First Look Media at Tribeca
FIRST LOOK MEDIA AT TRIBECA
First Look Media has an impressive ten projects at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Topic Studios has three projects at Tribeca: the world premiere of Bernstein’s Wall, a portrait of one of the greatest classical music figures of the 20th century, directed by Douglas Tirola; the world premiere of Italian Studies, the newest film from Adam Leon starring Academy Award® nominee Vanessa Kirby; and the New York premiere of Dear Mr. Brody, the true story of an extraordinary financial giveaway and its consequences from director Keith Maitland.
Field of Vision has supported five Tribeca-bound projects: the world premiere of Ascension, directed by Jessica Kingdon; the world premiere of On The Divide, directed by Leah Galant and Maya Cueva; the North American premiere of North By Current, directed by Angelo Madsen Minax; the New York premiere of Socks On Fire, directed by Bo McGuire; and Landfall, directed by Cecilia Aldarondo.
Topic, the streaming service, has the world premiere short Miss Panama, directed by Lamar Bailey Karamañites, Pascale Boucicaut, and David Felix Sutcliffe; and the Academy® Award nominee The Letter Room, directed by Elvira Lind.
Please see the full slate with more information and screening times below.
SPOTLIGHT DOCUMENTARY | WORLD PREMIERE | 100 MINUTES
Directed by Douglas Tirola
Bernstein’s Wall traces Leonard Bernstein’s lifelong struggle to create social change and bring people together through his work. Like a symphony with multiple movements, the film presents the sweeping grandeur of Bernstein’s life while sharing his most private thoughts about America, politics, race, family, media, sex, and religion.
The son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who arrived in New York and rose to become Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and eventually a household name, Leonard Bernstein was also a vulnerable and conflicted artist who struggled to balance his ambitions, religion, sexuality, and the family he deeply loved. For decades he towered over the worlds of classical music, Broadway, television, and culture, while using his clout to advocate for progressive political change, as well as lending his name to numerous causes and fringe groups at considerable personal risk.
Guided by Bernstein’s own voice, Bernstein’s Wall features newly discovered archival footage, audio verite moments with his family, intimate photos, personal letters, and highlights of his spectacular career—including West Side Story, the New York Philharmonic, and the opening of the Kennedy Center—to create an intimate and moving look at one of the 20th century’s most prominent icons. Directed and co-written by Douglas Tirola (Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, Hey Bartender). Topic Studios presents a 4th Row Films Production.
Monday, June 14, 8pm | The Battery
Available Starting: Tuesday, June 15, 6pm | Tribeca At Home (streaming)
SPOTLIGHT NARRATIVE | WORLD PREMIERE | 81 MINUTES
Directed by Adam Leon
Starring: Vanessa Kirby, Simon Brickner, Annika Wahlsten, Annabel Hoffman, Maya Hawke
New York City-based auteur Adam Leon (Gimme The Loot, Tramps) skillfully drops the audience into this wonder of a film that finds a mysterious woman (Academy Award® nominee Vanessa Kirby) wandering the streets of Manhattan in confusion, seemingly unsure of who she is or where she’s meant to be. Finding herself inexplicably drawn to a charismatic teenager, she embarks on an adventure with him through the cityscape and into the unknown.
A lucid dream of a film, Italian Studies simmers with a mesmerizing renegade energy. Writer-director Leon plays with form and narrative, crafting a delicate mystery that resists simple answers. Kirby’s brilliant performance keeps the film anchored and alive, as she moves through the city with an assured sense of person, if not self. The ethereal atmosphere is intensified by cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz’s warm palette and surveilling camerawork. The film is an unintentional time-capsule, delivering a fever dream of a pre-pandemic New York City that we all yearn for now. Never has a casual meetup in Gray’s Papaya looked so enticing. Italian Studies is a bravura feat of unconventional storytelling, an exploration of character in the absence of identity. A Topic Studios, Animal Kingdom, Tango Entertainment Presentation.
