It started as way of getting downtown New York back on track after being hit with terrorist attacks – and Robert De Niro’s film festival, 16 years old and still going strong, has not only outlasted its original purpose as an economic motivator but established itself as a spring destination for movie addicts. The actor and partner Jane Rosenthal are have continued to bring folks a wide-ranging, eclectic-as-hell lineup of big-budget dramas nestled up against microbudget indies, big-name events (like this year’s Scarface reunion get-together) butting up against screenings of modest filmmaking debuts, panel talks and TV-show previews and documentaries on everything from Ed Sheeran to Air Jordans.
It’s actually a strong year for docs at the fest, especially if you like artist portraits and micro-to-macro pop culture histories – but there’s a little something for virtually everyone, including virtual reality (Tribeca, to its credit, has long been an early adapter when it comes to showcasing V.R. as both a sidebar attraction and an attention-must-be-paid mode of immersive storytelling). We’ve narrowed down 20 movies that we’re both looking forward to catching and that we highly recommend.