The 40 movies filed under Spotlight, which tend to feature the highest proportion of prominent creatives and star performers in Tribeca lineup, this year includes the debuts of films that star Mickey Rourke (Tony McNamara’s Ashby), Jessica Biel (Diane Bell’s Bleeding Heart), recent Oscar winner Patricia Arquette (Nick Sandow’s The Wannabe) and Christopher Walken (Robert Edwards’ When I Live My Life Over Again).
Schwarzenegger toplines the world premiere of Henry Hobson’s Maggie, about a father whose daughter (Abigail Breslin) becomes one of the infected as part of a zombie epidemic. Joely Richardson also stars in the upcoming Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions release.
Also premiering as part of Spotlight are Tim Blake Nelson’s story of a New York mugging, Anesthesia, with a starry cast that includes Sam Waterston, Glenn Close and Kristen Stewart; Neil LaBute’s comedy Dirty Weekend with Matthew Broderick and Alice Eve; and Mojave, the Oscar Isaac-Garrett Hedlund starrer that is the first written and directed by Oscar winning screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed).
Aferim!, directed and written by Radu Jude, co-written by Florin Lazarescu . (Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic) – North American Premiere, Narrative. A police officer and his son travel across Wallachia in 1835, hunting down a runaway gypsy slave. In their journey across the countryside they encounter people of different religions and nationalities, each with their own prejudices and opinions on the state of the country. Shot in black-and-white, Radu Jude’s Aferim! is a gripping look into the political and religious landscape of 19th century Romania. In Romanian with subtitles.
Aloft, directed and written by Claudia Llosa. (Canada, France, Spain) – New York Premiere, Narrative.
In parallel narratives, single-mother Nana (Jennifer Connelly) has a mysterious experience at the hands of a traveling healer, years later her troubled son Ivan (Cillian Murphy) sets out in search of his now absent mother. Academy Award®–nominee Claudia Llosa’s (The Milk of Sorrow) decade-spanning family drama is a dreamlike rumination on faith, forgiveness, and family, set against an otherworldly frozen landscape. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.
Among the Believers, co-directed by Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi, written by Jonathan Goodman Levitt. (Pakistan) – World Premiere. An unsettling and eye opening exploration into the spread of the radical Islamic school Red Mosque, which trains legions of children to devote their lives to jihad, or holy war, from a very young age. With incredible access and chilling footage, Among the Believers is a timely and relevant look into the causes that have led to the growth of radical Islam in Pakistan and around the world. In Urdu with subtitles.
Anesthesia, directed and written by Tim Blake Nelson. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. On a snowy night in New York City, a Columbia professor is brutally mugged on the doorsteps of an apartment building. Director Tim Blake Nelson’s haunting meditation of city life traces the chain of events that precipitate the attack, examining the inextricable and unforeseen forces that bring a group of disparate individuals together. Featuring a star-studded ensemble including Sam Waterston, Kristen Stewart, Glenn Close, and Cory Stoll.
Angry Sky, directed by Jeff Tremaine. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In the 1960s, truck-driver Nick Piantanida discovered skydiving, and set out to break the world record for highest parachute jump by taking a helium balloon to the edge of space. Over the course of a year, his dream to launch the first civilian space program drove him to obsession. An ESPN Films release.
The Armor of Light, directed by Abigail Disney. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. This inspiring documentary digs into the deep affinity between the evangelical Christian movement and our country’s gun culture — and how one top minister and anti-abortion activist undergoes a change of consciousness to challenge prevailing attitudes toward firearms among his fellow Christians.
As I AM: the Life and Times of DJ AM, directed and written by Kevin Kerslake. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Adam Goldstein, better known as DJ AM, was a man with deep passions and aggressive demons. As I AM is an insider’s look into the life of the late, famed mash-up pioneer: his professional successes that made him the first million-dollar deejay in the United States and his incredibly complex personal life that was lived under the specter of drug addiction.
Ashby, directed and written by Tony McNamara. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Awkward Ed Wallis (Nat Wolff) needs help fitting in and turns to his neighbor Ashby Holt (Mickey Rourke) for help. Ashby’s unforgiving brand of tough love soon tests their friendship, and it hardly helps when Ed learns that Ashby is a former CIA assassin. Peppered with upbeat music and standout performances, Ashby is a spirited, self-referential update on Harold and Maude for a John Wick generation. With Emma Roberts and Sarah Silverman.
Backtrack, directed and written by Michael Petroni. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In this spine-tingling supernatural thriller, troubled psychotherapist Peter Bowers (Adrien Brody) is suffering from nightmares and eerie visions. When he uncovers a horrifying secret that all of his patients share, he is put on a course that takes him back to the small hometown he fled years ago. There he confronts his demons and unravels a mystery 20 years in the making.
Bleeding Heart, directed and written by Diane Bell. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Reserved yoga instructor May’s (Jessica Biel) peaceful, clean-living life is thrown out of balance by the arrival of her long-lost sister Shiva (Zosia Mamet), a street-smart yet naive young woman trapped in an abusive relationship. May feels compelled to rescue the hapless Shiva, but she finds herself increasingly drawn out of her sedate world and deeper into Shiva’s chaotic one. With Edi Gathegi, Joe Anderson, Kate Burton, and Harry Hamlin.
Cartel Land, directed by Matthew Heineman. (USA, Mexico) – New York Premiere, Documentary. A portrait of two men, both leaders of small paramilitary groups that police different sides of the Mexican drug war. With unprecedented access, this film brings forward deep questions about the breakdown of order and entanglement of modern-day vigilante movements at a time when the government cannot provide basic security for its people. In Spanish and English with subtitles. A release by The Orchard.
The Cut, directed and written by Fatih Akin, co-written by Mardik Martin. (Germany) – North American Premiere, Narrative. Fatih Akin’s historic epic follows one man’s journey through the Ottoman Empire after surviving the 1915 Armenian genocide. Deported from his home in Mardin, Nazareth (Tahar Rahim) moves onwards as a forced laborer. When he learns that his daughters may still be alive, his hope is revived and he travels to America to find them. In Arabic, Armenian, and Spanish with subtitles.
Dirty Weekend, directed and written by Neil LaBute. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Neil LaBute returns to Tribeca with this sharp-edged comedy treat about the ripple effects of desire, whether it’s followed or left unredeemed. Matthew Broderick and Alice Eve are wonderful together as colleagues with secrets who come to depend on each other for understanding as they go to find a spark of excitement in Albuquerque, after dark.
SEE ALSO: SNL Doc Opens the Fest
Down in the Valley, directed by Jason Hehir. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. How far would you go to save your hometown team? For many Sacramento residents, faced with the nearly certain relocation of their beloved Kings, no boardroom was too distant. One native son proved it. Follow former NBA superstar turned Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson as he battles owners and executives to keep the Kings at home, in this a roaring testament to the passion and power of the small-market fan. An ESPN Films release.
The Driftless Area, directed and written by Zachary Sluser. (Canada, USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Pierre Hunter (Anton Yelchin), a bartender with unyielding optimism, returns to his tiny hometown after his parents’ death. When he falls for the enigmatic Stella (Zooey Deschanel), Pierre is unknowingly pulled into a cat-and-mouse game that involves a duffel bag full of cash, a haphazard yet determined criminal (John Hawkes), and a mystery that will determine all of their fates. With Alia Shawkat, Frank Langella, Aubrey Plaza, and Ciarán Hinds.
DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Story of the National Lampoon, directed and written by Douglas Tirola, co-written by Mark Monroe. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. Using rare, never-before-seen archival footage and in-depth interviews with fans and founders, Douglas Tirola traces National Lampoon’s evolution from underground countercultural movement to mainstream household brand. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead is a riotous and revealing chronicle of a trailblazing comedic institution and a celebration of creative expression at its radical, envelope-pushing finest.
The Emperor’s New Clothes, made by Michael Winterbottom & Russell Brand (UK) – International Premiere, Documentary. Cinema’s prolific writer/director Michael Winterbottom and comedian/provocateur Russell Brand join forces in this polemical expose about inequality and the financial crisis. From London to New York the film combines documentary style, archive footage and comedy to explore how the crisis has gravely affected the 99% and only benefited the 1%.
Far From Men (Loin des Hommes), directed and written by David Oelhoffen. (France) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. During the height of the Algerian War, an unlikely bond forms between a reserved French teacher (Viggo Mortensen) and the elusive dissident (Reda Kateb) he must turn over to the authorities. Based on a short story by Albert Camus, David Oelhoffen’s classically conceived period Western is a tense and timely study of war’s political and personal sacrifices. In French with subtitles. A Tribeca Film release.
