Tribeca Film Festival may not rival the bidding wars of Sundance or studio tentpoles at SXSW. But it has cornered the market on cast reunions and Q&A sessions. This year is no exception, as the festival has lined up the makers of “Schindler’s List” (including Steven Spielberg), “Scarface” (Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer) and conversations from Bradley Cooper and John Legend. And then there are the movies playing throughout Manhattan, from April 18 through 29. Here are nine titles that could break out on the indie scene.
“The Crown” star Matt Smith trades Buckingham Palace for the world of BDSM with a turn as Robert Mapplethorpe, the famous photography who drew acclaim and provoked controversy for his graphic depictions of underground sex. The film covers Mapplethorpe’s rise from the outer edges of New York’s arts scene to the center of high culture, ending with his tragic death from AIDS at age 42. “Mapplethorpe” is directed by Ondi Timoner, best known for documentaries such as “Dig!” and “We Live in Public.”
Riding off the success of “Baby Driver,” Ansel Elgort plays twin brothers whose bond is tested when they both fall for the same woman. Patricia Clarkson co-stars as his shrink.
Sarah Jessica Parker’s first movie in three years has her playing a New Yorker whose life comes crashing down after a health crisis. This movie certainly wins the Tribeca prize for most eclectic cast, with supporting turns by Jacqueline Bisset, Common, Simon Baker, Taylor Kinney and (hello!) Renee Zellweger.
Skating rinks are closing down all around America at a rate of three a month, and as they shut their doors, a vibrant cultural happening risks dying alongside them. That’s so-called “adult nights,” a time when predominantly African-American customers gather together, skate, dance, and listen to music. Directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown (not the magazine editor) examine the history of these under-the-radar events — demonstrating their link to the emergence of hip-hop, but also a troubled racial legacy that often discriminated against black patrons.
“Bathtubs over Broadway”
This documentary follows Steve Young, a writer for “Late Show With David Letterman,” who becomes obsessed with Broadway-style musical shows that were commissioned by major corporations such as McDonald’s and General Electric. Rather than amateur-hour amusements, the musical recordings Young unearths featured work by Broadway legends such as Kander & Ebb, Chita Rivera, and Bob Fosse, all working together to put the jazz hands into corporate pitches. The film features interviews with Letterman, Rivera, Martin Short, Susan Stroman, and Sheldon Harnick. It gets extra points for its bizarre premise.
This surfing documentary, which is said to be a crowd-pleaser, follows the story of real-life BFFs Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Kalani Robb, Taylor Knox and Taylor Steele.
“State Like Sleep”
This drama has some buyers intrigued. “State Like Sleep” centers on a woman (Katherine Waterston) who gets involved with a high class gentleman’s club in Brussels as she searches for clues to her husband’s death. Luke Evans plays the club’s sleazy owner, and Michael Shannon rounds out the cast.
Another drama that has buyers talking: Tessa Thompson headlines this thriller set in North Dakota, as a woman who smuggles prescription pills into her hometown. Lily James plays her estranged sister, dealing with her own demons. The early buzz on this film is strong.
This documentary chronicles the rise of Alexander McQueen, the fashion industry enfant terrible who dominated runways with his sassy and irreverent style. Best known for his distinctive skull designs, McQueen opened a hugely successful series of boutiques and outfitted A-listers such as Rihanna and Nicole Kidman. The film features recreated scenes, as well as interviews and other archival material. If you still quote lines from “The September Issue,” this is the movie for you.