The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) has unveiled the 12 docs playing in competition at next month’s event, including the world premiere of Michael H. Profession: Director (pictured), Yves Montmayeur’s portrait of auteur Michael Haneke.
Other titles competing for New York festival’s non-fiction awards (Best Documentary Feature, Best New Documentary Director, and Best Editing) include The Kill Team, Dan Krauss’s documentary examining the stories of four U.S. soldiers implicated in war crimes; and Teenage, Matt Wolf’s exploration of the evolution of the teenager.
Continuing a tradition started last year, the 12th TFF will have designated opening films for all categories, with Big Men screening as the opening night film for the World Documentary competition, the doc Flex is Kings opening the Viewpoints section. Both films will premiere on April 18.
As previously reported, Tom Berninger’s Mistaken for Strangers, a tour documentary following Ohio rock band The National, will be TFF’s main opening film for this year’s event.
“The films in this year’s documentary competition deliver tremendous insight into the challenges of our ever-growing global culture as well as highlight how individuals affect and react to change,” said TFF director of programming Genna Terranova.
“With varying styles of filmmaking, this mix of American and international voices are pointed and thought-provoking. Viewpoints has broadened this year with more international perspectives, and features many stories about those that go to great lengths when affronted by their own individuality.”
The full list of World Documentary Feature Competition and non-fiction Viewpoints titles follows below, with descriptions provided by TFF. This year’s festival takes place in NYC from April 17-28.
World Documentary Feature Competition
Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys, directed and written by Jessica Oreck. (Finland) – World Premiere.
In the forests of Finnish Lapland, brothers Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki carry on the generations-old tradition of reindeer herding. These modern cowboys maintain an intricate bond with the environment that has allowed them to preserve their lifestyle in one of the harshest climates imaginable. Jessica Oreck’s intimate, gorgeously lensed documentary follows the brothers for a year, sharing in the hard work, daily rituals and small joys that make up life above the Arctic Circle. In Finnish with subtitles.
Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution, directed by Alex Meillier, written by Tanya Ager Meillier and Meillier. (USA) – North American Premiere.
Kirsty Sword Gusmão went to Timor-Leste to document injustice in an area closed to Western journalists. Over the next decade, she became the lynchpin that sustained the nation’s harrowing struggle for independence and met the man who would redefine the cause for which she was fighting. Using astonishing footage of the years-long resistance, director Alex Meillier presents a highly personal account of the courage needed to create a new democracy in modern times.
Big Men, directed by Rachel Boynton, written by Rachel Boynton. (USA) – World Premiere.
For her latest industrial exposé, Rachel Boynton (Our Brand Is Crisis) gained unprecedented access to Africa’s oil companies. The result is a gripping account of the costly personal tolls levied when American corporate interests pursue oil in places like Ghana and the Niger River Delta. Executive produced by Steven Shainberg and Brad Pitt, Big Men investigates the caustic blend of ambition, corruption and greed that threatens to exacerbate Africa’s resource curse. In English, Other, Twi with subtitles.
The Genius of Marian, directed by Banker White and Anna Fitch. (USA) – World Premiere.
Weaving past into present, filmmakers Banker White (Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars) and Anna Fitch immerse the audience in the daily life of White’s mother, Pam. Her Alzheimer’s threatens to wipe out the memory of her own mother, Marian, a celebrated artist who died of the same disease. Beautifully edited, The Genius of Marian retraces both women’s lives to paint a complex and powerful contemporary portrait of motherhood, chronic illness and legacy.
The Kill Team, directed by Dan Krauss, written by Lawrence Lerew, Linda Davis and Krauss. (USA) – World Premiere.
In 2010, the media branded a platoon of U.S. Army infantry soldiers “The Kill Team” following reports of its killing for sport in Afghanistan. Now, one of the accused must fight the government he defended on the battlefield, while grappling with his own role in the alleged murders. Dan Krauss’s absorbing documentary examines the stories of four men implicated in heinous war crimes in a stark reminder that, in war, innocence may be relative to the insanity around you.
Let the Fire Burn, directed by Jason Osder. (USA) – World Premiere.
Jason Osder makes an impressive feature film debut through his unbiased and thorough account of the incidents leading up to and during the 1985 standoff between the extremist African-American organization MOVE and Philadelphia authorities. The dramatic clash claimed eleven lives and literally and figuratively devastated an entire community. Let the Fire Burn is a real-life Wild West story absent the luxury of identifying its heroes by the color of their hats.
Michael H. Profession: Director, directed and written by Yves Montmayeur. (Austria, France) – World Premiere.
Over the past 25 years, director Michael Haneke has established himself as a towering figure in modern cinema whose rigorous focus on the craft of filmmaking has produced works of profound artistry. This career-spanning documentary offers invaluable insight into his creative process, through unprecedented access to the man and his work on set and interviews with frequent collaborators including Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche. In French, German with subtitles.
Oxyana, directed by Sean Dunne. (USA) – World Premiere.
Oceana, West Virginia—known as “Oxyana” after its residents’ epidemic abuse of OxyContin—is a tragically real example of the insidious spread of drug dependency throughout the country. Set against an abandoned coal mining landscape to the melodies of Deer Tick’s haunting score, this unflinchingly intimate documentary probes the lives of Oceana’s afflicted and exposes the day-to-day experience of a town living in the harsh grip of addiction.
Powerless (Katiyabaaz), directed by Fahad Mustafa, Deepti Kakkar, written by Mustafa. (India) – North American Premiere.
