The 2022 Tribeca Festival is upon us, running June 8th through June 19th. As always, this year’s line-up features a number of exciting film projects that have caught my attention. Over the course of the next week and a half, I will be covering the festival and sharing my thoughts on what I have seen through reviews, interviews, and other features.
To start, here are the films that I am most looking forward to in alphabetical order.
Note: All information, including pictures, has been provided by Tribeca Film Festival unless otherwise noted.
88 (United States)
Drama, Thriller, Politics, Mystery, Black & African American Diaspora Stories
Synopsis: When Financial Director Femi Jackson (Brandon Victor Dixon) for One USA, a democratic super PAC (political action committee) to elect presidential candidate Harold Roundtree (Orlando Jones), discovers patterns in donations he enlists the help of investment blogger Ira Goldstein (Thomas Sadoski) to dig deeper. Together they uncover a conspiracy and while new seasoned Deputy Executive Director Fred Fowlkes (Michael J. Harney) wants to act, head of One USA Agatha Frost (Amy Sloan) is hesitant. Meanwhile talk show host Ron Holt (William Fichtner) drills Roundtree on campaign finance reform, Citizens United, and the collapse of City District Bank where Roundtree was CEO. Femi and Ira follow the campaign money trail back to its nefarious origins and race to uncover the truth before the presidential primaries.
A Rising Fury (Ukraine, Norway, United States)
Documentary, Drama, Journalism
Synopsis: Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022 caught the world by surprise and seized our attention, but the war’s roots were laid far earlier. Filmed over eight years, A Rising Fury tracks the evolution of the conflict in Ukraine, from the 2013 Maidan Revolution in Kyiv, Ukraine to today. The documentary intimately accompanies Pavlo, a young idealist who enlists in the Ukrainian army to defend his country following Russia’s invasion of the Donbas and Crimea regions in 2014. In this vicious struggle between two culturally intertwined nations where friends can suddenly become foes, Pavlo finds himself on the opposite side of the battlefield from many he once considered allies as he fervently acts to defend his country’s independence, sovereignty, and democracy.
All Man: The International Male Story (United States)
Documentary, LGBTQIA, Fashion
Synopsis: From the outside, the International Male catalog, with its frilly pirate shirts and revealing underwear in eye-singeing patterns, could seem humorously garish. But to the “magalog’s” target audience of closeted gay teenagers and flamboyant club-goers, International Male was a secret handshake that gave them permission to be their fabulous selves. Narrated by Matt Bomer and featuring an all-star cast of celebrity stylists, fashion influencers, and comedic actors, All Man: The International Male Story celebrates International Male in an appropriately colorful ‘80s throwback style.
Alone Together (United States)
Synopsis: Going upstate for a supposedly temporary romantic getaway to escape the pandemic in New York City, food critic June’s (Katie Holmes) plans go wrong from the start when she arrives at her accommodation only to find that it’s been double booked by recently single Charlie. When her boyfriend decides to stay in the city to take care of his parents, June has to settle in for the long haul as she starts to understand that the initial two weeks of pandemic might just drag on a bit!
American Dreamer (United States)
Synopsis: “What do we need to be happy? What do we want? And ultimately – how far are we willing to go, to get it?” Economics professor Phillip Loder (Peter Dinklage) poses these questions to his grad students as he himself ponders these thoughts. Phil is a twice-divorced, frustrated, underpaid professor, as well as an aspiring novelist, clamoring for bigger, better things in his life. His schmoozy real estate agent friend Dell (Matt Dillon) isn’t helping much, to secure a good deal on owning a home, so Phil takes matters into his own hands. He finds a posting in the classifieds for a mansion which is“$5 million as is – or $240,000 with live-in,” and, using Dell as his agent, negotiates with the owner of the mansion – ailing widow Astrid Finnelli (Shirley MacLaine) – to live in the side apartment of the house, until Astrid passes away. Once Astrid dies, the mansion belongs to Phil. However, Phil soon realizes that his seemingly fast-acting plan won’t be as easy as he thought; especially when he finds out that Astrid has an adult daughter who’s suspicious of his intentions.
American Pain (United States)
Synopsis: A jaw-dropping true crime documentary, American Pain tells the story of twin brothers and bodybuilders Chris and Jeff George, who operated a franchise of pain clinics in Florida where they handed out pain pills like candy. The brothers haul in trash bags full of cash each day as their business grows, to the point that lines of people wrap around the block and busloads of new patients arrive from surrounding states daily.
Synopsis: A woman questions her lifestyle choices when the travails of urban living are one day jolted into juxtaposition with a simpler way of life.
