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Tribeca 2021: 10 Films We Are Most Excited To See

Jun 08, 2021
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This year’s Tribeca Film Festival is one of the first American film festivals to return to a somewhat normal structure. Tribeca has a lot on offer across its in-person, distanced outdoor screenings around New York City and virtual screenings. The festival’s broad lineup includes everything from big name premieres, such as the opening night film, In The Heights, and Steven Soderbergh’s highly anticipated No Sudden Move, to a variety of much smaller films. Plus, with the 129 films of the “2020 Official Selection’’ section of the festival, the Tribeca Film Festival will be making up for both last year’s cancelled festival, and a tough year for movies in general.

Here are just 10 of the many films we can’t wait to see from the festival’s gigantic lineup, as selected by Under the Radar film critic, Kaveh Jalinous, who will be covering the fest.



Italian Studies (Spotlight Narrative)

Who: Academy Award-nominated actress Vanessa Kirby.

What: “A film that finds a mysterious woman wandering the streets of Manhattan in confusion, seemingly unsure of who she is or where she’s meant to be. Finding herself inexplicably drawn to a charismatic teenager, she embarks on an adventure with him through the cityscape and into the unknown. As the night progresses, she approaches something intangible on the journey back to herself.”

Why: The film’s summary leaves both much to be desired and much to anticipate, especially with the film’s meager 81-minute runtime. But after Kirby’s absolutely shattering Oscar-nominated performance in the otherwise forgettable Pieces of a Woman, we can’t wait to see what she has in store next for us.



Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (Spotlight Documentary)

Who: Famed traveler, author, and chef Anthony Bourdain, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor director, Morgan Neville.

What: “Drawing on the vast catalog of Bourdain’s on-screen work, as well as never-aired moments, home movies, and insights from those who knew him best, Neville’s film celebrates Bourdain’s adventurous life and the underlying spirit that drove it all: as former President Obama said, ‘To make us a little less afraid of the unknown’.”

Why: Morgan Neville has incredible skill when it comes to exploring the lives of famed cultural icons, as his excellent documentaries about Mr. Rogers and Orson Welles show. With a larger-than-life subject at the film’s helm, a documentary about Bourdain’s life is long overdue and greatly anticipated.



False Positive (Spotlight Narrative)

Who: Broad City star Ilana Glazer, James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan and Justin Theoreux.

What: “After difficult struggles with fertility, loving couple Lucy and Adrian seem to have finally found their potential savior in the charming and world-renowned reproductive specialist Dr. Hindle. But as their dreams begin to come true and hope transforms to happiness, cracks start to appear in the façade of normalcy, sending the now-expectant mother into a spiral of suspicion that threatens her grasp on reality.”

Why: The mysterious plot definitely has us intrigued, as well as the fact that this is the newest horror movie from famed independent film studio A24. Furthermore, the cast and crew associated with this film makes it seem incredibly promising, both because of the main trio of actors and the fact that Glazer herself co-wrote the script.



Stockholm Syndrome (Spotlight Documentary)

Who: Famed rapper, actor, and style icon, A$AP Rocky.

What: “The film reveals Rocky’s experience with the inequities of the Swedish judicial system and the dangers of stardom and scapegoating through a series of twists and turns.”

Why: A$AP Rocky’s imprisonment in Sweden was one of the biggest and most unexpected stories of Summer 2019 as it unfolded, so a documentary that explores that situation firsthand and doubles as a look at the power of fame is definitely at the top of our watchlists.



Catch The Fair One (U.S. Narrative Competition)

Who: Josef Kubota Wladyka, whose debut film earned two Independent Spirit Award nominations, real-life famed boxer Kali Reis and executive producer Darren Aronofsky.

What: “A Native American woman embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister. The former boxer intentionally gets entangled in a human trafficking operation in order to retrace the steps of her kid sister and work her way up the chain of command to find the man responsible.”

Why: Any film with Aronofsky’s name attached – director of Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream – is already intriguing in itself. Based on the film’s logline, Wladyka’s second film looks to be a gripping feature that is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats throughout. Plus, having an actual boxer in the lead role provides an authenticity that makes this film seem even more exciting,



The Beta Test (Viewpoints)

Who: Jim Cummings, the rising-talent director of (and lead actor in) Thunder Road and The Wolf of Snow Hollow.

