This year’s festival, which runs through June 19, includes 111 feature films from 40 countries. While only some features have been previewed at press time, below are several highlights. More reviews will be published as the festival continues. (Films accessible through the At Home platform can be watched through June 26.)
For more highlights, readand of our Tribeca coverage.
“Somewhere in Queens” (World Premiere)
Comedian Ray Romano (“Everybody Loves Ray”) plays Leo Russo, a sad-sack construction worker whose life revolves around the movie “Rocky,” his tremulous marriage with his high school sweetheart, Angela (Laurie Metcalf), and his boosterism for his son, a basketball player nicknamed Sticks (Jacob Ward). When a college scout notices Sticks, Leo begins dreaming of a life for his boy beyond the family construction business, dominated by his stifling father (Tony Lo Bianco) and domineering brother (Sebastian Maniscalco).
In his directorial debut, Romano brings real affection for the strangled love that exists within an extended blue collar Italian-American family, and between a father and son whose understanding of one another is blurred or blinded by insecurities. The mistakes that Leo makes, in an effort to further his family, risk damaging that same family. But the Russos evince a stalwart strength that helps protect them against outside threats, be they cancer, broken hearts or infidelity. The cast is uniformly excellent, including Sadie Stanley as Sticks’ girlfriend Dani. In-person screenings Jun 11, 17. Ticket info.
“Next Exit” (World Premiere)
When a scientist announces proof of life after death, she invites subjects to participate in a study in which people willingly die in order to experience whatever comes after, offering purpose for those who are altogether ready to give up on actual breathing life. For one young woman, Rose, it means a way to reconnect with loved ones she’d rejected; for a young man, Teddy, the pioneering study would, he believes, give his existence meaning. In a rom-com twist, the two share a rental car for a cross-country drive to their appointments at the Life Beyond clinic. And as often happens on road trips, life offers a detour.
This sci-fi tale from writer-director Mali Elfman takes a humorous and emotional story and centers it on two characters eager to avoid opening up to each other, just as they are avoiding living in the here-and-now. In their journey to participate in a scientific study intended to bridge seemingly insurmountable distances, they actually manage to overcome distancing, but not in the ways they’d imagined. The performances by Katie Parker and Rahul Kohli are keenly attuned to playing inward people scratching at their surfaces until their motives, ambitions and fears are exposed to the world. Sorrow, pain, and acceptance emerge. In-person screenings June 12, 14. Ticket info.
To watch a teaser trailer click on the video player below:
“Liquor Store Dreams” (World Premiere)
Korean immigrants coming to California in the 1980s and ’90s made opportunities for themselves by running liquor stores, often in marginalized neighborhoods. These family businesses would prove to be a manifestation of the American Dream, but could also stir racial tensions with Black and Brown customers. They could also become a burden for the immigrants’ children tasked with carrying on the enterprises. The self-dubbed “liquor store babies” had to weigh their own career aspirations against the responsibility they felt to keep the stores up and running.
With her feature film debut, one such liquor store baby, So Yun Um, profiles her father and how he maintained the family store, even after riots tore through Los Angeles, leaving many Korean businesses burned and looted. She also follows a fellow liquor store baby, Danny, who put a promising career at Nike on hold to help out at his mother’s liquor store on Skid Row, transforming it into an example of community outreach. Despite the political and racial overtones of the narrative, it boils down to a loving and thoughtful portrait by a daughter for her hard-working, first-generation American father, and the sacrifices he made for this second-generation American. In-person screenings Jun 12, 18. Ticket info.
“Body Parts” (World Premiere)
Partly in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the rise of #MeToo, film and TV producers tackling scenes of romance have instituted the role of “intimacy coordinator,” not dissimilar to the stunt coordinator who makes sure actors and stunt people are not harmed on set. But the need for an intimacy coordinator also rises in response to a facet of filmmaking that has been around for as long as movies: the objectification of women by (predominately) male directors, producers, writers and technicians, in films whose impact on women (and on men) has perpetuated exploitation and misogyny in ways large and small.
Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, “Body Parts” explores the female perspective from behind the lens, as it emerged in the early days of film, until it was squelched by a patriarchal studio system, and is only now edging a bit closer to parity with the male filmmaker’s perspective. Overflowing with film clips, as well as interviews (including Jane Fonda, Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan), “Body Parts” is an inciteful look into the dramatization and commodification of sex and desire through the years, and the fallout it has had on actresses, filmmakers and audiences. In-person screenings June 12, 13, 16. At-home screenings (New York State only) begin June 14. Ticket info.
“Evolver” (World Premiere)
This VR installation presents participants with a unique virtual stage that mimics respiration throughout the body. Designed by the collective Marshmallow Laser Feast, “Evolver” lists among its producers Terrence Malick, whose experiential films (such as “The Tree of Life”) could be first cousins to this trip inward, in which headset-wearing viewers interact with the flow of blood cells – a torrent of currents and rivers just beneath the surface.
Preceded by a meditative aural experience with narration by Cate Blanchett, and featuring music by such composers as Jonny Greenwood, Meredith Monk, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Howard Skempton and DJ Jon Hopkins, “Evolver” succeeds at making you feel very, very small – part of an ecosystem that extends beyond us individually, to a more transcendent view of life. “Evolver” will be exhibited in person at 120 Broadway, New York, through June 19. Ticket info.
To view a teaser for “Evolver” click on the video player below:
For more info: