The Tribeca Film Festival begins today, celebrating its fifteenth year with a highly curated a slate of 101 films (handpicked from over 6,000 submissions), 77 of them world premieres. From a documentary about the Syrian refugee crisis to an indie film centered around a dysfunctional family of artists, here are five films definitely worth seeing at this year’s festival. Many screenings are sold out, but if you show up the day of a stand-by line forms about 45 minutes prior to screenings and tickets will be released starting 15 minutes before showtime, depending on availability. Or, skip the crowds and add these to your list of must-sees via your couch.
The Family Fang
Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman seem like an unlikely duo to see on the big screen together, but the premise of The Family Fang finds them in two acerbic art house roles. Based on the 2011 best selling novel of the same name by Kevin Wilson, the film tells the story of siblings Annie (Kidman) and Baxter (Bateman), an actress and a struggling writer who return to their childhood home in upstate New York for a bizarre reunion with their bizarre parents, a pair of celebrated performance artists played by Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett. With direction by Bateman, a score by the iconic Carter Burwell, and a truly stellar cast, this film seems poised to strike rich notes of tenderness (and dysfunction).
April 16 at Tribeca Performing Arts Center, April 17 at Regal Cinemas Battery Park, April 18 at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea
Co-directed by Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching, with an executive producer credit to Jon Stewart, this feature documentary, set in a refugee camp with a population of 80,000, has its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 14. The film offers a sweeping look into the intimacies of a camp overflowing with thousands of the displaced–families living in tents for months at a time, pop-up pizza shops, and children aimlessly wandering through their maze-like surroundings. In a world where the news cycle never stops, a film like After Spring helps put individual faces on an international humanitarian crisis.
April 14 and 18 at Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas, April 15, 19, 24 at Regal Cinemas Battery Park
My Blind Brother
Director Sophie Goodhart’s journey with My Blind Brother has spanned more than a decade. When it debuted at Cannes in 2003, the short film was nominated for Palme D’or. Thirteen years later, it’s a fully formed feature with three spectacular comic leads: Adam Scott, Jenny Slate, and Nick Kroll. It’s a romantic comedy that ups the rivalry ante between two athlete brothers (one blind, one not) when they end up falling for the same girl, and honestly, we would watch anything starring these three.
April 21 at SVA Theatre, April 22 and 23 at Regal Cinemas Battery Park, April 24 at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea
Another strong contender on the festival’s documentary slate, Life Animated tells the story of an autistic young man who learns to communicate with the world through Disney films and characters. The documentary, directed by Roger Ross Williams and fresh off a strong reception at Sundance, follows the stirring transformation of Owen Suskind (son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind, who also wrote a book about his son with the same name) from a silent, non-emotive child wrapped up in his own world, to a passionate young adult seeking to connect with other people.
April 23 at Regal Cinemas Battery Park
If you have a child, how does your identity change? Do you morph seamlessly into your new role as a parent, or do you leave some vital part of yourself behind? This is the theme that the surrealist Nordic film Parents explores. It stars Søren Malling and Bodil Jørgensen as a middle-aged couple who decide to move back into the apartment where they first fell in love, inadvertently setting themselves on a rather torturous journey reflecting over their past selves.
April 15, 17, 21 at Regal Cinemas Battery Park. April 20 at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea