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14 Women Directors Included in Second Half of Tribeca Fest’s Feature Film Lineup

14 Women Directors Included in Second Half of Tribeca Fest’s Feature Film Lineup

The Tribeca Film Festival has announced the second half of its feature slate for 2016. This newly announced 55-film lineup is 25% female directed, with the work of 14 women directors being featured across the Spotlight, Midnight and Special Screenings programs, as well as the 10th annual Tribeca/ESPN Film Festival.

Though a mere 14 female-directed movies is hardly encouraging, films by women directors are screening in some prestigious slots in this half of the festival program. Particularly noteworthy in this regard is Liza Johnson’s “Elvis & Nixon,” which will be the festival’s Centerpiece film. It stars Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey as the titular cultural heavyweights, and recounts the unlikely story of that time the King approached Tricky Dick to offer his services as an undercover agent in the war against communism (no, really). Meanwhile, the Erin Leyden co-directed “This Magic Moment,” a documentary about the Orlando Magic basketball team, has been announced as the Gala screening for the 10th annual Tribeca/ESPN Film Festival.

Elsewhere, women directors account for a quarter of the films featured in the festival’s Spotlight section. Made up of 18 narrative films and 18 documentaries, Spotlight is described as the home for “today’s marquee filmmakers, star performers and big issues.” Katie Holmes fulfils the role of both marquee filmmaker and star performer with her directorial debut “All We Had,” in which she plays resilient single mother Rita, whose relationship with her daughter Ruthie (Stefania Owen) is tested as the two struggle to settle in a new town. Lorene Scafaria’s “The Meddler” is also featured here: the writer-director of “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” described the film to Women and Hollywood as a semi-autobiographical picture, which sees Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne as another mother-daughter duo.

Also receiving its world premiere in the Spotlight section is Salima Koroma’s hotly-anticipated documentary “Bad Rap,” which follows four Asian-American rappers trying to break into an industry which treats them skeptically, to say the least. Other documentary offerings which caught our eye here include the Dana Flor co-directed “Check It,” named for the gang of discontented gay and trans teens it centers around. The film follows four of the teens as they try to escape life on the inner-city streets of Washington D.C. via an unlikely avenue: fashion.

Two female-directed documentaries focused on subjects from the world of art are also receiving Special Screenings at this year’s festival: Kristi Zea’s tribute to contemporary art pioneer Elizabeth Murray, “Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray,” and Maura Axelrod’s portrait of the elusive Maurizio Cattelan, “Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back.”

Check out our earlier post on the first half festival lineup announcement here. Check out the list of women-directed features in the newly announced lineup, with plot summaries, below.


“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.

9/36 Films Women-Directed or Co-Directed 

“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.

“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.  

“Enlighten Us: The
Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray,
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

 “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.

“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.

“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.

“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

“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.  

MIDNIGHT: 1/6 Films Women-Directed or Co-Directed

Opening Film

“Holidays,” directed by Kevin Kolsch & Dennis
Widmyer, Nicholas McCarthy, Gary Shore, Sarah Adina Smith, Anthony Scott Burns,
Kevin Smith, Scott Stewart, and Adam Egypt Mortimer, written by Kevin Kolsch
& Dennis Widmyer, Nicholas McCarthy, Gary Shore, Sarah Adina Smith, Anthony
Scott Burns, Kevin Smith, and  Scott Stewart. (USA) – World Premiere,
Narrative. Get in the holiday spirit with this horror anthology from some
of today’s most visionary genre auteurs. From a very unholy Easter Bunny to a
particularly macabre Valentine’s Day gift, Holidays is a full calendar year of festive stories,
bringing out the most twisted and subversive sides of each seasonal
celebration.  With
Seth Green, Clare Grant, Ruth Bradley, Sophie Traub, Jocelin Donahue, Harley,
Morenstein, Lorenza Izzo, and Andrew Bowen.

Special Screenings: 2/8 Films Women-Directed or Co-Directed 

Knows…Elizabeth Murray,”
by Kristi Zea. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. This tribute to the
dynamic artist Elizabeth Murray, an intrinsic figure in New York’s contemporary
art landscape from the 1970s until the early 2000s, highlights her struggle to
balance personal and family ambition with artistic drive in a male-dominated
art world. It also addresses her later battle with cancer, at the peak of her

Screening in partnership with the Whitney Museum of
American Art where the film will screen.

Maurizio Cattelan:
Be Right Back,”
 directed and written by Maura Axelrod. (USA) – World
Premiere, Documentary. An art world upstart, provocative and elusive
artist Maurizio Cattelan made his career on playful and subversive works that
send up the artistic establishment, until a retrospective at the Guggenheim in
2011 finally solidified his place in the contemporary art canon. Axelrod’s
equally playful profile leaves no stone unturned in trying to figure out: who
is Maurizio Cattelan? In English,
Italian with subtitles.

Screening in partnership with the Guggenheim Museum where
the film will screen.



“This Magic Moment,” co-directed by Erin Leyden
and Gentry Kirby. (USA) – World Premiere. Documentary. In the mid-1990s,
Orlando was the epicenter of excitement in the NBA. The young franchise, led by
mega-stars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, beat Michael Jordan and the
mighty Bulls en route to the 1995 NBA Finals. They lost to the Rockets that
year but it was clear this team from Orlando was a dynasty in the making. But
the Magic’s moment on top was never fully realized – a classic
“what-could-have-been” story, where success came fast and big and then ‘poof’,
the magic was gone.

[via Press Materials]

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