Film Festival

2013 Tribeca Film Festival’s Must-See Films: ‘Lil Bub’ & More (PHOTOS)

All the best films to see at the 2013 film festival, including cat and Clint Eastwood docs, and more.

The 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, running April 17–28 in downtown Manhattan, boasts one of its most impressive slates in years. The fest will showcase 113 feature films from 30 countries, including 53 world premieres, culled from a total of 6,005 submissions. There are documentaries on everything from the cute cat Lil Bub to Richard Pryor and Clint Eastwood, as well as narrative features starring the likes of Naomi Watts, Paul Rudd, Jean Dujardin, and more. Here are the most anticipated films at this year’s festival. —By Marlow Stern.

‘A Case of You’

Directed by Kat Coiro and marking the screenwriting debut of comedic actor Justin Long, this romantic comedy also stars Long as a young writer with a hopeless crush on the barista at his local coffee shop, played by Evan Rachel Wood. In order to woo her, he creates an embellished online profile mimicking all of her interests, from rock climbing to ballroom dancing. When she eventually falls for his ruse, the young man is forced to keep up the act or lose his dream girl. In addition to Long and Wood, the film boasts a stellar ensemble cast including Vince Vaughn, Sam Rockwell, Sienna Miller, Brendan Fraser, and last but certainly not least, Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage.

‘Adult World’

Directed by Scott Coffey, who last helmed the 2005 film Ellie Parker, which dramatized Naomi Watts’s struggle to break into Hollywood, this dark comedy stars Emma Roberts as Amy, a post-grad who’s struggling to get her poetry career off the ground. In order to make some money in the meantime, she begrudgingly gets a job at Adult World—a local sex shop in upstate New York. And when she’s not hawking porno tapes and sex toys, she strikes up a friendship with reclusive writer Rat Billings (John Cusack), who helps her hone her literary skills.

‘Almost Christmas’

Its been eight years since writer-director Phil Morrison wowed audiences with his filmmaking debut, Junebug—a brilliant take on cultural relations between the northern and southern U.S. that launched the career of actress Amy Adams. Morrison’s long-awaited follow-up centers on two French-Canadian con men (Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti) who travel to New York City to get rich quick hawking Christmas trees. The dark comedy also stars the great Sally Hawkins, who wowed audiences as the cheery teacher Poppy in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky.

‘Big Men’

Directed by Rachel Boynton and executive-produced by Brad Pitt, this eye-opening documentary chronicles how U.S. energy companies’ oil interests in Ghana and Nigeria are affecting local governments, jobs, and the destitute people who are still waiting to see some of the benefits of the oil. Boynton’s film is a fascinating exposé on greed, corruption, and how U.S. oil interests in these impoverished regions of Africa are exacerbating the countries’ myriad problems.

‘Bluebird’

The feature-filmmaking debut of Lance Edmands, Bluebird follows several intersecting storylines about a schoolbus tragedy in a Maine logging town and the ripple effect it sends through the fractured community. The film boasts an outstanding cast, including Amy Morton, Mad Men’s John Slattery, Girls’s Adam Driver, and Justified’s Margo Martindale.

‘Bottled Up’

The sophomore feature of Enid Zentelis, whose 2004 debut, Evergreen, competed for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Bottled Up stars Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) as a devoted mother whose daughter becomes addicted to painkillers after suffering a back injury in a car accident. She then befriends Beckett (Josh Hamilton), a good-intentioned environmentalist who she hopes will get her and her daughter’s lives back on track. The film is, first and foremost, a showcase for the acting talents of Leo, who hasn’t been given a leading role this juicy since her Oscar-nominated turn in 2008’s Frozen River.

‘Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story’

Directed by Time magazine film critic—and Clint Eastwood expert—Richard Schickel, this expansive documentary on the film icon examines the 40 movies he’s directed, including testimony from costars and contemporaries including Martin Scorsese, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Gene Hackman, and Eastwood himself. Also, the screening will be followed by a highly anticipated Tribeca Talks conversation between Eastwood and filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.

‘Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me’

Chiemi Karasawa’s debut film is a revealing documentary on comedy legend Elaine Stritch who, at 87, is showing no sign of slowing down. Between her comedy tour and playing Alec Baldwin’s crazy mom on 30 Rock, Stritch sits down and provides candid reflections on her life and career, including her struggles with alcohol and diabetes. The documentary also includes rare archival footage of the comedienne, as well as words from friends and colleagues, including Tina Fey, James Gandolfini, Nathan Lane, John Turturro, Hal Prince, and more.

photographer: lukas zentel

‘Frankenstein’s Army’

While this may be a bit premature, the award for the most bonkers-sounding movie at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival may go to Frankenstein’s Army. Directed by Richard Raaphorst, this gruesome Danish dark comedy—in the English language—is set toward the end of World War II. A unit of Russian soldiers on a mission to rescue a team of missing comrades in East Germany stumbles upon a terrifying Nazi plan to resurrect fallen Nazi soldiers, transforming them into an army of Frankenstein-like monsters.

‘In God We Trust’

Documentary filmmakers Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek provide a unique glimpse into the crimes of Bernie Madoff by profiling his longtime personal secretary, Eleanor Squillari. Unaware of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, Squillari conducted her own investigation in the months following her employer’s arrest, exposing some previously unknown facts in the case. In God We Trust retells the Madoff case through Squillari’s investigation, including testimony from Squillari herself, and is a fascinating, often infuriating account of financial fraud and megalomania.

