It’s been essentially over a year without in-person film festivals. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, the SXSW, Cannes Film Festival, and Tribeca Film Festivals were all canceled last year. Venice and Toronto took place physically, but Venice was sparsely attended, and Toronto was mostly a festival for Canadians; U.S. and international critics had to “attend” the festival virtually, much like Sundance earlier this year. While most festivals are back on in person this year, Cannes coming in July, the first major in-person festival U.S. critics will attend this year is the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival that runs June 9-20.
Despite Tribeca Film Festival losing one of its key figures, EVP Communications and Programming exec Tammie Rosen, who moved to Sundance, the festival still has a pretty great line-up which is awesome considering it the 20th-anniversary edition. Steven Soderbergh‘s latest offering, the crime drama “No Sudden Move,” is the centerpiece film and a nice feather in the festival’s cap. and there’s plenty of interesting indie auteurs debuting new films there like Jim Cummings (“The Beta Test“), Adam Leon (“Italian Studies” with Vanessa Kirby), and more.
There are also many key documentaries on several important figures; doc portraits on the late Anthony Bourdain, Beach Boys genius Brian Wilson, seminal American photographer Gordon Parks, one of the key editors and writers behind Rolling Stone magazine more.
Additional highlights include “False Positive,” the prenatal horror by Alana Glazer and A24, and IFC FIlms‘ “Werewolves Within” from indie horror filmmaker Josh Ruben. Tribeca Talks are pretty outstanding, too, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for our recaps of those. Conversations will feature Bradley Cooper, Martin Scorsese, Emily Ratajkowski, Debbie Harry & reunions featuring the filmmakers and casts of “Fargo,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” and more. There are lots to see at Tribeca, and here’s a taste of 15 films that sound great. – Rodrigo Perez
A ‘two people stuck together in the same place’ rom-com set during COVID’s rolling outbreak, “7 Days,” the debut film of director/co-writer Roshan Sethi looks to be a classic feel-good throwback with a specific cultural/contemporary spin. Set-up on a date by their stubborn Indian parents, Ravi and Rita (Karan Soni, Geraldine Viswanathan), appear to have nothing in common. After the stay-at-home mandate, the two inevitably end up spending a week of very close time together. A non-complex narrative two-hander highlighting the acting abilities of 2 up and coming talents, Sethi’s simple premise seems to understand romantic comedy flavor far better than something like the torturous “Locked Down” did. –
“12 Mighty Orphans”
An underdog sports story a la “Hoosiers” sporting one heck of a cast, “12 Mighty Orphans” stars Luke Wilson as Rusty Russell, famed coach behind the Mighty Mites football team. Based on a real-life story about how an orphanage in Fort Worth came to play for the Texas state championship, Russell’s mindful approach to the game brought out the best in a group of players used to being left out. Catching the attention of FDR during the Great Depression, the inspirited Mighty Mites eventually took the nation by storm. The second feature from director Ty Roberts, “12 Mighty Orphans,” also stars Martin Sheen, Robert DuVall, Vinessa Shaw, Wayne Knight, and Treat Williams.
“The Beta Test”
Following up his acclaimed sophomore effort “The Wolf of Snow Hollow,” Jim Cummings teams with director/writer/actor PJ McCabe for another hybrid-genre exercise. Indebted to psychosexual thrillers of generations past, “The Beta Test” follows a Hollywood talent manager (Cummings) with everything one could ever ask. He’s got money. Women think he’s hot. He’s got it all. But when a mysterious envelope appears in his mailbox, inviting him into an underground of passion and revel, the narcissistic agent falls into a dark and depraved world. Revealing the true face of people as public appearance masks begin to crack, “The Beta Test” prods at superficial shame and the hysterical paranoia of Hollywood’s sick deviancy.
“Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road”
A field trip-esque documentary sure to be full of asides “Beach Boys” fans won’t want to miss, “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road” is an intimate look at the legendary Brian Wilson. Cruising around the city with old friend/Rolling Stone editor Jason Fine, ‘Long Promised Road’ finds Wilson reflecting on his journey via important recording sites. Visiting old stomping grounds from Hollywood, Hawthorne, and Malibu, the landmark musician touches on everything from family relationships to mental health recovery. Concluding with a concert featuring the newly recorded song “Right Where I Belong,” ‘Long Promised Road’ is the kind of doc aiming to fire on all cylinders, being entertaining, informative, and emotional, all at once.
“Catch the Fair One”
Starring US boxing champion Kali Reis as a former fighter who stumbles upon a far-reaching human trafficking conspiracy while searching for a sister gone missing, “Catch the Fair One” has all the DNA that makes for a powerful revenge thriller. Co-written by Reis and helmed by confident filmmaker Josef Wladyka (who has had previous success at Tribeca with his award-winning debut “Manos Sucias”), the champion turned performer conceived the role around her own Native American heritage. Determined to knock down every door to unveil those responsible for committing such horrible crimes, “Catch the Fair One” (executive produced by Darren Aronofsky) aims to capture an utterly ruthless in a deeply resonant manner.