Sewing seeds of art, love, design, change, music, and rebellion — while clearing paths for redemption, justice, drama, laughter, remembrance, identity, and reinvention — through the most unexpected story connections — Tribeca 2019’s slate is alllll that, and more!

With 111 feature film premieres, 50% of features in competition directed by women, and 44 countries participating in this springtime extravaganza that toasts cinema in so many distinct forms, TFF has kicked off to an energetic start — and has no intention of slowing down, now through May 4th. Downtown Manhattan is hustling to keep up. From Francis Ford Coppola, to Quest Love, from Rashida Jones to Guillermo del Toro — Tribeca Talks, with over 20 panels, includes a range of luminaries sharing thoughts on work on a full range of topics, including, sound design, immersive storytelling, and branded episodic content, to name a few. Yes, TFF19’s team of programmers and organizers has made some serious boss moves to up their game in the festival’s 18th year. Cheers to that!

With so much to choose from, daily, we had to narrow down our picks — and with that, we give you: ‘THE HOT LIST: TFF19’s TOP 25 PICKS’! Whether you catch them at TFF, or later down the line in release, you’ll be feeling very vision-forward that you discovered them, here.

Check out our Hot List: TOP TFF25 PICKS. We’re excited for SO much!

[*Synopses below are mainly courtesy of TFF*]


By: L.A. Collins

For Info, Schedules & Tickets:


Stay Updated! Talk back! Keep Up With TFF19:


ALL ON A MARDIS GRAS DAY (director, Michal Pietrzyk)

NARRATIVE SHORT, World Premiere – Shorts Program

WHAT: In a gentrifying New Orleans, obsessive Demond Melancon sacrifices to be Big Chief in a secret 200-year culture known as Mardi Gras Indians: African-American men from the city’s roughest neighborhoods who spend all year sewing feathered suits they’ll wear only once — creating a masterpiece: specifically, an extravagant suit made of pleated velvet, yellow ostrich feathers, and beaded patches, so very detailed, that they look like oil paintings. The stunning suits are to honor their runaway slave ancestors and the Native American tribes who housed them during their escape. Featuring: Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters, Alicia Winding, Spyboy Walter “Trigga” Blakk, and Spyboy Rashaud “Shaudy” Brown.

WHY: According to the filmmakers, when Desmond’s hand-crafted costume is finished, his stunning creation will “weigh 100 pounds, contain nearly 1 million individually sewn beads, and make him 10 feet tall. He’ll wear it one time, then start the whole process again.” … How can we NOT bow down to the process of these unsung (boss) designers?!?


APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (director/writer, Francis Ford Coppola; writer, John Milius)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, Newly Re-mastered 4K Cut - Anniversary Screening

WHAT: Troubled Army Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent on a dangerous and mesmerizing odyssey into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade American Colonel named Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has succumbed to the horrors of war and barricaded himself in a remote outpost. Starring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, and Laurence Fishburne.

WHY: First titled Psychedelic Soldier in early drafts, and with George Lucas originally attached to direct — ‘til he got a tad busy with a ‘little known’ risky film called Star WarsApocalypse Now celebrates its 40th Anniversary at TFF, debuting a brand-spankin’ new, never-before-seen restored 4K Ultra HD version. While war films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea — and animal rights activists didn’t give this one their blessings — the undeniable artistry behind this hyper-visual/-sonic storytelling creates an explosive and unnerving cinematic masterpiece — smartly designed to remind us how war plunges humankind into all sorts of delirious futile madness. Watch it BIG! Hear it BIGGER!


CHARLIE SAYS (director, Mary Harron; writer, Guinevere Turner)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, North American Premiere – Spotlight Narrative 

WHAT: The Charles Manson story as told through the fresh eyes of his most devoted followers: Leslie van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins. Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Hannah Murray, Matt Smith, Annabeth Gish, Merritt Wever, and Chace Crawford.

WHY: Acclaimed indie cult royalty, Marry Harron — I Shot Andy Warhol’s and American Psycho’s visionary filmmaker — returns to the screen to, once again, chart the perplexing and chilling intersection of murderous tendencies and their emotionally fragile owners’ inability to curb them. In this female-centric profile, Herron’s insightful directing, from Guinevere Turner’s script, should add a new uneasy layer of femme complexity, when it comes to co-dependent sub and dom behavior. No shade, but beware of communes!


