The 12th annual Tribeca Film Festival has kicked off with a wide selection of buzzed-about features and shorts, promising narrative films and daring documentaries, quirky comedies and devastating dramas. What began as an inspired tool to get lower Manhattan back on track after the events of 9/11 has grown into a star-studded 12-day cinema-centric celebration that this year welcomes Keira Knightley, Rory Culkin, Heather Graham, Glenn Close, Aubrey Plaza, Robin Williams, Diane Lane, and many, many more.
From midnight movies to directorial debuts, intriguing indies to challenging foreign films, there's loads to choose from at the Tribeca Film Fest. So to help you get some idea of just what's in store for this vibrant film festival, we've collected a selection of trailers from this year's lauded line-up. Take a look, and get your tickets while you can!
All plot synopses, courtesy of Tribeca Film.
Synopsis: You know the story: sexy teens head to a secluded lakeside cabin for a weekend of debauched fun, but as the temperatures rise both on and off the beach, a menacing force is lurking just around the corner, laying in wait to start picking them off one by one. But this isn’t just any horror movie cabin, because here the culprit proves to be a horde of bloodthirsty zombie beavers, bringing with them enough splatter and innuendo to make Sharknado blush.
Reason To Watch: Playing in the midnight section, Zombeavers is sure to be just as bonkers as it is bloody. You might think you've seen every kind of zombie movie, but the producers of Cabin Fever, The Ring, We're The Millers and American Pie have set out to prove you wrong by making the wildest dam zombie movie yet. (Dam, get it?)
Synopsis: Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.
Reason To Watch: Formerly known as Can A Song Save Your Life?, this romantic comedy with a dash of sweet tunes comes from John Carney, the writer-director who brought the world the sensational musical romance Once. Considering how wonderful that film was, we expect great things out of Begin Again, which also boasts performances from Catherine Keener, James Corben, Mos Def, and Academy Award-nominated ingénue Hailee Steinfeld. Notably, this much-anticipated pic has been given the honor of screening on the Tribeca Film Festival's final night.
Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary
Synopsis: LEGO bricks have captured imaginations for generations, and today, the community of builders is bigger than ever: Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOLs) display their latest creations at Brick Conventions, self-proclaimed Master Builders create entire worlds out of the modular bricks, and a corporate design team plans the Times Square unveiling of the largest LEGO model ever created. Directed by Oscar-winner Daniel Junge and Oscar- nominee Kief Davidson, Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary playfully delves into the extraordinary impact of the LEGO brick, its massive global fan base, and the innovative uses for it that have sprung up around the world.
Reason To Watch: We all loved The LEGO Movie. But if that love inspired you to pick up the blocks you'd dropped in childhood, this carefully constructed documentary will speak to you. After all, who says LEGOs are just for kids?
Synopsis: After talented and dynamic chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) isn't given the space he needs to shine at his L.A. restaurant due to the owner's (Dustin Hoffman) rigid traditional ways, he launches on a social media-fueled tirade against his nemesis food critic (Oliver Platt), which lands him without any job prospects. With a new lease on life, Chef Casper takes to the road with his son and his sous chef (John Leguizamo) to build a brand new food truck business. This smart take on food and chef culture contains poignant messages about the media-driven world we live in and the real meaning of success.
Reason To Watch: The early buzz on Chef suggests this story isn't so much about cooking as it is a thinly veiled tale of Favreau's own filmmaking career, in which he won wild praise (Iron Man) and then massive scorn (Iron Man 2, Cowboys & Aliens). After which he was left to think small and reassess what made him and his work great to begin with. But if the intriguing subtext isn't enough for you, this comedy is also drawing attention for being wonderfully funny and poignant.
In Order of Disappearance
Synopsis: Upstanding community leader Nils (Stellan Skarsgaard) has just won an award for "Citizen of the Year" when he learns the news that his son has died of a heroin overdose. Suspecting foul play, Nils begins to investigate, uncovering connections between the death and an ongoing turf dispute between Serbian drug dealers and a sociopathic criminal mastermind known only as "The Count." Soon Nils’ relatively modest quest for vengeance puts him at the center of an escalating underworld gang war.
Reason To Watch: An action-comedy starring Thor: The Dark World's ballsy comic relief? Yes please. Even if foreign movies aren't typically your bag, Scandanavian action-comedies are a great place to dive in. The region's cinema often has a sharp sense of humor, and doesn't tend to shy away from violence.
Synopsis: Ellie Klug (Toni Collette) has one last chance to prove her value to her aging music magazine, Stax. As luck would have it, her editor has just the assignment: a no-stone-unturned search to discover what really happened to long lost local rock god, Matt Smith. And wouldn’t you know it? Ellie and Matt have a history. Joined on the road by well-meaning but music-hating documentarian Charlie (Thomas Haden Church), Ellie delves into her past and quickly discovers that hype and mythology have not soothed the pain of her own experiences.
