<p><center>20+5 TOP FAVES WE CHEERED ON AT TFF21</center></p>


Twenty years old and ready to roarrrr! After a ferociously fraught year, filled with uncharted uncertainties and raucous reckonings: health, racial, political, economic, business, social, the arts, and otherwise -- it’s a miracle that so many of us are still somehow standing? Not without bruises, of course. Resilience and opportunity -- when they come together, after deep disruption -- can provide a magical path to move forward. TFF knows this all too well, given its origin story, in which it was borne as a response to the devastation of 9/11 upon New York City – and beyond.

This landmark year for Tribeca Film Festival -- marking its 20th Anniversary -- brought us closer to that magic, where the intersection and inclusion of so many moving parts created a gorgeous symphony. From celebrating New York art, democracy, Juneteenth with a showcase of Black voices, global cinema, and LGBTQ+ pride, to showcasing a diverse array of filmmakers, vintage cinema, games, VR, celeb guest speakers, audial media, immersive worlds, while engaging communities local and afar, transforming city storefronts, watching films al fresco, and simultaneously being mindful of pandemic protocol -- TFF21 deserves its champagne toast! Happy 20!! Yes, Team TFF scorched it, having featured: “250 in-person events inside and out, and close to 100,000 attendees in all five New York City boroughs, and via the Tribeca at Home online portal. The expansive festival featured over 66 films, 54 world premieres from over the globe; with 60% of this year’s films directed by women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ filmmakers.”

To honor that, these 20+5 art-forward film titles -- among so many more -- caught our eye at the fest! We hope you’ll catch them next, in whatever format they become available, and on whichever platform floats your boat: in the theaters, on your living room couch, at a drive-in -- streaming, online, TV, on your headphones -- wherever you can, and soon! We give a special shout out to A-ha The Movie -- included on our list -- fresh off of their Audience Award win for 2nd Place Best Documentary Feature! Keep an eye out for those Tribeca Film Fest laurels as you seek out multiple media gems this year to entertain and enthrall your mind, body and soul…

[*Synopses below are mainly courtesy of TFF]

By Lisa Collins
Special Correspondent, Visionaire

A-HA THE MOVIE (director, Thomas Robsahm) 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Documentary 

WHAT:  The music of Queen and the Velvet Underground instilled a sense of destiny in three teenagers living in a small town in 1970s Norway. That dream led to A-ha: the synth-pop trio featuring keyboardist Magne Furuholmen, vocalist Morten Harket, and guitarist Pål Waktaar-Savoy. No Norwegian act had broken through internationally quite like they did when they burst onto the international scene with 1985’s “Take on Me,” buoyed by an iconic sketch-animation video by Steve Barron. The band became global sensations and heartthrobs overnight, but it remained to be seen how they would adapt to their newfound fame. Navigating intense ups and downs -- how would they follow their original dream: to make music? 

WHY: Back in their day -- no one was ready for that much captivating (soon-to-be-legendary) animated video stylings, largess new wave hair, pop star frenzy and addictive synth sound -- and from Norway?!? Check out: The A-ha Movie trailer, and you’ll get why!… Dig in!

AILEY (director, Jamila Wignot)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, New York Premiere – Tribeca Critics’ Week

WHAT:  Framed around a remastered voice over of iconic dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey himself -- recounting his own life story -- the film, with stunning archival footage, takes us from his humble childhood in segregated Texas through his stints on Broadway and in Hollywood, before finding his niche as a choreographer and founding his eponymous dance troupe … Included is choreographer Rennie Harris’s hauntingly beautiful tribute piece to Ailey. Colleagues and fellow dance greats Judith JamisonBill T. JonesCarmen de Lavallade round out the story of this trailblazer who, through dance, interpreted the Black American experience with grace, strength and unparalleled beauty. (95 mins.)

WHY:  “The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it’s with you all the time”: words spoken by legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey should inspire us all.  An artistic and cultural architect of Black excellence for the world to savor, we’re thrilled to catch any glimpse of his creative process and collaborators on screen.