Tribeca Film Festival

‘Lil Bub & Friendz’

Directed by Juliette Eisner and Andy Capper, and distributed by VICE, this hilarious-looking documentary captures the phenomenon that is Lil Bub, “the most famous cat on the Internet,” whose wide-eyed gaze has captured the hearts of millions and millions of online fans. Lil Bub and its owner, Mike, then decide to hit the road to meet the other celebrity cats of the day, including Nyan Cat, Grumpy Cat, the late Keyboard Cat, and others, in this fascinating (and hilarious) exploration of cat enthusiasts, Internet memes, and viral videos.

Tribeca Film Festival

‘Mistaken for Strangers’

Tom Berninger, brother of the National lead singer Matt Berninger, decided to shake things up on the acclaimed indie rock band’s biggest tour to date by playing documentarian, capturing the band at every public and private moment in Mistaken for Strangers, the opening-night film of the Tribeca Film Festival. Tom is reprimanded time and again by the band for crossing boundaries and, according to the film’s press notes, “As endearing as the boy next door and embodying the wherewithal of a Christopher Guest character, he brings a delightfully awkward humor into the serious world of the seriously awesome The National” in this witty rock mockumentary.

Fabrizio Maltese/EF images

‘Möbius’

What has Jean Dujardin, the dashing Frenchman who won the 2012 Best Actor Oscar for The Artist, been up to since his awards triumph? He’s been working on Möbius, written and directed by Eric Rochant. Dujardin stars as Gregory Lioubov, a Russian Secret Service officer sent to Monaco to monitor a wealthy financier. Alice (Cécile de France) is also recruited as an undercover agent, but Gregory, suspecting that she’s double-crossing the agency, decides to make contact with her. A passionate affair begins, which threatens to expose both agents in this French-language thriller.

‘Oxyana’

For Oxyana, documentary filmmaker Sean Dunne focused his lens on the impoverished town of Oceana, West Virginia. After the demise of the mining trade, Oceana became the epicenter for the Oxycontin drug trade, earning itself the nickname “Oxyana.” Dunne interviewed many families affected by the drug epidemic there, capturing the day-to-day experiences of a town in the throes of addiction.

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‘Pretty One’

Marking the feature-filmmaking debut of writer-director Jenée LaMarque, Pretty One centers on a pair of identical twins, Audrey and Laurel (both played by Zoe Kazan). Audrey has all the qualities Laurel wishes she possessed—she’s confident and independent, while Laurel is awkward and still living at home with her parents. When her twin sister dies, Laurel decides to assume her identity, moving into her apartment in the city. In addition to Kazan, who turned heads in Ruby Sparks, the film also stars New Girl’s breakout star, Jake Johnson, and Ron Livingston.

Tribeca Film Festival

‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’

Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!) and based on the novel by Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist will be the closing-night film of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The film centers on Changez (Riz Ahmed), a Princeton-educated Pakistani man who is torn between the corporate success he covets on Wall Street and his homeland following the 9/11 attacks. Faced with racism and suspicion in America, he decides to return to his native Pakistan, where he once again becomes a target. The gripping film boasts a stellar cast including Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, and Liev Schreiber.

Tribeca Film Festival

‘Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic’

Directed by documentary filmmaker Marina Zenovich, who helmed the acclaimed 2008 documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, this portrait of the late comedy icon Richard Pryor chronicles his journey from troubled youth in Peoria, Ill., to one of the most respected comedians in history. This well-rounded cinematic portrait of an often misunderstood comic legend includes testimonials from fans and friends of Pryor’s, including Mel Brooks, Robin Williams, Dave Chappelle, and more.

Tribeca Film Festival

‘A Single Shot’

Directed by David M. Rosenthal (Janie Jones) and adapted from a novel by Matthew F. Jones, this drama centers on John Moon (Sam Rockwell), a hunter who accidentally shoots a young woman and comes across a bag full of cash. While Moon attempts to conceal the killing—as well as his newfound fortune—he’s hunted by a group of backwater criminals in search of the loot. Rosenthal’s film also stars William H. Macy, Ted Levine, Kelly Reilly, Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Wright, and Melissa Leo.

Tribeca Film Festival

‘Some Velvet Morning’

Acclaimed filmmaker and playwright Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men) returns to Tribeca with this fascinating parlor drama exploring male-female relations. The fetching Velvet (Alice Eve) is relaxing one day in her luxurious New York City brownstone when she receives an unexpected visitor: Fred (Stanley Tucci), a man she hasn’t seen or heard from in nearly four years. As Fred unloads all his baggage on Velvet, the nature of their complicated relationship is slowly revealed.

Tribeca Film Festival

‘Sunlight Jr.’

Written and directed by Laurie Collyer, the filmmaker behind 2006’s acclaimed indie Sherrybaby, this dark drama centers on Richie (Matt Dillon) and Melissa (Naomi Watts), a Florida couple barely scraping by off Richie’s disability checks and Melissa’s minimum-wage job. When they discover that Melissa is pregnant, they’re overjoyed—that is, until her abusive ex (Norman Reedus) resurfaces, threatening their jobs and well-being. With nowhere to turn, the two expectant parents are forced to take matters into their own hands.