Tribeca Film Festival preview

10 films to look out for in Manhattan this spring.

by Anne-Katrin Titze and Amber Wilkinson

The 12th annual Tribeca Film Festival is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy and Suzanne Pleshette on April 18. Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, with the maniacal Michael Keaton, alongside co-stars Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder on April 19, joined by Andy Capper's and Juliette Eisner's high-spirited Lil Bub & Friendz on April 20, are this year's slate for the popular Tribeca Drive-In free screenings.

Here are some of our Early Bird (& Cat) highlights with screening dates and times for this year's crop of films.

Anne-Katrin Titze writes...

Lil Bub & Friendz
Lil Bub & Friendz
Lil Bub & Friendz
Directed by Andy Capper and Juliette Eisner
US (65 minutes)

Andy Capper's and Juliette Eisner's high-spirited Lil Bub & Friendz captures the adventures of "a tiny complex creature," who found her way from "somewhere in space," to become one of the most beloved cats on the internet. Held up high in a subway car, snuggled over her owner's shoulder (he compliments her Zen quality and calls her his little Buddha), Lil Bub, who overcomes several genetic conditions, visitz her friendz all over the US. At the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Indiana, Bub growls at lions, encounters an ocelot, and hands over a check to support the center's important work, before heading to the inaugural International Cat Video Film Festival in Minnesota. Catch this film! Read our interview with the directors here.

Thursday, April 18, 9:30pm, SVA-1; Tuesday, April 23, 6pm, AMC Loews Village 7-1; Thursday, April 25, 3pm, AMC Loews Village 7-1

Tribeca Drive-In at Brookfield Place (World Financial Center Plaza). The free evenings of cinema under the stars are open to the public, and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The programs will begin at 6:00pm. VICE Magazine will present Lil Bub & Friendz at dusk (approximately 8:15pm) on Saturday, April 20. There will be activities, contests and giveaways for cat lovers of all ages.

Reaching For The Moon
Reaching For The Moon
Reaching For The Moon
Directed by Bruno Barreto
Brazil (118 minutes)

Bruno Barreto's Reaching For The Moon is the beautiful result of a filmmaker inspired by the exceptional poetry of distinctly visual writer Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto, translucent and captivating). He sophisticatedly tells the grand love story between the Pulitzer prize winning American poet, and the Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires with every response a marvelous surprise) who designed Flamengo Park in Rio de Janeiro, making a Central Park out of a landfill with street lamps that recreate the moonlight. The cinematography by Mauro Pinheiro Jr. of this enchanted environment makes you want to pack your bags right away for a vacation.

Thursday, April 18, 9pm, CCC-7; Saturday, April 20, 9:30pm, CCC-6; Saturday, April 27, 11:30am, AMC Loews Village 7-3

Michael H. Profession: Director
Michael H. Profession: Director
Michael H. Profession: Director
Directed by Yves Montmayeur
France, Austria (92 minutes)

The documentary about the filmmaker Michael Haneke's career starts with the word "coward" spoken in Benny's Video and ends with his statement, that love is a difficult thing and not given to everybody. Yves Montmayeur, who filmed making-of movies behind the scenes, guides us backward from his Academy Award winning film Amour to The Seventh Continent, showing Haneke directing, which often consists of him acting out for his performers to copy. Expect some of the most brutal scenes as clips, together with revealing interviews. Josef Bierbichler, who stars in The White Ribbon, states that he, Haneke, always gets the menace right the first time. The documentary ultimately chronicles a provocateur in his quest against indifference and the conventions of an obscene normality. Jean-Louis Trintignant admits that "we [the actors and crew] don't have fun - he [Haneke] is the one who has fun."

Thursday, April 18, 9pm, AMC Loews Village 7-1; Sunday, April 21, 3:30pm, CCC - 6; Thursday, April 25, 3:30pm, CCC-6; Saturday, April 27, 4pm AMC Loews Village 7-2

Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium
Directed by Neil Jordan
UK, Ireland (118 minutes)

Neil Jordan's discerning vampire saga Byzantium gives us blood red waterfalls on a stormy island that in spirit resembles Böcklin's painting of the Isle of the Dead. "My story can never be told," we hear in voice over as we see Saoirse Ronan's Eleanor write. She says, that she will "throw the pages to the wind" so that "maybe the birds can read it." Sounds like a metaphor, but this is a Neil Jordan movie and she does exactly that. The window is of a run down high rise in the projects, somewhere poor and hopeless. The flocks of birds are integral to the transformation into immortality.

