Tribeca Film Festival organizers announced on Wednesday 33 films ticketed for the Spotlight section of the April fest, including new movies starring John Cusack, Ethan Hawke, Zoe Kazan and Melissa Leo.
“A mix of established filmmakers and rising talent top off the rest of the section with features exploring some fresh takes on unconventional relationships,” said Tribeca director of programming Genna Terranova in a press release. The Tribeca Film Festival had previously announced "Mistaken For Strangers," a documentary about The National, as the opening night film, plus a full slate of documentary and feature films in competition.
Some highlights from the Spotlight roster include the world premieres of "Adult World" (with Emma Roberts and John Cusack), "Almost Christmas" (with Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti), "A Case of You" (with Justin Long), "Some Velvet Morning" (with Stanley Tucci and Evan Rachel Wood), "Trust Me" (with Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy and more) and "The Pretty One" (with Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson). Festival favorites like "Before Midnight" and "Prince Avalanche" will also screen at Tribeca, along with a load of new documentaries, including a sequel to "Gasland" and "In God We Trust," about Bernie Madoff's secretary. A full rundown of the Spotlight selections can be found below. For more from Tribeca, including the Midnight screenings line-up and the new Storyscapes section, an "innovative, interactive, transmedia work across genres" spotlight, head over to Tribeca.
The Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 17 through April 28.
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.
At Any Price, directed by Ramin Bahrani, written by Hallie Elizabeth Newton and Bahrani. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. The robust farming industry of Iowa is the backdrop for this father-and-son story. Dean Wipple (Zac Efron) longs to be a professional racecar driver. His father Henry (Dennis Quaid) plans to make him the heir to their family farming empire. When Henry’s ethics and expansion practices come under fire, the family must unify or risk losing everything. Temptation, ambition and competition are the driving forces behind this modern-day drama co-starring Heather Graham and Clancy Brown. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Before Midnight, directed by Richard Linklater, written by Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Linklater. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. In the eagerly anticipated third chapter in the star-crossed tale of Jesse and Celine, director and co-writer Richard Linklater fast-forwards to nine years after their last meeting. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy deliver powerfully authentic performances as the companions who find themselves at yet another crossroads in their twisting but passionate relationship. The picturesque streets of Greece serve as the latest backdrop to this beautifully crafted love story. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Big Bad Wolves, directed and written by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. (Israel) – World Premiere, Narrative. A vigilante cop and a vengeful father capture and interrogate an accused serial killer. Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s brutal follow-up to Rabies (TFF 2011) examines a horror that most would not want to imagine: what would you do if someone hurt the one you loved most? A revenge thriller with teeth, Big Bad Wolves delivers on its raw tension and operatic drama. In Hebrew with subtitles.
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.
A Case of You, directed by Kat Coiro, written by Justin Long, Christian Long, and Keir O'Donnel. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. A young writer (Justin Long) woos a cute and quirky barista (Evan Rachel Wood) by creating an embellished online profile. When she falls for his alter ego, he must keep up the act or lose his dream girl. Directed by TFF alumna Kat Coiro and featuring a cast of hilarious cameo performers including Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn and Sienna Miller, A Case of You is a winning romantic comedy for the social media age.
Cycling with Moliere (Alceste à bicyclette), directed and written by Philippe Le Guay. (France) – International Premiere, Narrative. Once-great actor Serge Tanneur (Fabrice Luchini) now spends his days alone, cycling through the windblown landscape of France’s Île de Ré. Even an offer from his old friend Gauthier (Lambert Wilson) to return to the stage in Molière’s The Misanthrope fails to draw his interest. At least, at first. Phillippe Le Guay’s charming comedy of egos colliding on the French seaside turns into a neatly crafted, wonderfully performed search for the creative spark.
The Director, directed by Christina Voros. (Italy) – World Premiere, Documentary. How do you make one of the world's most revered fashion brands your own? That is the task facing creative director Frida Giannini in this authoritative look at the past, present and future of The House of Gucci, directed by director/cinematographer Christina Voros (Kink) and co-produced by James Franco. Taking advantage of rare, behind-the-scenes access, Voros shows how the Florentine trendsetter has been reimagined in the past few years.
