By Matt Neglia
After a year that was plauged by COVID-19 which forced the festival to not run last year, the Tribeca Film Festival is back and has unveiled its feature film lineup.
“After a year of closed cinemas, canceled gatherings, and virtual everything, it is with joy and hope that we finally invite New Yorkers out of their homes and back to the movies. Immersed in the city itself, Tribeca 2021 will bring once-in-a-lifetime big-screen experiences to filmmakers and audiences alike as we reconnect, re-imagine, and reopen through the shared experience of film,” said Cara Cusumano, Festival Director and Vice President of Programming for the Tribeca Festival.
Tribeca Festival takes place June 9th to June 20th with a feature lineup that includes 66 films from filmmakers across the globe and 54 world premieres. We’ve curated a stunning features program from nearly 3,000 submissions. And more than 60% of this year’s films are directed by women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ filmmakers. Films slated to premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, but postponed due to COVID-19, will also screen at the festival.
Check out the 2021 features lineup below and be sure to grab your pass to this year’s festival!
U.S. NARRATIVE COMPETITION
Tribeca’s U.S. Narrative Competition showcases extraordinary work from breakout independent voices and distinguished filmmaking talent. These world premieres will vie for the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
Catch the Fair One, directed and written by Josef Kubota Wladyka. Produced by Mollye Asher, Kimberly Parker, Josef Kubota Wladyka. (United States) – World Premiere. In this absorbing revenge thriller executive produced by Darren Aronofsky, a Native American boxer embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister. With Kali Reis, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Chu, Michael Drayer, Kimberly Guerrero, Lisa Emery, Kevin Dunn.
God’s Waiting Room, directed and written by Tyler Riggs. Produced by Tyler Riggs, Suvi Riggs. (United States) – World Premiere. As the summer drags on in central Florida, a young musician, a charismatic hustler, and a man adjusting to life after prison intersect on a dangerous path. With Nisalda Gonzalez, Matthew Leone, Tyler Riggs, Michelle Nuñez, Ray Benitez, Renata Eastlick. In English, Spanish with English subtitles.
Mark, Mary & Some Other People, directed and written by Hannah Marks. Produced by Hannah Marks, Pete Williams, Jon Lullo, Brendan Walter, Jonathan Duffy, Kelly Williams. (United States) – World Premiere. Young newlyweds Mark and Mary agree to try exploring other sexual partners, with surprising results in this unexpectedly charming love story from writer/director Hannah Marks. With Ben Rosenfield, Hayley Law, Odessa A’Zion, Nik Dodani, Matt Shively, Sofia Bryant.
The Novice, directed and written by Lauren Hadaway. Produced by Ryan Hawkins, Kari Hollend, Steven Sims, Zack Zucker. (United States) – World Premiere. Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan, 2009) plays Alex Dal, a queer college freshman who joins her university’s rowing team and undertakes an obsessive physical and psychological journey to make it to the top varsity boat, no matter the cost. With Isabelle Fuhrman, Amy Forsyth, Dilone Kate Drummond, Jonathan Cherry, Charlotte Ubben.
Poser, directed by Ori Segev, Noah Dixon, written by Noah Dixon. Produced by Drew Johnson, Juli Sasaki, Brett Reiter, Josh Nowak. (United States) – World Premiere. Lennon observes on the sidelines of the thriving Columbus indie music scene, yearning for a personal connection that might shepherd her into the inner sanctum. Enter the enigmatic Bobbi Kitten, who takes Lennon under her confident wing—unwittingly entangling herself in a dark obsession. With Sylvie Mix, Bobbi Kitten.
Queen of Glory, directed and written by Nana Mensah. Produced by Jamund Washington, Kelley Robins Hicks, Baff Akoto, Nana Mensah, Anya Migdal. (United States) – World Premiere. Ghanaian-American Sarah is all set to abandon her Ivy League doctoral program to follow her married lover across the country. Her plans are derailed, however when her mother’s sudden death leaves her the owner of a neighborhood bookshop in the Bronx. With Nana Mensah, Meeko Gattuso, Oberon KA Adjepong, Adam Leon.
Over Tribeca’s 20-year history, the non-fiction film selections have exhibited work from emerging and renowned filmmakers, including future Academy Award® winners. This year’s films will compete for Best Documentary Feature, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing.
All These Sons, directed by Bing Liu, Joshua Altman. Produced by Zak Piper, Kelsey Carr, Bing Liu, Joshua Altman. (United States) – World Premiere. On Chicago’s South and West sides, the scourge of guns and gangs is destroying countless lives. Taking matters into their own hands, two men dedicate their lives educating, empowering and healing young Black men at high risk for being victims—or perpetrators—of deadly gun-violence.
