There are plenty of different ways to get your music fix at this year's Tribeca Film Festival; some are obvious, and some are unexpected. There are music-related narrative features, like Junction 48, an Israeli film about rap and politics. There are also music documentaries, like Contemporary Color, which, if you didn't happen to be at the Barclays Center show last year, will give you a chance to experience legendary David Byrne's ambitious performance project. As for short films, there are so many exceptional music-oriented contenders this year that we decided that they deserve their own section: Rock and a Hard Place, through which you can travel from frozen sand skating ramps in Norway to where David Bowie shot the classic "Let’s Dance" video in Australia, without having to leave the movie theater.
Tribeca 2016's lineup features some musicians turned directors: Natasha Khan (better known as Bat for Lashes) directed a segment in the romantic omnibus Madly, and Rooney's frontman Robert Schwartzman directed Dreamland, a film about a part-time pianist. On the other hand, there are a few musicians turned actors, like synth-pop indie darling Sky Ferreira in Elvis & Nixon, and Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, who plays an ex-punk star going through a midlife crisis in Geezer. (Note: That's fiction, not documentary.) Other music artists are working behind the scenes: Justin Timberlake scored the Jessica-Biel-produced The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, members of Sigur Rós scored The Show of Shows: 100 Years of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals, and the critically acclaimed experimental producer Flying Lotus scored documentary LoveTrue; the latter is directed by TFF winner Alma Har'el, who began her film career as a music video director, gaining recognition for her work with the band Beirut.
Speaking of music video veterans, Kevin Ford, known for his work with Jane’s Addiction and Stone Temple Pilots, is one of the creators of the bomb, a mega multimedia installation that confronts the imminent issue of nuclear weapons. The film component will be projected on massive 360° screens while The Acid, the multinational electronic trio, performs an original score in the center of the room. The installation was staged by United Visual Artists, who’ve collaborated with Massive Attack and James Blake. Its art director is Stanley Donwood, known for designing many of Radiohead’s album covers and posters.
And if you're the type who likes to consume their music straight-no-chaser, get ready for live performances from Juliette Lewis' rock band Juliette and the Licks and raucous EDM superstar Steve Aoki. (Warning: Cakes may be thrown at your face courtesy of Mr. Aoki.)
Elvis & Nixon
Directed by Liza Johnson, written by Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal, and Cary Elwes. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.
In 1970, a few days before Christmas, Elvis Presley showed up on the White House lawn seeking to be deputized into the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs by the President himself. Elvis & Nixon, starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey respectively, imagines the comical details of this outlandish historical encounter. Featuring supporting performances from Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, and Sky Ferreira. An Amazon Studios/Bleecker Street release. BUY TICKETS HERE.
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
Section: Special Screenings
Directed by Justin Krook. (USA – World Premiere, Documentary.
From producers Matthew Weaver and David Gelb (Chef’s Table, TFF 2015 Jiro Dreams of Sushi, TFF 2011) is an energetic, heart-pumping documentary about one of the most eminent DJs working today: Steve Aoki. In the lead-up to Aoki’s biggest show of his career, the doc examines the driving force behind his passion: Rocky Aoki, daredevil showman, Benihana founder, and Steve's absent father. Following the film, there will be a conversation and performance with Steve Aoki at The Beacon Theatre. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: Special Screenings
Directed and written by Lee Kirk. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.
Perry (Billie Joe Armstrong) is a happily married father of two living a comfortable but sedate life in the suburbs. On the occasion of his 40th birthday, he seeks to revisit his former life as the lead singer in a popular punk band though his middle-aged reality quickly (and hilariously) clashes with the indulgences of his youth. With Fred Armisen, Selma Blair, Judy Greer, and Chris Messina. With a special live performance from Billie Joe Armstrong following the film. BUY TICKETS HERE.
SHOT! the Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock
Section: Special Screenings
Directed by Barnaby Clay. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Legendary music photographer Mick Rock is best known for his iconic photographs of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Queen, and countless others. In a documentary as rock-n-roll as its subject, Mick Rock guides us through his psychedelic, shambolic first-hand experiences as the visual record-keeper of these myths and legends. With a special live music tribute following the screening.