ALL THE STREETS ARE SILENT (director, Jeremy Elkin)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – 2020 Official Selection: Features

WHAT:  In the late 80s and early 90s, the streets of downtown Manhattan were the site of a collision between two vibrant subcultures: skateboarding and hip hop. Narrated by Zoo York co-founder Eli Gesner with an original score by legendary hip-hop producer Large Professor (Nas, A Tribe Called Quest), All the Streets Are Silent brings to life the magic of the time period and the convergence that created a style and visual language that would have an outsized and enduring cultural effect. From the DJ booths and dance floors of the Mars nightclub to the founding of brands like Supreme, this convergence would lay the foundation for modern street style. Paris Is Burning meets Larry Clark’s KIDSAll the Streets Are Silent is a love letter to New York—examining race, society, fashion, and street culture.  (89 mins)

WHY: All styling, rhyming, and gliding corners of the globe will attest -- shaken up in a bottle and released into the atmosphere, late 80s/early 90s downtown Manhattan is the gift that keeps giving...


ALLUMUAH (director, Curtis Essel)  

EXPERIMENTAL SHORT, World Premiere – NOW Showcase

WHAT:  Allumuah explores the way the internet enables a lineage of aesthetics passed between African diaspora artists. (5 mins)

WHY: Connecting the African diaspora -- and acknowledging its revolutionary imprint on global art -- doesn’t happen nearly enough.  Here, we get to connect some major dots!


BANKSY MOST WANTED (directors, Aurélia Rouvier, Seamus Haley)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, North American Premiere – Features

WHAT:  Banksy is today a household name, and his art and stunts attract intense media coverage and endless debates in all circles of society. And Banksy’s identity has always been equally as fascinating as the art he (or she or they) has produced. The prevailing question dogging him, however, is not about his art, but something much more basic -- who is Banksy? How can someone so provocative, and who stirs up so much emotion manage to stay so hidden?  (83 mins.)

WHY: Just when we thought we’d seen and heard enough about Banksy, he/she/they pull(s) out all the stops to donate a timely, inspiring piece to center the heroism of healthcare workers and donate the proceeds to a UK hospital at the start of the  COVID-19. Further Banksy buzz unfolded from there.  Yup, we’ll never stop wanting to know more…


BEING BEBE (director, Emily Branham)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Tribeca Online Premieres

WHAT:  In 2009, BeBe Zahara Benet went from performing at Minneapolis Pride to being crowned the triumphant winner of season one 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. Moreover, how does one embrace a career as a proud LGBTQ performer in the US, while anticipating the disapproval of conservative Cameroon, where being gay is an imprisonable offense?.. (90 mins)

WHY: Because we never forget our firstAnd who could ever ignore a Cameroonian-American transplant serving up as many categories of global ambassador overness as the ever-captivating Bebe!?!


BEYOND NOH (director, Patrick Smith)

ANIMATED SHORT, World Premiere – Shorts Program

WHAT: Beyond Noh rhythmically animates 3,475 individual masks from all over the world. (4 mins)

WHY: After more than a year of pandemic-driven, controversy-laden, life-saving, mask-wearing around the globe -- how fitting to survey the planet and regard ‘the mask’ as something more poetic. 



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Documentary

WHAT:  This profile of legendary funk/R&B icon Rick James captures the peaks and valleys of his storied career to reveal a complicated and rebellious soul, driven to share his talent with the world. Known for his unapologetic and charismatic stage presence, James has been celebrated for his massive catalog of such hit songs as "Mary Jane" and "Superfreak." In this definitive portrait, acclaimed filmmaker Sacha Jenkins examines the brain beneath the braids, charting his soaring artistic success and eventual personal decline. Sexuality, race, and the tumultuous stew of American culture all contributed to the transformation of the songwriter born as James Ambrose Johnson into the larger-than-life performer forever known as Rick James. (111 mins)

WHY: He's a very special guy. From his head down to his toenails!... We’re all ‘super freaks’ for the incomparable disruptor Rick James, no? Yeahhhh!


BLONDIE: VIVIR EN LA HABANA (director, Rob Roth)

DOCUMENTARY SHORT, World Premiere – Shorts Program

WHAT:  In 2019, the legendary American rock band Blondie performed for the first time in Havana, Cuba as part of a cultural exchange through the Cuban Ministry of Culture.  (18 mins)

WHY:  Helloooo? Pioneering punk-meets-new-wave-splashed-with-disco-and-hip-hop band, Blondie? Plus enrapturing front-woman, Deborah Harry? With Havana as surround-sound Cuba? Why Not!?! 



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Documentary 

WHAT: Best known for his iconic portraits of everyday Black Americans in all their pain, ordinariness and glory, photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks shot everything from fashion to Malcolm X, Gloria Vanderbilt and Muhammed Ali. Long time photographer and first African American on the staff of Life magazine, Parks captured the deep humanity of anyone fortunate enough to be in front of his lens. Through his striking images, Parks disrupted conventional ideas of who was an American and, using his camera as a weapon, fought for social justice in the US and abroad, eventually evolving into a novelist and a Hollywood film director.  (89 mins)

WHY: We have nothing but love and admiration for Gordon Parks, whose vast array of works leaves us in a state of awestruck, especially as they continue to speak more loudly today than ever about race, class, life and love in America.


CLAYDREAM (director, Marq Evans)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Tribeca Online Premieres 

WHAT:  A modern day Walt Disney, Will Vinton picked up a ball of clay and saw a world of potential. Known as the “Father of Claymation,” Vinton revolutionized the animation business during the 80s and 90s. But after 30 years of being the unheralded king of clay, Will Vinton’s carefully sculpted American dream came crumbling down.  (96 mins.)

WHY: Lord knows they’d probably be cancelled and sent home to shrivel up some more in all their racially indelicate pageantry, but there’s a fascinatingly hot mess clip -- that made the rounds a few years back -- involving the suspect California raisins and the indomitable “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, collaborating with the offbeat visionary, Will Vinton. Peep quickly and close… And then find your way to watch the engaging Claydream to see more about the man and team behind an assemblage clay-related curiosities that have shaped pop culture, indelibly, for several decades.   


CODED (director, Ryan White)

DOCUMENTARY SHORT, World Premiere – Shorts Program

WHAT:  Coded tells the story of illustrator J.C. Leyendecker, whose legacy laid the foundation for today's out-and-proud LGBTQ+ advertisements. (28 mins)

WHY: Moving the LGBTQ+ community from the margins to the center, J.C. Leyendecker deserves some shine.  


ESTHER IN WONDERLAND (director, Stephanie Bollag)

NARRATIVE SHORT, World Premiere – Shorts Program

WHAT:   Drawn to the expressiveness of hip hop and breakdance, Esther (Naian González Norvind) tests the boundaries of her restricted existence as a young married woman in a Hasidic community in 1990s Crown Heights. (13 mins)

WHY:  Hip-hop meets Hasid as an escape route for one young woman to find herself -- we’re digging this very New York story. 


FARGO (directors, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, 25th Anniversary -- Retrospective Screening

WHAT:  Things go terribly awry when small-time Minnesota car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard, hires two thugs to kidnap his wife. Once people start dying, the very chipper and very pregnant Police Chief Marge Gunderson takes the case. Is she up to the challenge? You betcha... Winner of two Academy Awards® (Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress for Frances McDormand), the reissue marks the theatrical release of McDormand’s multi-award-winning latest project, Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures). (98 mins.)

WHY:  A true Coen Brothers classic that serves up a brilliant snow-bound ensemble, Fargo’s 6 months preggers detective Marge Gunderson holds the proud titles of being voted American Film Institute’s No. 33 for badass heroines with her no joke waddle strut. 


THE FIVE HEARTBEATS (director, Robert Townsend)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, 30th Anniversary -- Retrospective Screening

WHAT:  A quintet of hopeful young African American men form an amateur vocal group called The Five Heartbeats. After an initially rocky start, the group becomes a top flight music sensation. Along the way the guys learn many hard lessons about the reality of the music industry with its casual racism and greed while the personal weaknesses of the members threaten to destroy the integrity of the band.  (121 mins.)

