The Tribeca Film Festival may be Robert DeNiro’s love letter to Lower Manhattan, but that’s not the only role the city plays in this year’s cinema circus. New York stars in 21 of the festival’s films, but with tickets hard to come by here’s a sneak peak at which films are worth your $18 ticket.—Heather Corcoran
Photo: A still from the movie Bomb It.
86 min. Directed by Matthew Bonifacio.
An unlikely friendship forms between a group of illegal immigrants from Mexico and their Italian-American neighbors in Queen in Amexicano, a film that explores heady issues of race and language barriers with a lighthearted touch.
Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe
77 min. Directed by James Crump.
Curator Sam Wagstaff, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and rocker Patti Smith were the kings and queen of New York’s revolutionary art scene of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The documentary Black White + Gray, looks at these luminaries through interviews with stars of the art world.
93 min. Directed by Jon Reiss
The documentary Bomb It spans five continents to explore the contemporary role of graffiti, the oft-debated public art form that grew out of New York’s 1970s hip-hop scene.
The Business of Being Born
84 min. Directed by Abby Epstein.
We’ve all done it, but it seems like no one has the right answers when it comes to being born. The Business of Being Born follows a New York City midwife for a documentary look at the high cost and high risk of giving birth in America, a country with the second-highest infant mortality rate in the developed world.
The Cake Eaters
95 min. Directed by Mary Stuart Masterson.
The director’s debut feature tells the story of a young man who returns to a small town and turns two families upside down.
88 min. Directed by Bruce Broder.
Young musicians around the country compete to join Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center for the prestigious Essentially Ellington Festival. This documentary shows that it takes hard work to master something, but confidence to let go and improvise.
90 min. Directed by Bryan Gunnar Cole.
The star-studded Day Zero imagines a dark day in America’s future, as three friends (played by Elijah Wood, Chris Klein and Jon Bernthal) prepare to go to war after being drafted into the military.
110 min. Directed by Talia Lugacy.
College parties take a turn for the worst when Maya (Rosario Dawson) becomes the victim of a rape and finds herself in a dangerous downward spiral.
Gardener of Eden
88 min. Directed by Kevin Connolly.
He lives with his parents and all he does is hang out with his friends, but when a deli worker accidentally becomes a hero, he discovers a new purpose in life.
100 min. Directed by Antonio Ferrera and Albert Maysles.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “Gates” transformed Central Park in 2005. In The Gates, two legendary documentarians follow the 26-year struggle of the artists to create the monumental work.
The Golden Door
118 min. Directed by Emanuel Crialese.
At the dawn of the 20th century, a Sicilian family and a mysterious Englishwoman make the voyage to America by sea, bringing their hopes and dreams to Ellis Island in third-class steerage.
87 min. Directed by Jon Frankel.
With everything against them, Harlem’s only high school football team, the Hellfighters, give it their all for a chance at college in this uplifting documentary.
I am an American Soldier
100 min. Directed by John Laurence.
Director John Laurence spent 14 months with the elite 101st Airborne Division for a candid look at the war in Iraq through the eyes of the soldiers.
85 min. Directed by Jim Mickle.
Seven tenants recently evicted from a Mulberry Street apartment fight for survival as a rat-borne virus turns Manhattanites into flesh-eating zombies in Jim Mickle’s low-budget thriller.
100 min. Directed by Edward Burns.
Actor Ed Burns takes a turn behind the camera in this charming story of four college friends reunited after years apart.
96 min. Directed by Marc Klein.
A young book editor tries to work her way to the top, while also trying to resist the advances of an older, high-powered publishing bigwig.
Take the Bridge
88 min. Directed by Sergio M. Castilla.
After failed suicide attempts bring four young people together, they struggle to get on with their lives in their close-knit Dominican community in Washington Heights.
The True Legend of Tony Vilar
93 min. Directed by Giuseppe Gagliardi.
The bizarre, but true tale of Italian singer-turned-Latin crooner Tony Vilar gets reimagined in this mockumentary that blurs the line between fact and fiction as it traces Vilar’s path to New York City.
A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory
75 min. Directed by Esther Robinson.
Filmmaker and former Warhol fling Danny Williams mysteriously disappeared at the age of 27. In her debut documentary, his niece begins a family journey to discover her uncle.
83min. Directed by Michael Kang.
A young lawyer risks it all when he infiltrates the gritty Koreatown underworld, in a thrilling search for clues.
Where God Left his Shoes
99 min. Directed by Salvatore Stabile.
Desperate to get his family out of a homeless shelter and back on their feet, Gulf War veteran Frank Diaz (John Leguizamo) and his stepson struggle to find a job – the first step to getting an apartment. Confronted by obstacles, the family comes together in this heartwarming drama about family and the struggles of the working poor.
For full schedules visit tribecafilmfestival.org.