CIRCUS OF BOOKS (director/writer, Rachel Mason)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere - Viewpoints Section

WHAT: How do you explain to your friends that your mom and pop run a gay pornography shop? That is just one question asked in this playful documentary about the titular L.A. store and its unlikely proprietors.

WHY: Ok, umm, awkward? Were the kids only allowed to sit and wait by the store’s front door? Were eyes covered? Or was it very, “help us at the cash register — this keeps the roof over your heads!” ... Yes, admittedly we’re curious to hear what “take-your-child-to-work-day” must’ve been like for the Mason family?? Aren’t you? No judgments, but hmmm…


DREAMLAND (director, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte; writer, Nicholaas Zwart)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Narrative 

WHAT: In Dustbowl Era Texas, Eugene Evans (Finn Cole) a young man living on a farm where his family is coping with dust storms and the Depression, tries to help makes ends meet. After five people are killed during a holdup in a nearby town and a $20,000 bounty is placed for the capture of the bank robber Allison Wells (Margot Robbie), he sees a graspable opportunity — when he finds her hiding out in the family barn; but alas, becomes smitten with her. Starring: Margot Robbie, Finn Cole, Travis Fimmel, Kerry Condon, Garrett Hedlund, and Darby Camp.

WHY: Tough, sharp, glamazon actor/producer, Margot Robbie — robbing banks? Simultaneously serving up fab ‘30s finger waves?? While trying to ‘lay low’, Bonnie Parker style?? Check, check — and check!


DROP IN THE OCEAN (project creators: Adam May, Chris Campkin, Chris Parks)


WHAT: Experience the ocean from an entirely new perspective in this social VR adventure. Shrunk down to 2 inches tall, you’ll hitch a ride on a jellyfish and encounter the mysteries of the deep — and team up to restore this natural wonderland.

WHY: Before the sea mammals have to start walking again in the next few decades, due to our unchecked global warming, take a moment to enjoy the magic and majesty of the ocean, and remember why 3.8-plus-billion-year-old natural phenom should’ve earned your unequivocal respect!



NARRATIVE FEATURE, New York Premiere – Spotlight Narrative 

WHAT: A chronicle of the crimes of serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar, and necrophile, Ted Bundy — from the perspective of Liz, his longtime girlfriend, who refused to believe the truth about him for years. Starring: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Kaya Scodelario, Jeffrey Donovan, Angela Sarafyan, Dylan Baker, Brian Geraghty, Jim Parsons, and John Malkovich.

WHY: Just from film clips that we’ve seen of this arrestingly, creepily, total transformation of affable Zac Efron into the disarmingly ”handsome-faced” 1970s serial killing Ted Bundy, we must once-and-for-all embrace that this is the moment that High School Musical’s Troy Bolton is no longer. Slate, wiped.   


FLAWLESS (HANESHEF) (directors/writers, Sharon Maymon & Tal Granit)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, World Premiere - International Narrative Competition

WHAT: Three 17-year-old girls — who navigate the daily indignities of high school by using razor-sharp wit to shield their vulnerabilities — make a secret pact! They join forces to raise funds for cosmetic surgery and prom dresses. In search of physical perfection they are drawn down a dark path of black-market plastic surgery; an impulsive adventure that ultimately becomes a journey of self-discovery. Starring: Stav Strashko, Netsanet Mekonnen, and Noam Lugasy.

WHY: With a fresh, young cast, we’re especially excited to see what’s been described as a “star-making performance” for transgender model Strashko, who’ll be playing Eden, the “girl with most to hide — but also the most to gain — in her search for validation.”


FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN (directors, Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce; writers, Dan Greeney & Alexandra Orton for Narrative Scenes)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Documentary

WHAT: The success of infamous auto executive/playboy John DeLorean made his name synonymous with his iconic design. But he and his company crashed in the ‘80s amid mismanagement, corruption, and a controversial coke bust. Interweaving a treasure trove of archival footage with dramatic vignettes starring Alec Baldwin as DeLorean, the filmmakers reveal a gripping look at a man who gambled everything in his pursuit of the American Dream. Featuring: Alec Baldwin, Josh Charles, Morena Baccarin, Dean Winters, Michael Rispoli, and Jason Jones.