Fastball, directed and written by Jonathan Hock. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Since 1912, baseball has been a game obsessed with statistics and speed. Thrown at upwards of 100 miles per hour, a fastball moves too quickly for human cognition and accelerates into the realm of intuition. Fastball is a look at how the game at its highest levels of achievement transcends logic and even skill, becoming the primal struggle for man to control the uncontrollable.
A Faster Horse, directed by David Gelb, and written by Mark Monroe. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. As the fiftieth anniversary of the Mustang approaches, Ford is launching a redesign, placing the jobs and expectations of thousands squarely on the shoulders of Chief Program Engineer Dave Pericak. Masterfully crafted by TFF alumnus David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi), A Faster Horse moves beyond a car lover’s documentary to a resonant examination of American ingenuity, workmanship, and resilience.
Good Kill, directed and written by Andrew Niccol. (USA) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Major Tommy Egan (Ethan Hawke) is fighting a war from the safety of a Nevada trailer, but commitment to the mission comes at a price. Gattaca director Andrew Niccol reunites with Ethan Hawke for this timely drama about the human costs of advanced war technology. Co-starring January Jones and Zoe Kravitz. An IFC Films Release.
Grandma, directed and written by Paul Weitz. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Reeling from a recent breakup and still mourning the loss of her longtime partner, once-famous poet Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) is surprised to find her teenage granddaughter on her doorstep in need of $600 and a ride. The two embark on an all-day road trip that ends up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets all over town. Co-starring Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, and Sam Elliott. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Hungry Hearts, directed by Saverio Costanzo. (Italy) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. After a chance meeting and a whirlwind romance in New York City, Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rohrwacher) become pregnant. Convinced their child will be harmed by the pollutions in the outside world, Mina becomes consumed by protecting her baby, forcing Jude to recognize a terrible truth about why his son’s life could be in danger. A Sundance Selects Release
Jimmy’s Hall, directed by Ken Loach, written by Paul Laverty. (UK, Ireland, France) – North American Premiere, Narrative. James Gralton returns from exile and reopens a public dancehall, bravely pushing back against the sharply drawn religious and political margins of his time. Ken Loach (Winner, Palme-d’or 2006, The Wind that Shakes the Barley) paints a romantic drama about a leftist leader, and a 1930s Ireland that celebrates free speech and thought in the face of oppressive dogma. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.
Maggie, directed by Henry Hobson, written by John Scott 3. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. There’s a deadly zombie epidemic threatening humanity, but Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a small-town farmer and family man, refuses to accept defeat even when his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) becomes infected. As Maggie’s condition worsens and the authorities seek to eradicate those with the virus, Wade is pushed to the limits in an effort to protect her. Joely Richardson co-stars in this post-apocalyptic thriller. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions release.
Mojave, directed by and written by William Monahan. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. William Monahan’s second feature, starring Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund, is a delirious trip from the fringes of the desert to the center of the film industry. Armed with little more than a knife and two handles of vodka, an on-edge Hollywood director sets out to the Mojave Desert, where he finds a drifter brandishing a rifle and claiming to be the Devil.
A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did, directed by David Evans, written by Philippe Sands (UK) – World Premiere, Documentary. Can you imagine what it means to grow up as the child of a mass murderer? While studying the Nuremberg trials, a lawyer becomes fascinated with two men: both sons of famous Nazi Generals, and both with polar opposite views of their fathers’ hand in the war. A forthright dive into individual perception, Our Fathers, the Nazis adds new meaning to the ties that bind us.
The Overnight, directed and written by Patrick Brice. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Alex and Emily have just moved to LA with their young son. Eager to make new friends, they accept an invitation to a party from the father of their son’s playground mate. After the kids fall asleep, the “playdate” takes a bizarre turn in this racy and hilarious romp. Featuring Judith Godrèche, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Adam Scott. A release by The Orchard.
Peggy Guggenheim – Art Addict, directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, written by Bernadine Colish, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, and John Northrup. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Bouncing between Europe and the US as often as she would between lovers, Peggy Guggenheim’s life story was as swirling as the design of her uncle’s museum, and reads more like fiction than any reality imaginable. Art Addict is a picture into Guggenheim’s world: abstract, colorful, and as salacious as the artwork she revered.