Blessed Boys (Italy)
Synopsis: In a sunny district of Naples, Italy where everyone knows each other, two inseparable friends live in the sheltered bubble of neighborhood life until their fraternal friendship is put to the test. Mario (Vincenzo Antonucci) and Lino (Francesco Pellegrino) are two eighteen-year-olds, born and raised in the Sanitá quarter of Naples, who have not yet stepped out of their small town. When Lino’s little sister convinces the locals that she has performed a miracle and starts being worshipped as a living Saint, Lino’s fate abruptly changes. Freed from the pressure of being financially responsible for his mother and sister, for the first time he’s able to imagine a life for himself outside of the four walls of his family home. Meanwhile, Mario is experiencing a growing attraction to his friend that so far has gone unnoticed.
Body Parts (United States)
Women, Documentary, LGBTQIA
Synopsis: For too long cinema has been dominated by the male gaze. This insightful, revealing documentary, shows the evolution of desire and “sex” on-screen from a female perspective––allowing women to reclaim the parts of themselves that have been objectified and exploited for decades.
Corner Office (Canada)
Synopsis: You work for the Authority in a towering, concrete office building. You’re proud of what you do, you know how to dress appropriately and how to behave – but why don’t your co-workers? Why doesn’t Rakesh stick to his side of the desk? Why does Shannon bother you with her incompetence? Imagine the relief you feel when you find a beautiful, empty corner office. It’s just your style: with its teak and soft earthy tones that stand in stark juxtaposition to the harsh overhead lighting and office landscape where the others dwell, you can finally do your best work and escape the rabble around you. But why is everyone complaining about you and your impeccable work ethic to the boss? Why would they be so worried about you and your prized corner office?
Don’t Make Me Go (United States)
Drama, Asian Diaspora Stories
Synopsis: When single father Max (John Cho) discovers he has a terminal illness, he decides to try and cram all the years of love and support he will miss with his teenage daughter Wally (Mia Isaac), into the time he has left with her. With the promise of long-awaited driving lessons, he convinces Wally to accompany him on a road trip from California to New Orleans for his 20th college reunion, where he secretly hopes to reunite her with her mother who left them long ago.
Endangered (Brazil, Mexico, United States)
Women, Documentary, Politics, Journalism
Synopsis: Patricia Campos is a reporter for the Folha de Sao Paulo outlet in Brazil. We see her arriving at a massive campaign rally, where thousands of people yell President Jair Bolsonaro’s name, call reporters “criminals” and vow to “destroy the mainstream media”. Stateside, Oliver Laughland, a British reporter for The Guardian, endures similar vitriol from far right American voters as he covers local politics and Trump rallies. In Mexico City, photographer Sashenka Gutierrez covers the growing wave of femicides in her country, as she carves out a profession in one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist in – while in Miami, photo-journalist Carl Juste profiles a Black Lives Matter protest before it is thwarted by violent reprisals from police. These four intertwining stories make up a sobering exploration of reporters on the front lines against unrelenting campaigns of lies, misinformation and intimidation tactics.
God Save The Queens (United States)
Synopsis: It’s hard being a drag queen in Los Angeles, which is why therapy retreats are so important! The retreat featured in God Save the Queens includes Gigi (Jordan Michael Green) who is desperate to get their big break with their solo show by any means necessary and Marmalade (Kelly Mantle) who struggles with being a seasoned comedy queen in an industry where youth and beauty are the valued currency. Rounding out the therapy group are drag rock duo Rita (Laganja Estranja) and Stevie (Alaska Thunderfuck) who are feuding over their mutual ex when they’re invited to perform in a high-profile talent show. Little do any of them realize that fate might have brought them all together.
Good Girl Jane (United States)
Synopsis: Struggling to fit in in her new school and reeling from the fallout of her parent’s recent divorce, lonely LA high schooler Jane falls in with a rambunctious crowd, and becomes smitten with their charming drug supplier, Jamie. Jane’s thrilling, new, drug-fueled popularity soon spirals downward into the dark and ugly, her family helpless to pull her out of a world she’s reluctant to leave.
Halftime (United States)
Synopsis: HALFTIME offers an intimate peek behind the curtain revealing the grit and determination that makes Jennifer Lopez the icon she is, from her performances onscreen and on stages around the world, to her Super Bowl Halftime show, to the recent Presidential inauguration. The documentary focuses on an international superstar who has inspired people for decades with her perseverance, creative brilliance, and cultural contributions. And it’s only the beginning. HALFTIME serves as the kickoff to the second half of Lopez’s life, as she lays bare her evolution as a Latina, a mother, and an artist, taking agency in her career and using her voice for a greater purpose.
Hazing (United States)
Drama, Sports, Black & African Diaspora Stories
Synopsis: Weaving his own personal experience with hazing into larger narratives, director Byron Hurt posits the function, politics, and consequences of pledging rituals in the documentary Hazing. Hurt begins his focus on BGLOs (Black Greek Letter Organizations), but expands his scope as he navigates what necessitates these membership practices. Through a series of intimate interviews with victims’ families, survivors, and his fellow fraternity brothers, Hurt and his subjects go past the provocative headlines into the dangerous and careless realities of hazing.