Ascension (Ascension 登楼叹), directed by Jessica Kingdon. Produced by Kira Simon-Kennedy, Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell. (United States) – World Premiere. The absorbingly cinematic Ascension explores the pursuit of the “Chinese Dream Driven by mesmerizing—and sometimes humorous—imagery, this observational documentary presents a contemporary vision of China that prioritizes productivity and innovation above all. In Chinese with English subtitles.
Blind Ambition, directed by Robert Coe, Warwick Ross, written by Warwick Ross, Robert Coe, Paul Murphy, Madeleine Ross. Produced by Warwick Ross, Robert Coe. (Australia) – World Premiere. The inspiring story of four Zimbabwean men who form their country’s first Wine Tasting Olympics team and the mission that drives them to compete. In English, Shona with English subtitles.
Fathom, directed by Drew Xanthopoulos. Produced by Megan Gilbride. (United States) – World Premiere. Filmmaker & cinematographer Drew Xanthopoulos delivers a visual and aural wonder of a documentary—an immersive and sensorial film that follows researchers working to finally decode the communication of humpback whales. With Dr. Michelle Fournet, Dr. Ellen Garland. An Apple TV+ release.
The Kids, directed by Eddie Martin. Produced by Shannon Swan. (Australia) – World Premiere. 26 years after indie cult classic Kids was released to an unsuspecting nation, this documentary explores the divergent paths of the original cast, delivering an unflinching look back at one of the most iconic films of the 1990’s.
Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres, written, directed and produced by Suzanne Joe Kai. (United States) – World Premiere. Suzanne Joe Kai’s intimate documentary shows us how the Rolling Stone writer and editor defined the cultural zeitgeist of the ’60s and ’70s. With Ben Fong-Torres, Cameron Crowe, Annie Leibovitz, Carlos Santana, Elton John, Steve Martin, Bob Weir, Quincy Jones, and more.
On the Divide, directed and written by Leah Galant, Maya Cueva. Produced by Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Amanda Spain, Elizabeth Woodward. (United States) – World Premiere. On the Divide brings us into the lives of three Latinx people in McAllen Texas, whose different beliefs end up coming to a head at the last abortion clinic in the US/Mexico border. In English, Spanish with English subtitles.
The Scars of Ali Boulala, directed by Max Eriksson, written by Max Eriksson, Mikel Cee Karlsson. Produced by Mario Adamson, Ashley Smith. (Sweden, Norway) – World Premiere. In Max Eriksson’s audacious debut, Swedish skateboarding prodigy Ali Boulala—alongside other pros like Rune Glifberg and Arto Saari—looks back on the DIY videos and fast-paced lifestyle of his coming-of-age in the ’90s skating scene. With Ali Boulala, Rune Glifberg, Arto Saari, Ewan Bowman, Dustin Dollin, Kevin “Spanky” Long. In English, Finnish, Swedish with English subtitles.
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE COMPETITION
The New-York based Festival breaks its geographical boundaries with the International Narrative Competition, welcoming filmmakers from abroad to join a global platform for contemporary world cinema. These films will compete for Best Narrative Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
All My Friends Hate Me, directed by Andrew Gaynord, written by Tom Palmer, Tom Stourton. Produced by Tom Palmer. (UK) – World Premiere. Genuine but increasingly insecure Pete is cautiously excited about reuniting with his college crew for a birthday weekend of memories, partying and earnest reconnection at a picturesque English manor. Best laid plans, dear audience. With Tom Stourton, Charly Clive, Georgina Campbell, Joshua Mcguire, Antonia Clarke.
Brighton 4th, directed by Levan Koguashvili, written by Boris Frumin, Levan Koguashvili. Produced by Irakli Rodonaya, Olena Yershova, Levan Koguashvili. (Bulgaria, Georgia, Monaco, Russia, United States) – World Premiere. Tribeca shorts alum Levan Koguashvili returns to the festival with this warm and sensitively rendered story of a Georgian wrestler, Kakhi, en route to Brooklyn to help his son out of a gambling debt. With Levan Tediashvili, Nadezhda Mikhalkova, Giorgi Tabidze, Kakhi Kavsadze. In English, Georgian, Russian with English subtitles.
