Now in its 10th year, legendary actor Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival is once again on the horizon and this year, the fest is cooking up more innovative programming and side projects then ever before. Sundance might be the end all be all of independent film, but the downtown Manhattan staple is creeping right up alongside it -- and they have the support to prove it.
This year's judges include Michael Cera, Whoopi Goldberg, David O. Russell, Jason Sudeikis, Nora Ephron, Anna Kendrick and more. Tribeca means business!
Along with a film line-up of star-filled indies, eclectic world cinema and a few intriguing unknowns hoping to generate buzz, the fest is also introducing a new on-demand system that will allow many of the films at the festival to be viewed by you in the comfort of your own home.
So what can you expect emerging from the festival? Here are nine films we're anxious to catch this year:
The trailer for "Last Night" made the rounds in March and now the movie finally will play before audiences, first at Tribeca, then on VOD April 20 and finally in theaters on May 6. In the film, Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington play a married couple whose relationship is strained by a business trip that separates the two for one fateful night. Knightley crosses paths with a handsome, former flame, while Worthington is off on business with a particularly sexy, seductive co-worker (Eva Mendes). The plot is simple, but with a cast like that, it could amount to emotionally satisfying portrait of modern-day couples.
Like "Erin Brokovich" for the health care world, "Puncture" stars Chris Evans and co-drirector Mark Kassen as two small-time lawyers taking on a pharmaceutical bigwigs and their equally menacing lawyers and finding themselves in over their heads. You won't find any superhero getup here -- this true-life film looks barebones and should give Evans a chance to remind people there's more to his acting style then six-packs and sucker punches. Unless his lawyer character ends up punching other attorneys... but we doubt it.
'A Good Old Fashioned Orgy'
Tribeca has its fair share of prestige, but it also has...good old fashioned orgies. Directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, formers writers for "The Late Show with David Letterman," "The Larry Sanders Show" and "King of the Hill," make their directing debut on "Orgy," a comedy about a party animal who refuses to settle. "SNL" star Jason Sudeikis stars as Eric, a thirtysomething whose never grown out of the raging party phase. When his dad aims to sell their beach house, Eric recruits his friends for one last hurrah -- and if the title is any indication, it should be one dirty romp. The cast also includes Tyler Labine, Leslie Bibb, Lake Bell, Lucy Punch, and Will Forte, talent that makes "Orgy" sound on par with recent Apatow, R-Rated comedies.
'Jesus Henry Christ'
Quirky family comedies are a dime a dozen, but "Jesus Henry Christ" ropes us in with the inclusion of two of the finest working actors today: Michael Sheen and Toni Collette. The pair of characters turn simple parts into complicated, engaging performances and the promise of them together, working their magic, is irresistible. The logline doesn't hurt either: two single parents, one the mother of a boy genius, the other under backlash from his daughter for his book "Born Gay or Made that Way?," cross paths at the local university. We aren't sure what mess the foursome finds themselves in, but with Sheen and Collette in the front seats, we'll happily sit back and watch.
Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová starred in the acoustic rock-infused indie "Once" in 2006, winning an Oscar for their duet "Falling Slowly." The fame catapulted them into the spotlight and the duo immediately embarked on a two-year tour -- a decision that may have cost them their real-life romantic relationship. The documentary "Swell Season," shot in stark black & white, chronicles Hansard and Irglová as they travel the country, playing their memorable songs, while coping with the stress and heartbreak accompanying them. "Once" was one of the more heartfelt films of the past decade -- "Swell Seaon" may be one of the more heartbreaking.
'The Good Doctor'
We haven't seen much of Orlando Bloom since the "Pirates" trilogy concluded in 2007, but where do you go after you star in an high-seas action adventure that grosses a billion dollars world wide? To the indie circuit, of course.
In "The Good Doctor," Bloom plays against type as Dr. Martin Blake, a lowly medical resident who falls for his new patient, a teenager with kidney infection. Knowing he'll lose her forever if she leaves the hospital, Blake takes less-than-admirable steps to keep the girl in his care. As his fellow co-workers begin to unravel his plan, Blake finds himself in a seriously sticky situation. "The Good Doctor" sounds like an intense psychological thriller and we're anxious to see if Bloom can pull it off.
'Beyond the Black Rainbow'
If Duncan Jones' "Moon" had a baby with the "Saw" movies, the result might be a little like "Beyond the Black Rainbow." A creepy throwback to vintage sci-fi/horror, "Black Rainbow" tells the tale of a young woman trapped in a laboratory in a futuristic 1983. The movie's experimental tone, trippy synthesizer score and faded color palette remove the movie from any familiar location or time period, creating an unsettling environment for the bizarre events to unfold. "Whoa" never seemed more appropriate.
Peter Mullen has experience with unveiling the horrifying truths that exist in this world (his previous film "The Magdalene Sisters" was the story of "disgraced" women placed in Irish, Catholic-run asylums) and his latest film, "NEDS," appears to put the same fascinating stories on screen. Set in 1970s Glasgow, the film follows John, a bright boy from a broken family, who finds difficulty in transitioning into school. His father is violent, his mother repressed and school isn't much safer with many children in the same position, bullying and beating each other. The trailer looks intense and Conor McCarron, the young actor playing John, looks gripping as he downward spirals into a world of violence. "NEDS" will play at Tribeca and on VOD on April 20 and in limited theaters May 13.
'Everything Must Go'
Will Ferrell is the master of loud-mouthed, man-child comedy, but he has a sensitive side too. He dabbled in dramatics in 2005's "Winter Passing" and 2006's "Stranger Than Fiction," but it's the Tribeca-bound "Everything Must Go" that looks to have the most potential for Ferrell to really shine in drama (OK, dramedy). The trailer
sees Ferrell's character losing his job, house and wife all in the same day, forcing him to live on his lawn until things turn around. A unique premise and strong supporting cast (Rebecca Hall, Lauren Dern, Michael Pena, Glen Howerton of "Always Sunny" and Notorious B.I.G.'s son Christopher Jordan Wallace) give Ferrell plenty to play with, and hopefully, a bit of an emotional backing for his foray into heavier issues. Smell of Oscars?