This year’s Tribeca Film Festival was, as they say, an embarrassment of riches. Incorporating movies and TV series from around the world, and spanning many genres and formats, it ultimately underscored the resilience of cinema even in times of crisis.
From a soul-altering pregnancy experience to the origin story of techno music and a young woman’s spiritual odyssey told through animation, these narratives were the highlights of the festival.
“Liquor Store Dreams”
Those who lived through the 1992 Los Angeles uprising will recall seeing countless images of Korean homeowners, some armed, standing on the roofs of their buildings as businesses around them burst into flames. It is a narrative that, to this day, is not treated with the number of nuances as he deserves. But documentary filmmaker So Yun Um takes a humanistic approach to detailing the complicated and sometimes tragic stories of Korean liquor store owners and her first-generation children, like her, who struggle to be seen. And while she does, Ella Um takes on the difficult task of exploring the tense evolution of Black-Korean relations in Los Angeles.
There’s definitely no shortage of on-screen horror narratives revolving around the terror of motherhood, from “Rosemary’s Baby” to this year’s “The baby.” But writer-director Michelle Garza Cevera, with co-writer Abia Castillo, explores the hackneyed concept with a wholly original Mexican film that is ultimately about a pregnant woman (Natalia Solián) who discovers her path to motherhood has a high price. The scariest thing is his sense of self.
“My love story with marriage”
With the success of last year’s “Flee” shattering all expectations of both animation and documentary, the filmmakers seem to be taking even more risks that are paying off. With “My Love Affair with Marriage,” Latvian filmmaker Signe Baumane explores the effects of the human condition in this remarkable coming-of-age story that tests the limits of fiction as it follows a girl’s 23-year journey to achieve love and a romantic relationship. Throughout the process, the film asks its protagonist, and to some extent the audience, to understand the complexities of why she is on this quest in the first place: for herself or to satisfy certain expectations of her.
A routine meal at the dinner table leads a family into tense discussions about deciding one’s own mortality when a father (Johan Leysen) with no known health problems announces to his adult children that their next birthday will be their last in this Dutch film. surprisingly serious. Director Floor van der Meulen, with screenwriter Bastiaan Kroeger, delicately balances drama with dark comedy in a story that ponders the notion of self-determined destiny and lives, notably daughter Iris (a fantastic Julia Akkermans), that shocks.
Neither Penélope Cruz nor Antonio Banderas are strangers to starring in quirky films like “Vanilla Sky” or “I’m So Excited”. But directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, with co-writer Andrés Duprat, challenge the pair in a whole new way in a film that is essentially about the narcissistic nature of cinema. Cruz is a flamboyant director who pushes her actors, played by Banderas and Oscar Martínez, to delve into the narrative by any means (sometimes even sacrificing her own prized possessions). She produces hilarity.
Especially after “Fresh” earlier this year, horror fans might be anticipating, and perhaps even eager for, a film that engages in the many complexities of carnal pleasure. But trust, you won’t expect what happens in Austrian filmmaker Peter Hengl’s “Family Dinner,” which has a sweet premise as a girl (Nina Katlein) visiting her aunt (Pia Hierzegger), whom she admires, and her new family unit. . and turns it into a growing nightmare.
“Butterfly in the sky”
If you’re an older millennial, chances are you grew up on a healthy diet from “Reading Rainbow” with host LeVar Burton. In fact, the mere mention of the title of this PBS educational series, which ran from 1983 to 2006, probably stirs up memories of its iconic theme. Directors Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb engage with that nostalgia in this documentary that chronicles why the series was a success and made Burton an academic icon, the racial and social barriers it broke down, and why it was a tragedy when it lost its funding. .
“God Said Give Them Drum Machines”
Even if you’re not part of the techno fandom, you’ll get something from this documentary, directed by Kristian R. Hill, which gives credit for the music genre back to Detroit’s black DJs and musicians. This story doesn’t ask so much if or why it was co-opted by white recording artists, though it does give that question the thought it deserves. Rather, how these young black men created the music and encountered each other, as well as a largely queer black club community in the process.
“The Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution”
We live in an age where it seems like every day a comedian gets canceled or assaulted, either verbally or physically, because of the words they utter. So it seems like an interesting time to reflect on the ways that black comics in particular throughout history have never retracted statements deemed controversial to the public, from Moms Mabley and Dick Gregory to Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. . Directors Jessica Sherif and Mario Diaz trace the complexity of the auction in this timely documentary series.
“His Own League”
Admittedly, the very idea of another TV series adapted from a classic movie in this saturated climate is mind-boggling. But showrunner Will Graham’s careful exploration of the beloved female baseball players at the center of this story incorporates multiple queer characters and characters of color who help ground the humanity of both the time period, the narrative, and the sport. It doesn’t take anything away from the original 1992 film, but it’s a nice companion piece.
“Menudo: eternally young”
For the title alone, you might want to file this into another documentary series reflecting on one of your favorite nostalgic bands. But “Menudo: Forever Young” goes further as directors Ángel Manuel Soto and Kristofer Ríos grapple with the iconic boy band’s impact on their Puerto Rican community, the exploitative nature of their industry and the horrible debt they paid.