This year’s festival, which runs through June 19, includes 111 feature films from 40 countries. While only some features have been previewed at press time, below are several highlights. More reviews will be published as the festival continues. (Films accessible through the At Home platform can be watched through June 26.)
For more highlights, readand of our Tribeca coverage.
“Pink Moon” (World Premiere)
Dutch filmmaker Floor van der Meulen, who directed the 2019 documentary “Last Male Standing” (about the last male northern white rhino on Earth) takes a different stab at mortality in this unsentimental dramedy about a father and widower who informs his two grown children that he has decided to end his life on his own terms, by way of a mysterious powder mixed into his yogurt. Though not suffering from any health issues, he is instead ruled by the conviction that avoiding a 76th birthday — “checking out” while still possessing all his faculties — will avoid an anticipated decline and loss of agency.
His son, Ivan, and daughter, Iris, each take this news differently, which creates divisions between siblings who are now tasked with the legal logistics of enacting dad’s final wishes. But Iris, who works for an NGO dedicated to saving lives (and whose own life is punctuated by fits of morose depression, alcohol and indiscriminate sex) finds it especially hard to let go, and decides to move in with her dad in the hopes of altering his plans.
The performances of Julia Akkerman as Iris, Eelco Smits as Ivan, and Johan Leysen as the father are all first-rate. The film’s subtext is of course quite heavy, but the screenplay (by Bastiaan Kroeger) and van der Meulen’s direction adroitly balance drama and humor in the face of a family that risks splintering over the finality of death, a patriarch’s stubbornness, sibling rivalry and the immutable deprivations of time lost. Indeed, van der Meulen makes so many right choices (including an astonishing 14-minute tracking shot that smoothly carries the characters’ constantly shifting emotional weight) that it’s inspiring to note this is only her first feature-length fiction film. May there be many more. In Dutch with English subtitles. Screens in-person June 15. Screens at-home beginning June 15. Ticket info.
To watch a trailer for “Pink Moon” click on the video player below:
“You Can Live Forever” (World Premiere)
When a family crisis prompts the teenage Jamie to move in with her aunt and uncle, devout Jehovah’s Witnesses living in a small Canadian town, she finds their community and the Witnesses’ strict precepts to be isolating. Then, she develops a close bond with Marike, the daughter of a church elder. Their friendship stirs a queer attraction that both girls find liberating, and which the community defines as a threat, forcing the girls to make monumental, life-changing choices.
Writer-directors Sarah Watts and Mark Slutsky avoid shaming or making easy villains in their tender, low-key drama about young people figuring out how to define the boundaries of their lives, their desires, and their responsibilities to family and faith. Anwen O’Driscoll gives a standout performance as the unapologetic Jamie, whose defensive teen surliness is casually chipped away by the friendship and longing of Marike, played passionately by June Laporte. They get excellent support from the rest of the cast: Liane Balaban and Antoine Yared as Jamie’s aunt and uncle, Tim Campbell and Deragh Campbell as Marike’s father and sister, and Hasani Freeman as a classmate who offers Jamie an emotional refuge. In English and French with English subtitles. Now available to screen at-home through June 26. Ticket info.
“Broadway Rising” (World Premiere)
When the COVID-19 outbreak shut down Broadway in March 2020, the unknowables that existed at the time — How bad was the virus? How long would the shutdown last? Would New York theater ever be the same? — affected not just on-stage talent, but also myriad industries that depend upon Broadway productions for their life’s blood. In tracing the effects of the pandemic lockdown on the industry over 18 months, Amy Rice interviews producers, actors, musicians, dancers, backstage staff, costumers and dry cleaners, tracing how they dealt with the physical dangers of COVID, the financial stresses and the isolation. In addition to looking at how individuals considered career changes, Rice also examines how the entire industry — once it was stopped dead in its tracks — began reflecting on how the theater world might address years of systemic racism once the curtains rose again. Because, eventually, the show must go on. Screens in-person June 16, 19. Ticket info.
“Endangered” (World Premiere)
“We are moderators of fact, moderators of falsehoods,” says Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste, one of several journalists profiled in Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s riveting documentary that is both invigorating (in its depiction of how the calling to journalism is followed) and depressing (in its recounting of the hazards facing journalists, in America and around the world). As Brazilian reporter Patrícia Campos Mello is personally attacked by President Jair Bolsonaro, Mexican photographer Sáshenka Gutiérrez tear-gassed while covering protests against violence towards women, and Guardian writer Oliver Laughland harassed by Trump supporters in America’s heartland, we witness the personal dangers they face while trying to hold those in power accountable.
With the attrition of newspapers, the polarization of audiences, the weaponization of propaganda by politicians and corporate interests, and the violence waged against journalists worldwide, the last thing these wielders of truth need is to be labeled “fake news” by those who may be too conflicted, corrupted or ignorant to question the “real news.” But when you are fighting to uphold a constitutionally-protected right or advocating for that most human dignity of self-determination, you do what you have to do, even if it means being arrested while the cameras are rolling. Executive produced by Ronan Farrow. Screens in-person June 15, 17. Available to screen at-home through June 26. Ticket info. Debuts on HBO Max June 28.
“Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power” (World Premiere)
In the 1960s, 80% of the population of Lowndes County, Alabama, was African American — yet not a single Black person was registered to vote. Sam Pollard and Geeta Gandbhir’s powerful documentary traces the story of how local grassroots organizers, joined by voting rights advocates from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, created the apparatus and groundswell of popular support to register Americans of color to cast ballots for the first time, in the face of institutional racism and the very real threats of violence just for seeking a place at the table.
Through archival footage of such figures as Stokely Carmichael and new interviews with participants in the ’60s and ’70s activism, we learn how the residents of the poorest county in the country demanded a voice, and of the rise of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, whose illustrative insignia on billboards and ballots — a roaring black panther — would lead to a nationally-recognized symbol of Black self-determinism. The film is an invaluable addition to the story of how much work was required to access the ballot box, even after blood was spilled on a bridge in Selma and the ink was dry on the Voting Rights Act. Screens in-person June 16, 18. Ticket info.
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