tribeca film festival 2013

18 Movies to See at the Tribeca Film Festival

Zac Efron, Kim Dickens and Dennis Quaid in At Any Price Photo: Hooman Bahrani/Vesic Photography/Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival

After more than a decade, we may have finally figured out the Tribeca Film Festival. True, it may not be the go-to fest for high-profile American indie narratives, à la Sundance — with some very notable exceptions — or a forum for giving the first look at Oscar hopefuls, like Toronto, but it has become an absolutely indispensable venue for some of the best in documentary filmmaking, as well as terrific, beneath-the-radar international narrative features. This year, the festival (which runs April 17 to 28) has many varied options, and a number of them are very, very worthwhile. To help you take a targeted approach to your movie-bingeing, here is our list of the eighteen movies to see at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

In the nineties, Richard Linklater pulled off a coup with maybe the ultimate romantic fantasy: two attractive strangers bonding intellectually, emotionally, and physically at the same time. Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy went back to the well for 2004’s Before Sunset — which was really good if slightly disappointing insofar as the filmmakers had to drum up a reason to keep the pair apart and then hit the “reset” button. In Before Midnight, though, the couple has been together for years and even has kids. The early infatuation stage has passed. They’re not strangers. Can Linklater and his co-writing stars go where few in movies (which specialize in meet-cutes and breakups) have gone before? Can they keep the freshness and sense of discovery alive even with characters who have little left to discover? Yes. [Only rush tickets left]  —D.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Neil Jordan — he of such masterpieces as The Crying Game, Company of Wolves, and The End of the Affair — tackles the vampire genre with a film as lush and grand as his 1994 Anne Rice adaptation Interview With a Vampire. (This new one is better, too.) This time, two young women who have been together for centuries — played by the great Saoirse Ronan (who keeps giving performances that leave the rest of her age group in the dust) and the stunning Gemma Arterton — flee to a coastal town to start their lives anew. But the more we learn about their past, the more we realize they’ll never be able to escape it. Full of indelible images and flights of fancy other directors can only dream of, this full-blooded epic is Jordan at his most gloriously ambitious. And it demands to be seen on a big screen. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Pryor may have been the most influential, controversial comedian of his era. He was also terrifyingly self-destructive, the result both of his growing celebrity and of deep hurts sustained in childhood. Utilizing a wealth of (hilarious) archival footage, as well as intimate interviews with those who knew him best, Marina Zenovich’s documentary is joyous and upsetting in equal measure. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Israeli director Jonathan Gurfinkel’s wounding, perceptive teen drama charts the steady sexual degradation of a young, working-class girl who wants to hang with two charming, handsome, popular boys at school. In lesser hands, this could have just been a particularly dark teen cautionary tale, but Gurfinkel and his exceptional cast turn it into a hypnotic, brutal portrait of longing, cruelty, and class. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
A lame title for what seems for a while like a very conventional regional farm drama by Ramin Bahrani, the director of such unusual outsider-vantage indies as Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, and Goodbye Solo. Dennis Quaid is an unscrupulous farmer and entrepreneur in an age of even less scrupulous agribusiness dominance (there’s a thinly veiled portrait of Monsanto and its terrorist proprietary seed tactics), and Zac Efron is his son, who’d rather race cars. Despite the racing, the film has little drive until about the three-quarters mark — when you suddenly see what Bahrani is up to. The movie has a hell of a sting in its tail, and teen-dream Efron is shockingly good. [Tickets] —D.E. Photo: Hooman Bahrani/Vesic Photography/Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
It’s pretty hard to screw up a movie about Gore Vidal — American aristocrat, literary lion, political lightning rod, TV personality, and perhaps the most quotable writer since Oscar Wilde — but, to its credit, Nicholas Wrathall’s film is something more. Anchored by interviews with Vidal and those who knew him (and, in some cases, feuded with him), this film presents a very human portrait of the late author, while also cataloguing his disappointments, including his break with his mother and his disillusionment with John F. Kennedy. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
We were hoping that The Artist’s recent success might revive interest in this long-forgotten 1989 gem of American independent filmmaking, a black-and-white, mostly silent movie about a New York street artist who tries to take care of an abandoned child — part Charlie Chaplin, part Jim Jarmusch. We have our wish! Tribeca’s showing a restored print, but there’s only one screening, on April 27. Beg, borrow, lie, cheat, or steal to get yourself a seat. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
