Tribeca Film Festival 2013: Documentaries
Find documentaries playing at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, and buy tickets.
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In the forests of Finnish Lapland, brothers Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki carry on the generations-old tradition of reindeer herding. These modern cowboys maintain an intricate bond with the environment that has allowed them to preserve their lifestyle in one of the harshest climates imaginable. Jessica Oreck’s intimate, gorgeously lensed documentary follows the brothers for a year, sharing in the hard work, daily rituals and small joys that make up life above the Arctic Circle.
Kirsty Sword Gusmão went to Timor-Leste to document injustice in an area closed to Western journalists. Over the next decade, she became the lynchpin that sustained the nation’s harrowing struggle for independence and met the man who would redefine the cause for which she was fighting. Using astonishing footage of the years-long resistance, director Alex Meillier presents a highly personal account of the courage needed to create a new democracy in modern times.
In the darkest days of the AIDS pandemic, two women from very different walks of life unite to take a stand. Two-time Academy Award®-winner Rob Epstein and his longtime collaborator Jeffrey Friedman, the creative forces behind The Celluloid Closet, tell the story of the extraordinary moment when Dr. Mathilde Krim and Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor launched the country’s first AIDS research foundation. The fight against HIV/AIDS would never be the same.
The Cyclone, The Freakshow, The Mermaid Parade: all Coney Island icons. But Chris “Wonder” Schoeck has always preferred the Coney Island Strongman. Bending Steel follows the sweet, unassuming Schoeck as he parlays his extraordinary strength into the pursuit of his lifelong dream. Training with an elite group of men whose hands bend, drag, twist and shred metal, he tackles an enormous physical and mental challenge, taking a surprisingly emotional journey as a result.
A charismatic and visionary poet and filmmaker who emerged in the artistic renaissance of post-WWII San Francisco, James Broughton led a completely unconventional existence in his lifelong quest for creative artistry, sexual and spiritual love and an evolved state of happiness. BIG JOY is a celebratory mosaic of Broughton’s deeply intertwined creative and personal lives, vividly depicted through his involvement with a wide array of artists, activists and spiritual guides.
For her latest industrial exposé, Rachel Boynton (Our Brand Is Crisis) gained unprecedented access to Africa's oil companies. The result is a gripping account of the costly personal tolls levied when American corporate interests pursue oil in places like Ghana and the Niger River Delta. Executive produced by Steven Shainberg and Brad Pitt, Big Men investigates the caustic blend of ambition, corruption and greed that threatens to exacerbate Africa’s resource curse.
In 1996, John Spano, a previously unknown Dallas business mogul, bought the New York Islanders for a franchise-saving $165 million. The future looked bright for the once-legendary team. Then Spano took his seat in the front office. Entourage’s Kevin Connolly takes us behind the scenes of the biggest fraud in hockey history, as Spano’s wealth is revealed to be a lie and his rise to power a brilliantly concocted scheme.
Bridegroom gives an intensely personal edge to the ongoing debate over the legal rights of same-sex couples. Interviews, photos and video footage all testify to the uncommon connection that drew together Shane and Tom. For six years they remained united despite extreme challenges from both family and society, until a tragic accident tears apart their dreams. Now one must fight to be recognized as his soulmate’s legitimate counterpart.
Once a rising star in the ’70s New York art scene, eighty-year-old “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara is prepping for his latest show, hoping to jumpstart his career. His wife and de facto assistant, Noriko, seeks her own recognition through her “Cutie” illustrations depicting their chaotic forty-year marriage. Zachary Heinzerling's wonderfully candid debut captures two not-always-happy lives united by a dedication to art. It becomes a touching portrait on the eternal
Renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine stars in this charming documentary that offers a unique perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Three diverse Jaffa-based schools host Dulaine’s Dancing Classrooms program. Ballroom basics are taught to an ethnically mixed group of children, the most passionate members of which are trained for a citywide competition. What results is a sweet and incredibly moving tale filled with moments of truth, poignancy and hope.