Saturday, June 12, 8pm | The Battery
Available Starting: Sunday, June 13, 6pm | Tribeca At Home (streaming)
DEAR MR. BRODY
2020 OFFICIAL SELECTION: FEATURES | NEW YORK PREMIERE | 96 MINUTES
Directed by Keith Maitland
In January 1970, Michael Brody, Jr., a 21-year-old hippie-millionaire and heir to a margarine fortune, sent the world into a fit when he publicly announced that he would be giving $25 million away to anyone who needed it. This extraordinary gesture sparked a frenzy, with mobs of people camping out on his lawn, phoning him, and writing letters requesting his help. 50 years later, 12 boxes of these letters are discovered in a storage unit—all unopened. What happened with these letters written by strangers whose hopes, dreams, and desperation were laid bare on the page? Whatever became of Brody, the eccentric would-be philanthropist who claimed he wanted to cure the problems of the world through peace and love? His 15 minutes of fame was dotted with drugs, mental illness, and outrageous claims, leaving many wondering, “is he for real?” And within the boxes of unopened letters written to him half a century ago are thousands of deeply personal stories from people whose voices are just now being heard for the first time. From award-winning director Keith Maitland (Tower, A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story). A presentation of Impact Partners and Topic Studios.
Friday, June 11, 5pm | Clinton Hall at Empire Outlets
ASCENSION (ASCENSION 登楼叹)
DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION | WORLD PREMIERE | 97 MINUTES
Directed by Jessica Kingdon
Factory workers diligently parse fabrics and prepare plastic products—like water bottles and binoculars—in clusters and in an assembly line. Men weld metal cylinders with precision, and a networking conference devotes its attention to training a predominantly female audience how to excel in business etiquette.
These and many other absorbing vignettes are what make up the central focus of Ascension from director Jessica Kingdon (Commodity City, Routine Island): an exploration of contemporary China’s identity as it relates to its vision of consumerism, innovation, and social standing. Kingdon’s rich and unobtrusive access into these arenas captures revealing moments with impressive patience and restraint—but also with surprising moments of humor. The film’s curious and observational lens delivers a hypnotic quality in its visuals, immersing the viewer in the stark differences between social classes, and how the struggles of the working class are laid bare in trying to realize the “Chinese Dream.” Implementing a large-scale visual canvas, Kingdon scrutinizes China’s imposing standing as a global superpower and embeds the viewer in the work ethic and lifestyle of its citizens—showcasing their collective pursuit of success through hard labor and material wealth.
Saturday, June 12, 5pm | Hudson Yards Public Square and Gardens
Available Starting: Sunday, June 13, 6pm | Tribeca At Home (streaming)
NORTH BY CURRENT
VIEWPOINTS | NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE | 85 MINUTES
Directed by A. Madsen Minax
An examination of the relationships between mothers and children, truths and myths, losses and gains. After the inconclusive death of his young niece, filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax (Kairos Dirt & the Errant Vacuum, My Most Handsome Monster) returns to his rural Michigan hometown determined to make a film about the family's wrongful persecution. But soon the scope of his project expands and he finds himself investigating the depths of generational addiction, Christian fervor, and trans embodiment. Like the relentless Michigan seasons, the meaning of family shifts, as Madsen, his sister, and his parents strive tirelessly to accept one other.
Using home movie footage and present day interviews to chart their story, the filmmaker traces the fine line between the truths and fictions that exist in every family. Turning the camera towards himself, Madsen confronts his own relationship with masculinity and his interrogation of what it means to be a good brother. The result is a deeply personal tour de force; a thoughtful, provocative rumination on identity and familial responsibility. North By Current turns an unflinching eye toward a family in the process of repair.
Sunday, June 13, 2pm | Hudson Yards Public Square and Gardens
Available Starting: Monday, June 14, 6pm | Tribeca At Home (streaming)
ON THE DIVIDE
DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION | WORLD PREMIERE | 79 MINUTES
Directed by Leah Galant and Maya Cueva
McAllen, Texas is home to Whole Woman’s Health Clinic—the last abortion clinic in the US/Mexico border. Mercedes, a tattooed Latina woman in her thirties who used to be involved in gangs, is now part of the pro-life Church movement, embracing the support from the Christian pregnancy center located next door to the clinic. Denisse, a young mother of four, volunteers at Whole Woman’s Health and helps guide women into the clinic, providing much-needed comfort and assistance. Protecting the entryway into the clinic is Rey, a Latino security guard in his late sixties who is fervent in his religious beliefs, but also deeply understands the plight of the women who arrive at the abortion clinic.