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, directed by Chiemi Karasawa. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Broadway legend Elaine Stritch remains in the spotlight at eighty-seven years old. Join the uncompromising Tony and Emmy Award-winner both on and off stage in this revealing documentary. With interviews from Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Hal Prince and others, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me blends rare archival footage and intimate cinema vérité to reach beyond Stritch’s brassy exterior, revealing a multi-dimensional portrait of a complex woman and an inspiring artist.
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.
G.B.F., directed by Darren Stein, written by George Northy. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. The bitter fight for supremacy between a school’s most popular girls takes an unexpected turn when Tanner (Michael J. Willett) becomes its first openly gay student. As they race to bag the big trend in fashion accessories, the Gay Best Friend, Tanner must choose between skyrocketing popularity and the friends he is leaving behind. Darren Stein (Jawbreaker) returns with another comic send-up of high school clique culture, including memorable cameos by Megan Mullally and Natasha Lyonne.
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.
Haute Cuisine, directed by Christian Vincent, written by Etienne Comar and Vincent. (France) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Chef Hortense Laborie (Catherine Frot) is plucked from relative obscurity to whip up classic French dishes for the most powerful man in the nation. Based on the real-life story of the personal chef to former French president François Mitterand, Haute Cuisine uses the politically charged kitchen and corridors of the Élysée Palace as an exquisite backdrop for a nonstop parade of mouthwatering dishes in this deliciously French comedy. In English, French with subtitles. The Weinstein Company release.
I Got Somethin' to Tell You, directed by Whoopi Goldberg. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Having broken racial and sexual boundaries as a pioneering comic talent, the late Moms Mabley has long been an icon in the comedy world. Now Whoopi Goldberg takes a deep dive into Mabley’s legacy via recently unearthed photography, rediscovered performance footage and the words of numerous celebrated comedians. A true passion project for Goldberg, I Got Somethin’ to Tell You shows Mabley’s historical significance and profound influence as a performer vastly ahead of her time.
In God We Trust, directed and written by Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Bernie Madoff ruined many lives before his arrest in 2008. Perhaps no one was so personally affected as his longtime personal secretary, Eleanor Squillari. Meet Squillari in the days and months after the arrest, as her obsession with the case grows into her own unique search for clues. In God We Trust follows Squillari on her personal journey for justice, exposing previously unknown facts about the greatest financial crime ever committed.
Inside Out: The People’s Art Project, directed by Alastair Siddons. (France, U.K.) – World Premiere, Documentary. This fascinating documentary tracks the evolution of the world’s largest participatory art project, the wildly popular “Inside Out.” Travel the globe with French artist JR as he motivates communities to define their most important causes by pasting giant portraits in the street, testing the limits of what they thought possible. In capturing the process, Alastair Siddons creates a glowing testament to the power of the image and the role that art can play in transforming lives. In Arabic, Creole, English, French, Spanish with subtitles.
Lil Bub & Friendz, directed by Andy Capper and Juliette Eisner. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Called “the most famous cat on the Internet,” the wide-eyed perma-kitten Lil Bub is the adorable embodiment of the Web’s fascination with all things cats. Join Lil Bub and her owner on wild cross-country romp as they meet the Internet’s most famous cat-lebrities. Chock full of adorable kitties, hilarious videos and the dedicated cat enthusiasts who love them, Lil Bub & Friendz is a fun and hip peek behind the memes we know and love. Includes Mike "The Dude" Bridavsky, Ben Lashes, Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat, Keyboard Cat.
McConkey, directed and written by Steve Winter, Murray Wais, Scott Gaffney, David Zieff, and Rob Bruce. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. An all-star roster of sports movie-making talent directs this heartfelt biography of extreme ski trailblazer Shane McConkey, once described as “the most influential skier ever.” McConkey covers forty years and countless high places to track Shane’s conversion from downhill racer to freeskiing marvel to pioneer of a hair-raising new discipline—ski BASE jumping—giving alarming new meaning to the question, how far would you go to be the next big thing?
