Babygirl, directed and written by Macdara Vallely. (Ireland, USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. For as long as she can remember, Bronx teenager Lena has watched her mom Lucy squander her life on a series of deadbeat men. When Victor, her mom’s latest boy toy, starts hitting on Lena, she sets up a trap to expose Victor for the creep he is… but the plan backfires. Macdara Vallely crafts a heartfelt drama about the emotional highs and lows in the moment between childhood and adulthood.
Benji, directed by Coodie and Chike. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In 1984, 17-year-old Ben Wilson was a symbol of everything promising about Chicago: a sweet-natured youngster from the city’s fabled South Side, and America’s top high school basketball prospect. His senseless murder on the day before his senior season devastated the city of Chicago and sent ripples of anguish nationwide. A stirring portrait of a phenom admired both on the court and off, Benji tells the story of a legend who might’ve been.
Burn, directed by Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Detroit is burning. Meet the men and women charged with saving the once-roaring American city that many have written off as dead. With vast stretches of forsaken buildings left as kindling, they face one of the worst arson rates in the world. From executive producer Denis Leary, Burn drives us straight into the heart-pounding fire and introduces us to the characters and controversies that make up the most overworked and underequipped firehouse in the country.
Caroline and Jackie, directed and written by Adam Christian Clark. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. When Caroline throws a surprise birthday party for her sister Jackie, what starts as an evening with friends devolves into a night that will change everything, as their bond is tested by the emotional mayhem only sisters can wring. Injecting his dinner-party-gone-wrong story with genuine tension, first-time filmmaker Adam Christian Clark strips away the layers of Caroline and Jackie’s fraught relationship right up until the film’s raw and moving conclusion.
Certain People (Katinkas Kalas), directed by Levan Akin, written by Lisa Östberg. (Sweden) – World Premiere, Narrative. A small group of friends—upper-class, art world bohemians in their thirties—gather at Katinka’s summer house to celebrate her birthday. Suddenly during dinner, Katinka’s brother arrives with Linda, a blonde game show hostess whose brusque and liberated manners are entertaining and fresh… at first. During the course of the evening Linda stretches the group’s invisible social rules of hospitality. Contempt starts to grow, and hidden prejudices flare up. In Swedish with subtitles.
Consuming Spirits, directed and written by Chris Sullivan. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Nearly 15 years in the making, Chris Sullivan’s Consuming Spirits is a meticulously constructed tour de force of experimental animation. Shooting frame by frame in 16mm, Sullivan seamlessly blends together a range of techniques into a distinct, signature visual style. In the process, he constructs a hypnotic, layered narrative, a suspenseful gothic tale that tracks the intertwined lives of three kindred spirits working at a local newspaper in a Midwestern rust belt town.
Cut, directed by Amir Naderi, written by Amir Naderi and Abou Farman. (Japan) – U.S. premiere, Narrative. Award-winning Iranian filmmaker and TFF alum (Vegas: Based on a True Story) Amir Naderi travels to Tokyo to tell this striking, fiercely unconventional tale of a struggling young filmmaker, Shuji. Desperate to create great cinema, Shuji obtains financing for a few utterly forgettable pictures from his brother—who got the money from the mob. Now Shuji must repay his debts and test his love of the movies by working as a human punching bag for yakuza thugs. In Japanese with subtitles.
Death of a Superhero, directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, written by Anthony McCarten. (Ireland, Germany) – U.S. premiere, Narrative. Donald is a teenager with extraordinary talents, wild daydreams, and a bright future as an artist of fantastical graphic novels. But when Donald discovers that a very real enemy is trying to kill him, an unorthodox psychologist tries to help him find the light in an otherwise dark world. Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Andy Serkis star in this exceptionally honest drama about discovering life, love, and death. A Tribeca Film release.
El Gusto, directed and written by Safinez Bousbia. (Algeria, Ireland, UAE) – North American Premiere, Documentary. A rhythmic cocktail of European and Arabic traditions, chaabi music was the heart and soul of cosmopolitan Algiers in the 1940s, but the war of independence with France tore apart the peaceful Muslim and Jewish communities that came together to play this unique music. A group of over-the-hill but still fiery musicians reunites after five decades apart in this spirited, gorgeously shot documentary about music’s power to transcend cultural boundaries. In French, Arabic with subtitles.
Fairhaven, directed and written by Tom O’Brien. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Jon is well past his glory days on the football field and searching for meaning in the small town of Fairhaven. When his friend Dave comes home for his father’s funeral, the limits of friendship are tested as the past is uncovered. This thoughtful meditation on love, loss, and minor triumphs reminds us that sometimes the most important things in life are the little moments we cherish forever.
The Fourth Dimension, directed by Harmony Korine, Alexey Fedorchenko, and Jan Kwiecinski, written by Harmony Korine, Alexey Fedorchenko, Jan Kwiecinski, Oleg Loevsky, and Yaroslava Pulinovich. (USA, Poland, Russia) – World Premiere, Narrative. A motivational speaker named Val Kilmer (played by Val Kilmer) delivers a sermon at a roller rink. A Russian scientist builds a time machine in his apartment. Four friends stumble upon an abandoned village in the Polish countryside. All are in search of the fourth dimension—whether they know it or not. Weird, ominous, cool, compelling: These three short films could only be inspired by the creative vision of Harmony Korine and Vice Media’s Eddy Moretti. In English, Polish, Russian with subtitles.
