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Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Tribeca Film Festival, a time when an already movie-loving city like New York becomes home to hundreds of new independent films, all of them given the chance to premiere in front of the kind of giant audiences only New York City can provide. As with any festival, there's way too much to choose from at Tribeca, from an outdoor screening of Beetlejuice to a conversation between Darren Aronofsky and Clint Eastwood to a movie about a famous Internet cat. It's the usual overwhelming number of options in New York, just ramped up a whole lot.
Katey and Kristy will be on the ground to cover the festival for the next 10 days, and we put our heads together to come up with 10 titles we think you should keep an eye on. From somber documentaries to star-studded comedies, these movies are what we're excited to see-- and hopefully we'll see you in the theater as Tribeca runs through next Sunday.
The Kill Team Tribeca has a reputation for curating an outstanding slate of documentary films. While there's plenty of promising titles in this year's doc line-up, it's this world premiere that has me the most intrigued. In 2010 a unit of US infantrymen dubbed "The Kill Team" made headlines for murdering Afghan civilians. Focusing on the shocking story of one of the group's whistleblower's, director Dan Krauss digs deep into this sensational tale to try to uncover how aspiring heroes became calculating murderers.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors New York City is still pulling itself back together in the wake of last fall's Hurricane Sandy, but already there's a film dealing with the storm's impact. Stand Clear of the Closing Doors was filmed in part in the Far Rockaways, a beachfront neighborhood that took the worst of the storm, and incorporates the damage into a story about a young autistic boy who skips school and escapes into the New York City subway system. The first-time feature from director Sam Flesichner, Stand Clear looks like a true New York story with a somber real-life edge.
The Rocket This Laos-set drama centers on a ten-year-old named Ahlo, whose been branded a jinx since birth. Every bad thing that happens in his rural village is blamed on him. But Ahlo has a chance to change his destiny when a rocket competition offers a coveted prize. Starring a slate of nonprofessional actors, this coming-of-age tale is already gaining buzz as a true crowd pleaser.
Almost Christmas Movies with big stars are a little less common at Tribeca than at other festivals like Sundance, but it would be hard for any fest to beat the combination of Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti, especially when you sweeten the deal by having them play French-Canadian Christmas tree salesmen. Even the director, Phil Morrison, has the excellent indie Junebug on his resume, and if he can replicate that film's mix of humor and warmth-- and highlight some epic squabbles between the two famous Pauls-- we'll have an easy festival favorite.
Wadja This daring drama out of Saudia Arabia centers on a street smart and confident 10-year-old girl named Wadjda, who dreams of buying a bicycle so she can race with a neighborhood boy. However, living in Riyadh, this simple wish would be an affront to the cultural standard…not that Wadja will be dissuaded. This marks the narrative feature debut of Saudi Arabia's first female filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, who has previously created a string of celebrated shorts as well as the acclaimed documentary Women Without Shadows.
Byzantium This pick is for my inner fan girl. Director Neil Jordan is responsible for pitching the teenage me full force into everything Anne Rice thanks to his sexy, gothic adaptation of Interview With a Vampire. With Byzantium Jordan returns to vampire tales, this time centering on a deadly female duo, played by two of my favorite modern-day lady badasses, Hannah's Saoirse Ronan and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters' Gemma Arteron. What's not to like?
G.B.F. A teen comedy with an irreverent brand of wit, G.B.F is about what happens when three warring mean girls battle over the latest must-have accessory, the Gay Best Friend. Recently outed Tanner is hotly sought by these quintessential queens bees, but must decide if skyrocketing popularity is worth forgetting his old friends for. Helmed by Jawbreaker writer-director Darren Stein, this biting coming-of-age comedy boasts appearances from Megan Mullally, Natasha Lyonne, Jonathan Silverman and Rebecca Gayheart.
Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic Director Marina Zenovich somehow found a tender and fresh approach to the controversial life of Roman Polanski with the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired, and now she's taking on another troubled icon of the 70s with Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic. With stars like Robin Williams and Dave Chappelle giving their input on what Pryor's legacy means, Omit the Logic promises to be the most in-depth examination of the comedian's career, and maybe it can keep that possibly ill-conceived biopic from getting off the ground at all.
Trust Me Indie actor/director Clark Gregg transitioned seamlessly into blockbuster stardom thanks to his role as Agent Coulson in a series of Marvel movies, but now he's getting back to his roots with Trust Me, his second directing effort and one with an impressive lineup of co-stars including Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Amanda Peet, Allison Janney and Felicity Huffman. Described as "An unexpectedly twisting ride through the inner workings of Hollywood," Trust Me is about what happens when an agent discovers the talent of a 14-year-old girl and tries his best not to let the opportunity go to waste. Anyone want to bet against that title being totally ironic? We thought not.
Cutie and the Boxer One of a handful of films showing at Tribeca that debuted at Sundance, Cutie and the Boxer was incredibly well-received at that earlier festival, documenting the unusual and sometimes chaotic marriage between Japanese artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. For New Yorkers who didn't make it to Sundance, or even those who did, this is a chance to catch one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the year so far, and the kind of love story so unusual that it has to be true.