WHY: A hybrid documentary that deeply pushes its boundaries into fiction, centers flawed car-making legend, drives its way through messy drug trafficking scandal, showcases sleek ‘80s self-absorbed design — and features Alec Baldwin — is just about all we need to run to catch this at TFF! [In select theaters + VOD on June 7th].


FRAMING AGNES (directors, Chase Joynt & Kristen Schilt)

DOCUMENTARY SHORT, North American Premiere – Shorts Program

WHAT: In 2017, trans artists gained access to a 1950s archive of never-before-seen histories of transgender/gender non-conforming people. Through reenactment and documentary, they revive the past to redefine the future. Featuring: Angelica Ross, Chase Joynt, Max Wolf Valerio, Silas Howard, and Zackary Drucker.

WHY: For culture makers, landing upon unexplored archives can be likened to discovering a buried treasure chest at sea. All the more exciting — and righteous — when the treasure is found by those to whom it should be returned, in the first place! Win, win: storytellers can tell ‘their story’, across time… 


HALSTON (director/writer, Frédéric Tcheng)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, New York Premiere – Spotlight Documentary

WHAT: From Jackie Kennedy to Studio 54, Halston’s minimalist designs put American fashion on the map in the 1970s. Tribeca alum Frédéric Tcheng examines the work and life of the enigmatic visionary who called himself Halston. Producers: Roland Ballester, Frédéric Tcheng, Stephanie Levy, Paul Dallas. Featuring: Tavi Gevinson, Cornelia Guest, Liza Minnelli, Marisa Berenson, Joel Schumacher, and Pat Cleveland.

WHY: One word – Halston!!!

Photo courtesy of Berry Berenson Perkins. Anjelica Huston and Halston.


LIL’ BUCK: REAL SWAN (director/writer, Louis Wallecan)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Documentary

WHAT: Dancer Charles Lil’ Buck Riley grew up “jookin and bucking” on the streets of Memphis. After a breathtaking video of him dancing to Camille Saint-Saëns’ “The Swan” accompanied by cellist Yo-Yo Ma went viral, everything changed. The film further explores how his unique style of dance has led to him touring with Madonna and becoming a passionate advocate for arts education. Featuring: Charles Lil’ Buck Riley.

WHY: To behold, even for just a moment, the lithe, powerful, electric beauty of Lil’ Buck’s movements, as his body speaks seamlessly to its surroundings, is enough to wake you up to realize that spring is here — and can be eternal, if you can dare surrender to it.


MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND (director, Midge Costin; writer, Bobette Buster) 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Midnight Section

WHAT: From Apocalypse Now’s helicopters to Star Wars’ lightsabers, sound design is one of cinema’s most essential creative elements, yet also one of its most overlooked. Making Waves explores the impact of movie sound through insight from cinema’s biggest directors and their go-to sonic collaborators. Featuring: Walter Murch, Ben Burtt, Gary Rydstrom, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, and Ryan Coogler.

WHY:  Where do we begin? You might not think that crunching spaghetti, Wakanda, Barbra Streisand, and a lion’s roar played backwards share something in common? However, in this sonically delicious movie about (that often overlooked part of films!) sound it all blends together in a captivating symphony! A hot, fun pick for movie-goers of all stripes — not just film geeks — who’ve been transported by the screen! 


MARTHA (director/writer, Selina Miles)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – ‘This Used to Be New York’ Section

WHAT: In 1970s New York, photographer Martha Cooper captured some of the first images of graffiti at a time when the city had declared war on this new art form. Decades later, Cooper has become an influential godmother to a global movement of street artists. Featuring: Martha Cooper.

WHY: 1970s and ‘80s New York. Joyful emerging graffiti and hip hop culture, before it gets co-opted into the mainstream. A female artist finding her way... Sounds authentic enough for us to jump on that (spray-painted) subway car, and take an exhilarating tip, back in time, with Martha...


MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE (director/writer, Richard Lowenstein)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – U.S. Documentary Competition

WHAT: Michael Hutchence was flying high as the lead singer of the legendary rock band INXS until his untimely death in 1997. Richard Lowenstein’s kinetic yet intimate documentary examines Hutchence’s deeply felt life through his many loves and demons. Featuring: Kylie Minogue, Helena Christensen.

