We’re about a month out from the arrival of the behemoth Tribeca Film Festival and if you give a hoot, it’s time to start planning. If people call you Cash Money Bank Slips, then note that festival passes are on sale now. If you’re a student, definitely take advantage of the discounted ticket (it’s half off!). But if you’d rather just buy individual tickets, hold tight until Tuesday, March 31. In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of the raddest and weirdest films selected by the festival so you don’t have to go digging around through the hundreds of documentaries, shorts, and feature films on view. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of James Franco. You’re welcome.
Our favorite Renaissance man, James Franco, stars as Stephen Elliott in the The Adderall Diaries, based on the author’s best-selling memoir that recounts a dramatic chapter in his life when, confronted with writer’s block and a host of other emotional problems, Elliott develops a serious addiction to Adderall (i.e. amphetamine). Eventually he stumbles on a case in which a computer programmer is accused of murdering his wife and admits to the crime. Elliott is firmly convinced the guy didn’t actually commit the murder, in fact he sort of knows the guy from underground fetish parties. This role is a perfect one for Franco, who’s always been the guy we love to hate. Christian Slater and Ed Harris also make an appearance as well as Fez, the dude from That ’70s Show. This screening marks the film’s premiere. Screenings: Thursday 4/16, Friday 4/17, Monday 4/20, and Saturday 4/25
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
It’s been more than 20 years since Kurt Cobain committed suicide, but fascination with the guy has barely paled since Nirvana became one of the biggest rock bands in the world and plenty of good films have tapped into that obsession. See: Gus Van Sant’s Last Days and the controversial 1998 documentary, Kurt and Courtney. But Montage of Heck, a documentary by filmmaker Brett Morgen, might be the most comprehensive account on film to emerge yet. And if you’re a freak like me and can’t get enough Kurt (which yes, is really twisted) this doc is a must-see.
Morgen has made an incredibly multi-faceted film that interweaves home videos from both BB Kurt’s childhood and when he was raising his own kid, Frances Bean, with Courtney Love, concert footage, new and old interviews with family members and friends, plus animation to fill in the blank spots. The focus here is Cobain’s incredibly speedy transformation from a troubled kid to a sensitive but drug-addled young adult and finally to a rockstar with serious depression issues.
There’s only one screening of Montage of Heck at Tribeca, so be sure to catch it while you can. The filmmaker and Courtney Love will be present. Screening: Sunday 4/19 at 7 pm
Shorts: Be Yourself
This screening brings together six snippets of societal oddities and outliers. There’s plenty to look forward to, including American Renaissance, a short documentary about one of the largest festivals of its kind in the country, the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, New York. An otherwise sleepy town, each year the fair (which has been ongoing for 37 years) draws more than 100,000 cos-play freaks, many of them dressed in full-on Elizabethan garb. Rather than taking on the confounding (but seriously freaking fascinating) phenomenon of Renaissance fairs, the filmmakers focus in on a few characters and let them tell their own stories.
Elder is another documentary with an eccentric story which follows a Mormon, Tom Clark, on his mission trip to Italy where he meets and falls in love with Gianni, an Italian communist. The unlikely love affair between the two causes obvious problems for Tom, whose sexuality is incompatible with Mormon dogma. Tom discovered that he was gay well before his mission. Doctors prescribe him anti-psychotics in an attempt to somehow “cure” Tom, but this fails and he slips deeper into depression.
Gianni pleads with Tom to stay with him in Italy, and you simply will not find out what happens to the couple until you go see this film. I’m already hooked. Screenings: Friday 4/17, Wednesday 4/22, Friday 4/24, Saturday 4/25
Our pals from Wild Torus aren’t the only people deeply concerned with the digital native’s condition. Tribeca Film Fest seems to have caught up to the conversation as well and has compiled a shorts program dedicated to the digital experience.
Facebook is nothing short of terrifying, so it’s about time we had a social media horror film. “What price will we pay for plugging in?” the film Aphasia asks. We’re guessing it has something to do with aphasia, or losing the ability to speak, write, or read usually as result of brain damage. Emily is a 26-year-old Brooklynite who by most standards would qualify as a casual internet user — she’s active on Facebook, utilizes the location option on her smart phone — but she lacks a real awareness of how much information she’s broadcasting. Suddenly, Emily is faced with some very real consequences of her actions (or in another view, her digital passivity).
