Beginning next week April 19th, film fans, actors, and industry pros will flock en masse to NYC for the 16th installment of Robert Dinero’s Tribeca Film Festival (TFF). The TFF’s mission is “to enable the international film community and the general public to experience the power of film by redefining the film festival experience.” BSO will be live during the entire festival bringing you movie previews, reviews, and interviews with the people behind many of this year’s projects.
If you’re a film festival newbie, the films are broken down into categories, including: narratives, documentaries, features, and shorts. Plus there are Tribeca Talks, Immersive, Interactive and Tribeca TV. Enough to have your head spinning. How do you decide which films to see among the several dozen premieres? BSO is here to help you, with the 10 films we are most looking forward to viewing.
Here we go, in no particular order:
1. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: The Bad Boy Story
90s hip hop kids rejoice. This is the story of Diddy and The Bad Boy Family. The record label and crew that once boasted, “No wonder we had this rap shit locked, for eight straight summers.” The 80 minute feature details the rise of Sean “Puffy” Combs from intern at Uptown Records to founder and CEO of Bad Boy. The film uses two concerts from 2016’s successful Bad Boy Reunion tour, as the backdrop of this frantic and meteoric rise of Combs and the label. Of course no film about Bad Boy would be complete without the heart and soul of the label prominently featured, the late great Christopher Wallace aka “The Notorious B.I.G.” Say what you will about Combs, Bad Boy and the “shiny suit” era of hip-hop. Their impact on the music business is still evident today and they were entertaining as hell.
2. Whitney. “Can I Be Me”
Whitney Houston was one of the brightest stars we have ever seen. Arguably the greatest female vocalist of all time. Yes. I said it. Whitney occupied a rarefied air that few entertainers ever achieve, and then it all went spiraling out of control culminating in her death in 2012 at the tender age of 48. This documentary is a painstaking look at the rise and fall of the Pop/R&B princess and the factors that impacted her. From racism, religion, drugs, sexuality, self-doubt, gossip, rivalry, insufficient training, the demands of parents and the industry, a troubled marriage playing out in headlines, we see it all in this film.
3. Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives
The Festival opens with a look at the legendary producer and music executive Clive Davis. Even if you are on the fringes of music fandom you’ve probably heard his name. His career spans five decades and he is responsible for bringing us some of the greatest artists of all time. From the 60’s to the rise of hip-hop Clive is associated with names like: Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Santana, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Alicia Keys, and Sean “Puffy” Combs. As the queen Aretha says, “Clive is the greatest record man of all time.” The man responsible for the soundtrack of our lives.
Liev Schreiber stars as Chuck Wepner “The Bayonne Bleeder.” A heavyweight boxer in the 70s with the uncanny ability to stand in the ring and take severe beatings. Wepner fought Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and a real live bear in his career. Wepner’s life story served as the inspiration for a popular boxing movie called Rocky. The film also stars Elisabeth Moss as Chuck’s wife and Naomi Watts as the local, straight shooting bartender, whom Chuck gets into verbal jousts with on his many drunken nights. Chuck is the sobering tale of the rise and fall of a man who was larger than life.
5. Mike And The Mad Dog
Sports fans in the tri-state area knew where to be during afternoon drive time. WFAN for Mike and the Mad Dog. The loud mouthed opinionated sports radio pioneers that were the voice of New York sports. The iconic duo of Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo indirectly launched the careers of many of the “hot take” sports talk personalities that dominate multimedia today. This is the story of the unlikely pair that changed the way we talk about sports.
6. ESPN Sports Film Festival/Sports Shorts
The ESPN Sports Film Festival is the showcase for all sports and competition films. The Sports Shorts is a collection of stories that takes viewers on journeys of some of the most unexpected and entertaining tales from amateurs and legends of sport. Shorts include: Amazing Adventures of Wally And The Worm, Bump & Spike, and Run Mama Run.
7. LA 92
This entry in the documentary category comes from frequent collaborators Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin. LA 92 offers a fresh perspective on the events from twenty-five years ago that rocked south central Los Angeles. After four white cops were acquitted in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King several days of protests, violence and looting ensued. Lindsay and Martin use historical footage, from the 1963 Watts riots to connect the past to the present, with LA 92 as another point on a seemingly never ending line.
Director Camilla Hall tackles an important issue in modern society in her directorial debut. This is the true story of the citizen organization We Copwatch, whose goal is to watch and document the ways in which police interact with the public. To educate and empower the public by informing people about using Copwatch as a community defense tool, and to teach people about their rights in the event they are stopped by the police. The film also follows Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed Eric Garner’s fatal Staten Island arrest.
9. For Ahkeem
This sobering coming-of-age documentary about 17-year-old Daje Shelton of Ferguson Missouri is typical of what any teen story would have. Daje wants good friends, to do well in school, and have a boyfriend. What makes her story different is she is a black teen in Ferguson off the heels of the Michael Brown shooting. Daje falls into some of the trappings all teens do and others that only seem to impact children of color.
10. Saturday Church
A working mother has two sons she leaves at home with Aunt Rose. The oldest son, Ulysses, wears his mother’s clothes and shoes. He is beginning to explore his identity and sexuality, which does not sit well with the domineering Rose. Ulysses escapes to the Village in NYC to seek solace, and a support community. This film touches on multiple sides of the young LGBTQ experience.
The Tribeca Film Festival promises to be an extraordinary display of creativity that we will be talking about for some time. Founded in 2002 as a response to the devastating 9/11 attacks that ended many lives and caused major destruction. The TFF not only celebrates New York City as a major filmmaking center but also contributes to the long-term recovery and redevelopment of lower Manhattan.
Tickets are available at the official festival website. Prices are $10 (matinée screenings before 6pm, Mon–Fri), $20 (evening and weekend screenings) or $40 (conversations and special events). You can also purchase passes for individual days or the entire festival.
It was very difficult to select only ten films. There are several others we are excited about as well, but we can’t cover everything. If you’re going to be in the NYC area during the festival, flip the page for some additional films we think are worth watching.