The Best and Worst Documentaries of the Tribeca Film Festival


Command and Control

Director Robert Kenner (adapting Eric Schlosser’s book) constructs a tense, scary tick-tock of a 1980 accident at an Arkansas facility housing a powerful nuclear warhead, but he doesn’t stop there; he uses the incident as the framing device to cue historical and scientific digressions on the nuclear age and its relatively unexamined danger not to our enemies, but our citizens. The implications of disturbances like this are downright terrifying, and Kenner captures that intensity via candid interviews, stylish reconstructions, and urgent music, creating a brisk, efficient exploration of a troubling moment in our history, with questions that are very much of this moment.

Keep Quiet

Csanád Szegedi was a founding member of the Hungarian far-right anti-Semitic nationalist group Jobbik, and rose to a position of considerable power in that country’s government as a result. He wasn’t just an ideologue, but an organizer, taking real action to advance an anti-Jewish agenda – which made the revelation of his own Jewish heritage as shocking to his country as it was to himself. What start as rumors turns into a family investigation, a total self-reevaluation that he compares to a lifelong medical misdiagnosis, but which results in Szegedi studying and embracing his newfound heritage and performing a public turnabout, which is met with understandable skepticism. Sam Blair and Joseph Martin’s elegant documentary tells Szegedi’s stranger-than-fiction story with political distance but emotional empathy; there are real questions to be asked here, about repentance, forgiveness, and trust, and they ask them all, while taking nothing at face value.