Today’s announcement from the New York-based film festival includes 82 of the total 98 feature-length unscripted and scripted titles slated to screen at the 2017 event, a reduction of 20% from last year. They include 78 world premieres, six international premieres, six North American premieres and two U.S. premieres.
Sixteen films, meanwhile, are scheduled to debut across the Spotlight Documentary section, with an additional 12 non-fiction films premiering in the World Documentary Competition. All competing films will vie for cash prizes totaling US$160,000, as well as artwork from the Artists Awards program, offering donated work from contemporary artists.
Premiering in the Documentary Spotlight category include Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney’s No Stone Unturned, which reopens a 1994 investigation into the murder of six men as they watched a World Cup soccer match in a Northern Ireland pub; Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin’s LA 92 (pictured), recounting the six-day race riots that began in South Central Los Angeles when four police officers were acquitted of using excessive force in the arrest of Rodney King in 1992; and Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested’s Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, chronicling Syria’s descent into chaos; and John Dorsey’s Year of the Scab, revisiting the Washington Redskins’ collection of cast-offs who won the Super Bowl against all odds.
Films screening in competition, meanwhile, include Lana Wilson’s The Departure, profiling a Buddhist priest renowned for saving the lives of suicidal individuals; Mark Grieco’s A River Below, following a celebrated marine biologist and reality TV star as they work to save the indigenous Amazonian pink river dolphin from extinction; David France’s The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, which investigates the mysterious death of a black transgendered activist who spearheaded the modern gay civil rights movement; and David Byars’ No Man’s Land, an on-the-ground account of the standoff between ranchers occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and federal authorities.
In addition, Tribeca will honor Earth Day by highlighting several documentaries focused on issues that have an impact on yhe planet, including climate change, food waste and animal extinction. The selected films will screen on April 22.
“It’s uncertain and tumultuous times like these that we need artists and storytellers the most, and this year’s program is a testament to the unending capacity of film for impact, empathy, and even much needed escapism,” said Cara Cusumano, Tribeca’s new director of programming, in a statement. “Each in their own way, these 98 films fill me with optimism and inspiration at the unique power of our medium, and the eyes of a talented filmmaker to inspire, challenge, and maybe even change the world.”
The VR and Storyscapes selections will be announced tomorrow (March 3). The festival will also reveal the remaining feature-length films including Galas, the Closing Night Film and Special Sections on March 7.
The 16th Tribeca Film Festival runs April 19 to 30.
The full list of documentaries can be found by visiting Tribeca’s website, while the films competing in competition can be found below:
World Documentary Competition
Bobbi Jene, directed by Elvira Lind, written by Elvira Lind, Adam Nielsen. (Denmark, Israel, USA) – World Premiere. In her moving and cinematic documentary, Elvira Lind follows American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith as she makes the decision of a lifetime. Bobbi returns to the U.S., leaving behind a loving boyfriend and a successful 10-year run as a star dancer of the famous Israeli dance company Batsheva. Lind intimately portrays Bobbi’s rigorous creative process as she starts fresh in San Francisco, while still working to maintain a long-distance relationship.
Copwatch, directed by Camilla Hall. (USA) – World Premiere. Copwatch is the true story of We Copwatch, an organization that films police activity as a non-violent form of protest and deterrent to police brutality. In her feature film debut, director Camilla Hall crafts an intriguing and timely profile of citizen-journalist-activists- including Ramsey Orta who filmed Eric Garner’s fatal arrest- who seek to disrupt the ever-present challenge of police violence.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, directed by David France, written by David France, Mark Blane. (USA) – World Premiere. Featuring never-before-seen footage and rediscovered interviews, Academy Award nominee David France (How to Survive a Plague) follows a new investigation into the mysterious death of self-described “street queen” Marsha P. Johnson. Credited as one of the courageous black transgender activists who instigated the Stonewall Riots of 1969, thereby spearheading the modern gay civil rights movement.
The Departure, directed by Lana Wilson. (USA) – World Premiere. Lana Wilson follows up her award-winning film, After Tiller, with this profile of Ittetsu Nemoto, a Buddhist priest renowned for saving the lives of countless suicidal people. But Nemoto, suffering from heart disease and supporting his wife and young son, risks his life carrying the heavy emotional load to support those who no longer want to live. When saving others takes such a toll, can he find the resiliency to save himself? In Japanese with subtitles.
No Man’s Land, directed by David Byars. (USA) – World Premiere. “We are patriots,” utters one of the characters in David Byars’ detailed, on-the-ground account of the standoff between ranchers occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and federal authorities. That statement—believed to be true by the armed occupiers—underlines the film, which unspools in measured pace and slowly unpacks its loaded meaning.
The Reagan Show, directed by Pacho Velez and Sierra Pettengill, written by Josh Alexander, Pacho Velez. (USA) – World Premiere. Constructed entirely through 1980s network news and videotapes created by the Reagan administration itself, Velez and Pettengill’s prescient documentary presents Ronald Reagan as the first made-for-TV president—a man whose experience as a performer and public relations expert made him a unique match for an emerging modern political landscape, and for his chief rival: charismatic Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
A River Below, directed by Mark Grieco. (Colombia, USA) – World Premiere. Deep in the Amazon, a renowned marine biologist and a reality TV star are each working to save the indigenous pink river dolphin from being hunted to extinction. When a scandal erupts, ethical questions are raised as murky as the waters of the Amazon River. Mark Grieco’s (Marmato) surprising documentary digs into the ethics of activism in the modern media age. In English, Portuguese, Spanish with subtitles. Earth Day Screening
The Sensitives, directed by Drew Xanthopoulos. (USA) – World Premiere. Meet the Sensitives, people who are debilitatingly sensitive to modern life—electricity, chemicals, you name it. Their symptoms and coping mechanisms might vary, but they all face the unusual and heartbreaking choice of either living in dangerous and uncertain conditions with their loved ones, or in physical and technological isolation. Director Drew Xanthopoulos captures their lives in cinematic verite style.
Shadowman, directed and written by Oren Jacoby. (USA) – World Premiere. In the early 1980s, Richard Hambleton was New York City’s precursor to Banksy, a rogue street artist whose silhouette paintings haunted the sides of Manhattan buildings. Like so many other geniuses of his time, he fell victim to drug addiction, even as his work continued to rise in both demand and value. Shadowman doubles as both a time capsule of a forgotten New York City era, and a redemption story.
A Suitable Girl, directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sarita Khurana. (USA, India) – World Premiere. Dipti, Amrita, Ritu and Seema are all young, modern women in India looking to get married—some desperately, some reluctantly. A Suitable Girl follows them over the course of four years as they juggle family, career and friends, intimately capturing their thoughts on arranged marriage, giving them a voice, and offering a unique perspective into the nuances of this institution. In English, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi with subtitles.
True Conviction, directed by Jamie Meltzer, written by Jamie Meltzer, Jeff Gilbert. (USA) – World Premiere. There’s a new detective agency in Dallas, Texas, started by three exonerated men, with decades in prison served between them, who look to free innocent people from behind bars. True Conviction follows these change-makers with no small task in front of them as they rebuild their lives and families, learn to investigate cases, work to support one another, and try and fix the criminal justice system.
When God Sleeps, directed and written by Till Schauder. (USA, Germany) – World Premiere. “My songs didn’t make me famous. The fatwa did.” And so we embark on the journey of rapper Shahin Najafi, whose bold style and transgressive lyrics put him in the crosshairs of religious clerics in his native Iran. When God Sleeps tells the story of this tireless artist-activist against the backdrop of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and the European right-wing backlash against Middle Eastern refugees. In English, Farsi, German with subtitles.