Do Not Hesitate, directed by Shariff Korver, written by Jolein Laarman. Produced by Leontine Petit. (Netherlands) – World Premiere. A truck carrying a Dutch military convoy on a peacekeeping mission breaks down somewhere in the desert. As a group of soldiers waits for a repair team to arrive, they encounter a local boy who refuses to leave. With Joes Brauers, Tobias Kersloot, Spencer Bogaert, Omar Alwan. In Arabic, Dutch, English with English subtitles.
Roaring 20’s (Années 20), directed by Elisabeth Vogler, written by François Mark, Elisabeth Vogler, Noémie Schmidt, Joris Avodo. Produced by Laurent Rochette. (France) – World Premiere. In a single unbroken shot, Roaring 20’s gives viewers the chance not only to travel to Paris, but to live a day in the life there during the COVID-19 pandemic. Audiences can experience first hand both the universality of life in 2020, as well as the specificity and beauty of a summer day in the French capital. With Vladimir Seguin, Alice de Lencquesaing, Noémie Schmidt, Aurore Déon, Manuel Severi, Adil laboudi, Zoé Fauconnet, Léo Poulet, Fanny Santer, Lila Poulet-Berenfeld, Lilou Guillot, Elsa Guedj, Guillaume Pottier, Mehdi Djaadi, François Mark, Margaux Bonin, François De Brauer, François Rollin, Elie Salleron, Joris Avodo, Paul Scarfoglio, Léa Moret, Elise Tilloloy, Jean Thevenin. In French with English subtitles.
Souad, directed by Ayten Amin, written by Mahmoud Ezzat, Ayten Amin. Produced by Sameh Awad. (Egypt, Tunisia, Germany) – International Premiere. Amin’s assured, harrowing debut follows an Egyptian university student (a breakout Bassant Ahmed) who leads a double life, presenting different versions of herself to her conservative society and her tradition-flaunting peers. With Bassant Ahmed, Basmala Elghaiesh, Hussein Ghanem, Hager Mahmoud, Sarah Shedid, Carol Ackad. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Wild Men (Vildmænd), directed by Thomas Daneskov, written by Thomas Daneskov, Morten Pape. Produced by Lina Flint. (Denmark) – World Premiere. Hilariously ill-equipped to live off the land yet clad in a Neanderthal-like ensemble of animal skins, Martin wanders the Norwegian forest in a misguided attempt to find a sense of purpose and independence, a wife and two children back at home be damned. With Rasmus Bjerg, Zaki Youssef, Sofie Gråbøl, Bjørn Sundquist. In Danish with English subtitles.
Anticipated premieres from acclaimed filmmakers and performers are the focus of the Spotlight Narrative section which continues to be a launching pad for the most buzzworthy new films. This year’s Spotlight section will open with the world premiere of Pan Nalin’s The Last Film Show.
False Positive, directed by John Lee, written by John Lee & Ilana Glazer. Produced by John Lee, Ilana Glazer, Jonathan Wang. (United States) – World Premiere. After fertility struggles, a couple seem to have found their savior in a celebrated reproductive specialist. But as hope transforms to happiness, the now-expectant mother is thrown into a spiral of suspicion, threatening her grasp on reality. With Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux, Gretchen Mol, Sophia Bush, Zainab Jah, and Pierce Brosnan. A Hulu release.
How It Ends, directed and written by Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones. Produced by Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones. (United States) – New York Premiere. It’s the end of the world as we know it…and Liza feels…fine?! Featuring a who’s who of comedic favorites, and shot completely during the quarantine of 2020, How It Ends is a hilarious and poignantly resonant, pre-apocalyptic comedy for our collective ages. With Zoe Lister-Jones, Cailee Spaeny, Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, Helen Hunt, Lamorne Morris, Nick Kroll.
India Sweets and Spices, directed and written by Geeta Malik. Produced by Gigi Pritzker, John Penotti, Naomi Despres, Sidney Kimmel. (United States) – World Premiere. In Geeta Malik’s fresh and fun take on the classic coming of age story, a college freshman confronts her parents’ values in order to understand her own evolving identity. With Sophia Ali, Manisha Koirala, Adil Hussain, Deepti Gupta, Rish Shah.
Italian Studies, directed and written by Adam Leon. Produced by Brad Becker-Parton, Joshua Astrachan, Jamund Washington, Andrea Roa, Jason Reif. (United States) – World Premiere. A mysterious woman (Vanessa Kirby) wanders the streets of Manhattan in a confused state. Finding herself inexplicably drawn to a charismatic teenager, she embarks on an adventure with him through the cityscape and into the unknown. With Vanessa