Their life decisions intertwine at this abortion clinic, as they grapple with how their devotion informs their role in fighting for or against abortion rights. The film chronicles their actions during the shadow of the Trump administration, the storytelling bolstered by an empathetic lens and an authentic concern for spotlighting the consistent assault on reproductive rights. Throughout On the Divide, filmmakers Maya Cueva and Leah Galant (The Provider) expertly bring the audience into the rising tensions—and humanity—at the center of this contentious issue.
Sunday, June 13, 5pm | Brooklyn Commons at MetroTech
Available Starting: Monday, June 14, 6pm | Available from Tribeca At Home (streaming)
SOCKS ON FIRE
2020 OFFICIAL SELECTION: FEATURES | NEW YORK PREMIERE | 93 MINUTES
Directed by Bo McGuire
Winner of the Tribeca Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature
When the matriarch of a large Southern family passed without a written will, her children became embroiled in a bitter fight over their mother's estate. The fracas prompted director Bo McGuire (Shitbird) to return home to Hokes Bluff, Alabama, to document the mounting standoff between his two childhood idols—his now-homophobic aunt and his out-and-proud gay uncle—in a battle that threatens to tear apart multiple generations of a formerly tight-knit tribe. In the process of investigating this epic family feud, McGuire also reflects on his own coming-of-age as a queer youth in the rural South.
Socks On Fire is both a tribute to the filmmaker's beloved grandmother and a first-person saga of a clan riven by petty jealousies and old wounds, fueled by one member's deep-seated homophobia. Blending home videos and intimate interviews with masterful reenactments—including the ingenious casting of local drag queens—McGuire paints a riveting picture of a house divided.
Sunday, June 20, 8pm | Hudson Yards Public Square and Gardens
Available Starting: Monday, June 21, 6pm | Tribeca At Home (streaming)
2020 OFFICIAL SELECTION: FEATURES | 94 MINUTES
Directed by Cecilia Aldarondo
Hurricane Maria abated, the news crews packed up and left, and the interest of the international community turned elsewhere. What happened next? Director Cecilia Aldarando (Memories of a Penitent Heart, Picket Line) criss-crosses the island to document the resilience of a community banding together to rebuild, taking things into their own hands after expectations for help from the mainland dissipated.
The relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico has always been complicated, so locals are understandably sceptical when real estate agents and American cryptocurrency entrepreneurs swarm to the devastated island. Their “renewable energy beach mixers” don’t go over well with people living without power, eating just one meal a day. The contrast between forced, sloganized togetherness, and the real relief efforts on the ground, are striking, and Aldorando’s patient, compassionate camera respects the citizens’ sorrow and growing anger. Landfall is a timely and comprehensive portrait of an island unfairly battered by increasingly dangerous weather and corrupt bureaucracy. The film is a love letter that reaches beyond the headlines.
Sunday, June 13, 6:30pm | Rockaway Beach 30th St. Playground
SHORTS: ACTING OUT | WORLD PREMIERE | 28 MINUTES
Directed by Lamar Bailey Karamañites, Pascale Boucicaut, and David Felix Sutcliffe
When Gloria Karamañites became Miss Panama, she didn’t just win a pageant. She made history. From directors Lamar Bailey Karamañites, Pascale Boucicaut, and David Felix Sutcliffe (White Fright, (T)error).
Thursday, June 17, 8pm | Hudson Yards Public Square and Gardens
Available Starting: Friday, June 18, 6pm | Tribeca At Home (streaming)
THE LETTER ROOM
2020 OFFICIAL SELECTION: NOW | 30 MINUTES
Directed by Elvira Lind
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Alia Shawkat, Eileen Galindo, Tony Gillan, John Douglas Thompson, Michael Hernandez
Academy® Award nominee The Letter Room, from director Elvira Lind (Bobbi Jene, Songs for Alexis) is a dark prison comedy about the secret life of a correctional officer who gets transferred to a job in the letter room, where a new world suddenly opens to him ways to find solace and spirituality afterwards.
Sunday, June 20, 5pm | Brooklyn Commons at MetroTech