Ten years isn't a long time in the world of film festivals. Take, for example, the Cannes Film Festival which will celebrate its 64th year next month, or Venice, which is pushing 68 this fall. But in a decade's time the Tribeca Film Festival has been able to impress many as it has nudged itself into the extremely crowded spring festival season.
As you probably know by now, the festival was created in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff as a four-day fest to bring business back to Lower Manhattan after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Since then it has grown to 12 days filled with red carpet premieres, panels, outdoor screenings and a day-long kids fair, while expanding from its original eponymous roots to the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan as well as the Lower East Side.
In celebration of Tribeca's 10th anniversary taking place April 20–May 1, the opening night film -- Cameron Crowe's documentary on Elton John, 'The Union' -- will have a free outdoor screening in Manhattan's Financial District as well as a performance by the Rocket Man himself. (Learn more about attending opening night here.) And if you can't make it to New York to see the fest firsthand, Tribeca has you covered. This year they've created Tribeca (Online) Film Festival, where you can watch select films online as well as video streams of live events. Select titles will also be available on video-on-demand.
Here's 20 films that's worth checking out at this year's fest. Which are you most excited to see?
Tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, the small, tight-knit town of Angels Crest is shaken to its core when a tragedy occurs to a young boy. Jeremy Piven plays the local prosecutor who's supposed to make things right, though he's dealing with his own demons. Piven leads an ensemble cast that includes Thomas Dekker, Mira Sorvino, Kate Walsh and Lynn Collins.
'The Bang Bang Club'
Set in 1994 South Africa during the first free election post-Apartheid, four photojournalists risk their lives to capture the brutal civil war taking place. Ryan Phillippe (sporting a South African accent), 'Friday Night Light''s Taylor Kitsch and Malin Akerman star (think of 'Salvador' but with a sexier cast). Along with screening at the festival, the film is also available on VOD through Tribeca Film beginning April 20.
'Carol Channing: Larger Than Life'
We're starting to see a trend here. First Joan Rivers was highlighted in a doc last year, now it's Carol Channing's turn. Dori Berinstein's latest documentary spotlights the Broadway legend, mixing archival and current-day footage of the 90-year-old who still is as energetic today as when she was a fixture on the Great White Way. The film also includes appearances by Lily Tomlin, Debbie Reynolds and Barbara Walters.
The Centerpiece Gala screening for Tribeca's ESPN Sports Film Festival, preeminent doc filmmaker (and Tribeca fest veteran) Alex Gibney highlights two of the best-known scapegoats in baseball lore: former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner and Cubs fan Steve Bartman. Investigating the events surrounding their infamous moments as well as the "curses" associated with their teams, Gibney reveals the absurdity created when fans find someone to blame their team's losses on.
'Everything Must Go'
Every once in a while Will Ferrell likes to throw us a curveball and get serious. Here he plays Nick Porter, who has just been fired from his job and gets home to find all his stuff on the front lawn, the locks changed and his wife gone. But instead of taking a few belongings and finding a room at a motel, he stays on his front lawn and in the process finds himself by undertaking a five-day yard sale of all his belongings. The film, based on Raymond Carver's short story 'Why Don't You Dance?', also stars Rebecca Hall, Michael Peña, Stephen Root and Laura Dern. Roadside Attractions opens the film May 6.
'God Bless Ozzy Osbourne'
The Prince of Darkness is revealed in this documentary by 'The Bachelor' creator Mike Fleiss and music video director Mike Piscitelli. You may be thinking, Didn't I see this on MTV already? Well, Ozzy may have showed us his foul-mouthed love for his family in the hit series 'The Osbournes,' but here Fleiss and Piscitelli follow him on the road for two years and in the process unlock the introspective side of this rock god.
'The Good Doctor'
Orlando Bloom plays a lonesome first-year medical resident named Dr. Martin Blake whose insecurities and mistakes have caused him to gain little respect from his superiors. Things don't get better after he meets teenage patient Diane (Riley Keough) and begins to secretly build a relationship with her. Orderly Jimmy (Michael Peña) realizes what's happening and blackmails him for painkillers, leading Blake to finally start fighting for self-respect. The film is directed by Lance Daly who made the 2008 festival favorite, 'Kisses.'
'A Good Old Fashioned Orgy'
The title kinda says it all. Jason Sudeikis plays Eric, a 30-someting party animal known for throwing huge parties at his dad's beach house in the Hamptons. But when his friends all start to settle down and his dad decides to sell the beach house, Eric comes up with a very realistic sendoff: an orgy. But it will take a little convincing to get everyone interested. The cast also includes Lindsay Sloane, Will Forte and Lake Bell. Samuel Goldwyn Films and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions will release the film in the summer.
Premiering at this year's Sundance, this dark comedy stars Brendan Gleeson ('In Bruges') as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, a decorated cop with a few vices – drugs, prostitutes. But when a dead body linked to drug money brings the arrival of a straight-laced FBI agent played by Don Cheadle, Sgt. Boyle's limits are tested. The film will be released by Sony Pictures Classics later this year.