At the height of the Cold War, Katarina Witt became one of East Germany’s most famous athletes, winning six European titles, four world championships and back-to-back Olympic gold medals. Known as “the most beautiful face of socialism,” she earned unique benefits in East Germany but also constant surveillance from the Stasi, the notorious secret police force. The Diplomat chronicles Witt’s courageous fight for her future at home before and after the fall of the Berlin
How do you make one of the world's most revered fashion brands your own? That is the task facing creative director Frida Giannini in this authoritative look at the past, present and future of The House of Gucci, directed by director/cinematographer Christina Voros (Kink) and co-produced by James Franco. Taking advantage of rare, behind-the-scenes access, Voros shows how the Florentine trendsetter has been reimagined in the past few years.
Academy Award®-winning director Clint Eastwood will be interviewed by Academy Award®-nominee Darren Aronofsky following the world premiere of Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story.
Broadway legend Elaine Stritch remains in the spotlight at eighty-seven years old. Join the uncompromising Tony and Emmy Award-winner both on and off stage in this revealing documentary. With interviews from Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Hal Prince and others, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me blends rare archival footage and intimate cinema vérité to reach beyond Stritch’s brassy exterior, revealing a multi-dimensional portrait of a complex woman and an inspiring artist.
Journey to the edge of Brooklyn and of street performance itself in this sparkling portrait of the freeing power of art. Reem is the savvy promoter, Flizzo the undefeated local legend, Jay Donn the innovator with the talent to carry him far away from home. Uniting them is a competitive dance form of dramatic contortions, simulated violence, flowing footsteps and the occasional humorous touch. Welcome to the world of Flex.
Two years ago, Josh Fox introduced us to hydraulic fracturing with his Oscar®-nominated exposé Gasland. Now this once-touted energy source has become a widely discussed, contentious topic. In his follow-up, Fox reveals the extreme circumstances facing those affected by fracking, from earthquakes to the use of federal anti-terror psychological operations tactics. Gasland Part II is the definitive proof that issues raised by fracking cannot be ignored for long.
Weaving past into present, filmmakers Banker White (Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars) and Anna Fitch immerse the audience in the daily life of White’s mother, Pam. Her Alzheimer’s threatens to wipe out the memory of her own mother, Marian, a celebrated artist who died of the same disease. Beautifully edited, The Genius of Marian retraces both women’s lives to paint a complex and powerful contemporary portrait of motherhood, chronic illness and legacy.
Anchored by intimate, one-on-one interviews with the man himself, Nicholas Wrathall’s new documentary is a fascinating and wholly entertaining tribute to the iconic Gore Vidal. Commentary by those who knew him best—including filmmaker/nephew Burr Steers and the late Christopher Hitchens—blends with footage from Vidal’s legendary on-air career to remind us why he will forever stand as one of the most brilliant and fearless critics of our time.
Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau examines the legacy of the fearless big wave surfer and first-ever North Shore lifeguard beyond inspiring one of surfing’s most famous catchphrases, “Eddie Would Go.” Through interviews, reenactments and dynamic historical footage, professional-surfer-turned-filmmaker Sam George uncovers Aikau’s little-known personal and family history and finds a compelling allegory for the reclaiming of Hawaiian culture.
Herbert Block’s career at The Washington Post spanned fifty-five years and thirteen presidents, a timeframe in which he claimed three Pulitzer Prizes, the Medal of Freedom and a significant role in President Nixon’s resignation. Ben Bradlee, Tom Brokaw, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Jules Feiffer, Ted Koppel and Jon Stewart are among the witnesses to Block’s life, work and indelible contribution to American satire in this inviting documentary.
Moving from desperate street dealers to millionaire kingpins, from well-funded DEA agents to politicians who ensure reelection through egregious drug laws, Matthew Cooke’s debut feature is a captivating, shockingly candid guide to the entrenched, corrupt and violent drug industry in which these players each inhabit a vital role. 50 Cent, Eminem, Susan Sarandon, Woody Harrelson and a wealth of inside voices color this outstanding, detailed documentary.
Having broken racial and sexual boundaries as a pioneering comic talent, the late Moms Mabley has long been an icon in the comedy world. Now Whoopi Goldberg takes a deep dive into Mabley’s legacy via recently unearthed photography, rediscovered performance footage and the words of numerous celebrated comedians. A true passion project for Goldberg, I Got Somethin’ to Tell You shows Mabley’s historical significance and profound influence as a performer vastly ahead of her time.