The Motivation, directed by Adam Bhala Lough. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Go inside the lives and training regimes of eight of the world’s gutsiest professional skateboarders. These fearless stars face unique obstacles on the way to the Street League Championship and the coveted title of best skateboarder in the world. Adam Bhala Lough, creator of the 2003 independent hit Bomb the System (TFF 2003), directs this fresh, energetic documentary in search of the elusive quality that separates the winners from the pack. Features Nyjah Huston, Ryan Sheckler, Chris Cole, Paul Rodriguez, Sean Malto, Rob Dyrdek, Chaz Ortiz, Luan Oliveira, and Bastien Salabanzi. In English, Portuguese with subtitles.
The Pretty One, directed and written by Jenée LaMarque. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Audrey has all of the qualities that her twin sister Laurel wishes she possessed: confidence, style, independence. When tragedy strikes, Laurel has the opportunity to reinvent herself. In a complex performance, Zoe Kazan poignantly captures Laurel’s complex mix of loss and awakening, especially as she begins a new relationship with her neighbor (Jake Johnson). Jeneìe LaMarque’s first feature film is a quirky, lovely tale of identity and the eternal bond between two sisters.
Prince Avalanche, directed and written by David Gordon Green. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) spend the summer of 1988 repainting a highway in a fire-damaged forest. The isolation quickly wears thin on Lance, yet an unlikely friendship emerges within their cutting jibes and forced reconciliations to meet the long road that lies ahead. David Gordon Green returns to the lyrical tenor of his earliest films in this potent blend of comedy and road-movie stoicism, based on the 2011 Icelandic film Either Way. A Magnolia Pictures release.
The Project, directed and written by Shawn Efran and Adam Ciralsky. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. The Project profiles the precarious, real-life story of the Puntland Maritime Police Force, a group of Somali pirate hunters. Taking the hijacking of the African waterways and the kidnapping of innocent citizens into their under-trained hands, the PMPF face mutiny, death and a loss of corporate funding in their dangerous quest to free the Middle East shipping industry from terror. The mercenaries’ epic battle makes for an intense, gripping and disarming ride.
Reaching for the Moon (Flores Raras), directed by Bruno Barreto, written by Matthew Chapman and Carolina Kotscho. (Brazil) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Frustrated poet Elizabeth Bishop travels to Brazil and encounters the beguiling architect Lota de Macedo Soares. Initial hostilities make way for a complicated yet long-lasting love affair that dramatically alters Bishop’s relationship to the world around her. Anchored by magnificent lead performances from Miranda Otto and Glória Pires, Reaching for the Moon is an intimate snapshot of the search for inspiration, wherever and however you find it. In English, Portuguese with subtitles.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist, directed by Mira Nair, written by Mohsin Hamid, William Wheeler, Ami Boghani. (India, Pakistan, USA) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake) returns with another spellbinding adaptation of a celebrated bestseller. Pakistan-born Changez (Riz Ahmed) turns a Princeton degree into a cushy life on Wall Street with a gorgeous girlfriend (Kate Hudson). Then the Twin Towers fall, and his American dream shatters amid interrogations and overwhelming national distrust. He soon questions his allegiances, as this thriller exposes the dangers of being a stranger in your own land.Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber and Om Puri also star. An IFC Films 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.
Whitewash, directed by Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais, written by Marc Tulin and Hoss-Desmarais. (Canada) – World Premiere, Narrative. The brutality of winter and the power of the mind are aptly portrayed in this dark comedy set in Northern Quebec. Bruce (Thomas Haden Church) is merely trying to survive a harsh winter when he meets Jean. Conflict leads to an accidental death, and Bruce finds himself in a complicated and unexpected place. Grappling with his guilt, Bruce creates a prison from which he cannot escape. Haden Church perfectly utilizes his comic talent in this wry, well-crafted film.