Prescription Thugs, directed by Christopher Bell, written by Josh Alexander. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Americans consume 80% of the world’s prescription drugs. After losing his own brother to the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse, documentarian Chris Bell (Bigger, Stronger, Faster) sets out to demystify this insidious addiction. While the war has raged against illegal drugs, Bell attempts to break the hardened correlation that legal means safe.
Requiem for the American Dream, directed and written by Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Anchored by a series of interviews with Noam Chomsky, this definitive documentary of the “Two Americas” is an unvarnished account of how policies have helped concentrate wealth in the hands of a few at expense of everyone else. This is an eye-opening, revised vision of the American Dream, in the wake of a dying middle class.
Roseanne for President!, directed by Eric Weinrib. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Comedian Roseanne Barr always went against the odds, first as an assertive housewife struggling to pay the bills on her sitcom. Now she tests the limits of the two-party system, vying for candidacy on the 2012 ballot. Roseanne for President! follows her impassioned campaign journey.
Sleeping With Other People, directed and written by Leslye Headland. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie star as two romantic failures whose years of serial infidelity and self-sabotage have led them to swear that their relationship will remain strictly platonic. But can love still bloom while you’re sleeping with other people? Writer/director Leslye Headland’s (Bachelorette) sexy romantic comedy co-stars Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, and Natasha Lyonne. An IFC Films Release
Slow West, directed by John Maclean. (UK, New Zealand) – New York Premiere, Narrative. At the end of the nineteenth century, 16-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas (Michael Fassbender), a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw (Ben Mendelsohn) along the way. Sundance 2015 World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic. An A24/DIRECTV release.
Steak (R)evolution, directed and written by Franck Ribière, co-written by Vérane Frédiani (France) – International Premiere, Documentary. Grass fed, grain finished, intricately marbled, and dry aged — the concept of what makes the best steak varies greatly, and it continues to evolve as we move toward more sustainable farming practices. In this gourmet, across-the-world road trip, chefs, farmers, butchers, journalists and other experts weigh in on the various factors at play to help us understand the (r)evolution taking place right now and the challenges ahead. In English, French with subtitles. A Kino Lorber release.
Thought Crimes, directed by Erin Lee Carr. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Convicted yet then acquitted of conspiring to kidnap, rape, kill, and eat several women, NYPD officer Gilberto Valle quickly rose to infamy as New York’s own “Cannibal Cop”. With exclusive access to Valle, Erin Lee Carr’s unflinching documentary asks a fundamental question that challenges our beliefs about the criminal justice system, and even the very nature of right and wrong: can you be guilty of a crime you only thought about committing? An HBO Documentary Film.
Tumbledown, directed and written by Sean Mewshaw, co-written by Desi Van Til. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Years after the accidental death of her folk-singer husband, Hannah (Rebecca Hall) has yet to fully accept her small-town life without him. Then she is approached by a charming New York writer (Jason Sudeikis) intent on penning a biography of her late husband’s life, and Hannah finds herself opening up again. Also featuring performances by Dianna Agron, Blythe Danner, Griffin Dunne, Joe Manganiello, and Richard Masur
The Wannabe, directed and written by Nick Sandow. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Gotti-obsessed and hopelessly in love, Thomas (Boardwalk Empire’s Vincent Piazza) and Rose (Academy Award–winner Patricia Arquette) are looking to fit in to a neighborhood where mob-ties equal social currency. Amidst events surrounding the 1992 trial of John Gotti, Thomas and Rose attempt to make their mark. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese.
When I Live My Life Over Again, directed and written by Robert Edwards. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Jude (Amber Heard) is a would-be singer-songwriter still struggling to make her mark. Cash-strapped and homeless, she begrudgingly returns to the Hamptons home of her father (Christopher Walken), an over-the-hill crooner desperately charting his musical comeback, in this spunky, soulful dramedy about the personal costs of artistic ambition and the bonds that carry us through.
Wondrous Boccaccio (Maraviglioso Boccaccio), directed and written by Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani. (Italy) – International Premiere, Narrative. Set against the backdrop of a black plague-stricken Florence, ten young men and women escape to a country estate where they spend their days telling different stories of love, fate, and resurrection. From legendary Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Wondrous Boccaccio is a tribute to the stories that emerged from one of the darkest periods in Italian history, and the imaginations that quietly fueled them. In Italian with subtitles.