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Tribeca Film Festival 2016 preview

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Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Anniversaries are in the air for Robert De Niro. The Tribeca Film Festival, cofounded by the legendary actor in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, celebrates its 15th year with another spectacular downtown NYC showcase of events and screening, numbering in the hundreds.

The festival features 77 world premieres of movies, but the centerpiece attraction is a 40th anniversary screening of De Niro’s star vehicle Taxi Driver, the dark, immortal classic by Martin Scorsese, an uncanny time capsule of the New York City of a dirtier, scarier, lonelier era. The post-screening discussion will be a hot ticket, with De Niro, Scorsese, and costar Jodie Foster, among others, all together onstage to chat about the film.

Kicking off on Wednesday with the Opening Night screening of Page One: Inside the New York Times director Andrew Rossi’s The First Monday in May, a documentary about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute gala, Tribeca runs through April 24. We’ve combed through all that the festival has to offer and below, check out the 20 highlights of programming from the 12 movie-packed days that deserve your attention.

SPECIAL EVENTS and CONVERSATIONS

Columbia Pictures via Tribeca Film Festival

Taxi Driver screening and reunion

Martin Scorsese’s most New York of New York movies screens at the best venue in the city to see a film — the gorgeous, 2,800-seat Beacon Theatre — with actors Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster (both Oscar-nominated for their performances), Cybill Shepherd, screenwriter Paul Schrader, and Scorsese for a post-screening discussion. (Last year’s 25th anniversary screening of GoodFellas was somewhat of a letdown because Scorsese was absent while shooting his next film Silence in Taiwan.) Film Comment’s Kent Jones will moderate. April 21

Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Tribeca Talks

This year’s festival runneth over with opportunities to see artists discussing their craft with one another. Of the dozens of live conversations taking place, the highlights include: J.J. Abrams and Chris Rock (April 15), Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo (April 18), Andrea Arnold and Ira Sachs (April 18), Tina Fey and Damian Holbrook (April 19), Jodie Foster and Julie Taymor (April 20), Francis Ford Coppola and Jay McInerney (April 20), Tom Hanks and John Oliver (April 22), and Baz Luhrmann and Nelson George (April 23).

The Bomb

More than a movie, The Bomb is a multimedia installation that will premiere as the festival’s Closing Night event and then travel across the world in upcoming months. Co-created by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, The Bomb is a sort of timeline of the Nuclear Age that will be projected on all the walls of space while the band The Acid performs in the middle of the room. Nuclear disarmament advocate Michael Douglas will be present for a pre-screening discussion. April 23 and 24

Jeff Neumann/CBS

The Good Wife: A Farewell

Less than a month before CBS’s beloved legal drama wraps up its seven-year run (with the series finale on May 8), come join creators Robert & Michelle King, stars Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski and others for a onstage conversation, moderated by EW’s own editor Henry Goldblatt. A sneak preview of an upcoming episode will also be screened. April 17

Doug Hyun/HBO

Retrospective: Six Feet Under

Like the Tribeca Film Festival itself, HBO’s funeral home drama is celebrating its 15th anniversary — and doing so with a special screening of the final episode from 2005, complete with a live commentary from series creator Alan Ball. April 19

Jessica Miglio

Conversation with Samantha Bee

The former Daily Show correspondent and host of TBS’s terrific Full Frontal with Samantha Bee will join the show’s head writer Jo Miller for clips and a lively chat about late-night humor and how to create a comic entertainment that goes beyond the surface. April 19

Kevin Layne

For the Love of Spock

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and Adam Nimoy, son of the late Leonard Nimoy, has written and directed this personal tribute documentary to his father and his cherished Vulcan character. Nimoy will be joined by Spock II, Zachary Quinto, who appeared opposite Leonard in 2009’s Star Trek reboot, for a post-screening conversation. April 18

Nick Higgins and Ronan Killeen

O.J.: Made in America

ESPN’s remarkable seven-and-a-half hour documentary on the life and times — and rise and fall — of O.J. Simpson will screen in its entirety during one marathon weekend day. Food and beverages will be included. No word on whether the refreshments will include orange juice. For more on the film, including its trailer, click here. April 23

 

FILMS

All of the titles below are World Premieres. Check the Tribeca Film Festival website for dates and times.

San Antonio Four/Deborah S. Esquenazi

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four

A true crime snapshot as fascinating as Making a Murderer or Paradise Lost, Deborah S. Esquenazi’s enraging documentary tells the story of four gay women in Texas who were convicted 22 years ago of assaulting two young girls. Occurring at the end of a decade-long streak of convictions based on totally non-credible accusations of Satanic worship, the case was stained by hearsay and homophobia. And the craziest part: Despite the women’s release from prison (on bond), they have not yet been exonerated. All four will appear at the festival in order to attend the screenings.” (No distributor.)

