By Aaron Bogert | Indiewire March 8, 2012 at 12:58PM
The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival has announced the films for its Spotlight, Cinemania, and Special Screening sections.
In the Spotlight section, 19 will be making their world premieres. Highlights include: The world premiere of Morgon Spurlock's new documentary on male grooming "Mansome"; "Struck By Lightning," written by "Glee" star Chris Colfer; the New York premiere of Julie Delpy's "2 Days in New York"; "Knuckleball," from "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" directors Ricki Stern & Annie Sundberg; and also the U.S. premiere of Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz" starring Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams.
The Cinemania section this year is heavy on thrillers and dark comedies with highlights including: The North American premiere of the satire "Eddie-The Sleepwalking Cannibal"; the Elijah Wood and Kristen Wiig starring "Revenge for Jolly!," about a man seeking vengeance for his dead dog; home-invasion thriller "Replicas"; and the international premiere of the online gaming gone wrong thriller "Rat King."
Special Screenings at the festival will include a trio of documentaries: "Queen: Days of Our Lives," a documentary about the legendary band; "The Zen of Bennett," about the recording of Tony Bennett's recording of his duets album; and "Joe Papp in Five Acts," a documentray about the importance of theater, featuring such acting legends as Meryl Streep and Martin Sheen.
Below are all the films screening in the Spotlight, Cinemania, and Special Screenings sections of the festival with synopses provided by the TFF (Go HERE for previously announced titles):
Any Day Now, directed by Travis Fine, written by Travis Fine and George Arthur Bloom. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In the late 1970s, when a mentally handicapped teenager is abandoned, a gay couple takes him in and becomes the family he’s never had. But once the unconventional living arrangement is discovered by authorities, the men must fight a biased legal system to adopt the child they have come to love as their own. Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt star in TFF alum Travis Fine’s (The Space Between) touching and occasionally incendiary drama.
As Luck Would Have It (La Chispa de la Vida), directed by Alex de la Iglesia, written by Randy Feldman. (Spain) – North American Premiere, Narrative. The economy has kept Roberto (José Mota) out of work for a long time. When a freak accident puts him at the center of a media frenzy, the enterprising ad exec hires a snaky agent to help him cash in on his life-or-death situation. It’s up to Roberto’s adoring wife (the vivacious Salma Hayek) to convince him he’s worth more alive than dead. Cult director Alex de la Iglesia takes a fresh new step, combining a darkly comic satire with an emotional drama of a family’s love. In Spanish with subtitles.
BAM150, directed by Michael Sládek (USA) - World Premiere, Documentary. Go behind the scenes like never before at BAM, the nation's oldest performing arts center. Featuring footage of recent BAM performances, interviews with groundbreaking artists like Laurie Anderson and Robert Wilson, and the fascinating history of the creative home to such greats as Pina Bausch, Peter Brook, and Merce Cunningham, TFF alum Michael Sládek's (Con Artist) doc shows that BAM's 150 years were not always easy, but are a testament to the power and stamina of the institution that launched Brooklyn as a cultural mecca.
A Better Life (Une Vie Meilleure), directed by Ceìdric Kahn, written by Ceìdric Kahn and Catherine Pailleì. (France, Canada) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Passionately in love from the moment they meet, idealistic chef Yann and single mother Nadia share big dreams for their future. Life gets complicated when they impulsively buy a secluded restaurant in the woods and take on risky loans, testing the strength of their relationship. Fiercely gritty in its romanticism, this is a story of the lengths one will go for the chance at a better life. In French, English with subtitles.
Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, directed by Raymond De Felitta. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. While filming a documentary on racism in Mississippi in 1965, Frank De Felitta forever changed the life of an African-American waiter and his family. More than 40 years later, Frank’s son Raymond (director of City Island) returns to the site of his father’s film to examine the repercussions of their fateful encounter. This intensely personal film about the struggle to understand one’s parents is also a heartbreaking portrait of the legacy of intolerance.
Broke, directed by Billy Corben. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. More money, more problems. Sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical issues, and naturally prone to showing off, most pro athletes end up broke within a few years of retirement. Drawing surprisingly vulnerable confessions from retired stars like Marvin Miller, Jamal Mashburn, Bernie Kosar, and Andre Rison, this fascinating documentary digs into the psychology of men whose competitive nature carries them to victory on the field and ruin off it.
