The Best and Worst Documentaries of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

Our capsule reviews of 'Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland,' 'Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary,' 'Love Gilda,' and more.

One of these years, I’m just gonna go all in and only go to the Tribeca Film Festival’s documentaries. It’s not that the New York-based fest – which came to a close yesterday – doesn’t have narrative titles worth seeing (watch this space later today to hear about some of those). But their non-fiction slate is such an embarrassment of riches, it’s become one of the essential doc fests in the country. These were some of this year’s highlights.


The Fourth Estate
The first episode of Liz Garbus’s new Showtime documentary series – presented as the fest’s closing night film – has an opening theme by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, in their customary foreboding style, and it’s entirely appropriate. The subject is the New York Times in the Trump era, a period that executive editor Dean Baquet predicts will be “a huge test, in a lot of ways.” Garbus shadows multiple protagonists, reporters and editors in both the Washington and New York bureaus, and taps in to the intensity and energy of these newsrooms, where a story will suddenly just happen and supersede everything else. More valuably, for every five moments of intentional truth, she catches an accidental one – like when Maggie Haberman, who covered Trump for New York tabloids before either of them were on the nation stage, recalls, “Trump was a quote you would try to get, because he would juice up a story” (which was kind of the problem with the coverage of the entire campaign). Coming to an end rather than a conclusion, this is definitely the first episode of a TV show. But it’s one I will certainly keep watching.