The annual Tribeca Film Festival has become a New York City institution. Launched 13 years ago in an effort to help revitalize downtown, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff's relatively modest paean to cinema has grown exponentially; the 2015 edition includes hundreds of films spread over 12 days, including 64 feature-length world premieres, plus lectures, panel discussions and many other special events. We combed the schedule for the highlights to help you decide when and where to go. Whether you're a die-hard Kurt Cobain fan, or just interested in seeing what happens when Stephen Colbert interviews George Lucas, see our picks below—and happy watching.
The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival runs April 15–26. For more information and the complete schedule, visit tribecafilm.com.
Live From New York! at The Beacon Theatre
The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival officially kicks off at this Upper West Side institution with a screening of director Bao Nguyen's documentary about Saturday Night Live. The NBC stalwart has plenty to celebrate—as its network made certain America knew earlier this year, this season marks the show's 40th anniversary. Expect laughs, tender moments, tense moments, more laughs and footage of cast members before they became stars. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Mary J. Blige—The London Sessions at The Beacon Theatre
Mary J. Blige chronicles the recording of her 13th studio album, The London Sessions, in this documentary. The film, which makes its world premiere at this event, will be followed by a performance from the woman dubbed the “Queen of R&B.” For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
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RiffTrax Live: The Room at SVA Theatre 1
If you were a fan of the shenanigans on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 back in the day, you won't want to miss RiffTrax Live. This special one-night-only show, original MST3K cast members Kevin Murphy (aka Tom Servo), Bill Corbett (alias Crow T. Robot) and host Mike Nelson will take on what many consider the worst film of all time, Tommy Wiseau's The Room. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Tribeca Talks Directors Series: George Lucas with Stephen Colbert at BMCC
Mr. Star Wars indulges in conversation with CBS' new Late Show host. They have plenty to discuss, not least of which are Lucas' involvement in the next three films in the Star Wars series and rumors about the forthcoming installment in the Indiana Jones franchise. Consider this a warm-up for when Colbert takes over the reins from Letterman in September. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
April 18, 22 and 24
Slow West at SVA Theatre (April 18 & 24) and Regal Cinemas Battery Park (April 22)
This Sundance World Cinema Jury Prize winner for dramatic film is an unusual Western starring Michael Fassbender as an enigmatic traveler who offers his services to help Scottish aristocrat teen Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) search for his love across the American frontier. The film is the feature debut of John Maclean, a former member of the Beta Band. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
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Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck at Spring Studios
This first fully authorized Kurt Cobain documentary provides insight into the Nirvana frontman's personal life through interviews, never-before-seen home movies, recordings, artwork, journals and songbooks—as well as a previously unheard acoustic track. After the screening, director Brett Morgen and Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, will discuss the movie, with author Neil Strauss moderating. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
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April 19, 22 and 23
Good Kill at BMCC (April 19) & Regal Cinemas Battery Park (April 22–23)
Good Kill reunites the star of '90s futuristic film Gattaca, Ethan Hawke, and his director, Andrew Niccol, in a stylish and disturbing look at how technology affects an Army drone pilot who “fights” in the Middle East while living in a suburban development in the Nevada desert. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
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Tribeca Talks Directors Series: Christopher Nolan with Bennett Miller at BMCC
Whether or not you found Interstellar a rare misstep in the ongoing McConaissance, the film made it clear that Christopher Nolan has a deep yen for postmodern sci-fi. The director of the Dark Knight trilogy sits down with Miller (Foxcatcher, Moneyball) to discuss issues related to cinematic storytelling. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Grandma at BMCC & Regal Cinemas Battery Park
Prepare for a wild ride as Lily Tomlin takes the wheel in this seriocomic road movie. Directed by Paul Weitz, who did wonders with About a Boy, the film also features Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden, Orange Is the New Black breakout star Laverne Cox and that ol' cowboy Sam Elliott. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Tribeca Talks: Secrecy and Power at SVA Theatre 1
Touching on the connection between power, secrets and national security—timely topics indeed—this panel includes former CIA spy Valerie Plame, journalist Barton Gellman (who received documents from Edward Snowden) and Alex Gibney, director of We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (and, more recently, Going Clear). NBC News' Cynthia McFadden will moderate the event. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
April 21 and 24
Sinatra at 100: Film & Music at various locations
This fete highlights the movies and music of Frank Sinatra, with screenings of On the Town, Some Came Running and High Society. Following the April 21 screening of a remastered version of On the Town, Ol’ Blue Eyes will be honored with performances from Tony Bennett, Brandon Flowers and Alice Smith. Dancer Savion Glover will also perform. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Good Will Hunting at SVA Theatre 1
This special screening features an after-show discussion with director Gus Van Sant. The film, which launched the careers of its writers, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, also starred Robin Williams; remembrances of the late comedian should make for an emotional evening. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Misery Loves Comedy at SVA Theatre 2
Stand-up fans should be thrilled about this flick, which examines the stories and psyches of comedy's greats. Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Judd Apatow, Bob Saget and Larry David are just a few of the 60 famous funny people in Kevin Pollak's candid documentary, exploring the relationship between comedy and misery. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
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Speedy at Spring Studios
In a mash-up of old and new technologies, the Criterion Collection will present the digitally restored 1928 feature Speedy (with bespectacled silent star Harold Lloyd) accompanied by a soundtrack mixed live by noted producer and DJ Z-Trip. The movie, shot in NYC with vintage Coney Island scenes and a rare Babe Ruth cameo, follows a hapless young man on a mission to save the last horse-drawn trolley in the City. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Tribeca Talks Directors Series: Cary Fukunaga with James Schamus at SVA Theatre 2
Fukunaga is having a bit of a moment right now: the director of HBO's True Detective has several high-profile projects in the hopper, including Beasts of No Nation, an adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala's heartbreaking novel about a child soldier in an unnamed African country, and It, a big-screen version of Stephen King's doorstop about a killer clown from outer space. Fukunaga sits down with writer-producer James Schamus to talk about film and TV. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Hungry Hearts at SVA Theatre (April 23 & 25) and Bow Tie Cinemas (April 24)
This psychological thriller tells the story of Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rohrwacher), who struggle with raising their child in a healthy environment. Mina takes it too far when she shuns traditional health care and the outside world to adhere to her unconventional beliefs. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
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Monty Python and the Holy Grail at The Beacon Theatre
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the King Arthur comedy, alongside troupe members John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Beware, they are the Knights Who Say “Ni” (even if they are no longer the Knights Who Say “Ni”). For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Sports Saturday at Regal Cinemas Battery Park
The Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival screens movies throughout the week and a half but takes center stage on the final Saturday, or Sports Day. Keep an eye out for short documentaries on gymnast Nadia Comaneci (Eternal Princess, by actress Katie Holmes) and an all-deaf football team (All-American Family, by Andrew Jenks); Gored, Ido Mizrahy's look at a death-defying bullfighter; Jason Hehir's Down in the Valley, about the struggle to keep basketball's Kings in Sacramento; and Fastball, a dive into the mysteries behind a baseball pitcher's best friend, from Jonathan Hock. Sporty outdoor activities complement the cinematic lineup. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Goodfellas at The Beacon Theatre
Twenty-five years after its initial release, Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas will close out the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. After a screening of the remastered film, cast members Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino and screenwriter Nick Pileggi will reunite to discuss the classic gangster flick, moderated by Jon Stewart. Will it amuse you? Probably, but be careful how you answer. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.