2017 Tribeca Film Festival Preview: 20 Must-See Films To Watch

Like the flowers protruding from the ground in this warming weather, the spring film-festival season is in full bloom. It was just Thursday when May’s Cannes Film Festival announced its line-up. Now, we’re mere days away from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which serves not only as one of NYC’s biggest, most prolific film festivals, but also one of the biggest and most prestigious festivals of the new millennium.

READ MORE: 10 Films To See In April

Founded in 2002 as a response to Tribeca’s loss of vitality shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the lower-Manhattan public-cinema event, co-founded by Robert De Niro, is an annual celebration of the power of documentaries, independent films, studio films and shorts in difficult days, and how worldwide art brings us together, notably through troubled, heartbroken times. In 2017, as the looming shadow of a certain NYC-based president weighs heavily over the city, let alone the free world at large, the 16th annual Tribeca Film Festival promises to be one of the most compelling, memorable public responses in recent years.

As expected, this year’s festival selections are as distinguished as they’re richly varied. While we’ll certainly be on the ground floor next week to give fine readers like yourself our thoughts and feelings on the yearly festivities, we wanted to take a brief moment to glimpse at some of the most exciting, promising and anticipated upcoming events. From noteworthy speaking engagements to high-profile world premieres, there’s no shortage of exceptional cinematic pleasures set to come. Here’s a rundown of what’s in store.

THE CIRCLE, Emma WatsonThe Circle
Between “Smashed,” “The Spectacular Now” and “The End Of The Tour,” director James Ponsoldt has proven himself with assurance, grace and quiet sensitivity to be one of the most astounding young filmmakers working in the moviemaking business today. Hopefully, the indie director’s magic transfers well to his first studio project, an adaptation of Dave Eggers‘ futuristic “The Circle,” which features one of his greatest ensembles. Starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Karen Gillan, Ellen Wong, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, Claudia O’Doherty, “Boyhood” star Ellar Coltrane and Bill Paxton in his final film performance, “The Circle” is not hurting for talent. With its intriguing, timely, but also challenging and thoughtful premise, it’s possible Ponsoldt’s latest film might be setting itself up to fail, especially with its less-than-stellar promo materials, but we’re confident it could also come around. It’ll premieres on April 26th at the Gala, which assures Tribeca is, at the very least, confident in its success.

the godfather francis ford coppolaThe Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II” 45th-Anniversary Screening and Reunion Event
It was only a matter of time before the gang got back together. With Francis Ford Coppola‘s original masterpiece celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, Tribeca invited Coppola, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire and, of course, De Niro onto the stage to discuss the series’ undeniable legacy and how these two classic films became two of the most acclaimed movies ever. It’s a one-day online event, which starts at 1 PM on April 29th at the Gala. You’ll definitely want to attend if you can. It’s a speaking engagement and screening opportunity that’s practically guaranteed to pull you in.

Abundant__Acreage_Available_Diana_Greene_1Abundant Acreage Available
You know who deserves more love? Amy Ryan. Whether it’s “Gone Baby Gone,” “Birdman,” “Win Win” or even “Monster Trucks,” just to name a few, Oscar nominee Ryan is always exceptional, yet usually never gets enough acclaim for her dependable work. Hopefully, that changes with her latest drama, the alliterative “Abundant Acreage Available.” From executive producer Martin Scorsese and writer/director Angus MacLachlan (“Junebug“), this rural character piece promises to be a moody, somber showcase for Ryan, and we hope it gets her that much-needed attention and acclaim she deserves.

At The Playlist, we try to keep our eyes and ears low to the ground, hoping to announce the next great cinematic genius before the rest of the world joins in the acclaim. While it’s impossible to know whether or not we’re looking at the next great young filmmaker just yet, actress-turned-writer/director Quinn Shephard definitely has our attention. The 22-year-old starlet is at the center of her directorial debut, “Blame,” a modernized high-school reimagining of Arthur Miller‘s indelible “The Crucible.” Think more “13 Reasons Why” than “She’s The Man” or “10 Things I Hate About You,” however. Also starring Nadia Alexander and Chris Messina, Shepard actually directed the film at 20, so it’s possible we might be looking at the next Lena Dunham, Emily Hagins or possibly Xavier Dolan. We won’t know for sure until after its weekend premiere, but if it’s the real deal, you heard it here first. Just sayin’.

Max Winkler‘s charming, largely unseen directorial debut, “Ceremony,” didn’t find the audience it deserved when it premiered back in 2010. Seven years later, he’s back with his sophomore feature, “Flower,” and there’s good reason to believe this newest film could be the one that breaks him out. Starring Zoey Deutch, Joey Morgan, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Tim Heidecker, it’s yet another coming-of-age suburbanite dramedy, but the talent involved suggests we might be looking at this year’s “The Edge Of Seventeen.” From executive producers Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and David Gordon Green, it’s looking hopeful that “Flower” won’t be your average teen-movie affair, and we hope to say the same after we check it out later this week. Based on Winkler’s strong television work, at the helm of episodes of “Casual,” “Lady Dynamite,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Fresh Off the Boat” and “New Girl,” the young, developing filmmaker hasn’t lost his touch. We know he has another good film in him.

Lindsay Burdge Thirst StreetThirst Street
One of last year’s most popular, unconventional Tribeca premieres came from “Actor Martinez,” an exploration of the lines between art and reality as they sometimes cross. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it left a lot of people talking. Hopefully, co-director Nathan Silver‘s latest film, “Thirst Street,” earns that same distinction. A drama centered around an emotionally crippled flight attendant (Lindsay Burdge) and the charming Parisian bartender (Damien Bonnard) who brings her out of her emotional funk, it’s a ’70s-influenced, emotional volatile work that won’t likely be called conventional by many. Narrated by Anjelica Huston, “Thirst Street” is hopefully one we won’t shut up about anytime soon.