17 Films and VR Pieces to Anticipate at the 2022 Tribeca Festival

Beauty

The Tribeca Festival kicks off today, remaining in its pandemic-motivated June slot while embracing in-person screenings and events. The Godfather, accompanied by a discussion with Al Pacino, is the big retrospective, and among the celebrity-driven live talks is the sold-out conversation between director Mike Mills and Taylor Swift. As usual, for our recommendation list we at Filmmaker have tried to look past the higher-profile events, focusing on independent work by both promising new and established older creators that we’ve strong reason to believe will be worth your while.

God’s Time. The feature debut from 25 New Face Daniel Antebi, God’s Time came together quickly, having been written in June of 2020 and shot that summer as an act of pandemic restlessness. Touting Topic Studios and Raven Capital Management as financiers, the film is a comedy in which two best friends/recovering addicts (story collaborators, Ben Groh and Dion Costelloe) go on a chase through New York City to stop an impending murder carried out by a woman (Liz Caribel Sierra) they’re both in love with. Is the film a modern update on fellow New York ragers like Martin Scorsese’s all-nighter After Hours or the Safdie’s similarly titled Good Time?Only time will tell, and, as await its premiere, something tells me God’s Time will have no trouble obtaining a local audience; three of its screenings are already sold out. — Erik Luers

Liquor Store Dreams. Filmmaker, digital content creator and CAAM 2021 Fellow So Yun Um  has reviewed films for online sites as well as her own YouTube channel, has made K-pop digital content for Snapchat, and directed a short documentary, Liquor Store Babies, a personal story based on her and a friend’s growing up as second generation Korean American children of liquor store owners working in Black and Brown Los Angeles communities. She’s now turned that well-received short into a feature, Liquor Store Dreams, that widens the lens beyond the personal, encompassing the 1992 Rodney King police brutality trial, the looting of Korean businesses and the ways in which the stores were microcosms of larger cultural and political dynamics. — Scott Macaulay

Naked Gardens. The latest from husband-and-wife team (and “25 New Faces 2016” alums) Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan (Pahokee), Naked Gardens is a nonsexual skin flick of sorts, a season-long verité look at the residents of family nudist resort Sunsport Gardens. Tucked away in the Florida Everglades, and run by a hippieish, Gandalf-like owner named Morley, the paradisiacal enclave draws folks from around the country – those opposed to society’s strict clothing mandate, but also just gung-ho for the place’s cheap rent. A virtual melting pot of nonconformity, Sunsport Gardens is likewise a bipartisan haven where a family with kids from conservative Kentucky, a recently widowed lesbian, and an Afro-coiffed free spirit can together live their truest selves away from the world’s harsh judgment. And perhaps even escape from any personal demons — least until reality sneaks up like a sunburn. — Lauren Wissot

Angelheaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan & T. Rex. As far as glam rock music docs go, it’s surprising that there’s already been one on reclaimed cult favorite Jobriath but none on originator Marc Bolan. Ethan Silverman’s documentary has access to archival footage and interviews with friends and admirers, but also doubles as a documentary on the late, beloved music producer and arranger Hal Willner, whose 2020 sessions for a T. Rex tribute album makes up the film’s back half. — Vadim Rizov

Subject. “Catnip for the cinephile” boasts the program synopsis for Jennifer Tiexiera and Camilla Hall’s Subject, which makes its world debut on June 11 in the Documentary Competition at this year’s Tribeca Festival. And it’s a pretty spot-on claim for a doc that probes the post-screen afterlives and reflective minds of some of nonfiction cinema’s most recognizable stars. By combining contemporary interviews with characters from Capturing the Friedmans, Hoop Dreams, The Staircase, The Wolfpack, and The Square with sit-downs with acclaimed documentary directors, academics and various experts, a bigger and deeper picture emerges. — LW

The Integrity of Joseph Chambers. Robert Machoian follows last year’s cinematic chamber piece of toxic masculinity, The Killing of Two Lovers, with another picture starring Clayne Crawford that’s an even more stripped down take on destructive male behavior. Taking place largely in a sun-dappled forest in some U.S. exurban region, The Integrity of Joseph Chambers follows its eponymous rifle-toting protagonist into the woods as, having decided he’s got to learn to hunt (because of, you know, the collapse), he engages in survivalist cosplay with tragic results.  Again, Machoian collaborates with ace sound designer Peter Albrechtsen, using non-diegetic sound effects to create an eerie suite of distress, guilt and mental breakdown. — SM