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, directed by Donald Rice, written by Donald Rice and Mary Henely Magill. (UK) – World Premiere, Narrative. On the morning of her wedding, Dolly (Felicity Jones) is hiding out and dreaming of the idyllic summer before, helped along by a jug of rum. Her scatterbrained mother (Elizabeth McGovern) has perfected all the arrangements, but even she can’t prepare everyone for the arrival of Dolly’s unpredictable best friend, Joseph (Luke Treadaway). Lighthearted humor and a steamy romance add the perfect touch to a dysfunctional wedding whose key players seem anything but cheerful.
Chicken With Plums (Poulet Aux Prunes), directed and written by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. (France, Germany, Belgium) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Nasser Ali Khan (Mathieu Amalric) is the most celebrated violin player in 1950s Tehran, but his heart is broken. His true love is long lost, his marriage is passionless, and now his most precious instrument has met its demise. Convinced life without music is intolerable, he resigns to bed and loses himself in reveries from his youth. The Oscar®-nominated directors of Persepolis make magic again with a stylish fairy tale full of humor, whimsy, and melancholy. In French with subtitles. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Deadfall, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, written by Zach Dean. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In the wintry countryside near Canada, a smooth-talking heist man and his femme fatale sister are on the run with a bag full of cash. With a deadly blizzard swirling around them, they split up to make a desperate dash for the border, but a twist of fate puts them on a collision course with a troubled ex-con and his family. Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Sissy Spacek, and Kris Kristofferson highlight the ace cast in this icy thriller. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, directed by Ramona Diaz. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. It sounds like a dream: A charismatic Filipino singer from the slums of Manila posts videos of his cover band to YouTube, and soon he’s fronting an iconic rock band. Sounds crazy, but it’s the real-life rock-and-roll fairy tale that Arnel Pineda is living as the new lead singer of Journey. The pressure’s on Pineda as this rockin’ doc follows Journey’s dizzying world tour—can a man who has already overcome so many obstacles deal with the demands of his newfound fame? In English, Tagalog with subtitles.
Elles, directed by Malgoska Szumowska, written by Tine Byrckel and Malgoska Szumowska. (France, Poland, Germany) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Juliette Binoche, exquisite and involved as always, stars in this sophisticated, sexually charged drama as Anne, a journalist getting in too deep with the research for her article on college students working as prostitutes. As the surprising stories of her two candid subjects stir up Anne’s image of femininity, she wonders if life with her workaholic husband and two spacey sons is all that different from her subjects’ lives. A Kino Lorber release.
Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie, directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger, written by Daniel A. Miller. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Long before the days of Jersey Shore or Glenn Beck, there was one man who gleefully gave those on the fringes of the society a national mouthpiece. Witness Morton Downey Jr.’s meteoric rise and fall as the original shock television emcee, and check your sense of decorum at the door. Here we learn about the man behind the mouth, and how the pursuit of fame and fortune over the airwaves can ultimately destroy your soul.
Free Samples, directed by Jay Gammill, written by Jim Beggarly. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Jillian is having a bad day. She’s got a raging hangover, she’s starting to think dropping out of Stanford Law to become an artist wasn’t the best career move, and things are weird with her faraway fiancé. Can spending the day parked in an ice cream truck doling out samples—and a good dose of sass—to oddball Angelenos shake her out of her quarter-life crisis? Jess Weixler, Jesse Eisenberg, and Jason Ritter star in this quirky comedy.
The Giant Mechanical Man, directed and written by Lee Kirk. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Thirtysomethings Janice (Jenna Fischer) and Tim (Chris Messina) haven’t quite learned how to navigate adulthood. Tim is a street performer whose unique talents as a “living statue” don’t exactly pay the bills. Janice is out of work and under pressure by her sister (Malin Akerman) to date an egotistical self-help guru (Topher Grace). In this charming comedic romance, these two strangers help each other to realize that it only takes one person to make you feel important. A Tribeca Film release.