Would you risk your life to flip a switch? In Kanpur, India, putting oneself in harm’s way to deliver electrical power is all too common. Powerless sheds light on the opposing corners of this political ring, from an electrical Robin Hood tapping wires for neighbors to the myopic utility company whose failure to understand economics forces it deeper into financial disarray. This vibrant exposé gives a whole new meaning to the words “power struggle.” In English, Hindi with subtitles.
Raw Herring (Hollandse Nieuwe), directed by Leonard Retel Helmrich and Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich. (Netherlands) – World Premiere.
Every year millions of people look forward to the first preparation of Hollandse Nieuwe, the popular snack of raw herring from the North Sea’s spring catch. But how do you find glory in the grueling pursuit of a once-iconic fish that even the queen no longer accepts as definitively Dutch? Raw Herring celebrates the cultural legacy maintained by Holland’s last great herring fishers even as new trends and foreign competition threaten their way of life. In Dutch with subtitles.
Red Obsession, directed and written by David Roach and Warwick Ross. (Australia) – North American Premiere.
France’s Bordeaux region has long commanded respect for its coveted wine, but shifts in the global marketplace mean that a new, voracious consumer base in China is buying up this finite product. Bordeaux both struggles with and courts the spike in demand, sending prices skyrocketing. Narrated by Russell Crowe, Red Obsession is a fascinating look at our changing international economy and how an obsession in Shanghai affects the most illustrious vineyards in France. In English, Mandarin with subtitles.
Teenage, directed by Matt Wolf, written by Jon Savage and Wolf. (USA) – World Premiere.
Teenagers did not exist before the 20th century. Not until the early 1950s did the term gain widespread recognition, but with Teenage, Matt Wolf offers compelling evidence that “teenagers” had a tumultuous effect on the previous half-decade. Narrated by actors Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jessie Usher, this fascinating documentary repositions the historical origin of teenagers and shows why those years are more than just a stepping-stone to adulthood. In English, German with subtitles.
Bending Steel, directed by Dave Carroll, written by Ryan Scafuro and Carroll. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
The Cyclone, The Freakshow, The Mermaid Parade: all Coney Island icons. But Chris “Wonder” Schoeck has always preferred the Coney Island Strongman. Bending Steel follows the sweet, unassuming Schoeck as he parlays his extraordinary strength into the pursuit of his lifelong dream. Training with an elite group of men whose hands bend, drag, twist and shred metal, he tackles an enormous physical and mental challenge, taking a surprisingly emotional journey as a result.
BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton, directed by Stephen Silha, Eric Slade, and Dawn Logsdon. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.
A charismatic and visionary poet and filmmaker who emerged in the artistic renaissance of post-WWII San Francisco, James Broughton led a completely unconventional existence in his lifelong quest for creative artistry, sexual and spiritual love and an evolved state of happiness. BIG JOY is a celebratory mosaic of Broughton¹s deeply intertwined creative and personal lives, vividly depicted through his involvement with a wide array of artists, activists and spiritual guides.
Bridegroom, directed and written by Linda Bloodworth Thomason. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Bridegroom gives an intensely personal edge to the ongoing debate over the legal rights of same-sex couples. Interviews, photos and video footage all testify to the uncommon connection that drew together Shane and Tom. For six years they remained united despite extreme challenges from both family and society, until a tragic accident tears apart their dreams. Now one must fight to be recognized as his soulmate’s legitimate counterpart.
Cutie and the Boxer, directed by Zachary Heinzerling. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.
Once a rising star in the ’70s New York art scene, eighty-year-old “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara is prepping for his latest show hoping to jumpstart his career. His wife and de facto assistant Noriko seeks her own recognition through her “Cutie” illustrations depicting their chaotic forty-year marriage. Zachary Heinzerling’s wonderfully candid debut captures two not-always-happy lives united by a dedication to art. It becomes a touching portrait on the eternal themes of love and sacrifice. A RADiUS release.
Dancing in Jaffa, directed by Hilla Medalia, written by Philip Shane and Medalia. (Israel, USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulain stars in this charming documentary that offers a unique perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Three diverse Jaffa-based schools host Dulain’s Dancing Classrooms program. Ballroom basics are taught to an ethnically mixed group of children, the most passionate members of which are trained for a citywide competition. What results is a sweet and incredibly moving tale filled with moments of truth, poignancy and hope. In Arabic, English, Hebrew with subtitles.
Flex Is Kings, directed by Deidre Schoo and Michael Nichols. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Journey to the edge of Brooklyn and of street performance itself in this sparkling portrait of the freeing power of art. Reem is the savvy promoter, Flizzo the undefeated local legend, Jay Donn the innovator with the talent to carry him far away from home. Uniting them is a competitive dance form of dramatic contortions, simulated violence, flowing footsteps and the occasional humorous touch. Welcome to the world of Flex.
Kiss The Water, directed by Eric Steel (USA, U.K.) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Travel to Scotland’s far northern highlands and explore the life and remarkable influence of Megan Boyd, fishing fly-maker extraordinaire. Self-taught in this enigmatic, artful craft, Boyd became an internationally renowned artisan and supplier to, among others, Prince Charles. Interviews, animations and images of the stunning Scottish countryside define Eric Steel’s lyrical tale of solitary celebrity and the joy of making your mark, even when it was the last thing you planned to do.
Lenny Cooke, directed by Benny Safdie and Joshua Safdie. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
In 2001, Lenny Cooke was the most hyped high school basketball player in the country, ranked above future greats LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. A decade later, Lenny has never played a minute in the NBA. In this quintessentially American documentary, filmmaking brothers Joshua and Benny Safdie track the unfulfilled destiny of a man for whom superstardom was only just out of reach.
Check out the trailer for Michael H. Profession: Director below: