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20 Movies We Can’t Wait to See at Tribeca Film Festival 2018

From Australian zombie thrillers to docs on everything from Ed Sheeran to Air Jordans – our picks for the downtown NYC film fest

20 Movies We Can't Wait to See at Tribeca Film Festival 2018

20 movies we can't wait to see at Tribeca Film Festival 2018 – from Australian zombie thrillers to docs on everything from Ed Sheeran to Air Jordans.

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. 

Neo Sora

‘Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda’

Whether you know Ryuichi Sakamoto through his pioneering synthpop band Yellow Magic Orchestra, his role in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence beside David Bowie, his award-winning film scores (that Last Emperor soundtrack will still give you goosebumps) or his collaborations with folks ranging from Thomas Dolby to Youssou N’Dour, the fact that the man is a living freakin’ legend is undeniable. Stephen Nomura Schible’s movie also takes this as a given; it’s less interested in making a case for his greatness than following Sakamoto around as he protests the Fukishima nuclear disaster, deals with Stage-Three throat cancer and mines artistic inspiration out tragedy and illness. Five years in the making, Coda starts as a snapshot and ends as a meditation on mortality, why we make music, civic responsibility, following your creative urges and the search for that elusive transcendental chord. We can’t recommend it enough. DF

Murray Cummings

‘Songwriter’

Unlike Ed Sheeran’s 2015 concert film Jumpers for Goalposts, this concise documentary (directed by his cousin Murray Cummings) drills down on the singer-songwriter’s creative process. You’ll get to see the superstar, alongside his perpetually energetic producer/sidekick Benny Blanco, amicably working through songs like “Supermarket Flowers” and “Love Yourself” (the latter penned for Justin Bieber) as they go from loose concept to chart-topper. And while there’s a palpable lack of tension in watching them thrash out hits – imagine Some Kind of Monster if the monster was Gizmo from Gremlins – diehard fans will enjoy the look behind the curtain on one of the decade’s most successful musicians. JN

‘Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1’

In the early 1980s, Nikes were a consolation prize for not getting Adidas or Converse. Someone suggested the company recruit “the kid” – a third-draft pick for the Chicago Bulls named Michael Jordan – for a marketing campaign. They’d design a shoe for him. It would eventually by “banned” by the league and turn the player into an icon. Documentarian Dexton Deboree drops a host of ADD-afflicted pop-culture montages and enlists a Hall-of-Fame lineup of talking heads – everyone from Nike CEO Phil Knight to Lena Waithe, NBA commissioner David Stern to Black Panther‘s Michael B. Jordan (because symmetry!) – to demonstrate how Air Jordans were more than just footwear. These red-and-black high-tops also jumpstarted sneaker culture and became gamechangers for how we looked at style, pro-sports branding, celebrity, race, class, hip-hop, status symbols and turning rebellion into money. DF

Christopher Vanderwall

‘United Skates’

So you think “roller skating” was just one of those footloose and fancy-free fads/follies of the late Seventies that came and went without a cultural footprint? Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s engrossing documentary focuses on both the crucial role this pasttime played in hip-hop’s development and how it gave birth to a vibrant, mainly African-American subculture and dance-fueled art form. You get both region-specific rink acrobatics and a sobering look at the racial (and racist)
politics underlying the small, but dedicated, movement that, decades later, is still hell on wheels. JN

John Guleserian

‘Zoe’

Forget Tinder and Grindr, delete your Match.com account – soon, we will have developed the perfect algorithm for your romantic soulmate. Not only that, scientists are standing by to construct an android partner just right for you! How ironic, then, that two lab researchers (Ewan McGregor and Léa Seydoux) dedicated to making this tech advancement come true actually fall in love with each other. And because this is a science-fiction movie set in a progressive yet perversely stifling future, you know this is going to cause all sorts of problems. The last time the talented director Drake Doremus took on a dystopian story, he gave us the somewhat lacking Equals (2015). Word on the street is that this a big step up, and really, who wouldn’t watch the insanely photogenic Seydoux and McGregor make sci-fi goo-goo eyes at each other? DF

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