Coming up on its 20th anniversary — and after a year in which film festivals morphed into largely virtual and altogether different affairs — the Tribeca Festival has decided to drop the “film” from its name. It’s a sign of the times, cocreators Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal said in a press conference yesterday. The event now covers TV, and has expanded its longtime sidebars devoted to gaming and V.R. We just want to get people out of their houses and gathering together again, the duo reiterated. Maybe it will be at the movies, or at an installation type thing, or at one of the many live talks between artists. We just want them to come back to downtown, they said — a reprise of the fest’s original mission to enliven the neighborhood after 9/11.
Whether you think this dropping of a key word from their handle is smart rebranding, given our fractured and ever-morphing media landscape, or an act of total and utter idiocy that feels like a superficial move to appear relevant is your call. (Just don’t call whatever the fest is showcasing “content,” we beg of you.) Movies are, in fact, what made Tribeca something to mark your calendar in the first place. And though the event is offering a hybrid of virtual and in-person screenings — as well as many of the 2020 edition’s selections that missed out on the traditional roll-out-the-red-carpet experience — it’s movies that will get us to come downtown for the 19th annual Tribeca Festival from June 9th through the 20th. Here are 16 of them that we feel are worth highlighting: some we’ve seen, some we can’t wait to see. All of them remind us that, for all of the downtown institution’s faults and catch-as-catch-can programming, you can still find a handful of gems if you look hard enough. Here’s what we found this year.