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The 17th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, created by Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of the devastation of 9/11, has put down roots and thrived while the once-gritty neighborhood has risen to become among America’s most expensive and exclusive. The sprawling festival, which boasted 153,000 ticketed attendees in 2017, runs from last night’s highly-anticipated worldwide premiere of the Gilda Radner documentary Love, Gilda through April 29. Beyond the movies, the festival thrives on cast-reunion revivals like this year’s Scarface, VR, the latest in series television and intensive discussions with master talent. Here are eight must-see movies unspooling at the once upstart festival that has become a Manhattan fixture.
The funky kinky-haired darling of the original Saturday Night Live cast who broke Bill Murray’s heart and went on to marry legendary comic actor Gene Wilder (Young Frankenstein) passed away prematurely from cancer in 1989 at 42. Director Lisa D’Apolito weaves Detroit native Radner’s diaries (read by Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler and Bill Hader among others), recently discovered audiotapes and interviews with to reveal a vibrant, original and hilariously neurotic woman who died too soon.
Every Act of Life:
Documentaries continue to dominate the festival and Jeff Kaufman’s portrait of playwright Terrence McNally’s five-decade spanning theatrical career stands out. With the participation of the Masterclass author, 79, and talking heads Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep, Nathan Lane and Joe Mantello, the film explores McNally’s creative legacy, his fight for LGBTQ rights and addiction struggles.
Trine Dyrholm channels Christa Paffgen, aka Nico, the Andy Warhol Factory fixture (Chelsea Girl) in a fierce, funny and heartbreaking biopic. Focused on the Velvet Underground singer-songwriter’s final tumultuous year as she struggles against heroin addiction and attempts a comeback on the cusp of 50, the drama by Italian Director Susanna Nicchiarelli gives the dynamic Danish actress (In a Better World) the role of a lifetime.
A suspected murderer with a Chucky Manson glint, a family roiled by internal tensions and a young woman pulled between the two in a rural community – what could go wrong in Michael Pearce’s drama? Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley who made a big impression in the creepy Tom Hardy supernatural thriller Taboo, plays the young woman at risk to the thrall of Johnny Flynn’s mysterious stranger. The great British actress Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes’ Mrs. Hudson) ratchets the suspense as the family matriarch.
The legendary gay lyricist/librettist Howard Ashman passed away from AIDS in 1991 before one of his greatest hits, Disney’s long-running Beauty and the Beast, premiered. In Don Hahn’s intimate documentary that compiles archival footage and extensive original interviews with Ashman’s friends, family and collaborator Alan Menkin, the movie gives a unique talent his due while celebrating his legacy of great popular music that also included Little Mermaid and Aladdin.
The Party’s Just Beginning:
Inverness-born Karen Gillan stars and makes her feature directorial debut with a compelling coming-of-age story that’s also a love letter to her native Scottish highlands. Gillan is best known for playing Dr. Who‘s companion Amy Pond opposite The Crown‘s Matt Smith. Up next for the ginger? She stars as alien supervillain Nebula in Avengers: Infinity War.
Ubiquitous ethereal blonde, Elle Fanning, plays Mary Wollstonecraft, the novelist and future wife of English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth. In this sumptuous period biopic from Saudi Director Haifaa al-Mansour (Wadjda), the literary mother of the enduring monster Frankenstein (currently also a character in TV’s The Frankenstein Chronicles with Sean Bean) confronts romantic disillusionment and the creative birth of her classic Gothic novel.
Ewan McGregor leads a stellar cast including Lea Seydoux, Rashida Jones and Theo James in Drake (Douchebag, Like Crazy) Doremus’ sci-fi thriller. In a high-tech lab, scientists work to plumb the secrets of romantic relationships in an effort to engineer improvements – can anything go awry?