Tribeca 2019: Documentary Overview

The 18th Tribeca Film Festival

April 24-May 5

Approximately 65 feature-length documentary films or docuseries – nearly half the festival’s lineup – are included in this popular NYC event, spread out in various sections noted below. Included are two of its three Galas: Opening night presentation THE APOLLO, Roger Ross Williams’ exploration of the history and cultural significance of the legendary Harlem performance space; and THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE HUNGRY, Nicole Lucas Haimes’ look at the fierce rivalry between the frontrunners of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which kicks off the sidebar Tribeca Sports Film Festival.


Among the dozen titles facing off in the Documentary Competition are: Cindy Meehl’s THE DOG DOC, about a pioneer in alternative holistic veterinary care; Davy Rothbart’s 17 BLOCKS, which follows an African American family’s struggles over two decades in Washington DC; Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia’s LEFTOVER WOMEN, on the challenges faced by older single women in China; Jeanie Finlay’s SEAHORSE, on a transgender man’s decision to become pregnant; Richard Lowenstein’s MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE, on the charismatic lead singer of INXS; and Matt Wolf’s RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT, on one woman’s unusual 30-year mission to archive television.


The Spotlight Documentary section includes films like: Werner Herzog’s NOMAD: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BRUCE CHATWIN, following the master filmmaker as he explores the life of Chatwin, an author and adventurer; Barak Goodman’s WOODSTOCK: THREE DAYS THAT DEFINED A GENERATION, an immersive reflection on how organizers defied the odds to stage the seminal music event; Oliver Murray’s THE QUIET ONE, on The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman; Antoine Fuqua’s WHAT’S MY NAME: MUHAMMAD ALI, an all-archival exploration of The Greatest; Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman’s AFTER PARKLAND, which profiles several survivors and family members as they reckon with the devastating school shooting; Dan Argott and Sheena Joyce’s FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN, on the rise and fall of the automaker; and Erin Lee Carr’s AT THE HEART OF GOLD, an investigation into the scandal-plagued USA Gymnastics organization.


The Viewpoints strand offers Joel Van Haren’s PLUCKED, on the theft of a priceless Stradivarius violin; Rachel Mason’s CIRCUS OF BOOKS, on her family’s business – a gay pornography store; Andrei Bowden-Schwartz and Sam B Jones’ RED, WHITE & WASTED, a close-up look at the world of South Florida’s monster vehicle mudding; and Michael Barnett’s CHANGING THE GAME, which profiles three trans high school athletes.


New section This Used to Be New York presents three tales of the city, including Selina Miles’ MARTHA: A PICTURE STORY, on pioneering hip hop/graffiti photographer Martha Cooper; Abel Ferrara’s THE PROJECTIONIST, a portrait of one of NYC’s last independent movie theatre owners; and Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller’s OTHER MUSIC, a love letter to the now shuttered record store which championed independent music in its own distinctive way for 20 years.

THE REMIX: HIP HOP X FASHION | Photographer: Dove Clark

Movies Plus, which pairs screenings with high-profile conversations, includes: Tim Hawkins’ XY CHELSEA, a portrait of controversial whistleblower Chelsea Manning; Tommy Avallone’s WALDO ON WEED, following a desperate couple’s decision to treat their infant’s cancer with CBD oil; Taryn Southern and Elena Gaby’s I AM HUMAN, about three people using brain interface technology to address neurological disorders; Chris Moukarbel’s WIG, on the past and present of the legendary Wigstock festival; and Lisa Cortés and Farah X’s THE REMIX: HIP HOP X FASHION, on the intersection of fashion and hip hop in the late 1980s and 90s.


Nonfiction appearing in other sections includes Tyler Measom and Patrick Waldrop’s nostalgic look back at the early days of MTV, I WANT MY MTV, in Tribeca TV; Jeppe Rønde’s philosophical inquiry into man’s relationship with technology, ALMOST HUMAN, in Tribeca X, which focuses on brand content; and Jeffrey McHale’s look at how SHOWGIRLS went from flop to cult classic, the perfectly titled YOU DON’T NOMI, in Midnight.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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