What: “When a purple envelope mysteriously appears in [talent agent Jordan’s] mailbox inviting him to an anonymous tryst, the cracks in his carefully constructed façade of perfection begin to spread. Defenseless to resist, he indulges in a wild night of mind-blowing passion, only to find his life slowly but surely coming undone in the aftermath.”

Why: Based off of the recent successes of his two previous directorial efforts, Cummings has made quite a name for himself in the indie cinema world. He is known for mixing dark comedy and serious drama almost effortlessly. If The Beta Test is anything like his other two films, his third feature will definitely not be one to miss.



The Last Film Show (Spotlight Narrative)

Who: Director and screenwriter Pam Nalin

What: “Samay and his cohort of rascals hitch a ride on the train that passes their remote village and find their way to a rundown movie theater that offers all the entertainment their little hearts desire. When his friends get escorted out after sneaking in without paying, Samay proves to be the more resourceful one, bribing the hungry projectionist with the home-cooked lunch his mother packed for him. And so begins a daily routine; his lunch in exchange for access to the projection booth—the best seat in the house—where wide-eyed Samay watches the world unfold before him on the big screen. But when the theater transitions from 35mm to digital, this safe haven is disrupted and Samay enlists his buddies to construct their own DIY film projection apparatus.”

Why: Based off of this synopsis alone, The Last Film Show sounds like a modern-day rendition of the famed classic Italian film Cinema Paradiso. Additionally, Nalin’s film looks to showcase both what makes cinema so special and how the medium is changing as a result of new technology, which definitely sounds like an interesting modern twist. The film is also the Opening Night Selection of the Spotlight Narrative section of the festival.



All These Sons (Documentary Competition)

Who: Minding The Gap director Bing Liu and co-editor Joshua Altman.

What: “Chicago’s South and West sides are infamous for their eye-popping murder rates. Seeking to stem the scourge of crime plaguing their neighborhoods, two men—one atoning for having committed a senseless murder as a youth—create community-based self-help programs to offer mentorship and healing to young men likely to be either victims or perpetrators of gun violence.”

Why: All These Sons is the first film from Liu since 2018’s emotionally shattering and Academy Award-nominated Minding The Gap. While there are definitely other documentaries that tackle similar topics to All These Sons, Liu is one of the most promising documentary filmmakers right now, so we’re very eager to see how he brings the story of these two men to screen.



No Sudden Move (Centerpiece Gala Presentation)

Who: Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s Eleven director; an absolutely stacked cast including Don Cheadle, Bencio del Toro, David Harbour, Ray Liotta, Amy Seimetz, Julia Fox, and more.

What: “The story centers on a group of small-time criminals who are hired to steal what they think is a simple document. When their plan goes horribly wrong, their search for who hired them – and for what ultimate purpose – weaves them through all echelons of the race-torn, rapidly changing city.”

Why: Although he is one of the most active working film directors (his last movie, Let Them All Talk, released on HBO Max in December 2020), at the end of the day, any new movie from Steven Soderbergh is more than welcome. Plus, No Sudden Move is the first crime film from Soderbergh since 2016’s Logan Lucky, and if Soderbergh has shown anything in his extensive career, it’s that he can make a fantastic and unforgettable crime film. If you can’t catch this one at the festival, no worries, the film debuts on HBO Max on July 1st.


Roaring 20’s (Années 20) (International Narrative Competition)

Who: Elisabeth Volger, director of the 2019 Netflix Original film Paris is Us.

What: Roaring 20’s allows the audience to accompany everyday people as they cross each other throughout their day, much as we frequently cross with strangers whom we never meet. But in this refreshing addition to contemporary French cinema, the audience gets to meet them all, and the experience is full of life.”

Why: Plot details for Volger’s film are scarce, but the small scale of the production team and the fact that the film was filmed in only six takes on the streets of Paris in Summer 2020 definitely has our attention. Plus, in these pandemic times, the film – if it ends up working – will feel like a refreshing antidote to this time of distancing.



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