Spring in New York City means many things: warm weather, blooming flowers, and, of course, the Tribeca Film Festival. TFF has been a city institution since 2002, and it’s become an increasingly prominent showcase for independent horror, fantasy, and sci-fi cinema, as well as a haven for emerging technology. This year sees Tribeca’s second annual Vine film competition as well as a number of interactive installations. Herewith, a gay geek’s guide to the festival, running April 16-27 in lower Manhattan…
Tribeca’s “Midnight” category, which last year included the critically lauded Big Bad Wolves, is packed with variety this month. Horror offerings include the dark Irish The Canal, a ghost story in which hunky Rupert Evans’ mind begins to unravel after he uncovers his home’s sordid history; Extraterrestrial, a cabin in the woods/alien romp from Grave Encounters’ creators The Vicious Brothers; Der Samurai, a German action mash-up with a queer subplot; and the comic, much talked about Zombeavers, which is about exactly what you think it is. “Totally Twisted,” one of several short film programs at Tribeca, is said to be “designed especially for our late-night loving audience” and boasts entries like The Body, a Halloween set thriller, and the homoerotic sounding Trust Me, I’m a Lifeguard. There’s also the sports flick parody Intramural, which looks to be both wonderfully dumb and appealingly cast with hot guys.
What’s Up with Docs
The documentary offerings this year include a number of titles that should appeal to gays, notably A Brony Tale, which looks to bring the My Little Pony fan boy subculture whinnying out of the stable and into the spotlight. There’s also Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank, produced by alleged homophobe Alec Baldwin (so maybe his pals in the press should finally give him a break). On the strictly nerdy side, Beyond the Brick has the distinction of being this year’s second (but hopefully still “Awesome”)Lego movie; The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin examines the controversial e-currency; Amanda F***ing Palmer On the Rocks (screening in the “Before Long” short films program) takes an intimate look at the cult singer and Neil Gaiman paramour; and Super Duper Alice Cooper gives the Goth rock icon his due.
We’re Not Worthy
Geek icons (and notables) abound in various films this year. Jean Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, stars as a professor alongside Watchmen’s Carla Gugino in Match; Sigourney Weaver, feted with an art reception by Geeks Out in 2012, narrates the animated short My Depression; and Sarah Connor Chronicles hunk Kyle Gallner joins an ensemble including Sean William Scott, Olivia Thirlby, and Garrett Dilahhunt(*****) in director Courteney Cox’s Just Before I Go. Perennially polarizing, ambisexual cult actor James Franco costars in the adaptation of his teen novel Palo Alto, in which he plays a coach putting the moves on American Horror Story’s Emma Roberts—which just might explain his whole texting-an-underage-girl scandal.
The Lavender Screen
While this year’s slate isn’t as queer heavy as past years’, it does boast a number of interesting LGBT titles. Acclaimed director Ira Sachs, whose Keep the Lights On was one of the most talked about gay films in recent memory, directs John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a married couple in Love Is Strange, co-starring Broadway heartthrob Cheyenne Jackson. That’s right: Dick Solomon from Third Rock from the Sun is totally sleeping with Doctor Octopus. Foreign entry Pelo Malo (“Bad Hair”) is a slice of life story about a young gay boy whose mom can’t handle his fixation on straightening his hair—or his crush on the hunky newsstand clerk next door. Ireland’s The Bachelor Weekend will inevitably draw comparisons to The Hangover, but it’s sweeter and more emotionally involving—and includes an older-younger gay couple in the ensemble. Come for the comedic interplay; stay for the guys in loin cloths. On a more serious note, Mala Mala documents the lives and struggles of transgender women living in Puerto Rico.
The Future Is Now
The Tribeca Film Festival has been particularly ambitious when it comes to embracing emerging technologies. In addition to the Vine competition, there’s Innovation Week, featuring talks with Heisenberg himself, Bryan Cranston, among other notables; a Games For Change program featuring a free outdoor arcade on April 26; and interactive installations at the Bombay Sapphire House of Imagination, including the Choose Your Own Adventure homage Choose Your Own Documentary and the extremely nerdy sounding “non-linear documentary assembled from code” Clouds.
Whether you’re looking for thrills and chills or in search of more serious fare, Tribeca Film Festival’s 2014 slate probably has something worth your while—and you’ll get to see it before it hits Netflix. Check back with Geeks Out as the festival progresses for reviews and interviews, and follow me on Twitter @JustinLockwood2 for up to the minute news.