Headshot (Fon Tok Kuen Fah), directed and written by Pen-ek Ratanaruang. (Thailand, France) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. A return to the crime genre for celebrated Thai auteur Pen-ek Ratanaruang (6ixtynin9, Last Life in the Universe), Headshot is a noir-laced thriller centered on Tul, a hit man who is shot in the head and wakes up to find that he sees everything upside down. Working backwards (and often upside down) to tell a brooding and convoluted tale of underworld double dealings, this is an unexpected and artful take on the action thriller from a genre master. In Thai with subtitles. A Kino Lorber release.
Keep the Lights On, directed by Ira Sachs, written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. For Erik and Paul, what begins as a meaningless late-night hookup evolves into a serious, committed relationship. Acclaimed director Ira Sachs offers an honest, unflinching portrait of a relationship that is by equal measure loving and destructive. Uncompromising in its depiction of drug addiction and the sacrifices we make for the ones we love, Sachs’ film is a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful look at the way love changes over time.
Knuckleball!, directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, written by Christine Schomer, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. This classic sports story recounts the trials and triumphs of two of the best known knuckleball pitchers currently playing in the MLB: Tim Wakefield, a Red Sox veteran struggling to clinch his 200th career win, and R.A. Dickey, an up-and-comer with the Mets looking to make a name for himself. This energetic documentary from the directors of Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work deconstructs the controversial and erratic knuckleball style.
Let Fury Have the Hour, directed and written by Antonino D’Ambrosio. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. A generation of artists used their creativity as a response to the reactionary politics that came to define our culture in the 1980s. This dynamic and exhilarating documentary brings together more than 50 big-name musicians, writers, artists, and thinkers to trace a momentous social history from the cynical heyday of Reagan and Thatcher to today—and impart a message of hope. Featuring Chuck D, John Sayles, Eve Ensler, Tom Morello, Lewis Black, and many others.
Lola Versus, directed by Daryl Wein, written by Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Greta Gerwig stars as Lola, a New Yorker who gets dumped by her fiancé mere weeks before their wedding. With the help of her close friends Henry (Hamish Linklater) and Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones), Lola embarks on a series of unexpected encounters in an attempt to find her place in the world as a single woman approaching 30. Daryl Wein (Breaking Upwards) infuses this story of the post-breakup spiral with humor and authenticity. A Fox Searchlight Pictures release.
Mansome, directed by Morgan Spurlock, written by Jeremy Chilnick and Morgan Spurlock. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In the age of manscaping, metrosexuals, and grooming products galore—what does it mean to be a man? Oscar® nominee Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and executive producers Ben Silverman, Will Arnett, and Jason Bateman present a delightfully entertaining doc featuring candid interviews from Arnett, Bateman, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, and everyday people weighing in on everything from the obsession with facial hair to body dysmorphic disorder.
One Nation Under Dog, directed by Jenny Carchman, Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Amanda Micheli. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. This heartfelt documentary explores people’s conflicted relationships with dogs and inspires us to rethink how we treat them. From a man who spends a fortune to defend his dogs in court, to a woman who can’t turn away a stray, to pet loss support groups to rescuers who take on difficult-to-place dogs and save them from death row, this is a film about love, loss, betrayal, and hope.
The Playroom, directed by Julia Dyer, written by Gretchen Dyer. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In 1970s suburbia, Maggie and her younger siblings spend the night telling each other stories in the attic. Downstairs, as their parents entertain guests over the course of a gin-soaked evening, truths are unearthed and betrayals come to light. With standout performances from John Hawkes, Molly Parker, and a cast of talented young actors, Julia Dyer’s second feature is an honest and challenging look at the reality behind the façade of a seemingly perfect American family.
The Russian Winter, directed by Petter Ringbom. (Russia) – World Premiere, Documentary. Brooklyn-born John Forté was a Grammy-nominated musician in The Fugees at 21 and a federal prison inmate at 26. When his prison sentence was remarkably commuted in 2008, Forté was given a second chance to share his talents with the world. Chronicling his concert tour across Russia, this inspirational documentary takes us on Forté’s personal journey—one that’s as much about having his voice heard as having his music heard. In English, Russian with subtitles.
