Week after week, our 52 Films By Women column has been singling out an excellent female filmmaker for one of her groundbreaking works. This week we’re shaking things up a bit. With the Tribeca Film Festival bringing a whopping 35 feature films and 14 shorts helmed by women, we’re dedicating this week’s column to highlighting this fest’s fierce females.
Here’s a rundown of some of Tribeca’s most anticipated films by women:
All This Panic
Director: Jenny Gage
Synopsis: “Filmed over the course of three years, All this Panic follows Ginger and Dusty, sisters growing up in New York City, along with their friends and classmates as they navigate high school politics and growing up in front of the lens. The teens are disarmingly eloquent and surprisingly candid; they let us in to witness the most confusing, painful, and exciting time of their lives. As the scope of their worlds expands beyond the city’s boundaries and their family homes, their paths diverge.”
Why We’re Intrigued: There are too few portraits of girlhood in cinema, making this doc seem uniquely important and appealing.
Director: Salima Koroma
Synopsis: “Bad Rap follows the lives and careers of four Asian-American rappers trying to break into a world that often treats them as outsiders. Sharing dynamic live performance footage and revealing interviews, these artists will make the most skeptical critics into believers. With humor and insight, the film paints a portrait of artistic passion in the face of an unsung struggle.”
Why We’re Intrigued: You had us at Awkwafina of “My Vag” fame.
Abortion: Stories Women Tell
Director: Tracy Droz Tragos
Synopsis: “Award winning director and Missouri native Tracy Droz Tragos sheds new light on the contentious issue, with a focus not on the debate, but rather on the women themselves: those struggling with unplanned pregnancies, the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on the sidewalks hoping to sway decisions and lives.”
Why We’re Intrigued: With conservatives threatening to repeal Roe V. Wade and “punish” women who choose abortion, women’s bodies have become a metaphorical war zone this election season. A doc that respectfully looks into the perspectives on both sides is sorely needed.
My Blind Brother
Director: Sophie Goodhart
Synopsis: “In Sophie Goodhart’s utterly original romantic comedy, Robbie (Adam Scott) is a champion blind athlete and local sports hero whose brother Bill (Nick Kroll) is always overlooked, even though he runs every marathon by his side. When both fall for the same lady (Jenny Slate), Bill must decide if he will put himself second again, or finally stand up to his blind brother.”
Why We’re Intrigued: Jenny Slate, Adam Scott and Nick Kroll in a movie together? Yes more of this thank you please.
All We Had
Director: Katie Holmes
Synopsis: “Ruthie Carmichael (Stefania Owen) makes the best of bad circumstances, pulled along in the wake of the hard luck of her mother Rita (Katie Holmes). From escaping a bad boyfriend to their car breaking down on the road to going broke, they continually find themselves in search of stability. When their attempt at settling in a new town hits a stumbling block, and as the shine wears off of the kind strangers who supported them when they had first arrived, even Ruthie struggles to keep it together.”
Why We’re Intrigued: Holmes’ directorial debut focuses on a mother-daughter relationship seeking stability in the wake of a failed and abusive romance. The premise is interesting. Its real-life relevance is fascinating.
Director: Priscilla Anany
Synopsis: “When a young woman gives birth to a deformed and sickly child, she becomes the victim of cruelty and superstition in her Ghanaian community. Discarded by her lover, she is convinced she suffers from a ‘dirty womb,’ and embarks on a journey to heal her son and create a future for them both.”
Why We’re Intrigued: This feature film offers a tale of motherhood, misogyny and hope that seems specific in telling, yet universal in theme.
Director: Kadri Kousaar
Synopsis: “This darkly comic, crime mystery set in small-town Estonia centers on Elsa, the full time caretaker of her comatose son, Lauri, and the locals, who are abuzz with rumors about who shot Lauri and why. But in this tight-knit town, where everyone seems to know everyone and everything except for what’s right under their nose, the world’s clumsiest crime may go unsolved.”
Why We’re Intrigued: There’s early buzz on this Estonia title. But be warned, we’re hearing its brand of humor is damn dark!
Director: Sophia Takal
Synopsis: “Two women, both actresses (Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald) with differing degrees of success, travel north from Los Angeles to Big Sur for a weekend vacation in this twisty, psychological thriller. Both see the trip as an opportunity to reconnect after years of competition and jealousy has driven a wedge between them, but upon arrival to their isolated, forest retreat, the pair discovers that their once intimate friendship has deteriorated into forced conversations, betrayals both real and imagined, petty jealousies, and deep-seated resentment. As the women allow their feelings to fester, each begins to lose their bearings not only on the true nature of their relationship, but on their own identities.”
