Skip to main content

Filed under:

Tribeca 2017: All the best films, VR, and stories from this year’s festival

The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 20-29 in New York City. The festival primarily features independent premieres and international films seeking distribution, but it also has a growing exhibition track in virtual reality, games, television, guest lectures, and other special events. The Verge will be reporting from the festival on some of its highlight releases.

  • Tasha Robinson

    Apr 6, 2018

    Tasha Robinson

    The creepy indie horror film The Endless ups the stakes for its creators

    Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special-event releases. This review originally ran after the film’s debut at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. It has been republished to coincide with the film’s theatrical release.

    Back in 2012, the Tribeca Film Festival hosted the world premiere of a tiny indie horror film called Resolution, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead and written by Benson. The film’s desaturated, grubby poster made it look exactly like the torture-porn movies that were already out of vogue at that point, but the film itself is something different — an intimate character drama about two friends stuck in a backwoods cabin, where something unearthly is stalking them, and gradually making itself known. Resolution’s ending is a jarring surprise after the slow build that leads up to it, but the shock comes with a kind of delight at how Benson and Moorhead use Resolution to toy with horror-movie tropes and joke about horror-movie audiences.

    Read Article >
  • May 2, 2017

    Adi Robertson, Tasha Robinson and 1 more

    Question Club: What’s wrong with The Circle?

    Image: STX Entertainment

    Hi, everybody! Welcome to The Circle Question Club, where secrets are lies and knowing is good but knowing everything is better! The Circle — a thriller about a Google-like tech company with a sinister agenda, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson — has gotten largely bad reviews from critics, including our own Tasha Robinson. Still, there’s a lot to say about the film’s portrayal of the tech industry and how it handles its source material, Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel of the same name. Given the prominent role of wearable tech, we’ve also invited Racked entertainment editor Elana Fishman to our roundtable.

    Why are there no internet trolls in the future? Does The Circle’s pervasive wearable surveillance technology make sense? What was going on with the ending? Zing me some smiles, folks.

    Read Article >
  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 28, 2017

    Adi Robertson

    The Sensitives is an intimate look at people allergic to modern life

    Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. We’re currently reporting from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

    Multiple chemical and electromagnetic sensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to electromagnetic fields or synthetic chemicals — is a strange and poorly understood medical condition. But it’s been explored several times in film and television, including the 1995 drama Safe, the TV series Better Call Saul, and a segment of Werner Herzog’s internet documentary Lo and Behold.

    Read Article >
  • Tasha Robinson

    Apr 28, 2017

    Tasha Robinson

    The Circle tries to make Google scary, in the blandest, most toothless way

    Image: STX Entertainment

    Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. We’re currently reporting from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

    One of the most fundamental problems with Dave Eggers’ future-thriller novel The Circle is that its protagonist, Mae Holland, is a cipher. Eggers’ book has a satirical agenda: his future society, where a Google-esque tech company attempts to eradicate privacy, is an extension of the current social media landscape, where people voluntarily document and publicize even the most mundane aspects of their lives. But its central character isn’t a person so much as a plot function, a mouthpiece who forwards Eggers’ agenda without developing a personality that would explain it.

    Read Article >
  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 27, 2017

    Adi Robertson

    Buster’s Mal Heart is three short stories with one mind-bending twist

    Tribeca Film Festival

    Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special-event releases.

    Buster’s Mal Heart, a thriller that’s being released later this month, has gotten buzz mostly for starring Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek. That’s partly because it’s an indie film directed by a relative newcomer, Sarah Adina Smith, whose feature debut was the 2014 drama The Midnight Swim. But it’s also because Buster’s Mal Heart defies easy description. The trailer suggests it’s a psychological thriller in which Malek’s character uncovers the truth about a cataclysmic event called “The Inversion.” This is mostly right, but it’s irrelevant. In fact, Buster’s Mal Heart is an interwoven, multi-genre series of stories that builds toward something very big and odd — often cleverly, but not always coherently.

    Read Article >
  • Tasha Robinson

    Apr 26, 2017

    Tasha Robinson

    In Copwatch, citizens turn cameras on the police, with harrowing results

    Image: Tribeca Film Festival

    Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. We’re currently reporting from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

    The activism documentary Copwatch begins with a discomforting montage: the death of Eric Garner in New York City, the Baltimore arrest of Freddie Gray, and the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. All three are black men who died at police hands under suspect circumstances, setting off waves of national protests and contributing to an ongoing contentious atmosphere around policing and lethal violence, especially against demonstrably unarmed black citizens. And in all three cases, the footage spread across the internet, inspiring protests.

    Read Article >
  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 26, 2017

    Adi Robertson

    The best virtual reality from the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

    Virtual reality is far from what anyone would call an established medium, but at events like this week’s Tribeca Film Festival, it’s a mainstay. Since awarding early VR journalism pioneer Nonny de la Peña a grant in 2013, the Tribeca Film Institute has developed a full-fledged interactive art section known as Tribeca Immersive, where all but one of this year’s 30 experiences involve virtual reality.

    At last year’s festival, I grouped the best work into “cinematic” and “interactive” categories — cinematic usually meaning 360-degree video or animation, and interactive meaning anything that offers some control to participants. But these catch-alls no longer seem relevant. Many creators are now working within specific genres, like live-action documentaries and experiential installations, and a lot of experiences excel in one area, but don’t lend themselves to traditional ranking.

    Read Article >
  • Tasha Robinson

    Apr 25, 2017

    Tasha Robinson

    In this lively doc about Earth’s first interstellar spacecraft, the scientists matter more than the science

    Tribeca Film Festival

    Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. We’re currently reporting from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. 

    Over the closing credits of The Farthest, an ebullient documentary about the 40-year progress of NASA’s first interstellar spacecraft, there’s an adorable moment where Voyager project manager John Casani takes director Emer Reynolds to task for referring to one of the Voyager probes as “her.” “I do not like to anthropomorphize spacecraft,” he scolds. He pauses for a beat and adds, straight-faced, “They don’t like it.” And then they both share a chuckle.

    Read Article >
  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 21, 2017

    Adi Robertson

    Arden’s Wake is a coming-of-age story set in an underwater future Manhattan

    Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special-event releases. We’re currently reporting from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

    Two-year-old virtual reality studio Penrose has developed a remarkably distinctive aesthetic in its short life. Its first two pieces, loosely adapted from The Little Prince and Hans Christian Andersen’s "The Little Match Girl," established a diorama-like visual style that made animated characters look real enough to touch, with self-contained environments that floated in mid-air.

    Read Article >