2023 marks 21 years since Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff launched the Tribeca Film Festival in the wake of the devastating 9/11 attacks, in a bid to revive New York’s film and arts scene. The festival prided itself on giving independent movies and filmmakers a platform to express themselves to the industry, and providing them with the exposure that may aid their careers in years to come.
From smaller budget films like Dark Touch and King Jack to giving premieres to studio-backed, streaming service flicks like Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move and Jerry & Marge Go Large, Tribeca is a festival that doesn’t discriminate when celebrating all areas of the movie-making sphere. With this year’s festival just weeks away, let’s take a look at some of the very best films making their premiere.
The Adults, (United States) – North American Premiere
2023 is a year that has shown signs of prospective promise for the career of Michael Cera, who’s still looking to recapture the form that saw him become one of the most in-demand actors in the late 2000s. Dustin Guy Defa’s comedy-drama, The Adults concerns the relations of three distant siblings who reunite for a weekend of catching up and reforming their childhood bond. However, their brother, Eric (Cera) finds himself torn between spending time with his sisters and a local poker game.
Afire, (Germany) – New York Premiere
Christian Petzold returns after 2020’s critically loved Udine, with another German-language installment, the comedy-drama, Afire. Set in Northern Europe on the coast of the Baltic Sea, a group of friends head on an idyllic holiday. Unfortunately, their tranquil escape doesn’t last long when an unwanted guest disturbs their plans. Not only are the friends forced to contend with an unwelcome presence, but the imminent danger of a forest fire in the local vicinity poses an increasingly prominent threat.
The Blackening, (United States) – US Premiere
Taken from the improv comedy troupe 3peat, The Blackening is a celebration of Black cinema, writing, and the horror genre itself, and follows a group of seven friends who go on a log cabin retreat in the woods (what could possibly go wrong?). Of course, as with any cinematic woodland getaway, their stay soon descends into chaos and a bloodbath ensues’ who survives is anyone’s guess. What’s set to be a comical deconstruction of racist tropes in the horror genre should be a lot of frightening fun.
Bucky F*cking Dent, (United States) – World Premiere
No true creative is solely reliant on one source of income, and in aspiring novelist Ted’s case, he earns his corn by flogging peanuts at the Yankee Stadium. After discovering his estranged father is terminally ill, Ted seeks to make amends and patch up their fractious relationship. Of course, unpredictability is lurking around the corner. Bucky F*cking Dent is a kind of passion project for star David Duchovny, who also writes and directs the film, which is based on his book.
Cinnamon, (United States) – World Premiere
The great Pam Grier is unrecognizable as the heavy metal biker cowboy, Mama, a real departure from her glamorous renditions of Coffy and Foxy Brown, in Bryan Keith Montgomery Jr.’s Cinnamon. The Tribeca entry follows two young lovers, as they chance their arm to attain their dreams. Cinnamon is a poignant and off-kilter picture that expertly delves into the issue of Blaxploitation.
Downtown Owl, (United States) – World Premiere
Henry Golding stars alongside Vanessa Hudgens and Ed Harris, in the screen adaptation of the brilliant Chuck Klosterman’s celebrated novel, Downtown Owl. There is indeed a town situated in North Dakota named Owl, and it provides the backdrop for this tale about a strange assortment of characters who prepare for a blizzard of epic proportions.
Given Klosterman’s penchant for layered pop culture reference and amateur philosophizing, one can expect this film to be a fun, if slightly melancholic, look at loneliness and culture.
Eric LaRue, (United States) – World Premiere
Michael Shannon is an all-consuming actor, but for the new picture, Eric LaRue, the iconic screen villain (The Shape of Water, Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) finds himself behind the camera for his directorial debut. Following a son’s stomach-turning crime, his parents (including the great Judy Greer) pursue different forms of comfort in opposing religious cults in this dramatic, emotionally-charged flick.
First Time Female Director, (United States) – World Premiere