Why We’re Intrigued: Early buzz compares Takal’s twisted tale to the works of Brian De Palma. Finally it seems Mackenzie Davis is being given the meaty role her strong supporting turns in films like “That Awkward Moment” and “The Martian” have demanded.
Director: Liza Johnson
Synopsis: “Elvis & Nixon tells the untold story of the legendary meeting between Elvis Aaron Presley (Michael Shannon) and Richard Milhous Nixon (Kevin Spacey), immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives. Days before Christmas in 1970, the most famous man in America turns up at the doorstep of the most powerful one, inexplicably seeking to be made a Federal Agent at Large for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. What follows is a farcical scramble, as entourages jockey to coordinate a mutually acceptable meet-and-greet. One of the more surreal encounters in American history, the Elvis and Nixon meeting perhaps captures perfectly a pre-Watergate moment in time: before their names came to evoke tragedy and corruption; when the cultural cachet was passing from politicians to celebrities; and when America had both a King and a President.”
Why We’re Intrigued: We’ve been over this. Johnson appears to have given us a willfully bonkers docudrama that relishes in its stranger than fiction-ness.
The Last Laugh
Director: Ferne Pearlstein
Synopsis: “When is comedy not funny? Some would argue, when it’s about the Holocaust. Through interviews and performances featuring people on either side of the issue—including Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Joan Rivers, Chris Rock, and Abe Foxman—as well as a portrait of a resilient survivor, The Last Laugh offers an intelligent and hilarious survey of what is and is not off-limits in comedy, from the Holocaust and beyond.”
Why We’re Intrigued: What we can and can’t joke about has been an ongoing culture war. Find out what some of your favorite comedians think about what’s funny and what’s off limits.
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Synopsis: “Susan Sarandon delivers a magnetic performance as the doting, mother supreme Marnie Minervini, who crosses coasts to drop into the life of her screenwriter daughter Lori (Rose Byrne). Loosely autobiographical, Lorene Scafaria’s heartfelt comedy offers a wryly scripted defense of a woman struggling to cope with familial loss.”
Why We’re Intrigued: You had us at Rose Byrne. But bonus, The Meddler is Scafaria’s follow-up to the Pajiba-adored Seeking A Friend for the End of the World.
Director: Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway
Synopsis: “How does one reintegrate into society after making peace with a life sentence? California’s controversial and notoriously harsh three-strikes law was repealed in 2012, consequently releasing large numbers of convicts back into society. The Return presents an unbiased observation of the many issues with re-entry through the varied experiences of recently freed lifers.”
Why We’re Intrigued: If you’ve watched as much Orange Is The New Black as we have (which is to say all of it, repeatedly), you probably owe it to actual ex-cons to understand the struggles that really await them on the outside.
Women Who Kill
Director: Ingrid Jungermann
Synopsis:”Morgan and Jean work well together as true crime podcasters because they didn’t work well, at all, as a couple. When Morgan strikes up a new relationship with the mysterious Simone, their shared interest turns into suspicion, paranoia, and fear. Ingrid Jungermann’s whip smart feature debut is an adept and wry comedy on modern romance’s hollow results, set in an LGBTQ Brooklyn.”
Why We’re Intrigued: We obsessed over Serial, Making a Murderer, and The People Vs O.J. Simpson. Podcasts, human drama, and true crime all in one, it’s like Jungermann made a narrative dark comedy just for us. Bonus: Simone is played by A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’s mesmerizing Sheila Vand.
Director: Lucia Aniello
Synopsis: “This 3 part limited mini-series world premiere centers on two cousins, played by Ilana Glazer and Paul W. Downs, who discover a time traveling bong and ride high as they blaze through time. Their buzz is killed when the bong breaks and the cousins are forced to bounce around the space-time continuum, learning to appreciate that there is no time like the present.”
Why We’re Intrigued: This insane bit of sci-fi reteams Broad City’s Glazer and Downs with one of the series’ writer/directors Aniello. Tribeca will be giving a premiere of this bonkers bit of TV ahead of its 4/20 debut. Look for our review this weekend!
The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 13-24th.