The 11th Tribeca Film Festival opened last night with a screening of the Judd Apatow-produced Jason Segel comedy The Five Year Engagement, and will close next Saturday with the summer’s most anticipated movie The Avengers — neither of them the kind of flick that leaps to mind when contemplating independent film. But in between those two big-budget, big studio summer movies, the festival will unspool 89 independent features (and 60 shorts) from all over the world. That’s a smaller and more focused group of entries than in years past at Tribeca, one of the changes made by a new programming team, and speaking as a bit of a veteran of the festival (this is my fourth year attending), it has resulted in the strongest slate I’ve seen there. After the jump, we’ve assembled ten of the best films playing at Tribeca — and information about how you can see some of them too, whether or not you’re in New York.
This heartbreaking story of a 16-year-old girl from the Bronx has an authenticity and aesthetic reminiscent of early-’90s low-budget, coming-of-age New York movies like Straight Out of Brooklyn and Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. Writer/director Macdara Vallely looks at her protagonist’s sexual (and moral) awakening with a sense of nuance and perception that pushes beyond the normally simplistic emotions and motivations of the genre. But as savvy as Vallely’s writing is, she just plain struck gold with leading lady Yainis Ynoa, a young actress of astonishing gifts. Babygirl is a little rough around the edges, but it is honest, and heartfelt, and true.
Babygirl will stream for free as part of the Tribeca Online Film Festival following its premiere at the festival tonight.