There’s the requisite film (Like) about a troll who launches a relentless assault on “an innocent blogger.” But we’re more intrigued by this dark comedy and story of unmistaken identity in Rita Mahtoubian Is Not a Terrorist. A homeland security agent becomes obsessed with a seemingly normal Iranian immigrant living as a suburban housewife in small town America, but is she or isn’t she? Screenings: Thursday 4/16, Monday 4/20, Wednesday 4/22, and Saturday 4/25
In My Father’s House
A successful hip-hop artist, Rhymefest (probably best known for his collaboration with Kanye West) attempts to reconnect with his father who abandoned him as a child by moving into his childhood home on the South Side of Chicago and tries to track him down. Rhymefest finds him, though he’s living on the streets, a homeless alcoholic. Instead of running as fast as possible in the opposite direction, what many people might do, Rhymefest sticks around and tries to help his father fix his life. This documentary chronicles the ups and downs of their trying new relationship. Screenings: Thursday 4/16, Friday 4/17, Sunday 4/19, and Thursday 4/23
When I Live My Life Over Again
Two words: Christopher Walken. That’s all the convincing I need to do anything, ever. But I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell you a little bit about what When I Live My Life Over Again might actually entail. A young, rebellious daughter (Jude) dies her hair pastel pink and leaves home to pursue her dreams of becoming a pop star and, like, living in Bushwick or something. She runs out of dough though and comes crawling back to pops (Mr. Walken) and his fancy home in the Hamptons, where the washed up musician is preparing himself for a comeback. Their worlds collide and we’re hoping it results in some slightly disturbing father-daughter duet. Miley Cyrus and Bill Ray Cyrus, are you listening? Screenings: Saturday 4/18, Sunday 4/19, Tuesday 4/21, Saturday 4/25
Sarah’s boring small-town life is turned upside down when Pepper rolls into town and, on the surface, appears to be a bad influence. She’s a drifter who’s tapped into the underworld and takes Sarah to places she never thought she’d go. The two women fall in love and suddenly Sarah’s life ain’t so boring. Mega-babes, Brazilian-Americans, and besties Natalia Leite and Alexandra Roxo are the filmmakers behind Bare. You might remember them from their short-lived series on VICE, “Every Woman” and their web series, Be Here Nowish. We met up with them last year to talk about their web series and production company, Purple Milk. They’re pretty cool ladies so we’re guessing their film be equally rad. Screenings: Sunday 4/19, Tuesday 4/21, Wednesday 4/22, Sunday 4/26
Zosia Mamet breaks out of her Shoshana rut for this role as Shiva, a sex worker and “street smart but naive young woman trapped in an abusive relationship.” We can just see the look Shoshana would make at the mere mention of a person like Shiva — gaping mouth, wide eyes, and slowly creaking “Oh… my… God.” Mamet’s character in Bleeding Heart, in an attempt to break it off with her abusive boyfriend, seeks help from her sister May (yoga instructor, sort of a basic) though the catch is that the siblings haven’t seen each other for years. Screenings: Thursday 4/16, Friday 4/17, Saturday 4/18, Saturday 4/25
Orion: The Man Who Would Be King
You had me at “Elvis impersonator,” you really did Orion. But dig deeper, Orion is much, much more than that– he sincerely believes that he is Elvis. In keeping with the Elvis Lives conspiracy theory, The Man Who Would Be King brings tabloid covers to life in this beautiful shot, bizarro documentary following a mask-wearing performer Orion who developed a loyal following of not just fans, but genuine believers. And it’s true, but Orion does bear an uncanny resemblance to Fat Elvis. Screenings: Friday 4/17, Saturday 4/18, Tuesday 4/21, and Thursday 4/23
Conservative Christians are an endlessly fascinating bunch and have made for excellent (if somewhat horrifying) films like Jesus Camp. While researching forms of arranged marriage, the filmmakers accidentally stumbled across a bizarre ritual known as Christian Courtship. The practice not only reserves holding hands for after the vows, but gives parents almost complete control over selecting a spouse. This documentary follows Kelly, a woman who grew up in a non-religious home in Alabama. She eventually moved to Michigan and became a born again Christian, but without practicing parents she was left without someone to lead her Christian Courtship.
To fill the gap, Kelly recruits spiritual parents who fulfill the role her own parents cannot. The documentary follows Kelly and her adopted family throughout the courtship ritual, which as you can imagine is pretty freaking weird. In case you were wondering, Kelly has kissed a boy. In high school. Once. “It makes me so sad I don’t have my very first kiss to give, it’s already given,” she says while tears stream down her face. Witness the insanity that grips young people as they struggle to abstain from sex, all with a painfully grating smile on their face. Screenings: Saturday 4/18, Sunday 4/19, Tuesday 4/21, Wednesday 4/22