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Tribeca fills Spotlight section with offerings from the Weinsteins, Magnolia and IFC

Stemming as far back as Cannes and Toronto of last year and fresh from journeys at Sundance and Berlin, most of the titles selected for Tribeca’s Spotlight section have toured the festival circuit but have yet to open theatrically. The slew of films (with major support from Weinsteins, Magnolia and IFC Films) will provide the fest with the glamor quotient – (look for José Padilha’s Elite Squad as a solid offering) while the Showcase section offers the prestige of critically acclaimed films that don’t necessarily have a domestic distribution deal set in place. Finally, the Restored/Rediscovered sections along with its Special Events are perhaps the best of what this NYC film festival has to offer with cream of the crop events like a cleaned up little known Fellini film, a panel discussion with some nerds in attendance to talk about Kubrick’s sci-fi masterwork 2001 and Errol Morris will get crossed examined with his latest doc SOP.

Here is today’s announcement:


Baghead, directed and written by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass.  (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative.  It’s not often that a film can be both a hilariously tongue-in-cheek send-up of indie flicks and a brilliantly insightful bit of character drama, but the Duplass brothers (The Puffy Chair) pull it off in this story of four fledgling actors, a rustic cabin, and. . . something. . . in the woods. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.

Before the Rains, directed by Santosh Sivan, written by Cathy Rubin.  (USA)  New York Premiere, Narrative.  This lush period piece, set in Kerala, South India at the twilight of the Raj, traces the fraying friendship between an English spice baron (Linus Roache), his loyal aide (Rahul Bose), and his servant—and lover (Nandita Das). An Echo Lake/Roadside Attractions Release.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster, directed by Christopher Bell.  (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.  As entertaining as it is informative, this documentary goes beyond simply examining the truth about anabolic steroids and the athletes—professional and amateur—who use them. Focusing on his own family’s personal history, Bell looks at why Americans feel the need to be the biggest, strongest, and fastest. A Magnolia Pictures Release. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

Boy A. directed by John Crowley, written by Mark O’Rowe.  (UK) – US Premiere, Narrative.  A former juvenile offender released from prison after 14 years reenters society with the help of his counselor. Newcomer Andrew Garfield gives a stunning performance as the hesitant 24-year-old who must catch up with his peers while keeping his past a secret. A Weinstein Company Release.

Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite), directed by José Padilha, and written by Braulio Montovani, Rodrigo Pimentel, and Padilha.  (Brazil) – North American Premiere, Narrative.  Fresh from winning the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and one of the most controversial Brazilian films of recent times, Elite Squad is a searing and astonishing look at the corruption of the special police force in the volatile slums of Rio. As one cop desperately tries to get out, two naive recruits see if they have what it takes to get in. Portuguese with English subtitles. A Weinstein Company and Costa Films in association with The Latin American Film Company release

Finding Amanda, directed and written by Peter Tolan.  (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.  In Tolan’s (co-creator, Rescue Me) hysterical feature directing debut, a successful TV writer (Matthew Broderick) comically struggles with his addiction to gambling, drugs, and alcohol, making it that much harder to travel to Las Vegas and convince his troubled niece (Brittany Snow) to go to rehab. Featuring Steve Coogan, Maura Tierney, and Peter Facinelli. A Magnolia Pictures Release.

Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot, directed by Adam Yauch.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Rucker Park. The mecca for all street basketball players. In Beastie Boy Yauch’s super-energized and highly musical documentary, eight of the country’s top 24 high school players participate in the first “Elite 24” tournament on the same court that helped turn Dr. J, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain into legends. An Oscilloscope Pictures Release. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

Kicking It, directed by Susan Koch.  (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.  All athletes are invested in the games they play, but none more than those in Kicking It, a look at the 2006 Homeless World Cup. For these guys, it’s about more than national pride. Narrated by Colin Farrell. A Liberation/ESPN/Red Envelope Entertainment Release. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

Lou Reed’s Berlin, directed by Julian Schnabel.  (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.  In 2006, artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel took to the stage at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn to introduce a concert 33 years in the making: Lou Reed, playing his Berlin song cycle live for the first time. It was worth the wait. A Weinstein Company Release.

Man On Wire, directed by James Marsh.  (UK) – New York Premiere, Documentary.  On August 7, 1974, New York gasped as French daredevil Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers—without a safety net. Peppered with humor and awe, this stunning portrait of an artist of reckless daring and impish charm is sure to leave viewers spellbound. English, French with English subtitles. A Magnolia Pictures Release.

Meerkat Manor: The Story Begins, directed by Chris Barker and Mike Slee.  (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.  Using lively footage of wild African meerkats and Whoopi Goldberg’s narration, this film ingeniously tells the story of Flower and her family. As imaginative as any cartoon, it will have kids begging for their very own baby meerkat (not recommended). A Weinstein Company Release.