WHY: Who didn’t LIVE (at least a bit?) for that cross-over hypnotic white-boy rap-meets-spoken-word moment of frontman Hutchence on “Need You Tonight”; the wildly popular chart-topping INXS song which according to the band’s manager (per Wikipedia) was absolutely hated by the Atlantic Records label that insisted the sultry song was “suitable for black radio” (the implication: but not for white/rock stations).

We want to know more about this audacious underrated Australian star that burned brightly, yet too quickly.


PICTURE CHARACTER (directors, Martha Shane & Ian Cheney)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Spotlight Documentary

WHAT: Emojis are a worldwide phenomenon, with some arguing that these smiling poops and heart-eyed faces are on the verge of actually becoming their own language. But where do they come from? Who, if anyone, is in charge of this new global digital language?

WHY: Because let’s face it, you no longer know how to “talk” without them (and by “talk” — yes, we mean text). Might as well learn more about your (ideogramic/smiley-fied) addiction.


PEARL (director/writer, Elsa Amiel; writer, Laurent Larivière)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, North American Premiere - Viewpoints Section

WHAT: In 72 hours, Léa Pearl is set to compete in the final round of the international female bodybuilding championship, for the prestigious title of Miss Heaven. Her plans are upended when her ex-lover shows up with the six-year-old son she left behind. Starring: Julia Föri, Peter Mullan, Arieh Worthalter, Vidal Arzoni, and Agata Buzek.

WHY: Didn’t you read the logline above? Well then, read it again!


THE REMIX: HIP HOP X FASHION (directors, Lisa Cortés & Farah X)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Midnight Section

WHAT: The story of how hip hop changed fashion, leading to the stratospheric and global rise of street wear. It is a journey of African American creativity and the limitless possibilities of a cultural movement on a global scale. Featuring: Misa Hylton, April Walker, Dapper Dan, and Kerby Jean-Raymond.

WHY:  From uptown to downtown to small-town, beyond international borders, it is a known fact — hip hop’s hand in influencing fashion is undeniable. Extra shout outs the filmmakers and film for featuring the ever-fly Misa Hylton and Dapper Dan, among the other hip-hop fashion luminaries.


SWALLOW (director/writer, Carlo Mirabella-Davis)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, World Premiere – U.S. Narrative Competition

WHAT: Hunter (Haley Bennett), a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession. Starring: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rasche, and Denis O'Hare.

WHY: Yes, Ms. Bennett — beam your character’s contagious anxiety like a dangerous sword past the screen! The rising actor is clearly serving-up all that wound-up housewife fragility, to help us better understand her digestive dilemma. Moreover, just from a sneak peek, it’s a lil’ hard to not detect a bit of Michelle-Williams-esque-fierceness in Bennett’s essence. We’re down!


THIS IS NOT BERLIN (ESTO NO ES BERLIN) (director, Hari Sama; writers, Rodrigo Ordóñez, Hari Sama & Max Zunino)

NARRATIVE FEATURE, New York Premiere – Tribeca Critics’ Week Section

WHAT: As World Cup fever hits Mexico in 1986, two middle class teens discover a new wave/punk underground culture of experimentation with sex, drugs, and art. This Is Not Berlin is a film that crosses narrative and formal boundaries with the same thrilling abandon that its characters do emotional and experiential ones. Starring: Xabiani Ponce de León, José Antonio Toledano, Ximena Romo, Mauro Sánchez Navarro, Américo Hollander, Klaudia García, Marina de Tavira, Hari Sama, Lumi Cavazos, and Juan Carlos Remolina.

WHY: From the thrilling, visually arresting storytelling, and the kinetic sensorial performances emanating from the actors we predict that This Is Not Berlin may one day be remembered as a lunar launch pad for more than a few rising talents, who’re already in motion.


TRIXIE MATTEL: MOVING PARTS (director/writer, Nick Zeig-Owens)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Midnight Section

WHAT: With razor-sharp wit and authentic country music chops, Trixie Mattel charmed audiences and judges as winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. But the grind of performing and the pressure of the title prove that heavy is the head that wears the tiara. Featuring: Brian (Trixie Mattel) Firkus, Katya Zamolodchikova

WHY: If you got a little misty during Drag Race (Season 7) when Trixie was asked to “Sashay A-way” — and if Ru’s All Stars somehow wasn’t enough, or Vice’s Trixie & Katya show left you slightly high and dry — you can spend a lil’ more time cherishing those geographic contours, and the relatable performer behind them. 


