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2014 Tribeca Film Festival Preview: Time Is Illmatic, Zombeavers, and More

From a doc about My Little Pony enthusiasts to the latest from filmmaker Roman Polanski, here are the most anticipated films of Tribeca.

Tribeca Film Festival

2014 Tribeca Film Festival Preview: 'Time Is Illmatic,' 'Zombeavers,' and More

The 13th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival, a celebration of cinema co-founded by Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to help revitalize downtown New York City, will take place from April 16 to April 27. TFF boasts 87 feature films from 55 countries, including 55 world premieres, and the selections were culled from 6,117 submissions.

Tribeca will be bookended by the opening film, Time Is Illmatic, a doc on the NYC rapper Nas, and Begin Again, a musical flick directed by John Carney (Once) and starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. But there are plenty of other intriguing entries to look out for. From a doc about My Little Pony enthusiasts to the latest from controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski, here are the most anticipated films of Tribeca ‘14.   —Marlow Stern

Tribeca Film

PALO ALTO

Based on a collection of short stories by James Franco—really—this drama marks the feature filmmaking debut of Gia Coppola, granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola and niece to Sofia Coppola. It centers on high-schooler April (Emma Roberts), a shy virgin, who finds herself torn between her soccer coach, Mr. B (Franco), and her class crush, Teddy (Jack Kilmer, son of Val). Meanwhile, there’s her pal Emily (Zoe Levin), who’s hooking up with Teddy and his crazy pal, Fred (Nat Wolff). The film bills itself as “an unflinching portrait of adolescent lust, boredom, and self-destruction,” and Roberts has received raves on the festival circuit for her emotionally raw performance.

Courtesy of Time Is Illmatic

TIME IS ILLMATIC

The opening-night film of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival is Time Is Illmatic, a documentary by the multimedia artist One9 that chronicles the making of Queens rapper Nas’s 1994 landmark debut album, Illmatic—which is widely regarded as one of the greatest rap albums ever. One9’s film traces the crazy obstacles Nas faced in creating his magnum opus, as well as the rapper’s journey from a young, tormented street poet to one of the most celebrated MCs in hip-hop.

Andre Lascaris

ABOUT ALEX

Marking the feature directorial debut of writer-director Jesse Zwick, this Big Chill-esque dramedy tells the tale of seven college friends whose lives have drifted apart in the years since graduation. When one of the members of their clique suffers a mental breakdown, the gang reunites for the weekend to cheer him up and relive their glory days. But the drug-and-booze-fueled weekend ends up summoning a lot of the ghosts from their closets, as old rivalries and college jealousies are explored. Zwick’s film boasts an excellent ensemble cast, including Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Max Minghella, Maggie Grace, Jason Ritter, and more.

A BRONY TALE

Remember the children’s cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? Thanks to the efforts of the Internet forum 4chan, superfans of the show have found a place to congregate and share their love of all things MLP. The group, composed mostly of adult, straight males, calls themselves “Bronies,” and this “Brony” phenomenon is given the documentary treatment in Brent Hodge’s film A Brony Tale. It follows Ashleigh Ball, one of the voice actors from the original cartoon, connecting with her strange, unique fanbase.

Jeong Park

LOVE IS STRANGE

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ira Sachs (Forty Shades of Blue), this touching love story centers on Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), a couple of close to 40 years who find themselves in a bit of a pickle. After George is fired from his job at a Catholic school for being gay, the two are forced to live apart while they search for a new apartment in New York City—which is no easy task. It’s a very tender tale of life and love in the Big Apple featuring excellent performances by Lithgow and Molina, and premiered to raves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The movie also stars Marisa Tomei, Cheyenne Jackson, and more.

Jonathan Hall

ZOMBEAVERS

Yup, this film is exactly what it sounds like: as a group of sexy, libidinous teens head to a lakeside cabin for a weekend of debauchery, they’re preyed on by a pack of bloodthirsty zombie beavers. Expect plenty of blood, guts, and laughs in filmmaker Jordan Rubin’s outrageous B-movie extravaganza.

Tipping Point. Productions

NIGHT MOVES

Kelly Reichardt is one of the most criminally underrated filmmakers around. Whether it’s the touching road movie Old Joy, the Michelle Williams-starrer Wendy and Lucy, or the Oregon Trail-set western Meek’s Cutoff, every Reichardt film is a thing of beauty. Her latest is the eco-drama Night Moves, which centers on a trio of environmentalist crusaders who band together to destroy a hydroelectric dam, and features a stellar cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, and Alia Shawkat.

Nouri Fonas

POINT AND SHOOT

If you haven’t heard of documentarian Marshall Curry yet, you need to get acquainted with his filmography. The New Jersey native’s first film, 2006’s Street Fight (about Cory Booker), received a Best Documentary Oscar nod; his sophomore feature, Racing Dreams, was cruelly snubbed by the Academy; and his third doc, the eco-flick If A Tree Falls, received a Best Documentary Oscar nod as well. His latest doc is Point and Shoot, and tells the real-life story of Matthew VanDyke, a Baltimore native who, after graduating college, found himself at the front lines of the 2011 Libyan revolution embedded in the rebel army against Qaddafi—a post that lands him in solitary confinement for six horrifying months.

Andrew Schwartz

BEGIN AGAIN

Back in 2006, a little indie film called Once, a heartrending Irish musical-love story, became a crossover hit, and has spawned an award-winning Broadway musical. The director of that film, John Carney, is back with Begin Again—the closing-night film of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. It’s centered on lovers/songwriting partners Gretta (Keira Knightley) and Dave (Adam Levine), who move to New York. But after Dave cheats on Gretta, she’s left on her own. Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a washed-up record exec, stumbles upon Gretta performing at an East Village dive, and the two join forces to try to make it in the music biz. Carney’s film is co-produced by Judd Apatow, and also stars Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener, and Cee Lo Green.

VENUS IN FUR

Based on the play of the same name by David Ives, the latest film by controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski took home the Cesar Award (the French Oscar) for Best Director. The French language film follows Thomas (Mathieu Amalric), the writer/director of a play adapting the 1870 novel Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Thomas has spent days trying to cast the right actress for the lead role of Wanda von Dunayev, but no one is clicking. Suddenly, a woman named Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner) appears, and not only knows every line by heart, but knocks her audition out of the park. But what begins as a director-star relationship soon spirals—as is Polanski’s wont—into obsession.

Oceanic Preservation Society

6

This is the latest documentary from Louis Psihoyos, the director of Best Documentary Oscar winner The Cove. Whereas his previous film tackled the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, 6 follows a group of activists whose aim is to expose the plight of endangered species and mass extinction via exposing seedy black markets or crafting gorgeous art installations featuring the plethora of endangered animals. Like The Cove, Psihoyos’s latest should shine a giant spotlight on the mistreatment of various species, and hopefully, change the way we see the world.

 

Photographer: Alison Rosa

EVERY SECRET THING

Every Secret Thing is the feature directorial debut of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Amy Berg, whose 2006 film Deliver Us From Evil received a Best Documentary Oscar nod. Based on the bestselling novel by Laura Lippman, the film centers on a pair of young girls (Dakota Fanning, Danielle Macdonald), who serve seven years in prison after a baby mysteriously goes missing from her own front porch. The girls are then released into the care of their parents, but when another baby goes missing, two detectives (Elizabeth Banks, Nate Parker) are dispatched to investigate the mystery, and the two ex-cons. Berg’s film also stars Diane Lane and the rapper Common.