Mister Lonely, directed by Harmony Korine, written by Avi Korine and Korine.  (UK, France, Ireland, USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative.  It takes great talent to make a sky jumping nun and her BMX bike evoke a sense of sublime euphoria. Harmony Korine (Gummo) pulls it off in this poetic rumination on identity and art. Cast includes Diego Luna, Samantha Morton, Denis Lavant, and Werner Herzog. HerzoHhEnglish, French with English subtitles. An IFC Films Release.

My Winnipeg, directed by Guy Maddin, written by George Toles and Maddin.  (Canada) – US Premiere, Narrative.  Guy Maddin’s (The Saddest Music in the World) self-described “docu-fantasia” on his wintry hometown blurs facts and fictions, childhood memories and outlandish hand-me-down tales in the auteur’s dreamy, hyper-stylized fashion. An IFC Films Release.

Savage Grace, directed by Tom Kalin, written by Howard A. Rodman.  (Spain, USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative.  A daring dramatization of the disintegrating psyche of ’60s socialite Barbara Baekeland, Savage Grace brilliantly showcases Julianne Moore at her most haunting. Insulated by wealth and abandoned by her husband, Baekeland falls into tragic dysfunction with her adoring son. Based on a true story. An IFC Films Release.

The Universe of Keith Haring, directed by Christina Clausen.  (Italy, France) – US Premiere, Documentary.  Featuring Madonna, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Fab 5 Freddy, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, this documentary takes an affectionate look at the colorful life of Keith Haring, whose street drawings helped define the 1980s New York art scene. An Arthouse Films Release.

The Wackness, directed and written by Jonathan Levine.  (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative.  Summer of ’94. The streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop and wafting with marijuana, and Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) is spending his last summer before college selling dope, trading it with his shrink (Ben Kingsley) for therapy, and crushing on his stepdaughter (Olivia Thirlby). Featuring Sir Ben Kingsley, Mary-Kate Olsen and Method Man. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.

War, Inc., directed by Joshua Seftel, written by John Cusack, Mark Leyner, and Jeremy Pikser
(USA) – US Premiere, Narrative.  A hit man is sent to a fictional war-torn Middle Eastern country where the United States is waging the first fully outsourced war. John Cusack (who co-wrote and produced), Joan Cusack, Marisa Tomei, Hilary Duff, and Sir Ben Kingsley star in this biting satire. A First Look Studios Release.


Algeria, Unspoken Stories (Algérie, histoires à ne pas dire), directed and written by Jean-Pierre Lledo.  (Algeria) – US Premiere, Documentary.  Unearthing buried memories of Algeria’s war of independence, this bold revision of official history feels like the embrace of a lost kin or a return home. Its challenge to nationalism built on ethnicity and religion has resulted in its continued failure to receive the license that would allow Algerians to see it. Arabic, French with English subtitles.
Football Under Cover, directed by Ayat Najafi and David Assmann.  (Germany) – US Premiere, Documentary.  When the members of a Berlin women’s football team (we call it “soccer”) learn to their surprise they have counterparts in Iran, but that those women have never been allowed to play an actual game, they set out for Tehran to make the impossible happen. English, German, Farsi with English subtitles. Part of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
Hidden In Plain Sight, directed by Mark Street.  (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.   Spanning several continents, frequent Tribeca Film Festival guest Mark Street examines his own position within diverse urban landscapes in his quest for traces of modern revolutionaries—from Salvador Allende’s in Santiago to Ho Chi Minh’s in Hanoi, Dakar, and Marseille.
Katyń, directed by Andrzej Wajda, written by Andrzej Mularczyk, Wladyslaw Pasikowski, and Wajda.  (Poland) – New York Premiere, Narrative.  One of Europe’s master filmmakers has finally been able to depict the suffering resulting from one of the darkest episodes of 20th-century history: the 1940 slaughter of Poland’s 15,000-man officer corps, which claimed the life of Wajda’s father. Academy Award® nominee, Best Foreign Language Film. German, Polish, Russian with English subtitles.

Lioness, directed by Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers.  (USA)  – New York Premiere, Documentary.  United States military policy supposedly bars female soldiers from engaging in ground combat, so why were the women of Lioness sent with the marines into the deadliest insurgent strongholds in Iraq?
Profit motive and the whispering wind, directed by John Gianvito.  (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.  Award-winning independent filmmaker John Gianvito traverses the United States, ferreting out the gravesites and monuments of American rebels and leftists embedded in long-forgotten landscapes. In singular fashion, he revives America’s rich history of progressive social protest.
Secrecy, directed by Robb Moss and Peter Galison.  (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. In the years following September 11, the black redaction stripe has become a familiar sight to most Americans. Secrecy probes the roots of the United States’ culture of classification—and its consequences.
The Secret of the Grain (La graine et le mulet), directed and written by Abdellatif Kechiche.  (France) – New York Premiere, Narrative.  Winner of best picture and best director Césars, this remarkable depiction of a family of North African immigrants who have settled in a decaying port town in southern France introduces a large group of characters whom you’ll soon warm to as members of your own family—except they make better couscous. French with English subtitles.
Playing (Jogo de cena), directed and written by Eduardo Coutinho.  (Brazil) – New York Premiere, Documentary   .  One of Brazil’s most respected documentary filmmakers invited two dozen women to be filmed as they told their life stories. Months later, he filmed a group of actresses as they reenacted the same stories. The result couldn’t be simpler—or more inexplicably magical! Portuguese with English subtitles.

