ENTERTAINMENT
04/13/2016 11:34 am ET | Updated Apr 13, 2016

24 Movies And TV Series That Could Shine At This Year's Tribeca Film Festival

The annual New York showcase kicks off with a Met Gala documentary.

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If you've heard anything about this year's Tribeca Film Festival lineup, it's probably gossip about the anti-vaccination documentary that organizers (Robert De Niro, specifically) defended and then yanked from the lineup after the Internet voiced its loud dissent. The controversy put the annual New York event on shaky footing, but don't let it distract you: This may be Tribeca's finest roster in years. 

In addition to amplifying the festival's television and virtual-reality components, 2016's Tribeca -- which begins on Wednesday and continues through April 24 -- offers a diverse inventory. One-third of the features are directed by women, according to organizers, and illustrious offerings include Chris Rock in conversation with J.J. Abrams, the 40th-anniversary "Taxi Driver" reunion, the farewell sit-down with the cast of "The Good Wife," an O.J. Simpson panel centered on ESPN's 7.5-hour miniseries, and a discussion with David Byrne following the premiere of the new documentary "Contemporary Color."

Now in its 15th year, Tribeca has always had a tough time positioning itself between the indie haven that is January's Sundance and the prestige parade that is May's Cannes. But several film and TV premieres seem poised to break through the noise. We've rounded up a handful of potential hits, but come back to HuffPost over the next couple of weeks for continued Tribeca coverage. 

