Next week, the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival gets underway. The fest usually takes place much earlier in the year, but the opening back up of New York from COVID lockdown pushed it into the summer. So, Tribeca has a different showcase than normal, trying June on for size, much like the Cannes Film Festival has uprooted itself. At the same time, though, the movie selection is largely on par with other years. In that sense, there’s a familiarity. To that end, I want to talk a bit about the flicks that will be unspooling online and in New York City this month.
Below, you can see some of the movies I’m either most looking forward to or can potentially vouch for at Tribeca. It’s an interesting lineup, as you’ll learn about momentarily. Stay tuned for much more out of the festival, including interviews and reviews from several members of the Awards Radar team. It’s going to be fun…
Special Citation: Asia, Cowboys, The God Committe, Happily, I Carry You With Me, In the Heights, Kiss the Ground, Lorelei, Pray Away, The State of Texas vs Melissa, Sweet Thing, and Television Event. *All of these films, minus In the Heights (which we already have reviewed here), played at Tribeca last year, so they get their own section here, representing some of the cream of last year’s crop.*
Here now are thirteen of the films I’m most curious about at Tribeca:
13. No Man of God – Elijah Wood loves festival titles. Here, he plays FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier as he profiled Ted Bundy. Light stuff, to be sure. No Man of God should be something true crime fans can really sink their teeth into. Consider me fairly intrigued about this one.
12. False Positive – A recent trailer showcased the unsettling nature of False Positive. Iliana Glazer co-writes and co-stars here, so it should really be an interesting stretching of her range. It’ll be on Hulu on June 25th, so if you miss it at Tribeca, you can stream it later on this month.
11. The Kids – This documentary looks at the groundbreaking independent film Kids. 26 years after indie cult classic from Larry Clarke hit, The Kids looks to explore the various paths taken of the original cast of the movie. It’s an interesting premise, and one that cinephiles should latch on to.
10. Italian Studies – Vanessa Kirby stars in this story of a woman who’s adrift in New York City without her memory. After Pieces of a Woman, any showcase for Kirby is good in my book. Could Italian Studies be another awards contender for her? It wouldn’t be all that shocking, given her talent.
9. The Beta Test – There seems to be no unusual story that actor/filmmaker Jim Cummings shies away from. The Beta Test seems him go more serious than usual with this mix of horror and thriller. His very specific view of the world should serve him well here. I know I’m curious to see how it turned out…
8. Brighton 4th – Having grown up near the area this film takes place in, consider me fascinated. This Georgian dramedy sees a professional wrestler head to Brighton Beach to help his son with some gambling debts. The buzz is solid for this one, so if you want a potential foreign language contender, Brighton 4th could be it.
7. The Novice – A mix of character study and thriller, The Novice is a festival title through and through. However, that may well be a good thing. The story of a new member of a college rowing team obsessing over being the best of her bunch, the potential is there for an impactful story. The performance from Isabelle Fuhrman will certainly be one to watch out for.
6. How It Ends – Back at the Sundance Film Festival, I gave this comedy a positive review (here). There, I said this: “How It Ends was filmed during the pandemic, and that impacts a bit of the filmmaking, but the premise is evergreen. Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein are wholly unconcerned with any of the traditional end of the world tropes. This is just about how people are spending their last day, and specifically how one woman opts to do so.” That holds true, so here at Tribeca, you can finally see what I meant.
5. 12 Mighty Orphans – I’ve seen this flick (and conducted interviews with Martin Sheen and Luke Wilson) and it’s a quality sports tale. Watching this sort of inspirational football story certainly could bring cliches to your mind, but this is better than that. It uses them to its benefit, resulting in a sure-fire crowdpleaser. 12 Mighty Orphans may well be a crossover success out of the fest.
4. Werewolves Within – Another movie I’ve seen, Werewolves Within is a comedic thriller with some genre elements, to boot. Plus, it can make a rather unusual claim for a title at a film festival. This may well be one of the best video game adaptations, to date. More soon, but just keep that in mind here…
3. No Sudden Move – Steven Soderbergh is never anything less than a fascinating filmmaker. So, his latest project, No Sudden Move, which has an air of mystery about it, should only be yet another example of his directorial prowess. As the closer for Tribeca, hopefully the festival will be ending on a high note. We’ll all be finding out together, that’s for sure, before it heads to HBO Max in July.
2. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain – I’m a huge Anthony Bourdain fan, so this documentary is very much up my alley. Plus, it’s from filmmaker Morgan Neville, who made one of the best documentaries of the past ten years in Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, so this is one to watch out for. Prepare to laugh and cry in equal measure with Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain. Truthfully, Bourdain likely wouldn’t have had it any other way, either.
1. Mark, Mary & Some Other People – This film is brilliant. Last year, Hannah Marks co-wrote and starred in one of 2020’s most underrated gems in Banana Split. Here, she writes and directs this incredibly perceptive and witty dramedy. It would be easy to make the story of a couple opening up their marriage just a surface level exercise. Not here, since Marks is so much better than that. Look for an interview with her soon, but also look out for Mark, Mary & Some Other People. It’s one of Tribeca’s best this year.
Honorable Mentions: Catch the Fair One, Creation Stories, God’s Waiting Room, Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story, No Running, My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, and Sisters on Track
Stay tuned to see how these titles do at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival!