“The films in this year’s documentary competition deliver tremendous insight into the challenges of our ever-growing global culture as well as highlight how individuals affect and react to change. With varying styles of filmmaking, this mix of American and international voices are pointed and thought-provoking,” added Director of Programming Genna Terranova.
WORLD NARRATIVE – Films in Competition
Alì Blue Eyes (Alì ha gli occhi azzurri), directed by Claudio Giovannesi, written by Filippo Gravino and Giovannesi. (Italy) – International Premiere. Claudio Giovannesi’s award-winning second dramatic feature captures one week in the life of sixteen-year-old troublemaker Nader, who, despite his mother’s threats and family’s insistence that he respect his Muslim roots, fights, steals and pursues an Italian girlfriend. A stunning example of contemporary Italian neo-realism, Alì Blue Eyes is an engrossing coming-of-age story about an immigrant who will stop at nothing to fit in. In Italian with subtitles.
Before Snowfall (Før snøen faller), directed by Hisham Zaman, written by Kjell Ola Dahl and Zaman. (Norway, Germany, Iraqi Kurdistan Region) – International Premiere. Director Hisham Zaman brings the moral crisis of honor killing front and center in this dazzling, international drama. When his older sister Nermin flees an arranged marriage, Siyar must atone for the slight. He tracks her from Kurdistan to Istanbul, where a fateful encounter with a street girl creates cracks in his resolve. Then Nermin escapes into Europe, and Siyar must continue a search that will forever change his notions of loyalty, dignity, honor and love. In Kurdish with subtitles.
Bluebird, directed and written by Lance Edmands. (USA) – World Premiere. On a freezing January evening, school bus driver Lesley (Amy Morton) completes her route, but her final inspection abruptly ends when a bluebird comes into view. What happens next shakes her small Maine logging town, proving that even the slightest actions have enormous consequences. Co-starring Adam Driver, Margo Martindale, John Slattery, Louisa Krause and Emily Meade, Lance Edmands’s absorbing feature debut is a perfect encapsulation of the interconnectedness of life.
The Broken Circle Breakdown, directed by Felix van Groeningen, written by Carl Joos and van Groeningen. (Belgium, Netherlands) – North American Premiere. Elise runs a tattoo shop. Didier plays in a bluegrass band. When their daughter Maybelle is born, their happiness is complete, until a tangle of complications forces these two very different lovers to fight to save their marriage. Belgian director Felix van Groeningen follows his acclaimed Cannes entry The Misfortunates with this powerhouse melodrama of star-crossed lovers laced with emotional bluegrass performances. In Dutch with subtitles.
Hide Your Smiling Faces, directed and written by Daniel Patrick Carbone. (USA) – North American Premiere. During a hot summer in rural America, brothers Tommy (Ryan Jones) and Eric (Nathan Varnson) are confronted with devastation as death forces its way into their young lives. This stunning debut feature explores the nature of the relationship between boys, as both violence and support is encapsulated in quiet storytelling and breathtaking photography. With incredibly sensitive performances by its two leads, Hide Your Smiling Faces packs a subtle but powerful punch.
Just a Sigh (Le temps de l’aventure), directed and written by Jérôme Bonnell. (France) – International Premiere. In the short break between performances in Calais, stage actress Alix (the stunning Emmanuelle Devos) makes a quick escape to Paris. On the train she meets a mysterious English stranger (Gabriel Byrne) and, for the most fleeting of afternoons, imagines what the future could hold down a different road. With masterful performances by its two acclaimed stars, Just a Sigh is an imaginative, lushly filmed Parisian romance from young and versatile director Jérôme Bonnell. In English, French with subtitles.
Lily, directed by Matt Creed, written by Amy Grantham and Creed. (USA) – World Premiere. Nearing the end of her treatment for breast cancer, Lily focuses on life with newfound clarity, reevaluating her relationship with an older man and her feelings about her long-absent father. In wandering through atmospheric New York City streets and lingering in intimate, charged moments with Lily during this vulnerable period, first-time director Matt Creed and actress Amy Grantham create a mature, stylish character piece reminiscent of classic French New Wave.
The Rocket, directed and written by Kim Mordaunt. (Australia) – North American Premiere. Set against the lush backdrop of rural Laos, this spirited drama tells the story of scrappy ten-year-old Ahlo, who yearns to break free from his ill-fated destiny. After his village is displaced to make way for a massive dam, Ahlo escapes with his father and grandmother through the Laotian outback in search of a new home. Along the way, they come across a rocket festival that offers Ahlo a lucrative but dangerous chance to prove his worth. In Lao with subtitles.
Six Acts (Shesh Peamim), directed by Jonathan Gurfinkel, written by Rona Segal. (Israel) – North American Premiere. Naïve teen Gili is determined to improve her social status by hooking up with her new school’s coolest guy. Afterwards, he passes her off to his friend. Happy at first for the attention, Gili soon finds her situation deteriorating, as this average girl is increasingly consumed by a culture of oversexed teenhood. Director Jonathan Gurfinkel questions conventional ideas of consent, exploitation and complicity in this edgy and perceptive feature debut. In Hebrew with subtitles.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, directed by Sam Fleischner, written by Rose Lichter-Marck and Micah Bloomber. (USA) – World Premiere. When autistic teen Ricky is scolded for skipping class, he escapes into the subway for a days-long odyssey among the subway’s disparate denizens. Meanwhile, his mother wages an escalating search effort above ground. Based on a true story and set in Far Rockaway, Queens, in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy, these parallel stories of mother and son take the viewer on a touching journey of community and connection in and below New York City.
Sunlight Jr., directed and written by Laurie Collyer. (USA) – World Premiere. Quickie-mart employee Melissa (Naomi Watts) and paraplegic Richie (Matt Dillon) are very much in love. Supported only by Melissa’s small hourly wage, they are nevertheless thrilled to learn that Melissa is pregnant. Then their situation deteriorates, and their tenuous financial situation threatens to bring their happy life crashing down. Norman Reedus also stars in this a moving romantic drama from Laurie Collyer, director of the Golden Globe-nominated Sherrybaby.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, directed and written by Arvin Chen. (Taiwan R.O.C.) – North American Premiere. Straitlaced optometrist Weichung is finding the typical married life difficult. Then he bumps into an old flame, setting off an unexpected array of dormant emotions. Meanwhile, his sister Mandy flees her sad sack fiancé, coping via food and the fantastical appearance of a daytime soaps star on her couch. Arvin Chen’s sophomore feature is a fresh and playful comedy about the odd realities of desire in a traditional society and what happens when you seek a big change. In Korean, Mandarin with subtitles.
WORLD DOCUMENTARY – Films in Competition
Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys, directed and written by Jessica Oreck. (Finland) – World Premiere. In the forests of Finnish Lapland, brothers Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki carry on the generations-old tradition of reindeer herding. These modern cowboys maintain an intricate bond with the environment that has allowed them to preserve their lifestyle in one of the harshest climates imaginable. Jessica Oreck’s intimate, gorgeously lensed documentary follows the brothers for a year, sharing in the hard work, daily rituals and small joys that make up life above the Arctic Circle. In Finnish with subtitles.
Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution, directed by Alex Meillier, written by Tanya Ager Meillier and Meillier. (USA) – North American Premiere. Kirsty Sword Gusmão went to Timor-Leste to document injustice in an area closed to Western journalists. Over the next decade, she became the lynchpin that sustained the nation’s harrowing struggle for independence and met the man who would redefine the cause for which she was fighting. Using astonishing footage of the years-long resistance, director Alex Meillier presents a highly personal account of the courage needed to create a new democracy in modern times.
Big Men, directed by Rachel Boynton, written by Rachel Boynton. (USA) – World Premiere. For her latest industrial exposé, Rachel Boynton (Our Brand Is Crisis) gained unprecedented access to Africa’s oil companies. The result is a gripping account of the costly personal tolls levied when American corporate interests pursue oil in places like Ghana and the Niger River Delta. Executive produced by Steven Shainberg and Brad Pitt, Big Men investigates the caustic blend of ambition, corruption and greed that threatens to exacerbate Africa’s resource curse. In English, Other, Twi with subtitles.
The Genius of Marian, directed by Banker White and Anna Fitch. (USA) – World Premiere. Weaving past into present, filmmakers Banker White (Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars) and Anna Fitch immerse the audience in the daily life of White’s mother, Pam. Her Alzheimer’s threatens to wipe out the memory of her own mother, Marian, a celebrated artist who died of the same disease. Beautifully edited, The Genius of Marian retraces both women’s lives to paint a complex and powerful contemporary portrait of motherhood, chronic illness and legacy.
The Kill Team, directed by Dan Krauss, written by Lawrence Lerew, Linda Davis and Krauss. (USA) – World Premiere. In 2010, the media branded a platoon of U.S. Army infantry soldiers “The Kill Team” following reports of its killing for sport in Afghanistan. Now, one of the accused must fight the government he defended on the battlefield, while grappling with his own role in the alleged murders. Dan Krauss’s absorbing documentary examines the stories of four men implicated in heinous war crimes in a stark reminder that, in war, innocence may be relative to the insanity around you.
Let the Fire Burn, directed by Jason Osder. (USA) – World Premiere. Jason Osder makes an impressive feature film debut through his unbiased and thorough account of the incidents leading up to and during the 1985 standoff between the extremist African-American organization MOVE and Philadelphia authorities. The dramatic clash claimed eleven lives and literally and figuratively devastated an entire community. Let the Fire Burn is a real-life Wild West story absent the luxury of identifying its heroes by the color of their hats.
Michael H. Profession: Director, directed and written by Yves Montmayeur. (Austria, France) – World Premiere. Over the past twenty-five years, director Michael Haneke has established himself as a towering figure in modern cinema whose rigorous focus on the craft of filmmaking has produced works of profound artistry. This career-spanning documentary (gives unprecedented access and) covers the body of Haneke’s work, offering insight into his creative process through on-set footage and interviews with the man himself and collaborators including Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche. In French, German with subtitles.
Oxyana, directed by Sean Dunne. (USA) – World Premiere. Oceana, West Virginia—known as “Oxyana” after its residents’ epidemic abuse of OxyContin—is a tragically real example of the insidious spread of drug dependency throughout the country. Set against an abandoned coal mining landscape to the melodies of Deer Tick’s haunting score, this unflinchingly intimate documentary probes the lives of Oceana’s afflicted and exposes the day-to-day experience of a town living in the harsh grip of addiction.
Powerless (Katiyabaaz), directed by Fahad Mustafa, Deepti Kakkar, written by Mustafa. (India) – North American Premiere. Would you risk your life to flip a switch? In Kanpur, India, putting oneself in harm’s way to deliver electrical power is all too common. Powerless sheds light on the opposing corners of this political ring, from an electrical Robin Hood tapping wires for neighbors to the myopic utility company whose failure to understand economics forces it deeper into financial disarray. This vibrant exposé gives a whole new meaning to the words “power struggle.” In English, Hindi with subtitles.
Raw Herring (Hollandse Nieuwe), directed by Leonard Retel Helmrich and Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich. (Netherlands) – World Premiere. Every year millions of people look forward to the first preparation of Hollandse Nieuwe, the popular snack of raw herring from the North Sea’s spring catch. But how do you find glory in the grueling pursuit of a once-iconic fish that even the queen no longer accepts as definitively Dutch? Raw Herring celebrates the cultural legacy maintained by Holland’s last great herring fishers even as new trends and foreign competition threaten their way of life. In Dutch with subtitles.
Red Obsession, directed and written by David Roach and Warwick Ross. (Australia) – North American Premiere. France’s Bordeaux region has long commanded respect for its coveted wine, but shifts in the global marketplace mean that a new, voracious consumer base in China is buying up this finite product. Bordeaux both struggles with and courts the spike in demand, sending prices skyrocketing. Narrated by Russell Crowe, Red Obsession is a fascinating look at our changing international economy and how an obsession in Shanghai affects the most illustrious vineyards in France. In English, Mandarin with subtitles.
Teenage, directed by Matt Wolf, written by Jon Savage and Wolf. (USA) – World Premiere. Teenagers did not exist before the 20th century. Not until the early 1950s did the term gain widespread recognition, but with Teenage, Matt Wolf offers compelling evidence that “teenagers” had a tumultuous effect on the previous half-decade. Narrated by actors Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jesse Usher, this fascinating documentary repositions the historical origin of teenagers and shows why those years are more than just a stepping-stone to adulthood. In English, German with subtitles.
Source: Tribeca Film Festival
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