Few NYU alums can claim to have started a film festival, but few NYU alums are Robert De Niro. Praise aside, the Tribeca Film Festival is underway, running from April 13-24. Founded in 2002 by De Niro, Craig Hatkoff and Jane Rosenthal, it was put together reportedly to provide cultural and monetary support to post-9/11 New York, especially the physical and cultural damage done to Tribeca and the greater downtown area.
The Festival hasn’t received the same renowned status as the likes of the Cannes and Toronto film festival. It’s known for being a bit hectic, despite its consistent big name draws and rather alluring location. An innumerable amount of films screen, herded into haphazard categories, with numerous screenings jumping from location to location all the way up to 24 street.
Nevertheless, it’s a festival downtown Manhattan is happy to call its own, offering new and experienced filmmakers to showcase their works. Likely, this year’s biggest draw is Liza Johnson’s “Elvis & Nixon,” where the strange meeting between two of America’s most iconic and bizarre figures is depicted for comic effect. Michael Shannon stars as the King while the former President will be played by Kevin Spacey, who seems to specialize in roles as cheating politicians.
Another one of top-billed films is Ben Wheatley’s “High Rise,” based on the novel by J.G. Ballard, where Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss star as inhabitants of a modern apartment complex where floors and amenities are based on class structure. Think “Snowpiercer,” but in a high rise, society comes undone when the power goes off, leading to surreal levels of class warfare and barbarianism.
“A Hologram for the King” is also headlining,a film written and directed by the breakbeat loving Tom Tykwer. Based on Dave Eggers’ novel of the same name that made waves back in 2012, Tom Hanks stars as a distressed salesman who goes to Saudi Arabia in hopes of securing a building contract.
Talking Heads frontman David Byrne will bring his provocative, artistic style to Tribeca with his film “Contemporary Color.” The documentary displays the concert he put on last year at the Barclays Center where ten of the top color guard troupes performed, all to the music of St. Vincent, Ad Rock and Byrne himself, amongst others.
As always, the Festival will host other functions beyond the typical narrative and documentary features, including numerous talks between key players in the entertainment industry. Highlights include Chris Rock and J.J. Abrams discussing the latter’s career, Alfonso Cuaron speaking on his ability to create cinematic worlds and John Oliver interviewing the esteemed Tom Hanks.
A virtual reality display will also be featured at the Tribeca Film Institute Interactive showcase on Saturday, April 16. Viewers can check out what may be the future of film, or simply a novelty fad that will pass in the coming years, including one experience where attendees can live as a ghost.
Much, much more can be found online at Tribecafilm.com, including tickets to screenings, talks and showcases. Stay tuned for coverage of the Festival in the coming weeks from WSN.
Email Ethan Sapienza at [email protected]