The Tribeca Film Festival, which begins tomorrow and runs until April 30, has become a quintessential New York event. Its hodgepodge setup — where a seemingly endless amount of movies are screened all over lower Manhattan, from its namesake neighborhood up to Chelsea — lacks cohesion, but allows for a broad week-and-a-half-long cultural celebration. Everything from indies by first-time directors to features boasting an all-star cast will be shown, alongside expos for virtual reality, interviews and talks with directors, actors, musicians and athletes, screenings of TV shows and — for the first time this year — events for video games.
Tribeca packs a lot in, almost more than any one person can consume, so before the 11 days of media and art onslaught, here are some highlights to look out for.
“Aardvark” is likely to draw plenty of attention thanks to its trio of stars, with Jon Hamm, Jenny Slate and Zachary Quinto. Its premise has some promise to it — Josh (Quinto) begins seeing a therapist, Emily (Slate), who has her own mental health problems. No one’s anxieties are reduced when Emily becomes interested in Josh’s estranged brother, Craig (Hamm), likely sparking a precarious love triangle.
Dave Eggers knows how to churn out best-sellers, and indie darling James Ponsoldt looks to translate that success to the screen with “The Circle,” adapted from Eggers’ novel of the same name. Another film to boast a powerful trio, Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and John Boyega star in a world where an Apple-like tech corporation seems innovative and innocent but in fact has a nefarious ability to spy on and control the general public. “Black Mirror” fans, take note.
For those looking for more of an indie fix, “King of Peking” seems to have all the makings of a classic. A father and son duo in Beijing make money by selling their own recreated versions of blockbusters, which not only sounds charming but also perfect for portrayals of cinephilia and the strength of parent-child relationships.
On the TV side, leading the pack will be a screening of the first episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. Set in a present-day dystopian society, dramatically decreasing childbirths and environmental disasters have made way for a totalitarian government which cultivates women as resources. Elisabeth Moss stars as one of the few women who are still fertile, forcing her into a life of sex work in which she must constantly fight to survive while trying to find her lost daughter.
A wide range of stars and topics headline this year’s talks. Kobe Bryant will speak with Michael Strahan on his venture into animation, Tom Hanks will interview Bruce Springsteen about his sprawling, bardic career, Jon Favreau will talk with Scarlett Johansson on his directorial work and Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner — co-creative forces behind “Girls”— will discuss their careers with America Ferrera.
Finally, don’t forget the first ever Games Festival at Tribeca — running April 28 and 29. The Games Festival will feature discussions concerning the medium’s future and the latest releases, though the undisputed draw will be a conversation with Hideo Kojima, one of the most prolific video game designers and the mind behind the “Metal Gear” series.
Plenty more is on show at Tribeca this year, and WSN will provide online coverage throughout the festival.
Email Ethan Sapienza at [email protected]