Searching for Sugar Man, directed and written by Malik Bendjelloul. (Sweden, UK) – New York Premiere, Documentary. Rodriguez was the greatest ’70s rock icon who never was. Despite critical praise, his albums bombed in the U.S., and he faded into obscurity among rumors of a gruesome death. But when a bootleg copy of his antiestablishment rock made its way to apartheid South Africa, he was an instant hit. Years later, two intrepid fans investigate whatever happened to the mysterious rocker, setting off a wild chain of events that has to be seen to be believed. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Side by Side, directed and written by Chris Kenneally. (USA) – North American Premiere, Documentary. Over the past two decades, digital technology has created a groundbreaking evolution in cinema, challenging film as the standard format for motion pictures. Through interviews with masters like Danny Boyle, James Cameron, David Fincher, George Lucas, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Lars Von Trier, and many more, producer Keanu Reeves takes us on a tour of the past and future of the moviemaking process in this in-depth documentary. A Tribeca Film release.
Struck By Lightning, directed by Brian Dannelly, written by Chris Colfer. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Even being killed by a bolt of lightning won’t keep Carson Phillips quiet. A hyper-ambitious and outspoken high school senior in a small-minded town, Carson (Glee’s Chris Colfer) narrates his own funeral and the last few weeks of his life through a series of sarcastic flashbacks in this upbeat and energetic comedy fromSaved! director Brian Dannelly. With Allison Janney, Dermot Mulroney, and Drive’s Christina Hendricks.
Take This Waltz, directed and written by Sarah Polley. (Canada) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou (Seth Rogen) are happily married. Their life is thrown out of order when Margot falls for another man and is forced to choose between the comfort of the familiar and the excitement of the unknown. Writer-director Sarah Polley’s follow-up to her acclaimed film Away From Here is a quirky, uncommonly heartfelt look at the evolving nature of love and the difficulty of sustaining a relationship over time. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Whole Lotta Sole, directed by Terry George, written by Terry George and Thomas Gallagher. (UK) – World Premiere, Narrative. In a rowdy little corner of Belfast, hapless young father Jimbo tries to protect his family from the gangster he’s in debt to by robbing the local fish market… which turns out to be a front for the same gangster! On the run, Jimbo holes up in a local antique shop run by a long-lost man from his past. A colorful cast of character actors and a strong turn from Brendan Fraser light up this madcap Irish crime comedy from Terry George (Hotel Rwanda).
Xingu, directed by Cao Hamburger, written by Helena Soarez, Cao Hamburger, and Anna Muylaert. (Brazil) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Brazil, 1943. Three brothers on an expedition into the feral center of the country encounter a village of Xingu Indians. Allured by the rich indigenous culture, the brothers take a bold stand against corrupt national forces and make protecting the Xingu their lives’ work. With wild, breathtaking visuals and atmospheric music, TFF alum Cao Hamburger conveys a distinct vision of Brazil while finding a universally resonant message in his protagonists’ revolutionary vision. In Portuguese with subtitles.
Your Sister’s Sister, directed and written by Lynn Shelton. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Jack (Mark Duplass) hasn’t recovered from his brother’s death. His best friend—and late brother’s ex—Iris (Emily Blunt) sends him to her family’s isolated cabin for some quiet reflection, but complications, rivalries, and surprising revelations arise when both Iris and her heartbroken sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) end up at the cabin as well. Lynn Shelton’s long-awaited follow-up to Humpday heralds a graceful maturation of the reliably against-the-grain filmmaker. An IFC Films release.
Eddie – The Sleepwalking Cannibal,directed and written by Boris Rodriguez. (Canada, Denmark) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Onetime art star Lars Olafssen is all washed up. Unable to paint without inspiration, he accepts a teaching stint at a small-time art school in podunk Koda Lake, Canada, and along with it the guardianship of the offbeat town’s neighborhood weirdo, Eddie. As their unlikely friendship evolves, Lars uncovers a dark and violent secret about Eddie’s nocturnal impulses, and finds himself torn between his duty to his friend and his duty to his art.
Graceland, directed and written by Ron Morales. (Philippines, USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Family man Marlon Villar is the longtime chauffeur of prominent politician Manuel Chango. While he and his daughter accompany his boss’ preteen daughter home, Marlon is ambushed and the wrong girl is kidnapped. Suddenly the unassuming driver is propelled into a horrifying downward spiral and, as events in his life unravel, Marlon, Chango, and their families become entangled in a game of deceit and betrayal that will leave no one innocent. In Tagalog with subtitles.