Strangers, directed and written by Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv.  (Israel) – New York Premiere, Narrative. This complex and riveting love story shatters standard movie clichés as an Israeli man and Palestinian woman meet at the World Cup in Germany and try to develop a relationship that will transcend the larger struggles that face their communities. Arabic, English, French, Hebrew with English subtitles.


Harvest 3000 Years (Mirt Sost Shi Amit), directed and written by Haile Gerima.  (Ethiopia, 1975) – Presented by The World Cinema Foundation. Restored by Cineteca di Bologna-L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.  A masterpiece of African cinema, chosen as one of the initial projects by Martin Scorsese for his new World Cinema Foundation project. Scorsese has written that the film “has a particular kind of urgency which few pictures possess. This is the story of an entire people, and its collective longing for justice and good faith.” Amharic with English subtitles.
Night Tide, directed and written by Curtis Harrington.  (USA, 1961) – World Premiere Restoration.  Restored by the Academy Film Archive, with funding provided by The Film Foundation. Courtesy of Milestone Film and Video. The feature debut of the versatile Curtis Harrington (1926-2007) stars a young Dennis Hopper, and until now has not been seen on 35mm since the ’60s. Set in an amusement park, Harrington’s film blends a romantic mystery story with elements of film noir and the horror genre, the film’s atmosphere enhanced by David Raksin’s (Laura) melodic score. Preceded by a Harrington experimental short film.

Toby Dammit, directed by Federico Fellini, written by Bernardino Zapponi and Fellini. (Italy, 1968) – International Premiere Restoration.. Presented by Taormina Film Fest. Restored by Giuseppe Rotunno for the Ornella Muti Network.  A gorgeous new restoration—supervised by its cinematographer, Giuseppe Rotunno—of Fellini’s adaptation of a Poe short story has Terence Stamp as a British celeb struggling through a haze of booze and drugs to make sense of the paparazzi and produttore who welcome him to Rome. English, Italian with English subtitles.
Two Timid Souls (Les deux timides), directed and written by René Clair.  (France, 1929) Archival Print from the Cinémathèque Française. Silent with French intertitles and live English translation. World Premiere of a new score by the NYU Chamber Orchestra, Gillian B. Anderson, conductor. The revelation of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival last fall was this charming, near-forgotten comic gem, which displays all the elegance, wit, and visual inventiveness that are hallmarks of its director, best known for An Italian Straw Hat, and A nous la liberté.

Conversations in Cinema:

2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Arthur C. Clarke and Kubrick
(UK, USA, 1968) – Kubrick’s 2001 caught the imagination of a generation with its near-hallucinatory depiction of space, artificial intelligence, and the human condition. The 40th anniversary of this film finds us once again confronting profound questions about the effects these things have had on our culture and our future. To be followed by a special panel conversation with prominent filmmakers and scientists. Presented by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

90 Miles The Documentary (90 Millas El Documental), directed by Emilio Estefan, written by Jose Maldonado and Estefan. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. A fascinating look at Gloria Estefan as she records her latest album, 90 Millas, which pays tribute to the history of Latin music. With appearances ranging from legendary Latin musicians such as Arturo Sandoval, Chocolate Armenteros, and Israel Lopez Cachao to contemporaries Sheila E., Carlos Santana, and Pit Bull. English, Spanish with English subtitles. Followed by a special talk with Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan and special guests.
Standard Operating Procedure, directed by Errol Morris.  (USA) – North American Premiere, Documentary.  Can a photograph change the world? Can an exposé also be a cover-up? In Standard Operating Procedure, Academy Award®-winning director Errol Morris turns the camera on the American soldiers who took the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs. Followed by a conversation with Errol Morris. A Sony Pictures Classics Release in association with Participant Productions.
Special Screenings:

 Empire II, directed by Amos Poe.  (USA) – North American Premiere, Documentary.  Although inspired by a monument of cinematic stasis—Andy Warhol’s eight-hour Empire (1964)—this new three-hour experiment is an astonishingly beautiful and unexpectedly lively tone poem paying unforgettable tribute to the sights and sounds of the mythical, magical place called Manhattan.
Once Upon a Time in the West (C’era una volta il West), directed by Sergio Leone, written by Sergio Donati and Leone, English dialogue by Mickey Knox.  (Italy, USA, 1968) – New York Premiere Restoration, Narrative.  What is there to say except “restored—at last.” This breathtakingly beautiful and unforgettable film, as much an opera as it is a Western, has been both adored and reviled since its initial release, but it’s been almost impossible to see the way it was intended to be seen—until now. Italian with English subtitles. Restoration made possible by support from The Film Foundation and The Rome Film Festival, in association with Sergio Leone Productions and Paramount Pictures. Screening is a collaboration with the Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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