  • "The First Monday in May"
    Tribeca
    In "Page One: Inside the New York Times" and "Ivory Tower," Andrew Rossi adeptly blended media scrutiny and socioeconomic analysis. In "The First Monday in May," Rossi turns his lens to the glitzy crowd that attends the yearly Met Gala. The documentary -- Tribeca's opening-night selection -- zeroes in on the creation of 2015's China-themed exhibit, with footage from the A-list party that accompanied it. Yes, darling, there will be Anna Wintour sightings.
  • "Roots"
    Tribeca
    Thirty-nine years after "Roots" shattered television records, the History Channel is rebooting the epic miniseries in an eight-part event that lends a "contemporary perspective" to Alex Haley's 1976 novel. Malachi Kirby plays Kunta Kinte, with Emayatzy Corinealdi, Laurence Fishburne, Matthew Goode, Anna Paquin, Mekhi Phifer, Anika Noni Rose, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and T.I. rounding out the ensemble.
  • "The Ticket"
    Tribeca
    Dan Stevens devastated "Downton Abbey" fans when he departed after the show's third season. He's been searching, rather fruitlessly, for his big-screen breakthrough ever since. Ido Fluk's "The Ticket" may be his, well, ticket. Stevens portrays a blind man who awakens to restored sight. He shares the screen with Malin Åkerman and Oliver Platt.
  • "King Cobra"
    Tribeca
    Multi-hyphenate busybody James Franco turns his attention, once again, to gay sex. But this venture is far more intriguing than, say, "Interior. Leather Bar." or the still-unreleased "I Am Michael." The Franco-produced "King Cobra" chronicles Sean Paul Lockhart (Garrett Clayton), better known as Brent Corrigan, the successful porn star who was sucked into a multi-layered scandal that resulted in the murder of an adult-film producer (Christian Slater). Justin Kelly's steamy movie also stars Keegan Allen, Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald.
  • "Elvis & Nixon"
    Tribeca
    If the premise of "Elvis & Nixon" weren't already enough to intrigue any hound dog out there, the casting would surely do it. Michael Shannon plays Elvis Presley during his famous 1970 meeting with Richard Nixon, brought to life by Kevin Spacey, who hasn't spent nearly enough time portraying devious presidents. The movie, directed by Liza Johnson ("Hateship, Loveship"), opens theatrically on April 22.
  • "Strike a Pose"
    Tribeca
    Madonna's Blond Ambition Tour is one of the most celebrated pop roadshows of all time. It earned its own documentary in the form of 1991's revealing "Truth or Dare," which presents Madonna as mother hen to her brigade of backup dancers. "Strike a Pose" revisits the group 25 years later. Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan's graceful portrait isn't always sunny, though. The men have batted a level of addiction, death and dejection that betrays the joyous vogueing that once lent them a semblance of fame.
  • "Pelé: Birth of a Legend"
    Tribeca
    I've never heard of Pelé, but my HuffPost sports colleagues tell me he's the most famous soccer player in history. Who knew? Enough people to inspire Jeff and Michael Zimbalist's biopic, apparently. The movie chronicles the athlete's journey from the slums of Brazil to the winner's corner at the World Cup. Pelé himself will appear at Tribeca's April 23 premiere, ahead of the movie's May 8 theatrical release.
  • "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea"
    Tribeca
    Maisie Williams has some experience playing runaways. See, obviously: "Game of Thrones," whose sixth season premieres days after Williams' first major big-screen role bows at Tribeca. In "Fresh Off the Boat" and "New Girl" director Bill Purple's "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," she plays a homeless teen who befriends an introverted widow (Jason Sudeikis). Together, they build a raft so she can sail across the Atlantic Ocean. No sword-fighting to see here, we assume, but you will find Jessica Biel, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser and Orlando Jones in supporting parts.
  • "Do Not Resist"
    Tribeca
    Police brutality is a tough subject for anyone's debut film, but Craig Atkinson doesn't shy away in "Do Not Resist." From Ferguson onward, the documentary probes the rapid rise in law-enforcement militarization.
  • "Always Shine"
    Tribeca
    The scorned-woman psychodrama is one of cinema's great traditions. In her second movie, director Sophia Takal carries the torch lit by Roman Polanski ("Repulsion"), Ingmar Bergman ("Persona") and Brian de Palma ("Sisters"). But "Always Shine" has a distinctly feminine vantage, showcasing two young actresses (Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald) whose friendship unravels as their competitive resentments ferment during a weekend getaway.
  • "Bad Rap"
    Tribeca
    In Salima Koroma's debut documentary, four aspiring Asian-American rappers struggle to overcome racial hurdles in their pursuit to break into an industry that treats them as outsiders.
  • "Custody"
    Tribeca
    The lives of three New York women intersect in family court when a single mother (Catalina Sandino Moreno) faces off with an unstable judge (Viola Davis) and an ambitious lawyer (Hayden Panettiere) in an effort to secure custody of her son. The movie marks the first non-musical that Tony-winning director James Lapine ("Into the Woods," "Passion") has done since the 1999 HBO movie "Earthly Possessions."
  • "Haveababy"
    Tribeca
    Renowned Las Vegas fertility doctor Geoffrey Sher runs a yearly contest to grant an underprivileged family the shot at in vitro fertilization. Amanda Micheli turns the endeavor into a sensitive documentary, chronicling winning and losing couples as they navigate what comes next.
  • "Women Who Kill"
    Tribeca
    Brooklynite Ingrid Jungermann stays close to home for her feature-film debut about two ex-girlfriends (Jungermann and Ann Carr) who host a podcast about serial killers and come to suspect one of them has begun carousing with a dangerous lady. For a movie without name stars, "Women Who Kill" is generating a heap of buzz.
  • "Little Boxes"
    Tribeca
    If you're a "Black-ish" disciple (as you should be), "Little Boxes" will whet your appetite. In "A Birder's Guide to Everything" director Rob Meyer's second feature, a biracial Brooklyn sixth-grader (Armani Jackson) moves to Washington, where he and his intellectual parents (Melanie Lynskey and Nelsan Ellis) question whether they should act "more black" to fit in.
  • "LoveTrue"
    Tribeca
    Using three dysfunctional relationships, "Bombay Beach" director Alma Har'el canvasses the notion of "true love" in a documentary that blurs the line between fiction and reality. Produced by Shia LaBeouf, who describes Har'el's technique as "psychodrama," "LoveTrue" boasts a Flying Lotus score that amplifies its hypnotic lyricism.
  • "Dean"
    Tribeca
    Making his directorial debut, Demetri Martin headlines this melancholic comedy about a lonely illustrator contending with several losses (his relationship, his mother, his childhood home). Leave it to Gillian Jacobs to cheer him up, though: The "Love" actress plays a new crush who draws him out of his shell during an impromptu trip to Los Angeles. If that "Garden State'-esque premise doesn't do it for you, make way for a supporting cast that includes Kevin Kline (playing Martin's father), Mary Steenburgen and "Veep" star Reid Scott.
  • "Mr. Church"
    Tribeca
    Eddie Murphy hasn't appeared on the big screen since 2012's "A Thousand Words," a dud that resulted in one of the four Razzie nominations he's earned since his Oscar nod for "Dreamgirls." It's time for Murphy to mount his comeback, which is why our fingers are crossed for "Mr. Church," the new drama about a cook who is hired to care for an 11-year-old girl (who grows up to be "Tomorrowland" star Britt Robertson). The movie is the latest from "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Double Jeopardy" director Bruce Beresford.
  • "Check It"
    Tribeca
    Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer's documentary explores the titular gang of queer Washington, D.C. youth who fight back against the oppression and violence they've faced. The filmmakers needed $60,000 to release the film, and they secured it via an Indiegogo campaign that will now bring this community's street-savvy endurance to the big screen.
  • "My Scientology Movie"
    Tribeca
    Surely no summary is needed to pique your interest in a documentary with the word "Scientology" in the title. BBC journalist Louis Theroux stokes the church's ire when he enters the Los Angeles headquarters to investigate its behind-the-scenes happenings. Aided by ex-members illuminating Scientology's complexities, Dower realizes the organization is investigating him at the same time.
  • "Greenleaf"
    Tribeca
    Oprah Winfrey has a recurring role in this drama series about a Memphis megachurch run by a manipulative preacher (Keith David) riddled with family drama. Created by "Six Feet Under" and "Lost" writer Craig Wright, "Greenleaf" premieres on OWN in June.
  • "Obit"
    Tribeca
    Obituary writers traffic in the macabre, but Vanessa Gould's charming documentary about the New York Times' scribes proves they are far more than their downbeat reputations imply. The movie follows the daily lives of several obit writers as they celebrate and mourn their contributions to history.
  • "The Phenom"
    Tribeca
    Noah Buschel ("Glass Chin") turns major-league sports into a psychological study in "The Phenom," a drama about a rookie pitcher (Johnny Simmons) whose unfocused performance on the mound leads him to an unconventional therapist (Paul Giamatti) and his tough ex-con of a father (Ethan Hawke).
  • "Night School"
    Tribeca
    In a diagnosis of America's low-income disadvantages, "Night School" follows three adults in impoverished Indiana neighborhoods as they attempt to earn their diplomas.  

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