BUY TICKETS HERE.
The Show of Shows: 100 Years of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals
Section: Special Screenings
Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson. (U.K., Iceland) – North American Premiere, Documentary.
Benedikt Erlingsson brings us a world of imagination with a compendium of wonderful unseen archival footage of circus performers, cabaret acts, and fairground attractions. The films are set to a haunting electronic score composed by members of Sigur Rós in collaboration with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. BUY TICKETS HERE.
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Section: Spotlight (Opening Film)
Directed by Bill Purple, written by Robbie Pickering & Bill Purple. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.
Henry (Jason Sudeikis) and Penny (Jessica Biel) are a New Orleans couple very much in love, until tragedy strikes and Henry is forced to rebuild. Quite literally, it turns out. After he befriends a tough street teen (Maisie Williams), he helps her construct the raft she’ll use to sail across the Atlantic in search of her long lost father. With Jason Sudeikis, Jessica Biel, Maisie Williams, Orlando Jones, Mary Steenburgen, and Paul Reiser. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Vincent N Roxxy
Directed and written by Gary Michael Schultz. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.
Vincent (Emile Hirsch) is a small town loner, and Roxxy (Zoë Kravitz) a rebellious punk rocker. When they find themselves on the run from the same dangerous criminals, their feelings for one another deepen, despite their dangerous circumstances. Soon, the star-crossed lovers discover violence is never far behind them, in Gary Michael Schultz’s alternately romantic and brutal drama. With Emory Cohen, Zoey Deutch, Jason Mitchell, Scott Mescudi. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: World Documentary Competition (Opening Film)
Directed by Bill Ross and Turner Ross. (USA) – World Premiere.
In the summer of 2015, legendary musician David Byrne staged an unprecedented event at Brooklyn's Barclays Center to celebrate the art of color guard—synchronized dance involving flags, rifles, and sabers—by pairing regional color guard teams with performers, including St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado, and Ad-Rock. More than a concert film, Contemporary Color is a cinematic interpretation of a one-of-a-kind live event, courtesy of visionary filmmakers Bill and Turner Ross. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Strike a Pose
Directed and written by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan. (Netherlands) – North American Premiere, Documentary.
To the fans, they were the unforgettably talented men who supported the career of one of the world's most beloved and controversial music artists: Madonna. Behind the scenes they were an impressionable group of young dancers whose lives were forever changed by her influence. Strike a Pose reunites the men 25 years later, providing the chance to learn about the emotional truth behind the glamorous facade. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Directed and written by Salima Koroma. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Bad Rap follows the lives and careers of four Asian-American rappers trying to break into a world that often treats them as outsiders. Sharing dynamic live performance footage and revealing interviews, these artists will make the most skeptical critics into believers. With humor and insight, the film paints a portrait of artistic passion in the face of an unsung struggle. With Jonathan "Dumbfoundead" Park, Nora "Awkwafina" Lum, David "Rekstizzy" Lee, and Richard "Lyricks" Lee. BUY TICKETS HERE.
As I Open My Eyes
Directed by Leyla Bouzid, written by Leyla Bouzid and Marie-Sophie Chambon. (France, Tunisia, Belgium, United Arab Emirates) – US Premiere, Narrative.
As I Open My Eyes depicts the clash between culture and family as seen through the eyes of a young Tunisian woman balancing the traditional expectations of her family with her creative life as the singer in a politically charged rock band. Director Leyla Bouzid's musical feature debut offers a nuanced portrait of the individual implications of the incipient Arab Spring. With Baya Medhaffer, Ghalia Benali, Montassar Ayari, Aymen Omrani, Lassaad Jamoussi, Deena Abdelwahed, Youssef Soltana, Marwen Soltana. In Arabic with subtitles. Presented in association with Venice Days. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Folk Hero & Funny Guy
Section: US Narrative Competition
Directed and written by Jeff Grace. (USA) – World Premiere.
