lucas star in this dramedy about an ailing man travelling to Oregon to be legally euthanized. Langella is superb, capturing the frustration, resolution, and desperation that swirl around so profound a decision. Actor-turned-director Joel David Moore creates a powerful affirmation on the search that finds value in the life you have.