Francophrenia (or: Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is), directed by Ian Olds and James Franco, written by Ian Olds and Paul Felten. (USA) – North American Premiere, Narrative. James Franco stunned the film world when he committed to a regular gig on General Hospital, but the Oscar®-nominated actor had a clever trick up his sleeve. While shooting a key GH episode, Franco brought along a film crew. TFF award winner Ian Olds (Fixer, 2009) then repurposed Franco’s behind-the-scenes footage into an experimental psychological thriller set amid the spectacle of a celebrity’s escalating paranoia, creating a mind-bending exploration of identity.
Journey to Planet X, directed by Josh Koury and Myles Kane. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. By day Eric Swain and Troy Bernier are a couple of mild-mannered, middle-aged desk jockeys from Florida, but their wildest dreams come to life after hours when they get together to make fantastical sci-fi movies with the help of a green screen, amateur actors, and retro-futuristic computer graphics. As they embark on their most ambitious production yet, this hip and heartwarming documentary shows how boundless imagination can hilariously stretch the limits of DIY moviemaking.
On The Mat, directed and written by Fredric Golding. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Achieving greatness in high school wrestling requires a level of devotion unmatched perhaps by any other sport. That greatness has become a yearly expectation at Lake Stevens High, winner of seven Washington state championships in the past 10 years. Narrated by Lake Stevens wrestling alum Chris Pratt (Moneyball), this riveting documentary follows the team over the course of a season as they fight through injuries and academic issues to maintain their school’s legacy.
Resolution, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, written by Justin Benson. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Michael is committed to getting his best friend Chris to sober up and put his life back on track. But what begins as an attempt to save his friend’s life quickly takes an unexpected turn as the two friends confront personal demons, the consequences of past actions, and forces beyond their control. Expertly balancing dark humor, heart, and thrills, Resolution is an utterly unique cinematic experience that defies genre classification.
Room 514, directed and written by Sharon Bar-Ziv. (Israel) – North American Premiere, Narrative. When a young, idealistic military investigator confronts an elite soldier with accusations of unnecessary violence against a Palestinian man in the Occupied Territories, her quest for justice ends up having far-reaching consequences. Director Sharon Bar-Ziv’s feature debut is a gritty minimalist drama that provides a raw, direct look at the psyche of contemporary Israeli culture as shaped by the effects of the ongoing conflict. In Hebrew, Russian with subtitles.
Rubberneck, directed by Alex Karpovsky, written by Alex Karpovsky and Garth Donovan. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Months after a one-night-stand-gone-nowhere with a sexy coworker, sad-sack Boston scientist Paul still finds himself increasingly consumed with obsessive thoughts toward his uninterested colleague. As his impulses become increasingly irresistible, and the repercussions of his actions snowball, the tension mounts. Indie stalwart Alex Karpovsky directs this slow-burn psychosexual character study.
Sexy Baby, directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In the age of runaway social media and “sexting,” raunchy rap songs on pop radio and hardcore pornography at the click of a mouse—what’s it like to be a woman? A girl? A teenage boy? A parent? Following a middle-aged former porn star, a young woman undergoing a controversial surgery, and a 12-year-old girl who’s growing up faster than her parents can handle, Sexy Baby is a startling look at America’s increasingly sex-saturated culture.
Stones in the Sun (Woch nan Soley), directed and written by P. Benoit. (USA, Haiti) – World Premiere, Narrative. In the 1980s, in the midst of increasing political violence, a young couple, two sisters, and a father and son are driven from Haiti to New York, where they must confront the truths of their interlocked pasts. In her impassioned, penetrating feature film debut, Haitian director P. Benoit steers clear of clichés about immigrants and refugees, authentically tapping into the reality of the unique Haitian-American experience. In English, Haitian Creole with subtitles.
Supporting Characters, directed by Daniel Schechter, written by Tarik Lowe and Daniel Schechter. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. In this funny and authentic take on modern relationships, best friends Darryl (Tarik Lowe) and Nick (Alex Karpovsky) are a film editing duo hired to rework a movie in crisis, only to find themselves increasingly consumed with reworking their own personal lives. While Nick begins to question his stable relationship after receiving attentions from the film’s flirtatious starlet, Darryl finds himself falling hard for tempestuous dancer Liana (Melonie Diaz).
Town of Runners, directed by Jerry Rothwell. (UK) – World Premiere, Documentary. Over the past two decades the small, rural Ethiopian town of Bekoji has been the unlikely home to numerous Olympic champion long-distance runners, whose athletic success has paved the way for a generation of young Ethiopians searching for a better future. With a keen artistic eye, TFF award winner Jerry Rothwell (Donor Unknown) follows two teenage track hopefuls who face the challenge of growing up and striving for greatness in a developing nation. In Amharic, Oromo with subtitles.
Turn Off the Lights, directed by Ivana Mladenovic, written by Ivana Mladenovic and Bianca Oana. (Romania) – World Premiere, Documentary. After years behind bars, three young men begin to rediscover lives of aggression and excess in their raucous Roma community. Among them is Alex, a captivating figure with a disturbingly blasé attitude toward violence, women, and guilt. In this absorbing documentary, offering a rare peek into contemporary Roma culture, Alex and his fellow ex-cons reconcile the outside world with the gray-shaded areas of morality with which they all struggle. In Romanian with subtitles.