January (Latvia, Lithuania, Poland)
Drama, Politics, Biography, Journalism
Synopsis: A young man’s dreams are put on hold in this unfortunately timely story of art, love, and war. It is January 1991, and Jazis (Kārlis Arnolds Avots) longs to become a filmmaker, citing the works of Ingmar Bergman and Jim Jarmusch among his inspirations. He finds a like-minded lover in Anna (Alise Danovska), who similarly dreams of artistic success and later accepts a position working for filmmaker Juris Podnieks (Juhan Ulfsak). However, their love and carefree lives crash to a halt when the Soviet menace becomes a grim reality, their homeland becoming a fierce battleground of subjugation versus independence.
Jerry & Marge Go Large (United States)
Synopsis: For decades, Jerry Selbee dedicated his life to his job at the local factory, maintaining a stable and satisfying routine that, upon retirement, is thrown out the window, leaving him feeling purposeless and lost. Despite the nudging of his lovingly supportive wife, Marge, and adult children to explore hobbies unknown, he resists…until a happenstance recognition of a completely legal loophole in the lottery system catches his eye and his head for statistics. Realizing there is more than enough money to be won, Jerry clues their local friends into the secret in an attempt to help revive a town and its citizens ailing from economic decline. Unfortunately, a brilliant but smarmy Ivy Leaguer trips upon the same systemic mistake and makes a play for Jerry and Marge’s grassroots gameplay.
Kaepernick & America (United States)
Documentary, Black & African American Diaspora Stories
Synopsis: Colin Kaepernick’s personal awakening, as a biracial adoptee raised by white parents, coincided with the growing cultural tensions during the waning years of the Obama presidency. After years of unrest prior to the tragic murder of Philando Castile in 2016, the superstar quarterback began to sit for the national anthem. In an ironic twist, his decision to respectfully kneel at the behest of a veteran teammate transformed a quiet protest into one of the most recognized political statements of our time.
Land of Gold (United States)
Drama, Asian Diaspora Stories, Latinx & Latin American Stories
Synopsis: First-generation Punjabi truck driver Kiran (Nardeep Khurmi) is about to become a father, but his irresponsibility is alienating everyone close to him. When he hears pounding on a shipping container at work and discovers an undocumented girl named Elena (Caroline Valencia) inside, everything changes as he sets out on a cross-country road-trip in search of her family. Over the arduous journey, the pair evade the police while feuding and bonding over music, paint swatches, and what it means to be seen as “other” in white America.
Leave No Trace (United States)
Synopsis: The Boy Scouts are an American institution, lauded by multiple presidents as the epitome of integrity and described by one interviewee in the documentary Leave No Trace as “wholesome as apple pie.” But beneath its Norman Rockwell exterior lies a scandal—and a coverup—of shocking proportions. More than 82,000 men have come forward with charges of sexual abuse against scoutmasters and other authority figures within the Boy Scouts, prompting bankruptcy filings and a massive settlement that’s still moving through the U.S. court system.
Next Exit (United States)
New York, Horror, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction, Technology, Asian Diaspora Stories
Synopsis: One of life’s greatest mysteries has been solved: Life after death does exist. The widespread acceptance of ghosts has led to Life Beyond, a radical scientific study based in San Francisco and launched by Dr. Stevenson (Karen Gillan), through which volunteers can commit pain-free suicide. After all, what’s left to fear about the afterlife? In New York City, two ready-to-die strangers, Rose (Katie Parker) and Teddy (Rahul Kohli), randomly end up sharing a rental car for a cross-country trip to their respective Life Beyond appointments. Friction gradually gives way to a deep emotional connection they’ve both needed, one that allows Rose and Teddy to confront personal traumas and embrace the kind of love they’ve each previously rejected. Unfortunately, their dates with death loom.
Official Competition (Spain, Argentina)
Synopsis: When a billionaire entrepreneur decides to get into the movie business, he commissions international auteur director Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz), Hollywood heartthrob Felix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), and titan of the stage Ivan Torres (Oscar Martínez) to collaborate on a cinematic masterpiece. But when these larger-than-life egos arrive for the shoot, they encounter an unexpected series of “rehearsals” set by Lola in this sharp showbiz satire.