WHY:  With the talented – and shamelessly underrated filmmaker Robert Townsend -- working with the gifted and the superlative (newly-‘mainstream’-venerated) long-time Spike Lee collaborator, Ruth E. Carter (Do the Right Thing, Black Panther, My Name Is Dolemite, Selma, Crooklyn) it’s time to revisit -- or finally catch, if you’re a newbie -- this smooth Black indie classic, where the colorful do-wop period wardrobe is its own character. See some of Ms. Carter’s early design work.


 GIRL WITH A THERMAL GUN (director, Rongfei Guo)

NARRATIVE SHORT, North American Premiere – Shorts Program

WHAT:  A Chinese delivery man (Li Chao) fantasizes about a girl (Hu Jie) who measures his temperature in a supermarket during COVID-19.  (13 mins)

WHY: Shifting from oppressive temperature checks to toe-tapping escapist 1940s MGM choreography -- we’re all in for this one and its timely whimsy. 


HOT WHITE HEIST: PODCAST (director, Alan Cumming; producers Adam Goldman, Alan Cumming)

SERIES PREVIEW, World Premiere – Tribeca Podcasts

WHAT:  A crew of misfits from across the LGBTQ spectrum attempt the stickiest heist in history: stealing a hidden supply of sperm samples from the US government. Why? To help a lesbian cult finance a top secret project, of course. Basically, it’s a sperm bank heist. An Audible Original, Hot White Heist is written, created and produced by Adam Goldman and directed and produced by Alan Cumming.

WHY: With Alan Cumming at the helm of this colorful audio series, a riotous addictive carnival of the imagination is sure to follow… 


THE LOST LEONARDO (director, Andreas Koefoed)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Documentary 

WHAT:  A real-life art thriller, The Lost Leonardo unravels the mystery behind the most expensive painting ever sold at auction: a $450 million Salvator Mundi, a painting presumed to be a long-lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci.  Director Andreas Koefoed this story squarely at the intersection of capitalism and myth-making, posing the question: is this multi-million dollar painting actually by Leonardo, or do certain powerful players simply want it to be? (95 mins.)

 WHY:  Nothing like a juicy scandalous art-world (fraud?) mystery -- involving a sick amount of money, frivolous ambition, and ferocious power players -- to remind you that you’re, at least, semi-grounded in reality; and that the best things in life are free.



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Movie Plus 

WHAT: A lively look at five LGBTQ+ comic book artists whose careers go from the underground scene to the cover of Time Magazine and the international stage. Their shared stories and observations touch upon everything from the AIDS crisis and workplace discrimination, to the search for love and a good haircut. (79 mins)

WHY: We cheer on the thought of a legacy of ingenious cartoonists being the first line of defense and protest, of sorts, in spinning LGBTQ+ representation on its head, and exploring multifaceted queer life – while keeping it ‘fun’ to the outside world to consume and commune around.    


 PAPER & GLUE (director: JR)

DOCUMENTARY, World Premiere -- Movie Plus

WHAT: For French visual artist JR, the world is his canvas. Taking on the moniker of a photograffeur (French for a photographer/graffiti artist), JR’s large-scale mural portraiture has adorned streets from Paris to Rio, and was memorably captured in his 2017 Academy Award®-nominated collaboration with French New Wave icon Agnes Varda, Faces Places. With his follow up Paper and Glue, JR turns the camera on his own work, as he undertakes massive installation efforts on the US-Mexico border, inside the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, on the courtyard of a supermax prison, and more. In each location, JR captures images of residents of these unique communities and memorializes them in striking, massive, black-and-white photo installations, in the process turning some of the most provocative spaces of the world into eye-catching immersive art that challenges perspectives and unites communities.

WHY:  So much of JR’s large-scale work is already arresting in nature -- how could we not be super excited for this utterly visionary artist to turn his lens, during these times,  on numerous overlooked faces and places, particularly populated by the melanin enhanced, that have been squeezed to the margins? With JRs new massive installations, they're returned to the shine, to serve up their humanity that’s often rendered invisible.


