In a city that seemingly hosts a film festival every weekend, the Tribeca Film Festival, now in its 17th year, remains a must for cinephiles. The 2018 feature film program includes 96 films from 103 filmmakers. And, amidst talks of gender disparity in the film industry, it’s heartening to see that of the 96 films, 46% of them are directed by women, the highest percentage in the festival’s history. “In a year that has reminded us more often of our divisions than our connections, this festival’s program embraces film’s unique power to overcome differences – that connecting with stories not our own is the road into our deeply programmed human capacity for empathy and understanding,” said Cara Cusumano, Tribeca’s Director of Programming.
Launching with Love, Gilda, a documentary on Saturday Night Live‘s Gilda Radner, the Tribeca Film Festival will also see films from recent Oscar winner Sebastian Lelio, all-around badass Tessa Thompson, Beatriz at Dinner‘s Miguel Arteta, and Looking‘s Raul Castillo among others. As always, the documentaries in this year’s lineup seem tailor-made for today’s political climate, with docs tackling border towns, the current president’s effect in a Midwestern mobile chapel, and, yes, even a short documentary titled The History of White People in America.
But while feature films remain the fest’s main attraction, Tribeca has slowly been expanding its roster. In addition to a slew of talks (including with directors Jason Reitman and Laura Poitras) and an ever-expanding TV program (including a sneak peek at the Antonio Banderas-starring Genius), audiences will be able to check out a number of immersive and Virtual Reality projects. That includes Angel Manuel Soto‘s Dinner Party which tells the incredible story of Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple who made the first report of a UFO abduction in America in 1961, and Nico Casavecchia and Martin Allais’ animated Battlescar, which centers on a Puerto Rican runaway who enters the world of 1970s punk.
With so much to see, we wanted to make sure you knew what films to seek out, so find below 10 films that showcase Latino talent both in front and behind the camera.
The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 18-29, 2018
We The Animals
Us three, brothers, kings inseparable. Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood. Their parents (Sheila Vand and Raul Castillo) have a volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over, leaving the boys fending for themselves. As their parents rip at one another, Manny and Joel ultimately harden and grow into versions of their father. With the triumvirate fractured, Jonah—the youngest, the dreamer—becomes increasingly aware of his desperate need to escape. Driven to the edge, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own. With a screenplay by Dan Kitrosser and Jeremiah Zagar based on the celebrated Justin Torres novel, We the Animals is a visceral coming-of-age story propelled by strikingly layered performances from its astounding cast, elements of magical realism, and unbelievable animated sequence
Loosely based on British author Naomi Alderman’s novel and co-scripted with playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Sebastián Lelio’s first film set outside of his native Chile stars Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams as two passionate women caught on either side of the line that divides the devout from the secular. Happily single and living a rich life as a photographer in New York, Ronit (Weisz) is very much the black sheep of her London-based Orthodox Jewish family. When her revered rabbi father dies, Ronit returns home to pay her respects and liquidate her inheritance. But surprises await, chief among them the news that Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) — the heir apparent to Ronit’s father and very much the son he never had — has married Ronit’s childhood friend Esti (McAdams). While Dovid prepares to take over the hallowed place at the synagogue, Ronit and Esti become reacquainted. An old flame is reignited — one that could torch everything this family most cherishes.
Home + Away
Many of the students who attend Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas, have an unusual commute to school: over the bridge and across the border that separates their school from their homes in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. For many of these students, sports represent one possible route to a better life: Erik, a soccer player, dreams of playing professionally; Shyanne, one of the school’s best wrestlers, sees the Army as a way to get to college but begins to rethink her course in the current political climate; and Francisco, a hard throwing pitcher and third baseman whose father isn’t allowed into the United States, plays each game with that absence in the back of his mind. Matt Ogens’ observational documentary Home + Away follows each of these students as they navigate academics and athletic competition, while also contending with language barriers, a school in need of greater funding, and familial strife, during the their final years at Bowie.
All About Nina
Nina (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) isn’t your typical brash stand-up comic. Her sets may be littered with frank sex talk, sarcastic cynicism, and vulgarity, but her act is no mere act. Having finally ditched her abusive lover (Chace Crawford), Nina hightails it to Los Angeles with the hope of finally making it big. She stays there with a lesbian hippie (Kate del Castillo, in full dry comedy mode) and her girlfriend, who hope to bring out the positive energy Nina is so clearly lacking. Things begin to improve in her career, as well as in her love life—thanks to a new love interest, Rafe (Common)—but this hard-drinking heroine isn’t sure she can handle stability. Despite her budding successes, Nina struggles to reconcile being authentic and happy in both her career and in her personal life. Through these complicated and resonant characters, as well as its deft examination of timely matters like trauma, abuse, and sexism in the world of stand-up comedy, Eva Vives’s film offers insight into what it means to be a talented, creative woman today.
When Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa) meet at a club, they hit it off instantly, connecting over their disdain for the dishonesty they have experienced in their respective romantic relationships. High on their fast chemistry, the two women concoct a romantic experiment: They plan to spend the next 24 hours together, having sex on the hour. Above all, they commit to perfect honesty with each other, a theoretical remedy to the deceit they believe to be an element of modern relationships. But their relationship in a vacuum doesn’t go as planned, and soon the weight of their commitment begins to close in, threatening the ideals of the daylong experiment and their chances for a romantic future tomorrow. The latest film from Miguel Arteta, the director behind Beatriz at Dinner and The Good Girl, Duck Butter is a blistering look at intimacy in a pressure cooker. Co-written by Shawkat and executive produced by the Duplass Brothers, the film offers a searing interrogation of modern romance, with all its dizzying highs and heartbreaking betrayals, all packed into an intense 24 hours.
For Bianca, performing on stage provides escape from a tortured home life, one where her father’s mental illness leads to a daily cycle of pain. Unexpectedly, the upstart actress is presented with an exciting new opportunity: to move into an old psychiatric hospital and take part in a play led by a doctor who specializes in a radical form of sleep deprivation, pushing the actors to their limits by testing their resolve. But the longer Bianca goes without sleep, the more dangerous her situation gets. She begins to suffer from nightmarish hallucinations—and to suspect that both the doctor and the hospital itself have sinister plans that go beyond mere on-stage entertainment. In 2010, Uruguayan director Gustavo Hernández’s ambitious single-take horror film La Casa Muda (The Silent House) made a splash within the international genre community. Now, with You Shall Not Sleep, he delivers a grandiose supernatural chiller that looks and feels like a big, James Wan-esque Hollywood production. With a fresh mythology and creepy, dreamlike sequences that echo A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hernández’s latest has everything sophisticated horror fans crave: narrative audacity, strong character work, and, most importantly, brain-searing imagery.
One-time pop star Martina has hit rock bottom: no career, no relationship, no sex drive, and, most of all, no direction forward. But then, persistent fangirl Francisca pressures her way into Martina’s apartment, revealing that she believes herself to be Martina’s long-lost sister—and, at the same time, Francisca’s boyfriend César catches Martina’s eye, stirring her previously dormant desire. In a flash, the Argentine singer is flying to Chile to pursue this promising young lover and, while she’s at it, a better sense of self. Writer-director Che Sandoval deftly mingles the passions, obsessions, and heartbreaks of his characters in this fresh, comic take on the road movie, one predicated on Martina’s search for inspiration, both in the bedroom and out. Antonella Costa, marvelous in the title role, captures Martina’s overconfidence with humor and sensitivity. As her unease in this new land evaporates, she starts to warm to the idea of a new family, and she comes to terms with a lesson from Franscisca’s search for a sibling, audiences are treated to the blooming of a new type of Martina—funny, sexy, and in control of her destiny.
Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer Never To Play Football
In Brazil in the ’80s, soccer superstars had it all: the adoration of millions of fans, the frenzied attention of the world’s sports media, and all the glamor Rio de Janeiro’s nightclubs had to offer. But among the ranks of the country’s elite athletes, one of the biggest sports celebrities of his generation harbored a secret: He had never played a single game. Weaving together tales of fake injuries, of gangster club owners, and of Rio’s steamy nightlife scene, Louis Myles’s rollicking documentary uncovers the stranger-than-fiction double life of Carlos “Kaiser” Henrique Raposo, a self-styled football V.I.P. whose 26-year club career spanned continents and some of Brazil’s most famous teams—even though he never set foot on the pitch. A stylish, celebratory, and surprisingly sensitive look at the man behind the myth, Kaiser revels in unraveling the half-truths and alternate realities behind of one of the biggest fraudulent stories in the history of sports.
When She Runs
Unable to shake her dreams of competing in the Olympic Games, 20-something runner Kristin sacrifices everything—including precious time with her husband and their young son—to pursue her passion. This minimalist drama follows Kristin as she embarks on a strict daily routine of intense exercise, ice baths, training sessions, and low-calorie meals and moonlights at a snow-cone stand to make ends meet. It’s all in the service of the ultimate goal: a spot on the training team of a world-renowned Olympic coach—and a chance out of this dead-end town. Reveling in subtle silences and long takes, directors Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck (who’s of Peruvian descent) craft a patient and well-observed portrait of the daily grind of an all-consuming passion. The resulting film, When She Runs, is a compact, quietly powerful work.
Celebrated conceptual artist Jill Magid set her sights on an ambitious new project: an exhibition inspired by the visionary Mexican architect Luis Barragán. The only trouble was, one woman in Switzerland owns Barragán’s entire professional archive and the legal rights to any reproduction of his work, including photographs. And, for more than 20 years, she has kept it inaccessible to the public. Unable to execute her original goal, Magid instead redirected her focus to this spellbinding documentary about her unlikely journey into a legal quagmire and her attempt to question the inaccessibility of Barragán’s work. The architect’s legacy is reframed as a case study in the damage that can be wrought when a great artist’s work is over-protected, or at least overly difficult to access. With its measured pacing and haunting ambience, Magid’s hypnotic film is an engaging examination of artistry, diplomacy, and posterity at a crossroads.