Taurus. His second consecutive collaboration with actor and hip-hop artist Colson Baker (stage name: Machine Gun Kelly), Tim Sutton’s latest film appears to be more self-referential or personal than most, at least as far as its Taurus leading man is concerned. “A rising but troubled musician searches for the inspiration to record one last song, pushing himself deep into the void” goes the logline, and, as shot by Australian DP John Brawley (Phillip Noyce’s The Desperate Hour and Hulu’s hit series, The Great), the film’s visuals should be appropriately striking. With an original score by its star and supporting turns from Scoot McNairy and fellow Taurus Megan Fox, the film has, of course, already caught the attention of MGK’s fanbase ahead of his “Mainstream Sellout Tour” this summer. — EL

There ThereThe descriptions for Andrew Bujalski’s eighth feature (following Support the Girls, unexpectedly named as one of Barack Obama’s favorite films of 2019) have remained vague. Once again acting as his own editor after collaborating with an outside editor, There There promises to be invigoratingly weird, whatever it might be. “We’re not sure how to describe it,” the writer-director recently told the Cambridge Day. “We’re just gonna put it on the screen and let everybody else tell us what we did.” — VR<

A Rising Fury. In Ukraine’s fog of war at least one thing is clear: Both the country’s TV star-led government and its social media-savvy citizenry have performed a heck of a jujitsu move on the Putin regime. Indeed, Russian disinformation has finally met its lie-dismantling match in the information warfare sphere. Which ironically, within the larger landscape of our head-spinning, 24-hour news cycle, only serves to muddy the waters of “truth” even further. Fortunately, the besieged nation also happens to have a thriving documentary scene  with a habit of taking the patient and longterm vérité approach, and out of that tradition now comes Lesya Kalynska and Ruslan Batytskyi’s feature debut A Rising Fury. World-premiering at Tribeca Festival, the work is a culmination of an often fraught and messily complicated,eight-year filmmaking journey following the young patriotic Pavlo, a soldier from the Donbas region where the war began in 2014, and activist volunteer Svitlana, a single mother who the infantryman met and fell in love with on the frontlines of the Maidan Uprising. Over the course of nearly a decade the pair’s hopes and passionate idealism is tested on the battleground of Russia’s insidious hybrid warfare – changing the couple and their beloved country forever. — LW

We Might as Well Be DeadNatalia Sinelnikova’s sharply composed feature debut (which is actually her graduate film), which premiered at this year’s Berlinale, brings the Russian-born, German-residing filmmaker’s perspective to a distinctly Ballardian scenario: a high-rise tower’s increasingly paranoid residents turn on each other. — VR

Lynch/Oz. Following his 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene, cinema-focused documentary director Alexandre O. Philippe gathers seven colleagues to tease out the various convergences and correspondences between the work of David Lynch and The Wizard of Oz. Wild at Heart has the most explicit references to Victor Fleming’s 1939 classic, but, as these filmmakers (and Lynch himself, who says in one archival interview, “There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about The Wizard of Oz) note, the influence runs deep. Critic Amy Nicholson intros the anthology film by providing historical context for The Wizard of Oz‘s enduring popularity. John Waters weighs in with his own Oz bona fides and shares tales of his friendship with Lynch. For Rodney Ascher, Mulholland Drive, with all of its own Oz references, is a film of personal foreboding, while Karyn Kusama can relate to its vivisection of Hollywood morality. And, in my favorite section, David Lowery, who, having grown up with a black-and-white TV and not realizing Oz switches to color, connects both his and Lynch’s interest in the film to its extra-textual mythologies. In addition to the fun of its thesis/concept, Lynch/Oz is also just a great collection of Lynch clips from across his whole directing career. — SM