Peace in the Valley (United States)
Synopsis: The specter of gun violence hangs over Peace In The Valley, Tyler Riggs’ new drama about a family’s struggle to make sense out of a senseless act. In the opening scene, Ashley Rhodes (Brit Shaw) and her husband John (Michael Abbott Jr.) are in a supermarket with their son Jesse (William Samiri) when a gunman begins randomly firing into the store. John, a firefighter and a veteran, rushes towards the attacker and dies a hero. But that brings little comfort to Ashley, who’s not only mourning her husband but struggling with Jesse’s budding interest in hunting. The re-emergence of John’s identical twin Billy — also played by Abbott Jr. — into Ashley and Jesse’s lives further complicates this already volatile situation, forcing Ashley to conquer her grief for the sake of both herself and her son.
Somewhere in Queens (United States)
New York, Comedy, Drama
Synopsis: As the prospect of athletic scholarships becomes more likely for his basketball star son “Sticks” (Jacob Ward), Leo Russo (Ray Romano) secretly meddles in teen social dynamics to make sure his child stays happy and continues playing well. But keeping secrets from his observant wife Angela (Laurie Metcalf) and extended Italian-American family proves more difficult than expected.
Space Oddity (United States)
Comedy, Drama, Environmental, Romance
Synopsis: Planets and lives collide in this Kyra Sedgwick-directed feature. Alex (Kyle Allen) longs to travel to outer space and finally gets the opportunity to do so thanks to a privately-funded Mars colonization program. In the midst of his rigorous preparation, he meets Daisy (Alexandra Shipp), the new girl in town who’s trying to start over. The two wayward souls connect in unexpected ways, both of them harboring secrets that they’re desperately trying to overcome. However, when questions about the legitimacy of the program and the future of his parents’ flower farm begin to crop up, Alex finds himself questioning whether it’s easier to confront his past or fly away into the stars.
Short, New York, Women, Drama
Synopsis: When a long flirtation between two co-workers comes to a head during a revealing lunch break in the park, who gets to walk away with their head held high?
Taurus (United States)
Synopsis: A rising but troubled musician searches for the inspiration to record one last song, pushing himself deep into the void. A work of fiction that explores fame, addiction, the artistic process, and the music industry, Taurus is a soulful and universal cautionary tale.
The Courtroom (United States)
Synopsis: In this powerful drama from director Lee Sunday Evans and writer (and Succession breakout star) Arian Moayed, the legal thriller is given a bold and innovative new twist. Adapted verbatim from court transcripts, The Courtroom follows the harrowing journey of Elizabeth Keathley (Kristin Villanueva) a Filipina immigrant who mistakenly registers to vote while on a K3 visa, a crime punishable by deportation. Married with a newborn baby, Elizabeth, with the support of her husband and the tireless efforts of their lawyer, struggles to navigate an increasingly convoluted and nightmarish legal system.
The Drop (United States, Mexico)
Synopsis: Lex (PEN15’s Anna Konkle) and Mani (Coming 2 America’s Jermaine Fowler) seem like a happily married couple, running a bakery together and actively trying to have a baby. Their trip to a friend’s destination wedding at a tropical island seems like a great opportunity to keep trying to conceive, all while reconnecting with their successful group of friends. The good vibes are quickly cut short, however, when, upon their arrival at the tropical destination, Lex tries to hold the baby of her friend (Aparna Nancherla, Search Party) who’s getting married, and drops the baby in full view of her friends. This distressing event immediately puts a damper on the nuptial celebrations. Recriminations, passive-aggressive behavior and uncomfortable tension permeates this convening of friends and threatens to further disrupt Lex’s and Mani’s future.
The Forgiven (UK)
Synopsis: David (Ralph Fiennes) and Jo (Jessica Chastain) are a couple on the edge of divorce, taking a vacation to Morocco in a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. However, their already-tense time takes a turn for the worse when they accidentally hit and kill a young boy. As the two split off to reckon with their actions, they find themselves coming to terms with their respective vices – David with his uncaring and vicious bigotry, and Jo with her unbearable compliance and repression. In these introspections, those around them will be left picking up the pieces.
The YouTube Effect (United States, Brazil, Germany, India, Taiwan R.O.C., Chile)
Documentary, Politics, Technology
Synopsis: Alex Winter’s newest documentary explores the ascension and potential fall of YouTube, the world’s most popular video-sharing website. Launched in 2005 with a video of a trip to the zoo, YouTube has built itself into an empire worth up to $300 billion dollars. In order to incentivize its creators and keep users engaged, it has created an algorithm that tries to predict what users will be most interested in. The basic idea is simple: make your content just the right way, and it will be promoted to users all over the world. However, the algorithm has created unforeseen privacy and ethical problems that could be the website’s downfall.
Triggered (United States)
Short, Drama, Politics
Synopsis: A US Senator faces her greatest challenge when a home invasion takes a shocking turn.
Vengeance (United States)
Comedy, Thriller, Drama
Synopsis: Vengeance is B.J. Novak’s feature directorial debut, a darkly comic thriller about a journalist who travels from New York City to West Texas to investigate the mysterious death of a young woman.
Learn more about everything showing at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival here.