On the road attempting a comeback with his band, Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola) gets shocking news from an old flame (Elisabeth Shue) that they have a 13-year-old daughter, Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin). Unfazed by the news and disinterested in taking responsibility, though the mom has left for rehab, Brand goes on with his partying ways with Janie in tow. However, when she shows her dad her talent for singing a connection blossoms. Nivola and Breslin demonstrate their singing abilities as they both perform the songs in the film. Also starring: Peter Stormare and Brittany Snow.
'Jesus Henry Christ'
Gaining attention as an award-winning short film in 2003, eight years later Dennis Lee has expanded his comedy of smart-aleck boy genius Henry James Herman into a feature. Starring Toni Collette, Michael Sheen, Jason Spevack and executive produced by Julia Roberts, we follow Herman (Spevack) as he gets kicked out of school only to get a scholarship to a top university. There he and his mom (Collette) cross paths with a professor (Sheen) and his daughter, leading to a comical friendship.
Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington play Joanna and Michael Reed, a loyal New York City married couple who are tested with temptation after Michael heads off on a business trip with a sexy co-worker (Eva Mendes), leaving Joanna to grow concerned. Things get more interesting when Joanna's ex (Guillaume Canet) suddenly shows up. Available on VOD through Tribeca Film beginning April 20. See the first five minutes.
'Let the Bullets Fly'
China's all-time highest-grossing box office film, Jiang Wen directs and stars in this 1920s Western set in the Far East. After Pocky's (Jiang) planned hijacking of a train goes wrong and crashes killing the new governor on board, he decides to pose as the governor and share the money on board the train with the townspeople. However, when the town mobster (Chow Yun-Fat) realizes what's going on a bloody battle ensues (though filled with lots of witty satire and physical comedy).
After gaining attention for his stylish look at the violent beginnings of the Miami cocaine trade in 2006's 'Cocaine Cowboys,' Billy Corben returns to Tribeca with a look at Peter Gatien, the man responsible for some of the most popular night clubs in New York City in the '80s and '90s, such as Tunnel, Palladium, Club USA and Limelight. The mixture of drugs and his clubs made Gatien the king of New York nightlife, though the constant pressure from then-Mayor Giuliani quickly led to the end of an era in the Big Apple.
Closing this year's fest is Edward Burns' latest relationship dramedy. Shot in Lower Manhattan on an ultra-low budget, we follow Buzz (Burns) and Katy (Caitlin Fitzgerald) over three days as their honeymoon period is beginning to fade with the mixture of witnessing Katy's sister's marriage crumbling and other family issues coming to the surface.
'Revenge of the Electric Car'
It's not often documentary films warrant a sequel, but since Chris Paine's eye-opening 'Who Killed The Electric Car?' revealed how close we were to having an alternative to gas-running vehicles, the subject has become a hot-button topic. Here Paine follows four entrepreneurs – ranging from an auto industry legend to a do-it-yourself car whiz – who have dedicated their lives and reputations to become the first to get the electric car into the world market.
After 20 years living the dream as a roadie for Blue Öyster Cult, Jimmy Testagross (Ron Eldard) is pulled back into reality when he gets fired leaving him no choice but to head back to his home in Queens. But with his mom battling dementia and his old crush (Jill Hennessy) married to a high school nemesis (Bobby Cannavale), Jimmy realizes going home isn't always easy.
The producers of 2009 Sundance hit 'Humpday' reunite with one of the film's stars, Joshua Leonard, to make another low-budget comedy that deals with male relationships and growing up. Leonard (Leonard) and Nelson (Sean Nelson, who's also the co-director) are a best-friends-screenwriting-team who are now in their 30s and are desperate to sell their work. Leonard decides to get their latest script to a huge star, the only problem, she's in rehab. With Nelson's backing, Leonard gets into the same rehab facility leading to comical yet poignant situations that will test Leonard and Nelson's friendship.
After spending 2010 defending his ultra-violent 'The Killer Inside Me,' Michael Winterbottom switches to comedy for his latest film, a feature-length version of his UK TV series starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Like the three's previous collaboration, 'Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,' Coogan and Brydon play "themselves" as the two head out to the English countryside to review restaurants for a piece Coogan is guest writing for a newspaper. Filled with a lively back-and-forth that ranges from Coogan's love-life issues to their hilarious impersonations of Al Pacino and Michael Caine (not to mention beautiful shots of the country), Winterbottom puts an interesting twist on the road trip genre. IFC Films will open the film this summer.
Opening Tribeca with a free outdoor screening, Cameron Crowe's first film in six years (we're still trying to forget 'Elizabethtown') looks at the legendary career of Elton John and his collaboration with Leon Russell. Crowe also captures never-before-seen footage of the two working in the studio as heavyweights like Ringo Starr and Stevie Nicks drop by often to collaborate on John and Russell's album.