A Kurdish boy from Iraq goes on a quest — across the border into Turkey, and beyond — in an attempt to find and kill his sister, who has run away with another man and disgraced the family. The “honor killing” genre has been done to death, but director Hisham Zaman’s road movie combines a clear-eyed look at the underworld of human trafficking and small-time gangsterism with a fabulist’s touch for good old-fashioned storytelling [Tickets]. —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
In the wake of the 2011 earthquake, two Tokyo women begin to find themselves consumed by fear and uncertainty about the hazardous, but vaguely defined effects of radiation, putting them in conflict with those around them who just want them to quiet down, believe in Japan, and not make everybody else anxious. Nobuteru Uchida’s tense drama could just as easily be a horror movie — about the creeping fear of the unknown, the limits of obsession, and what happens when an organized society begins to unravel in the wake of a tragedy. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Creepy as all hell, French body-horror provocateur Marina de Van’s latest is about an Irish girl whose emotions can turn the houses she lives in into harrowing, paranormal death traps. Unnerving from the very first scene, Dark Touch is part grisly psychological thriller, part allegory for adolescence, and part terrifying montage of people getting cut up by ordinary household objects gone haywire. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Karina Finegan/Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Alex Meillier’s documentary follows one Australian, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, from bystander to the human tragedy in East Timor, to clandestine operative who kept the occupied nation’s independence movement going after its leader was imprisoned. Filled with amazing archival footage, this is a dramatic, present-tense, cloak-and-dagger tale of belonging, identity, and revolution. See it now, before Hollywood gets to it. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Jerome Bonnell’s curiously haunting film could be a flipside to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise series. A struggling French actress (Emanuelle Devos), taking a brief break in Paris, seeks out a middle-aged Englishman (Gabriel Byrne) she met on a train. Their brief dalliance, however, isn’t one of joy; it’s tempered by regret, death, and family conflict. The two leads are perfect, particularly Devos, who has to run through pretty much every emotion that exists, and then come up with a few more. [Tickets] —B.E. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Kazakhstan’s recent efforts to boost its emerging film industry have finally paid off with Emir Baigazin’s deeply unsettling thriller, which surprised critics and audiences with its formal and thematic boldness and took the Silver Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. The story of a disturbed and lonely teenager pushed to the dark side by corruption among his schoolmates boasts a truly distinct vision, especially for a first feature: The cool isolation of the steppe and sterility of Soviet architecture is contrasted with some of the most uniquely violent passages in recent memory, such as a sequence in which our protagonist tortures a cockroach strapped into a mini electric chair fashioned from paper clips. Don’t miss it. [Tickets] —M.S. Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Rachel Boynton made one of the undersung docs of the last decade, 2005’s Our Brand Is Crisis, and spent seven years on this knotty, engrossing follow-up about the ways in which the presence of oil has corrupted (and corroded) the country of Nigeria — and how a recent discovery of oil in Guam threatens a similar upheaval. Boynton got amazing access to the Texas-based company in the middle of the Guam machinations. [Tickets] —D.E.
Jason Osder’s electrifying, 100-percent-archival-footage documentary leaps back and forth between an eighties Philadelphia inquest into the destruction of the radical African-American group Move’s headquarters (along with, inadvertently, scores of other homes) and the grim story of how that deadly conflagration came to pass. Despite the 27-year-old footage, the movie seems always in the present tense. [Tickets] —D.E.
One of the most harrowing stories to come out of the war in Afghanistan — in which a platoon of U.S. Army infantry soldiers were accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport — makes for a uniquely powerful, infuriating documentary. Director Dan Krauss follows specialist Adam Winfield, who attempted to alert the military to the murders, only to eventually be charged himself along with the rest of his team. Krauss’s access is incredible. [Tickets] —B.E.
The title is the nickname of the depressed coal-mining town of Oceana, West Virginia, where abusing OxyContin is pretty much the only thing left for anyone to do. Director Sean Dunne talks to junkies, doctors, social workers, and parents in this diligent, heartbreaking, and outrage-inducing doc about life gone to waste. [Tickets] —B.E.
Documentarian Jessica Oreck follows a family of reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland as they give tourists sleigh rides and battle the elements. The bare-bones aesthetic — Oreck gives us no context, no talking heads, and no narration — immerses you fully in simple lives lived at the extremes. [Tickets] —B.E.