Sansón and Me. The latest from “25 New Faces” alum Rodrigo Reyes might also be his most personal and potentially fraught. The journey to Sansón and Me actually began a decade ago, when the Mexican-American filmmaker’s day job as a Spanish court interpreter in rural California took a turn for the tragically unexpected. Sansón Noe Andrade was a “quiet and super-polite” 19-year-old who was behind the wheel when his (even younger) brother-in-law decided to open fire on a rival from the passenger side of Sansón’s car. As a result, both teens were charged with murder. And Sansón, perhaps unaware that the US criminal justice system runs on plea deals, decided to take his chances at trial; which, perhaps inevitably, led to his being found guilty and sentenced to life without parole. Cut to Sansón thanking his interpreter with a handshake before being cuffed and whisked away by bailiffs — an image that’s haunted the helpless Reyes ever since, leading to this non-fiction film mixing footage of the imprisoned youth’s actual family with recreation material. — LW

Please, Believe Me. Since the naming of Lyme disease in 1976, this tick-borne illness has been a source of controversy with, on one side, a sometimes skeptical medical establishment that often disputes the existence of “chronic Lyme” (i.e., various symptoms that persist after the recommended course of antibiotic treatment) and on the other, patients and activists seeking further research, new forms of treatment and acknowledgement. Recently, writers — Porochista Khakpour (Sick) and Ross Douthat (The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Recovery) are two examples — have expressed their own individual experiences with Lyme, and now artist and technologist Nonny de la Peña embraces the medium of virtual reality to take viewers into deep Lyme history, exploring the case of  Vicki Logan, who died in 2003 16 years after a Lyme diagnosis. — SM

Body Parts. For most of its history Hollywood has been globally gaslighting the world, exporting the lie that the male gaze is somehow always benign or “neutral,” when of course nothing could be farther from the truth. Fortunately we now have Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s (Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines) eye-opening Body Parts, world-premiering June 12 in the Spotlight Documentary section of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, to unpack both how we got to this patriarchal cinematic state and how those in the camera’s line of sight are now shooting back. Drawing from a sweeping range of classic film clips and knowledgeable voices on the subject of simulated sex onscreen, from film scholars, to intimacy coordinators, to Jane Fonda, the doc is, sadly, proof positive that it didn’t have to be this way; the “inevitability” of female objectification in the movies is actually the result of a highly systematic man-made plan. — LW

Endangered. Donald Trump’s attacks on the “fake news media” – often delivered as reporters from CNN and other outlets huddled in pens at his rallies — were a staple of his presidency, but for journalistic outlets around the world, such intimidation is nothing new. Indeed, as authoritarian and far right governments have gained power around the world, reporters are increasingly threatened. It’s a trend explored in this Ronan Farrow-EP’d doc by directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp, Detropia, One of Us), who find four journalists, hailing from the U.K., U.S., Mexico City and Sao Paulo, for whom these issues impact their work and lives 24/7. — SM

Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel. “The Chelsea is kind of like a grand old tree that’s been chopped down..the roots are deep and there’s life still coming from it.” So reflects one person in Amélie van Elmbt and Maya Duverdier’s feature-length documentary that makes its hometown premiere at the festival this week. A three-year production (two with a crew on location inside the titular building), the film is both a history lesson and a check-in with the hotel’s current inhabitants who will not go peacefully into the night even as they’re being pushed out by developers looking to cash in on the hotel’s artistic fame. As New York City rents continue to rise to an absurd degree, perhaps this film will be appreciated while simultaneously receiving a few hisses for the real estate warning it provides. Following its Berlin premiere, the film welcomed Martin Scorsese aboard the project as an Executive Producer. — EL

Beauty. Andrew Dosunmu has made three extraordinary features: Restless City, Mother of George and Where is Kyra?, the latter featuring one of Michelle Pfeiffer’s best performances. With their bold, near-expressionist cinematography and production design, his films are dizzying immersions into specific cultures and emotional states. In his latest Netflix-bound film, Dosunmu teams up with French cinematographer Benoit Delhomme (The Proposition, The Scent of the Green Papaya) for an ’80s-set film scripted by Lena Waithe about a young Black queer woman’s journey through the world of pop music. Sharon Stone plays the industry exec who guides, for better and worse, her career. — SM

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