Thursday, April 25, 9:30pm, BMCC; Friday, April 26, 4pm, AMC Loews Village 7-2; Saturday, April 27, 8:30pm, SVA-2

At Any Price
At Any Price
At Any Price
Directed by Ramin Bahrani
US (105 minutes)

Ramin Bahrani's tightly wound film looks at modern farming through an Iowa family whose business is genetically modified corn. Dennis Quaid plays Henry Whipple with so much tension in his face that you might expect a little alien to pop out of his temple at any given moment. The enterprise is more cut-throat than romantic, and for idyllic corn fields you might want to escape to Terrence Malick's Oklahoma, where you'll find some non-escapist solace in and thoughtfulness about nature.

Friday, April 19, 9:30pm, BMCC; Tuesday, April 23, 9pm AMC Loews Village 7-1

Amber Wilkinson writes...

Almost Christmas
Almost Christmas
Almost Christmas
Directed by Phil Morrison
US (107 minutes)

It's been a long time in coming but Phil Morrison's follow up to the fabulous Junebug - which began the rise and rise of Amy Adams - is finally having its world premiere. The film features Paul Giamatti and the ubiquitous Paul Rudd as a pair of mismatched buddies who have a plan to get rich quick selling Christmas trees in New York. Junebug showed Morrison's skill for portraying communication (or lack of it) and his ability to mix tragedy, comedy and romance seamlessly, so I'm hoping for more of the same. That Sally Hawkins is also in the cast is surely a bonus.

Thursday, April 18, 9:30pm BMCC Tribeca PAC; Sunday April 21, 9:30pm SVA-1; Wednesday April 24, 1pm AMC Loews Village 7-2

Kiss The Water
Kiss The Water
Kiss The Water
Directed by Eric Steel
US, UK (80 minutes)

Sometimes its the small documentaries which make for the most interesting. Last year's Wavumba, for example, or The Moo Man. That's why I'm keen to see this documentary about Scottish-based fly-maker Megan Boyd - an eccentric whose fishing flies brought her international fame. Set against the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, the landscape is also likely to have a starring role.

Monday April 22, 7:00pm Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 5; Wednesday April 24, 5:30pm Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 4; Saturday April 27, 7:30pm Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 9; Sunday April 28, 7pm, AMC Loews Village 7-2

Bottled Up
Bottled Up
Bottled Up
Directed by Enid Zentelis
US (81 minutes)

Tackling the hot-button issue of addiction to prescription drugs, Zentelis' latest certainly boasts an excellent cast, including Melissa Leo, Marin Ireland and Josh Hamilton. It tells the story of a woman (Ireland) whose addiction to painkillers is obvious to everyone but her mum (Leo). Shot back in 2011, it's finally having its world premiere, here's hoping it's worth the wait.

Friday, April 19 9pm Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 7; Saturday, April 20, 8:30pm AMC Loews Village 7-3; Tuesday, April 23, 2:30 PM AMC Loews Village 7-3

The Machine
The Machine
The Machine
Directed by Caradog James
UK (92minutes)

After the disappointing All Things To All Men, it would be good to see Toby Stephens get a decently written role that he can get his teeth into. Here, he plays a scientist whose Frankenstein-style experiments during a futuristic Cold War could spell trouble. The decent supporting cast includes Denis Lawson and Sam Hazeldine. Sc-fi on a budget requires inventiveness, so I'm interested to see what James - who is marking a step change from his 2006 comedy drama Little White Lies - has come up with.

Saturday, April 20, 8:30pm SVA-2; Monday, April 22, 10pm AMC Loews Village 7-2, Saturday, April 27, 11:59pm AMC Loews Village 7-1

Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia
Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia
Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia
Directed by Nicholas Wrathall
US (89 minutes)

With 86 years of personal history to go at, I suspect that the problem for Wrathall might be what to leave out rather than what to include in this documentary about Gore Vidal. Since it features interviews with the late, great man himself, it promises to be fascinating. Let's hope once I've seen it, I'll be able to use - in Vidal's words - "The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so." Read our interview with Wrathall, here.

Thursday, April 18, 8:30pm, AMC Loews Village 7-3; Saturday, April 20, 2:30pm, AMC Loews Village 7-3; Friday, April 26, 5:30pm, Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 4

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