PROCESSION (project creators: Dustin Yellin, Dustin Yellin, Elie Zananiri, Justin Durazzo, Callum Cooper, Dražen Bošnjak)

IMMERSIVE SHORT, World Premiere – Outdoor & Interactive Experiences 

WHAT: Procession is an interactive augmented reality artwork by Dustin Yellin set in a utopian world where human-created climate change wreaks havoc as the viewer watches and is implicated. (15 mins)

WHY: One important thing that art is supposed to do -- reflect back to us the image of our desired selves. The mission of this immersive project gets it right.


THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (director, Wes Anderson) 

NARRATIVE FEATURE, 25th Anniversary – Retrospective Screening

WHAT:  Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) and his wife, Etheline (Anjelica Huston), had three children—Chas, Margot, and Richie—and then they separated. Chas (Ben Stiller) started buying real estate in his early teens and seemed to have an almost preternatural understanding of international finance. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a playwright and received a Braverman Grant of $50,000 in the ninth grade. Richie (Luke Wilson) was a junior champion tennis player and won the U.S. Nationals three years in a row. Virtually all memory of the brilliance of the young Tenenbaums was subsequently erased by two decades of betrayal, failure, and disaster.

WHY:  A beloved, fashion-forward classic, wrapped-up in a wealthy, dysfunctional, New York family and their unexpected alarming reunion: The Royal Tenenbaums still shines on its 25th anniversary release! Yes, brought to you by visionary storyteller, Wes Anderson -- a prickly comedy-drama where extreme privilege and broken dreams go hand-in-hand. Critically acclaimed and feted, the film stealthily eased its way into cult status; likely due to what caught our eye too: its superb ensemble and their variety of lewks!



SERIES PREVIEW, World Premiere – Tribeca Podcasts (creator/host, Steven Leckart; creator/producer, Will Malnati)

WHAT:  The Siegfried & Roy original podcast from Apple TV+ presents the first, compelling in-depth podcast series about Siegfried & Roy, the most famous, controversial magicians in history, who were widely misunderstood, frequently satirized and feverishly criticized. The podcast goes behind the velvet curtain to examine the pop culture icons, lionized by a global fan base for more than 40 years, to deconstruct the illusions they created, the empire they constructed, and the story behind what really happened on the night that a tiger attack ended their reign.  

WHY:  Because we can’t help ourselves – and we’ll roar, out loud, at anyone who questions or critiques us for it; we’re still faithful Siegfried & Roy fans, in all their spectacular, intrepid, bejeweled glory. Legends deserve ongoing attention.  


STOCKHOLM SYNDROME   (directors, The Architects: a collaborative filmmakers, thinkers, and builders.)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Documentary 

WHAT:  While on tour in Sweden, Harlem-bred rap star A$AP Rocky found himself incarcerated after a violent incident caught on video. This harrowing experience leads to an unexpected awakening about politics, equity, and the true value of freedom. The film tells the story of how one of rap’s biggest superstars became embroiled in an international incident, leading to an unexpected political awakening.

WHY: The charismatic, poetic, restless, gifted, enterprising, Harlem-born, fashion icon A$AP commands attention wherever he steps. No, not just because he’s currently one-half of the music world’s most eye-popping couple alongside his much-loved superstar partner, Rihanna. And no, not just because the style-smashing rapper designed an arresting collection on spec, while in Swedish prison. Nor because he ended up in a scandalous presidential tweet during an international ‘Free A$AP’ racialized fracas. But, because he just does: insist on being someone you can’t look away from; triumphs and tragedies included, along his meteoric trajectory. Also, we’re not mad at the fact that Stockholm Syndrome’s credited director, The Architects -- an anonymous artists collaborative -- threw down the gauntlet with this one! 



TALL TALES WITH TRUE QUEENS (directors, Kristina Budelis, Leandro Badalotti)

DOCUMENTARY SHORT, World Premiere – Shorts Program 

WHAT:  At Drag Queen Story Hour, a controversial children's event series, a tale of pride and prejudice is told. [10 mins.]

WHY:  Don’t soo many of us wish there was a fantastical engaging drag queen story hour -- challenging our imaginations and nourishing our souls at our libraries, schools and bookstores -- when we were growing up? Yes and yassss!