Alex Karpovsky and Wyatt Russell co-headline as two artistically inclined childhood friends, a comedian and a folk-rocker respectively, who set out on a tour together in hopes of regaining their “mojo” and finding love in the process. Jeff Grace's debut film offers a fresh perspective on male friendship and a music infused spin on the classic road-trip buddy comedy. With Meredith Hagner, Michael Ian Black, Hannah Simone, Heather Morris, Melanie Lynskey, David Cross. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: International Narrative Competition
Directed by Udi Aloni, written by Oren Moverman and Tamer Nafar. (Israel, Germany, USA) – International Premiere.
Set against a backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Junction 48 charts the musical ambitions of Kareem, an aspiring rapper from the town of Lod. A heartbreaking portrayal of the intersection of personal and political tragedies, Junction 48 questions to what extent music can be dissociated from politics. With Tamer Nafar, Samar Qupty, Salwa Nakkara, Ayed Fadel, Sameh "SAZ" Zakout, Saeed Dassuki. In Arabic, Hebrew with subtitles. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: US Narrative Competition (Opening Film)
Directed by Justin Tipping, written by Justin Tipping and Josh Beirne-Golden. (USA) – World Premiere.
When his hard-earned kicks get snatched by a local hood, 15-year old Brandon and his two best friends go on an ill-advised mission across the Bay Area to retrieve the stolen sneakers. Featuring a soundtrack packed with hip-hop classics, Justin Tipping's debut feature is an urban coming-of-age tale told with grit, humor, and surprising lyricism. With Jahking Guillory, Mahershala Ali, Kofi Siriboe, Christopher Jordan Wallace (the son of the Notorious B.I.G.), Christopher Meyer. A Focus World release. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: International Narrative Competition (Opening Film)
Directed and written by Gael García Bernal, Mia Wasikowska, Sebastian Silva, Anurag Kashyap, Sion Sono, and Natasha Khan (also known as the singer Bat for Lashes). (Argentina, Australia, USA, India, Japan, UK) – World Premiere.
Madly is an international anthology of short films exploring love in all its permutations. Directed by some of the most vibrant filmmakers working today, the six stories in Madly portray contemporary love in all its glorious, sad, ecstatic, empowering, and erotic manifestations. With Radhika Apte, Satyadeep Misra, Adarsh Gourav, Kathryn Beck, Lex Santos, Mariko Tsutsui, Yuki Sakurai, Ami Tomite, Justina Bustos, Pablo Seijo, Tamsin Topolski. In English, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish with subtitles. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: US Narrative Competition
Directed by Robert Schwartzman, written by Benjamin Font and Robert Schwartzman. (USA) – World Premiere.
Robert Schwartzman makes his directorial debut with this comedy about the cost of reaching your dreams. Part-time pianist Monty Fagan (Johnny Simmons) begins a May-December romance that upends his home life. A set of perfectly cast co-stars push or manipulate Monty along the way: Amy Landecker, Frankie Shaw, Alan Ruck, Beverly D'Angelo, along with Robert’s older brother Jason Schwartzman, and their mother Talia Shire. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: World Documentary Competition
Directed by Alma Har'el. (USA) – World Premiere.
Alma Har'el, director and cinematographer of the 2011 TFF Best Documentary Feature Bombay Beach, returns with LoveTrue, a genre-bending documentary, demystifying the fantasy of true love. From an Alaskan strip club, a Hawaiian island, and the streets of NYC—revelatory stories emerge about a deeper definition of love. Set to a hypnotizing score by Flying Lotus and executive produced by Shia LaBeouf. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Midsummer in Newtown
Directed by Lloyd Kramer. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Midsummer in Newtown is a testament to the transformative force of artistic expression to pierce through the shadow cast down by trauma. From auditions to opening night, we witness the children of Sandy Hook Elementary find their voice, build their self-confidence, and ultimately shine in a rock-pop version of A Midsummer's Night Dream. BUY TICKETS HERE.
ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
In this music-driven documentary shorts program we start out gently and ramp up to high-energy rock & roll.