Bernie Madoff ruined many lives before his arrest in 2008. Perhaps no one was so personally affected as his longtime personal secretary, Eleanor Squillari. Meet Squillari in the days and months after the arrest, as her obsession with the case grows into her own unique search for clues. In God We Trust follows Squillari on her personal journey for justice, exposing previously unknown facts about the greatest financial crime ever committed.
Robert Reich is your guide in this no-holds-barred assessment of the U.S. economy. With winningly approachable finesse, the Clinton-era Labor secretary and current Berkeley professor covers the consolidation of wealth, the stagnation in wages and the elasticity of our economy. Director Jacob Kornbluth builds a rigorous and engaging overview of where the economy stands and the risks that will become reality if we fail to act.
This fascinating documentary tracks the evolution of the world’s largest participatory art project, the wildly popular “Inside Out.” Travel the globe with French artist JR as he motivates communities to define their most important causes by pasting giant portraits in the street, testing the limits of what they thought possible. In capturing the process, Alastair Siddons creates a glowing testament to the power of the image and the role that art can play in transforming lives.
In 2010, the media branded a platoon of U.S. Army infantry soldiers “The Kill Team” following reports of its killing for sport in Afghanistan. Now, one of the accused must fight the government he defended on the battlefield, while grappling with his own role in the alleged murders. Dan Krauss’s absorbing documentary examines the stories of four men implicated in heinous war crimes in a stark reminder that, in war, innocence may be relative to the insanity around you.
Travel to Scotland’s far northern highlands and explore the life and remarkable influence of Megan Boyd, fishing fly-maker extraordinaire. Self-taught in this enigmatic, artful craft, Boyd became an internationally renowned artisan and supplier to, among others, Prince Charles. Interviews, animations and images of the stunning Scottish countryside define Eric Steel’s lyrical tale of solitary celebrity and the joy of making your mark, even when it was the last thing you
In 2001, Lenny Cooke was the most hyped high school basketball player in the country, ranked above future greats LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. A decade later, Lenny has never played a minute in the NBA. In this quintessentially American documentary, filmmaking brothers Joshua and Benny Safdie track the unfulfilled destiny of a man for whom superstardom was only just out of reach.
During the 1977 World Series, Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke was denied access to the players’ locker room. After a very public fight, the door was opened, but the debate about female journalists in the male sanctum of the clubhouse remained. Through interviews with pioneering female sports writers, Let Them Wear Towels captures the raw behavior, humorous retaliation, angry lawsuits and remarkable resolve that went into the struggle for equal access for women
Jason Osder makes an impressive feature film debut through his unbiased and thorough account of the incidents leading up to and during the 1985 standoff between the extremist African-American organization MOVE and Philadelphia authorities. The dramatic clash claimed eleven lives and literally and figuratively devastated an entire community. Let the Fire Burn is a real-life Wild West story absent the luxury of identifying its heroes by the color of their hats.
Called “the most famous cat on the Internet,” the wide-eyed perma-kitten Lil Bub is the adorable embodiment of the Web’s fascination with all things cats. Join Lil Bub and her owner on a wild cross-country romp as they meet the Internet’s most famous cat-lebrities. Chock full of adorable kitties, hilarious videos and the dedicated cat enthusiasts who love them, Lil Bub & Friendz is a fun and hip peek behind the memes we know and love.
An all-star roster of sports movie-making talent directs this heartfelt biography of extreme ski trailblazer Shane McConkey, once described as “the most influential skier ever.” McConkey covers forty years and countless high places to track Shane’s conversion from downhill racer to freeskiing marvel to pioneer of a hair-raising new discipline—ski BASE jumping—giving new meaning to the question, how do you live your life to the fullest?
Mistaken for Strangers follows prolific rock band The National on its biggest tour to date. Newbie roadie Tom, younger brother of lead singer Matt Berninger, is a heavy metal and horror movie enthusiast, and he cannot help but put his own spin on the experience. Inevitably, Tom’s moonlighting as an irreverent documentarian creates drama for the band on the road. The film is a hilarious and touching look at two very different brothers and an entertaining story of artistic
Go inside the lives and training regimes of eight of the world’s gutsiest professional skateboarders. These fearless stars face unique obstacles on the way to the Street League Championship and the coveted title of best street skateboarder in the world. Adam Bhala Lough, creator of the independent hit Bomb the System (TFF 2003), directs this fresh, energetic documentary search for that elusive quality that separates winners from the pack.