Jackpot (Arme Riddere), directed by Magnus Martens, written by Jo Nesbø. (Norway) – International Premiere, Narrative. Terrified, bloodied, and gripping a shotgun, Oscar Svendsen wakes up in what used to be a respectable strip joint, surrounded by eight corpses and with a gun pointed at him by a detective with the National Criminal Investigation Service. Naturally, Oscar is taken into custody, and during his interrogation a bloody and darkly comic story of betrayal, murder, and lottery winnings emerges—but is this the whole story? In Norwegian with subtitles.
Rat King, directed and written by Petri Kotwica. (Finland) – International Premiere, Narrative. Eighteen-year-old Juri spends his days absorbed in his computer gaming world, to the exclusion of school, friends, and ultimately his exasperated girlfriend. When his internet ally Niki turns up at his door fearing for his life because of a mysterious new online game, Juri eagerly follows him down the rabbit hole. In this taut, violent thriller, the lines between reality and the game blur as Juri and Niki are drawn into its increasingly morbid world. In Finnish with subtitles.
Replicas, directed by Jeremy Regimbal, written by Josh Close. (Canada) – World Premiere, Narrative. Following the tragic death of their young daughter, the Hughes family decide to escape to their upscale vacation home in the woods. But their attempt to get some quality time together is violently interrupted when a neighboring family with a hidden agenda drops by for dinner. First-time director Jeremy Regimbal builds tension to a calculated and ultimately brutal crescendo in this home-invasion thriller. Starring Selma Blair, Joshua Close, James D’Arcy, and Rachel Miner.
Revenge for Jolly!, directed by Chadd Harbold, written by Brian Petsos. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Harry (Brian Petsos) will stop at nothing to avenge the death of his beloved dog, Jolly. He and his demented cousin Cecil (Oscar Isaac) follow a series of clues in a frenzied attempt to track down the dog’s murderer, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Elijah Wood, Kristen Wiig, Adam Brody, Ryan Phillippe, Gillian Jacobs, Bobby Moynihan, Kevin Corrigan, David Rasche, Amy Siemetz, and Garret Dillahunt all stand between Harry and revenge for Jolly.
Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche), directed by Frederic Jardin, written by Frederic Jardin and Nicolas Saada. (France, Belgium, Luxembourg) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Vincent is a dedicated police officer, or so it seems. After he steals a massive bag of cocaine, his young son winds up being held for ransom by the mob boss it belongs to. When Vincent travels to the outskirts of Paris to trade the drugs for his son, he gets caught in an intense cat-and-mouse game that quickly spirals out of control. This night might not only be the longest of his life—it could be the last. A Tribeca Film release.
Joe Papp in Five Acts, directed by Tracie Holder and Karen Thorsen. (USA) – World Premiere. In Joe Papp’s eyes, art is for everyone, not just a privileged few. This is the story of this indomitable, street-wise champion of the arts who brought more theater to more people than any other producer in history. Co-produced with American Masters and featuring Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Kevin Kline, James Earl Jones, and more, this documentary lets Papp’s great accomplishments and tumultuous personal history be revealed by the artists he helped create—and sometimes tried to destroy.
Queen: Days Of Our Lives, directed by Matt O’Casey. (UK) – Documentary. Relive the triumphant legacy of Queen in this comprehensive documentary of the band’s career from the late 1960s to today. Packed full of rare archival footage of the band hashing out their signature overdub sound in the recording studio, mind-blowing live performances, and Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon’s candid reflections on their career and the last days of Freddie Mercury, Queen: Days Of Our Lives is any fan’s dream.
The Zen of Bennett, conceived, created, and produced by Danny Bennett, produced by Jennifer Lebeau, directed by Unjoo Moon. (USA) – World Premiere. At 85, not only does Tony Bennett still have the smoothest pipes in the music business, he’s got the kind of philosophy that has made him one of the most beloved and respected performers of the last six decades. Made with as much class and refinement as Tony himself, thisis an insider’s look at the icon as he records his latest duets collection with stars like Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin, and—bittersweetly—Amy Winehouse.