TWIST (director/writer, Aly Migliori)

NARRATIVE SHORT, World Premiere – Shorts Program

WHAT: No choice but to walk home alone, Hannah (Helena Howard) sees an opportunity for a ride, but others see an opportunity in her. Starring: Helena Howard, Megan Seely, Henry Dwyer, Mike Donovan, Justin Hofstad, and Matthew Russell.

WHY: Helena Howard’s hauntingly expressive “Madeline’s Madeline” breakout role has us ready to see whatever she’ll be in, for years to come.


UNIVERSAL MACHINE (director, Daniel Askill)

NARRATIVE SHORT – Tribeca X Awards Finalist

WHAT: A meditation on the ultimate fate of humanity's relationship with technology. Featuring music by Philip Glass, the film follows a gifted young woman who awakens into a post-apocalyptic world and must transcend a violent confrontation with a lifelike Artificial Intelligence. Progressing through an elaborate sequence of dance and fight choreography, the action of the film beckons towards an evolved future of peace and compassion.

WHY: In all its sparse post-apocalyptic gorgeousness, Universal Machine — co-presented by Visionaire — does raise an important question: in the not-so-distant future, will it be us vs. them, or us and them? 


WIG (director, Chris Moukarbel)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Movies Plus Section

WHAT: Late night. East Village, 1984. Lady Bunny and a few friends drunkenly wandered from the Pyramid Club to Tompkins Square Park and staged an impromptu drag show in the bandshell. This would soon become an annual drag bacchanal — Wigstock — that glamorously signaled the end of summer for the gay community in NYC and lasted up until 2001. This past summer, the festival returned, bringing together legendary queens with some of the new children of drag, into one of the largest drag performances ever staged. Wig explores its origins and the enduring influence. Featuring: Lady Bunny, Charlene Incarnate, Flotilla DeBarge, Kevin Aviance, Neil Patrick Harris, Willam, Linda Simpson, Naomi Smalls, and Tabboo!

WHY: Let’s just give it up! A generous round of applause for our tenacious drag mothers and fathers and legendary children, who — even when the stilettos are feeling shaky, the hot lights are melting the concealer, and the dollar bills have stopped rushing to the stage — still commit to entertaining; earthquake, hailstorms, hecklers, be damned. The Show: Must. Go. On. 


YOU DON’T NOMI (director/writer, Jeffrey McHale)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, World Premiere – Midnight Section

WHAT: Released in 1995, Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls was met by critics and audiences with near universal derision. You Don’t Nomi traces the film’s redemptive journey from notorious flop to cult classic, and maybe even masterpiece. Featuring:  Peaches Christ, Jeffery Conway, April Kidwell, Haley Mlotek, Adam Nayman, and David Schmader.

WHY: Dashed marbles? Oncoming traffic! Matching sheets n’ curtains? Monkey intermissions! Over-exposed tongues? Doggie chow confessions! Aquatic seizure-ish sex scenes? Tossed fries! … A truly brilliant hot mess? A really messy hot mess? A high calorie hot mess? Although the Showgirls debate will rage on for decades to come, past its own shelf-life of — among its supporters and detractors — just remember: “if someone gets in your way,” (as you debate its merits) “step on ‘em!” … repeat: and watch it again…

and a bonus twenty-six: 



WHAT: DJ/Musician/Director Sam Spiegel teamed up with Impossible Foods and White Castle for this online ‘60s-style sci-fi TV show-inspired mini-series stemming from the belief that a new paradigm must be created for the foods we eat; one that emphasizes our need to protect the future of the planet. They sent the iconic Wu-Tang Clan into space for an intergalactic, delicious vegan mission: to enjoy their new plant-based sliders while pondering the many questions the galaxy has yet to answer, as they impart their Wu-Tang wisdom. Featuring: Wu-Tang clan's GZA, RZA, and Ghostface Killah; also, Jolee Dunn, Pat Brown, Star, and Melinda Lee Holm.

WHY: At the perfectly inspired intersection of consciousness around climate change, mindful eating for fast-food foodies, deadpan humor, philosophical rappers, kitschy outer-space TV sets, this stilted episodic series lands its messaging with smarts and soul. It encourages self-care for the masses; and is available on YouTube! Okay, we’re ready for blast off!