Reason To Watch: Collette's involvement is always a good omen, and Church fronted one of my favorite films from last year's fest, the deeply dark and strangely funny Whitewash. So by my count, Lucky Them is instantly promising. Add to that an ensemble that includes lauded off-Broadway star Nina Arianda, the lovely Ahna O'Reilly, the ruggedly handsome Ryan Eggold, the always charismatic Oliver Platt and Hollywood legend Joanne Woodward, what more could you ask for?
Synopsis: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard star as environmentalists eager to send a message to the developers and technology-addicted residents of "the latest outpost of the Portland Empire." When their plot to blow up Oregon’s Green Peter Dam goes slightly, but significantly awry, they discover that even small steps can have enormous consequences, especially when the most steely-eyed devotees of a political cause abandon their morality.
Reason To Watch: Night Moves is the latest from heralded writer-director Kelly Reichardt, maker of Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff. Before Tribeca, this eco-terrorism drama played at festivals around the world, from Venice to Toronto, Rio de Janiero to Glasgow. Along the way it's drawn plenty of praise from critics. Catch it at Tribeca, or be forced to wait until it hits theaters on May 30th.
The One I Love
Synopsis: Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) escape to an idyllic country retreat in a last ditch attempt to save their ailing marriage. Sophie is attempting to forgive Ethan for an act of infidelity, straining to revive her affection for the man with whom she first fell in love. But what begins as a quiet opportunity to reconnect soon morphs into an unexplainable head-trip as their romantic retreat turns into an entirely different thing altogether.
Reason To Watch: Following its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year, The One I Love drew loads of buzz for its surprising and twisted take on romantic comedy. Discover the secret that lies in this sly and wickedly funny bit of cinema, and you won't be sorry.
Synopsis: 19-year-old Eric (Jack O'Connell), arrogant and ultra-violent, is prematurely transferred to the same adult prison facility as his estranged father (Ben Mendelsohn). As his explosive temper quickly finds him enemies in both prison authorities and fellow inmates — and his already volatile relationship with his father is pushed past breaking point — Eric is approached by a volunteer psychotherapist (Rupert Friend), who runs an anger management group for prisoners. Torn between gang politics, prison corruption, and a glimmer of something better, Eric finds himself in a fight for his own life, unsure if his own father is there to protect him or join in punishing him.
Reason To Watch: This UK drama ignited critics across the pond, and now it's touching down Stateside ahead of its theatrical release. Skins' Jack O'Connell had a small role in this year's 300: Rise of an Empire, but here finally gets a chance to show the world how he's grown from teen star to strong leading man. See what the critics are raving about in his potentially star-making turn.
Summer of Blood
Synopsis: Eric, a misanthropic, emotionally-stunted New Yorker, finds himself on the brink of a premature mid-life crisis when he rejects his career-woman girlfriend's marriage proposal. Stuck at a dead-end job with no allure in the dating pool and even less in bed, Eric has all reason to lose hope. But that all changes one fateful night when he runs into a vampire in an alleyway. The next day, Eric finds his confidence invigorated and his stomach in an excruciating pain that can only be subdued by one thing: blood.
Reason To Watch: Written, directed and starring Brooklyn resident Onur Tukel, Summer of Blood looks like a fresh take on the vampire genre as well as the mid-life crisis narrative. And the early festival buzz is that this offbeat and bloody comedy has some enticing bite. Plus, if you’re a hipster hater, Summer of Blood seems guaranteed to please, as there is certain to be some too-cool-for-school blood spilled.
The Bachelor Weekend
Synopsis: A bachelor party weekend takes some unexpected detours in this hilarious and heartfelt Irish comedy, about a sensitive guy (Hugh O'Conor) dragged on a camping trip before his nuptials. But a hangover becomes the least of anyone's problems when the groom's insufferable brother-in-law (Peter McDonald), nicknamed "The Machine," crashes their otherwise leisurely weekend and leads the gang on a half-baked hike deep into the woods to learn about what it means to be a man.
Reason To Watch: Known as The Stag in its native Ireland, this kooky comedy offers its take on the wild tradition of a bachelor party, complete with Andrew Scott, the wonderfully malevolent Jim Moriarty of BBC's Sherlock. Bonus: you don't have to make it to New York to enjoy this one! The Bachelor Weekend is now On Demand, and will open in select theaters on May 2nd.
For the complete Tribeca Film Festival catalog, showtimes and tickets, click here.
Staff writer at CinemaBlend.
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