Tribeca 2021: Documentary Overview

The 20th Tribeca Festival

June 9-20

Approximately 100 features and episodic content – about half of that nonfiction – screens in a hybrid format in this anniversary year for the curiously renamed NYC event, which has dropped “film” from its title.

Among the offerings:
Documentary Competition:

All These Sons
Director: Bing Liu, Joshua Altman
In Chicago, two men dedicate their lives to educate, empower, and heal young Black men at high risk for being victims—or perpetrators—of deadly gun-violence.

Director: Jessica Kingdon
An absorbing exploration of the pursuit of the “Chinese Dream,” which prioritizes productivity and innovation above all.

Blind Ambition
Director: Robert Coe, Warwick Ross
Four Zimbabwean men form their country’s first Wine Tasting Olympics team.

The Kids
Director: Eddie Martin
26 years after indie cult classic KIDS was released to an unsuspecting nation, an exploration of the divergent paths taken by the original cast. 

Other Sections:

Director: Dan Chen
The ambitious students of the TM Landry Prep School enjoyed a remarkable 100% acceptance rate into the country’s most elite colleges until an explosive New York Times article exposed the controversial teaching methods of its dynamic founder.

Being BeBe
Director: Emily Branham
In 2009, Bebe Zahara Benet was crowned the first winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but the franchise hadn’t yet achieved notoriety, so without an infrastructure to support her next steps, Bebe is confronted with the fickleness of fame.

Bernstein’s Wall
Director: Douglas Tirola
An enlightening, complex look at one of the greatest figures in 20th century classical music, whose passion and creativity guided him well beyond the concert hall.

BITCHIN’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James
Director: Sacha Jenkins
A profile of legendary funk/R&B icon Rick James, capturing the peaks and valleys of his storied career to reveal a complicated and rebellious soul, driven to share his talent with the world.

Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues Away
Director: Devin Amar, Charles Todd, Matt Mitchener
A profile of guitar legend George “Buddy” Guy, whose unique, intense style, forged from years of gigging in Chicago clubs, inspired generations of blues musicians.

Building a Bridge
Director: Evan Mascagni, Shannon Post
A profile of Father James Martin, an outspoken New York-based priest and author who works to connect the Catholic Church with the LGBTQ+ community through compassion, inclusion, love, and acceptance.

A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks
Director: John Maggio
A chronicle of renaissance man Gordon Parks’ stellar career from staff photographer for LIFE magazine, through his artistic development photographing everyday Americans, through his evolution as a novelist and groundbreaking filmmaker.

The Conductor
Director: Bernadette Wegenstein
Leonard Bernstein’s protégée Marin Alsop reveals how she smashed the glass ceiling to become an internationally renowned conductor.

The Death Of My Two Fathers
Director: Sol Guy
After putting it off for twenty years, the filmmaker finally confronts the six tapes his father recorded before dying, using them as a framework to recounts his family’s story—and his own—for his two teenage kids. 

Father of the Cyborgs
Director: David Burke
Dr Kennedy made headlines for implanting electrodes in the brain of a paralyzed man then teaching the patient to control a computer, then, after much controversy, he later began experimenting on himself.

The First Step
Director: Brandon Kramer
Black progressive activist and political commentator Van Jones navigates increasingly tense and isolating political and racial divides in his attempt to become a “bridge builder” during the Trump administration.

The Lost Leonardo
Director: Andreas Koefoed
The inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold at $450 million, claimed to be a long-lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci.

Mission: Joy
Director: Louie Psihoyos
A chronicle of the friendship between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama—two men who’ve faced immeasurable adversity with an indestructible jubilance.

No Ordinary Life
Director: Heather O’Neill
A spotlight on the esteemed careers of five courageous camera women who thrust themselves into dangerous circumstances—wars, calamities, and uprisings—to bear witness and give a platform to the most vulnerable.

The One and Only Dick Gregory
Director: Andre Gaines
A revealing portrait of comedian/activist Dick Gregory, focusing on his many personal reinventions throughout the decades, from celebrity to civil rights hero and beyond, and how he has inspired others.

Paper & Glue
Director: JR
From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the US-Mexico border to the courtyard of a supermax prison, JR’s large-scale photomurals have turned some of the most provocative spaces of the world into eye-catching immersive art that challenges perspectives and unites communities.

The Phantom
Director: Patrick Forbes
A searching examination of a Texas murder to determine whether or not an innocent man was put to death, exploring the prejudice and discrimination that persists today in America’s Hispanic community.

The Price of Freedom
Director: Judd Ehrlich
A deep dive into American gun culture and the increasing force of political influence played by the NRA to challenge gun control legislation.

Director: Vee Bravo
An exploration of how a rising resistance movement—led by student protesters, activists, street artists, and community leaders—fought back against the Chilean government’s oppressive policies and militaristic implementation of force.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
Director: Morgan Neville
A portrait of the late Anthony Bourdain – bad boy chef, bestselling author, and global adventurer.

Director: Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert
Fueled by the murder of George Floyd, shut-in by the closures of business, and unable to perform around the country, Dave Chappelle provides the community he calls home with two things desperately needed in difficult times – economic and comic relief.

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

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