Northbound (Mot nord), directed and written by Jørn Nyseth Ranum. (Norway) – North American Premiere.
This film shows the first attempt to bring skateboarding to the frozen sandy beaches in northern Norway. Join four of Norway's best skaters in this poetic and playful encounter with the Arctic winter. In Norwegian with subtitles.
Pearl, directed and written by Patrick Osborne. (USA) – World Premiere.
Pearl follows a father and daughter on the road together, tracing his struggles to make it as a musician and parent, and her coming-of-age and musical journey to fulfillment.
Homeland (Hemland), directed and written by Sara Broos. (Sweden) – North American Premiere.
A young woman escapes the war in Syria and ends up in the forest in Sweden. Listening to music is a way for her to survive and bring her back, in dreams and memories, to her homeland. This is a film about the power of music and the meaning of the word homeland. In Arabic, English, Swedish with subtitles.
Gift of Gab, directed and written by Michael Jacobs. (USA) – World Premiere.
Gift of Gab is a portrait of iconic artist Timothy Parker, from the seminal hip-hop group Blackalicious, whose battle with kidney disease ends up fueling the creation of their first album in 10 years.
Let's Dance: Bowie Down Under, directed by Rubika Shah, written by Ed Gibbs and Rubika Shah. (U.K., Australia) – North American Premiere.
The remarkable, forgotten story behind "Let's Dance," David Bowie's biggest hit record.
Hard Lovin' Woman, directed by Michael Rapaport. (USA) – World Premiere.
In this heavy-hitting rock documentary, director Michael Rapaport explores the sacrifices acclaimed actress Juliette Lewis makes to pursue her first love: music. Bucking industry politics and critics, self-doubt, and physical injury, Lewis leads us on a deeply personal journey through her own authentic, independent, and raw sonic world.
Section: California Dreaming.
Directed by Kerry Furrh, Cailin Lowry, Olivia Mitchell. (USA).
It’s a beautiful morning in the middle of fucking nowhere. Elle, Ria, Moxley and Stef - best friends slash bandmates - are all packed and ready to make their long-anticipated road trip move to Los Angeles, but their hometown keeps getting in the way. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: Pressure Points.
Directed by Charlotte Scott-Wilson. (Netherlands).
A young cellist has to overcome her fears to keep her position in an orchestra. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: Whoopi's Shorts
Directed by Mikey Hill, written by Mikey Hill & Jennifer Smith. (Australia) – New York Premiere.
In a world filled with beautiful music, Vernon always seems to strike the wrong note. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: New York Then
Directed by Kahane Cooperman. (USA) – World Premiere.
A 91-year-old Holocaust survivor donates his violin to an instrument drive, changing the life of a 12-year-old schoolgirl from the Bronx and, unexpectedly, his own. BUY TICKETS HERE.
Section: Virtual Arcade
Project Creator: Tyler Hurd/Wevr
Lose yourself in a vibrant psychedelic dance party brimming with joyful insanity. VR filmmaker Tyler Hurd and Wevr present a fun animated VR music video experience for "Old Friend" by Future Islands. Gaze upon the elegant dance routines and enjoy the blissful absurdity. Unhinge yourself, feel the ridiculousness and dance like everyone is watching.
BUY TICKETS HERE.
Grateful Dead: Truckin’
Section: Virtual Arcade
Project Creator: Jaunt VRKey Collaborators: Ryan Wiederkehr, Patrick Meegan, Joey Santana, Dennis “Wiz” Leonard, Cliff Plumer
A sneak peek VR experience of the Grateful Dead's historic 'Fare Thee Wells" final tour. Mixed in Dolby Atmos, the audience is given unprecedented access to the bands performance of the hit song "Truckin'," from a vantage that is otherwise impossible to experience. BUY TICKETS HERE.
the bomb is a groundbreaking multimedia installation that immerses you in the strange, compelling, and unsettling reality of nuclear weapons. The 55-minute film will be projected 360 degrees on massive floor to ceiling screens that surround the audience, as The Acid performs a live score in the center of the space. the bomb exists at the intersection of art, politics, and technology.