Ique Esteves

Pelé: Birth of a Legend

Documentarians Jeff and Michael Zimbalist (ESPN’s 30 for 30) have written and directed a feature film biopic of the greatest soccer player in the world. Charting Pelé’s rise from the slums of Brazil to a World Cup victory when he was only 17, the long-delayed movie (it was filmed in 2013) stars newcomers Leonardo Lima Carvalho and Kevin de Paula as the athlete at different ages in his youth. Pelé himself, now 75 years old, will appear at the April 23 screening. (IFC Films)

A Hologram for the King

Tom Hanks and his Cloud Atlas director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) have re-teamed for this adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2012 National Book Award finalist about a washed-up American businessman traveling to Saudi Arabia to sell a new technology to the monarch. The movie opens nationwide a few days after its April 20 world premiere at Tribeca. (Roadside Attractions)

Nate Harrison

Dean

Humorist Demetri Martin (The Daily Show, Taking Woodstock) makes his feature directorial debut with this sweet comedy in which he stars a New York illustrator who spars with his insensitive father (Kevin Kline) while falling for a woman (Gillian Jacobs) that he meets in Los Angeles. (No distributor.)

Zack Galler

The Ticket

Dan Stevens, the onetime Downton Abbey star who’s carved out a film career in strong genre movies like The Guest and A Walk Among the Tombstones, continues his good form as a blind man who regains his sight only to lose his moral clarity. Director Ido Fluk (Never Too Late) employs long takes and visual flourishes to suggest the experience of someone seeing for the first time. Read a Q&A with Stevens about the film (and his title role in next year’s live action Beauty and the Beasthere. (No distributor.)

Diane Russo

Women Who Kill

This debut by Brooklyn writer-director Ingrid Jungermann (creator of the web series F to the 7th) is about two ex-girlfriends in Park Slope who host a podcast about serial killers. Jungerman and Ann Carr star as the podcasters and Sheila Vand (memorable as the vampire in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) plays a mysterious, possibly dangerous woman who enters their lives. (No distributor.)

haveababy

Each year a Las Vegas fertility clinic holds a contest that rewards one couple with the chance to win free in vitro fertilization, a procedure which costs a minimum $15,000. Through a humane, emotional examination of the contest (and its participants, including a New York Lady Gaga impersonator, above, appearing as “Pregnant Lady Gaga”) director Amanda Micheli’s documentary highlights the complexities and despair of America’s fertility industry. (No distributor.)

Cameron Duncan

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Fresh Off the Boat director Bill Purple keeps the maritime theme alive in this drama about a homeless woman (Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams) building a raft to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Jason Sudeikis (with Williams, above) and Jessica Biel costar as a married couple — and Biel’s real-life husband, Justin Timberlake, is credited with composing the film’s soundtrack. (No distributor.)

Darren Michaels

Mr. Church

Eddie Murphy has only appeared in five live-action movies — all underperforming comedies — since his Oscar nominated role 10 years ago in Dreamgirls. This low-budget drama directed by Bruce Beresford could mark a return to respectability for the actor. The plot has shades of Beresford’s 1989 Best Picture winner Driving Miss Daisy, charting the unlikely 15-year friendship between a cook (Murphy) and an orphaned girl (Britt Robertson) that he was hired to take care of. (No distributor.)

Ferne Pearlstein

The Last Laugh

Can we joke about the Holocaust? That’s the question asked in this documentary by Ferne Pearlstein, who interviews comedians (plus the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman and a concentration camp survivor) about what is considered too far or too soon in humor. Subjects include Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Joan Rivers, Chris Rock, and “Springtime for Hitler” scribe Mel Brooks, who says, “I really don’t give a s— what’s in good taste.” (No distributor.)

Aaron Epstein

Between Us

Ben Feldman (Mad Men) and Olivia Thirlby (Bored to Death) star in this relationship drama as a couple afraid of losing their free spirit if they get married. Adam Goldberg and Analeigh Tipton appear as two strangers who force the couple to question their commitment to each other. (No distributor.)

Jesse Korman

King Cobra

Director Justin Kelly’s lurid docudrama is one of the sure-to-be-talked-about films from the festival’s Midnight Movies sidebar. Garrett Clayton of the Disney Channel’s Teen Beach Movie does a 180-degree turn as a real-life gay porn star who is fought over by rival producers, played by Christian Slater and James Franco, as a porn turf war ensues. Alicia Silverstone, Molly Ringwald, and Pretty Little Liar‘s Keegan Allen (above) costar. (No distributor.)

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