Following yesterday’s announcement of this year’s World Narrative, World Documentary, and Viewpoints selections, New York’s Tribeca Film Festival today announced the big-name titles in their “Spotlight” selection, as well as their offbeat “Midnight” titles and a new section, “Storyscapes,” “to showcase innovative, interactive, transmedia work across genres.” Among the titles that caught our immediate attention (text from Tribeca’s press release):
- Adult World, directed by Scott Coffey, written by Andy Cochran. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Amy (Emma Roberts) is naïve, awkward and anxious to get her poetry career off of the ground. She begrudgingly accepts a job at the local sex shop, Adult World, while pursuing a surefire kick-start for her success: a mentorship with reclusive writer Rat Billings (the hilarious John Cusack). As Amy’s world melds with that of Adult World, she slowly learns that inspiration can be found in the most improbable places.
- Almost Christmas, directed by Phil Morrison, written by Melissa James Gibson. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Two French Canadian ne’er-do-wells travel to New York City with a scheme to a get rich quick selling Christmas trees. Easygoing charmer Rene (Paul Rudd) clashes with misanthropic ex-con Dennis (Paul Giamatti), whose wife Rene just stole. Still, this odd couple must make an honest go of it in this fresh buddy comedy co-starring Sally Hawkins, by the director of the indie breakout hit Junebug.
- Bottled Up, directed and written by Enid Zentelis. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In this modern-day drama, Oscar®-winner Melissa Leo beautifully conveys the heart-wrenching struggle that comes with loving an addict. Complaining of back pain months after a car accident, Sylvie’s (Marin Ireland) addiction to painkillers is clear to everyone except her mother, Faye (Leo). A promising solution appears in Becket (Josh Hamilton), but relationships and loyalty are soon tested when his feelings fall in an unexpected place.
- Byzantium, directed by Neil Jordan, written by Moira Buffini. (U.K., Ireland) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Neil Jordan’s exploration of vampirism began with Interview with the Vampire. Now he returns to this lurid, malevolent realm through Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan). Creatures from Clara’s past come calling, and these immortals are forced to relocate. Dire consequences follow anyway when Eleanor makes a connection with a local boy (Caleb Landry Jones) and slowly reveals the truth of who they are and how they survive. An IFC Films release.
- The English Teacher, directed by Craig Zisk, written by Dan Chariton and Stacy Chariton. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Teacher Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) balances her staid home life with an incredible passion for her subject, but her routine is forever altered when a former star pupil and his unsupportive father reenter her life. Go-to television director Craig Zisk, whose credits include Scrubs, Weeds and United States of Tara, takes a turn on the big screen with this insightful comedy about self-discovery co-starring Greg Kinnear, Nathan Lane, Michael Angarano and Lily Collins. A Cinedigm and Tribeca Film co-release.
- Gasland Part II, directed and written by Josh Fox. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Two years ago, Josh Fox introduced us to hydraulic fracturing with his Oscar®-nominated exposé Gasland. Now this once-touted energy source has become a widely discussed, contentious topic. In his follow-up, Fox reveals the extreme circumstances facing those affected by fracking, from earthquakes to the use of federal anti-terror psychological operations tactics. Gasland Part II is the definitive proof that issues raised by fracking cannot be ignored for long.
- Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, directed and written by Nicholas Wrathall. (USA) – International Premiere, Documentary. Anchored by intimate, one-on-one interviews with the man himself, Nicholas Wrathall’s new documentary is a fascinating and wholly entertaining tribute to the iconic Gore Vidal. Commentary by those who knew him best—including filmmaker/nephew Burr Steers and the late Christopher Hitchens—blends with footage from Vidal’s legendary on-air career to remind us why he will forever stand as one of the most brilliant and fearless critics of our time.
- Greetings from Tim Buckley, directed by Daniel Algrant, written by David Brendel, Emma Sheanshang and Algrant. (USA) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. “Like father, like son” is a demanding expression for someone who never knew his dad. When young Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgley) is asked to participate in a tribute concert for his late musician father Tim, music opens his eyes to the artistic legacy that he is destined to follow. Imogen Poots co-stars in this quiet and powerful tribute to those legends sustained by admiration, love and, in this case, beautiful music. A Tribeca Film release.
- Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, directed by Marina Zenovich, written by Peter Morgan. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. This moving portrait of legendary comedian Richard Pryor chronicles his life from his troubled youth in Peoria, Illinois, to his meteoric rise as one of the most respected comic actors of the 20th century. Often misunderstood during the height of his celebrity, the late superstar has never been profiled this extensively. Marina Zenovich’s revealing and entertaining film lays bare the demons with which he struggled and reminds us just how daring and dangerous artistic freedom can be. Includes interviews with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Mel Brooks, Quincy Jones, Lily Tomlin, Jesse Jackson.
- A Single Shot, directed by David M. Rosenthal, written by Matthew F. Jones. (U.K., USA, Canada) – North American Premiere, Narrative. A Single Shot brings together a wealth of indie stalwarts, including Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Melissa Leo and Jeffrey Wright, to paint a tense portrait of John Moon, a man attempting to win back his estranged family while desperately outrunning an accidental crime. Director David M. Rosenthal returns to the Festival with this ominously atmospheric and suspenseful backwoods tale of circumstance, based on Matthew F. Jones’s 1996 novel.
- Some Velvet Morning, directed and written by Neil LaBute. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Fred arrives at Velvet’s doorstep, suitcases in tow. He tells her that he has finally left his wife to be with her, news to Velvet since she has not seen him in years and is now with Fred’s recently married son. As Fred’s hopes crash to earth during a conversation brimming with passion, remorse, humor and anger, the twisted heart of a fascinating relationship is revealed. Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve star in this spirited living room drama.
- Trust Me, directed and written by Clark Gregg. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Directed by and starring Clark Gregg and featuring Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney and Amanda Peet, Trust Me follows flailing Hollywood agent Howard, who seemingly strikes gold after signing the next big child star. What results is an unexpected ride through the nasty inner workings of Hollywood, as Howard desperately tries to make it in an industry that has no interest in recognizing his bumbling but ultimately genuine nature.
The slate also includes a few familiar titles from the festival circuit (Before Midnight, Prince Avalanche, and V/H/S/2 will hit Tribeca after playing Sundance and SXSW). And the new “Storyscapes” sidebar will include Star Wars Uncut, the wonderful crowd-sourced shot-by-shot Star Wars remake that screened last summer at Lincoln Center.
The 12th annual Tribeca Film Festival will run April 17-28.