Suffering from scoliosis as a teenager, Audrey Mestre found freedom in the ocean. Years later, she discovered another reason to love the water: the elusive, often raucous free diver Pipin Ferreras. As Mestre follows Ferreras’s almost spiritual quest to push his limits underwater, she moves from supporter to ardent free diver to world-class competitor. Then a challenge from a rival pushes the couple to the brink of what is possible, both above and below the surface.
Dive into the riveting debate over the future of ideas, as Vivienne Roumani tackles the questions confronting the modern word industry and proves that more is at stake than how quickly we can access the latest bestseller. Narrated by Meryl Streep and featuring interviews with Scott Turow, Ray Bradbury, Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and more, Out of Print is an in-depth look at publishing’s milestones and what it means to adapt that history to the information age.
Oceana, West Virginia—known as “Oxyana” after its residents’ epidemic abuse of OxyContin—is a tragically real example of the insidious spread of drug dependency throughout the country. Set against an abandoned coal mining landscape to the melodies of Deer Tick’s haunting score, this unflinchingly intimate documentary probes the lives of Oceana’s afflicted and exposes the day-to-day experience of a town living in the harsh grip of addiction.
In April 18, 2012, Pat Summitt, the NCAA’s winningest basketball coach, stunned the sports world by resigning from Tennessee. As news of her early-onset Alzheimer’s spread, the coach and her son, Tyler, set out to beat this challenge as they had every other—with grace, humor and, most of all, each other. Produced by Robin Roberts, Pat XO tells the remarkable story of this incomparable coach as it has never been told before, straight from the people who knew her best.
Would you risk your life to flip a switch? In Kanpur, India, putting oneself in harm’s way to deliver electrical power is all too common. Powerless sheds light on the opposing corners of this political ring, from an electrical Robin Hood tapping wires for neighbors to the myopic utility company whose failure to understand economics forces it deeper into financial disarray. This vibrant exposé gives a whole new meaning to the words “power struggle.”
The Project profiles the precarious, real-life story of the Puntland Maritime Police Force, a group of Somali pirate hunters. Taking the hijacking of the African waterways and the kidnapping of innocent citizens into its under-trained hands, the PMPF faces mutiny, death and a loss of corporate funding in its dangerous quest to free the Middle East shipping industry from terror. The mercenaries’ epic battle makes for an intense, gripping and disarming ride.
France’s Bordeaux region has long commanded respect for its coveted wine, but shifts in the global marketplace mean that a new, voracious consumer base in China is buying up this finite product. Bordeaux both struggles with and courts the spike in demand, sending prices skyrocketing. Narrated by Russell Crowe, Red Obsession is a fascinating look at our changing international economy and how an obsession in Shanghai affects the most illustrious vineyards in France.
This moving portrait of legendary comedian Richard Pryor chronicles his life from his troubled youth in Peoria, Illinois, to his meteoric rise as one of the most respected comic actors of the 20th century. Often misunderstood during the height of his celebrity, the late superstar has never been profiled this extensively. Marina Zenovich’s revealing and entertaining film lays bare the demons with which he struggled and reminds us just how daring and dangerous artistic freedom
Join actress Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of legendary author Ernest Hemingway, as she examines the mental illness and suicide that colors her family’s history and tries to avert that fate for herself and her daughters. By mixing in remarkable archival footage of the three Hemingway sisters, two-time Academy Award®-winner Barbara Kopple expands one famous family’s deeply embedded truths into a broad picture of the courage it takes to face the past and change your future.
Teenagers did not exist before the 20th century. Not until the early 1950s did the term gain widespread recognition, but with Teenage, Matt Wolf offers compelling evidence that “teenagers” had a tumultuous effect on the previous half-decade. Narrated by actors Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jessie Usher, this fascinating documentary repositions the historical origin of teenagers and shows why those years are more than just a stepping-stone to adulthood.
Brash boxer Cassius Clay burst into the American consciousness in the early 1960s, just ahead of the Civil Rights movement. His transformation into the spiritually enlightened heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is legendary, but this religious awakening also led to a bitter legal battle with the U.S. government after he refused to serve in the Vietnam War. This film reveals the perfect storm of race, religion and politics that shaped one of the most recognizable figures in sports
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