This year’s Tribeca Film Festival boasts an array of exciting new films directed by women from all over the filmmaking spectrum. Even more exciting, it turns out, is that of all filmmakers featured in the festival this year, fifty percent are women. From first features from up-and-comers, to new features from seasoned talent, it’s thrilling to get a first-hand look at the art being produced and championed by women at a major film festival. As it’s this writer’s first rodeo at Tribeca (and first film festival in general) I’ll be focusing on a handful of these stories coming from female voices. Here is a list of some of those films (and more) that we should be gearing up to see.
1. Charlie Says
American Psycho director Mary Harron is back in the fold and with her take on the Manson Family murders. Her first feature since 2013’s The Anna Nicole Story, Charlie Says follows the familiar story through the eyes of Manson’s most devoted disciples: Leslie van Houten, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel. The film stars Matt Smith as the titular Manson, Hannah Murray as van Houten, and includes Chace Crawford, Suki Waterhouse, and Annabeth Gish in supporting roles.
2. American Woman
An adaptation of Susan Choi’s novel of the same name, American Woman is based on the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army through a fictionalised retelling of a woman who spent time with her. In it, a young former radical named Jenny Shimada (played by Hong Chau) agrees to house three fugitives – one of whom is Patty Hearst. The film attempts to explore the radicalisation of young people and is director Semi Chellas’s first feature (after having credits in Mad Men and The Romanoffs). The film also stars Sarah Gadon, Ellen Burstyn, Lola Kirke, and John Gallagher Jr.
Starring Zoey Deutch, Buffaloed follows a young delinquent desperate to be accepted into the college of her dreams, but who must get herself into a series of misdeeds in order to scrape the money to pay for tuition. Tribeca alum Tanya Wexler’s first feature since 2011 is a purported ode to Buffalo, New York, as much as it is a black comedy about the economic struggles inherent within an elitist industry. More timely than ever following “Operation Varsity Blues,” the film also stars (queen) Judy Greer, Jai Courtney, and Jermaine Fowler.
4. House of Hummingbird
From Korean director Bora Kim, House of Hummingbird is a coming-of-age drama set in Seoul in 1994, following eighth-grade girl Eunhee (Ji-hu Park) as she navigates the hardships of school and an unstable home life. However, it’s the friendship she forms with one of her teachers (Sae-byeok Kim), that helps her find the meaning that she has been struggling to seek. House of Hummingbird is Bora Kim’s feature debut and is a feminist critique that focuses heavily on Korean culture. It has already taken home the Grand Prix for Best Feature at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival 14plus.
5. The Weekend
Canadian filmmaker Stella Meghie’s The Weekend is about 29-year-old stand-up comedian Zadie (played by SNL alum Sasheer Zamata) as she wrestles to get over a boyfriend who not only insists they stay friends, but who has already moved on. Things take an awkward turn when Zadie third-wheels with the couple at her own mother’s bed and breakfast – until she meets a handsome stranger while she’s there. Also starring Kym Whitley, DeWanda Wise, and Tone Bell, Meghie’s third feature asserts an adept combination of romance and comedy.
6. Lost Transmissions
Starring the ever-charming Juno Temple and Simon Pegg, this film chronicles the frenetic relationship between an aspiring songwriter and an unstable record producer. Featuring the accompanying talents of Bria Vinaite (The Florida Project), Robert Schwartzman, and Alexandra Daddario, the handheld-shot character study explores the inadequacies of mental health care in America. Lost Transmissions is Katharine O’Brien’s first feature as a director, and is inspired by a true story.
7. Good Posture
In Good Posture, Dolly Wells takes a break from acting to take up the helm as director. In this story of an entitled film school graduate who ends up rooming with a reclusive writer after her boyfriend breaks things off, Good Posture follows the clash between young Lilian and Julia Price, as the pair of women struggle to find understanding between one another. Starring Grace van Patten and frequent collaborator Emily Mortimer, Wells’ first feature is a comedy and character study that sees symbiotic growth between two complicated people.
A film about love and letting go, Clementine surrounds two young women: 29-year-old Karen just out of a recent break-up, and the charismatic Lana. The two women meet at Karen’s ex’s summer home, where Karen has snuck off to in the aftermath of her relationship. The film is both a drama and a sexual coming-of-age story, with lead performances anchored by actresses Otmara Marrero and Sydney Sweeney (Sharp Objects, Handmaid’s Tale). It is the debut of director Lara Jean Gallagher.
9. Knives and Skin
In a film where comparisons have already been made to Twin Peaks and Heathers, director Jennifer Reeder’s Midnight selection follows the disappearance of a teenage girl in a Midwestern town, and the way its effects ripple outward, causing the unraveling of the community and the revelation of the town’s darker inclinations. Starring Raven Whitley and Ty Olwin, Reeder’s hyper-stylised, surrealist nightmare-scape takes full form in what sounds like a Lynchian study of small-town psychosis. Her many other award-winning films have screened at Sundance, Berlinale, and SXSW.
10. 37 Seconds
Director and writer HIKARI’s award-winning feature debut chronicles a 23-year-old creative named Yuma (Mei Kayama). Yuma has cerebral palsy and lives at home with her protective mother, while she spends her time sketching sci-fi universes and acting as an unseen ghostwriter for a manga series she collaborates on with her cousin (Minori Hagiwara). The film focuses on our heroine’s search for various forms of autonomy, and has already won the Panorama Audience Award and CICEA Art Cinema Award at the 69th Berlinale.
11. White as Snow
Starring our beloved Isabelle Huppert, White as Snow is a sexually-driven, feminist retelling of Snow White. When the shy Claire (Lou de Laâge) is sent away to a small town in the French mountains by her cold stepmother Maud (Huppert), it is in this new place that Claire finds herself overwhelmed by a sudden, almost magical, re-invigoration of sexual and feminine power. But when Maud arrives to make amends, Claire is soon faced with a choice of who to trust. The film is from French filmmaker Anne Fontaine, who has a career spanning since the early ‘90s, and who has collaborated with Isabelle Huppert before.
Three best friends on a mission to lose their virginity before their freshman year ends are provided the perfect opportunity – in the form of a Crush Party put together by the most popular girl on campus. But things don’t go the way they’d planned, and the trio find themselves in very different places than they thought they’d be by the night’s end. From writer and director Emily Cohn, CRSHD is Cohn’s first feature, and a lighthearted take on feminine sexuality starring Isabelle Barbier, Deeksha Ketkar, and Sadie Scott.
by Brianna Zigler
Brianna Zigler is a graduate in Film-Video and Writing from Penn State University with big plans and not a lot of planning. She is passionate about film and writing about film and also talking about film but can’t really decide which she wants to do with her life, but it’s not a big deal (that’s future Brianna’s problem). She loves horror, absurdism, Twin Peaks, is a die-hard Wes Anderson fan, and currently has almost 250 movies in her watchlist. Her favorite films are What We Do in the Shadows, A Serious Man, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Swiss Army Man, and Suspiria. She met Greg Sestero once and it was weird. You can follow her on Twitter @briannazigs
Categories: Women Film-makers