Tribeca Festival: The Standouts For Us

Tribeca Festival: The Standouts For Us

Tribeca Festival

Lil Baby Performs during The Back Outside Tour, Dec. 12, 2021, at State Farm Arena, Atlanta. (Photo by Robb Cohen/Invision/AP)

“Action-packed” doesn’t begin to describe all the programming during the Tribeca Festival, now underway through June 19.  Let’s start with the fact that the festival is in its 21st year and back with a vengeance after the pandemic, seemingly nearly twice as robust as any other year. 

Indeed, the festival is now so broad that it seems festival organizer Robert DeNiro and his company, Tribeca Productions, have dropped the word “film,” which valiantly held the middle space between “Tribeca” and “Festival” for 20 years. And that’s not the only change. 

Just days before the formal kick-off,  The Wall Street Journal reported that the festival would replace 20-year-old title sponsors of AT&T and American Express with … OKX, the monster crypto trading desk originally out of China and now based in Seychelles since China banned all things crypto. And OKX is shouldering a mountain of activity — everything from gaming and emerging tech-driven films to comedy, live performances, talk, legendary film cast reunions and every manner of film category you can think of. 

Interestingly, this festival seems to be taking place late in the year for the brand, and it just happens to wrap up right at Juneteenth — quite fitting given that there is literally so much film content and inclusion that there is almost no way to take it all in. So let me give you the rundown right here.

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Ladies, first. There is a beautiful documentary on Rosa Parks entitled “The Rebellious Life Of Rosa Parks” that truly humanizes and provides depth to the legendary icon like few attempts before it.  Then there is “Kylie,” a compelling short about the young Black ballerina Kylie Shea and her experiences in the professional dance world. There’s also “Beauty,” a feature directed by Nigerian filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu and written by Lena Waithe that includes Niecy Nash, Giancarlo Esposito, and a killer soundtrack.

If you’re looking for politics, TF also has you covered. There’s the standout “Lowndes County and the Road to Black Powerwhich is premiering at a perfect time in our culture as midterm election energy builds and voting rights are questioned. This film examines the historical road to voting rights for Black Americans and expertly weaves archival footage with the present day to offer a strong perspective. 

Activist Al Sharpton gets his own documentary in “Loudmouth,” and civil rights attorney Ben Crump gets his in “Civil.”  And there is a very big buzz on “The Big Payback,” a film that examines the ever-present question around reparations. Erika Alexander (actress in “Living Single” and producer of “John Lewis: Good Trouble” and Tribeca Festival alum Whitney Dow co-direct this journey.

Now, for hip-hop. The D.O.C. finally gets his due and more with not only the world premiere of his self-titled documentary, “The D.O.C.” but a full special night of performance at The Beacon Theater featuring artists such as Kurupt and more. (And, of course, if you haven’t seen the sneak peek of Eminem’s commentary on his IG feed, you have definitely been on another planet). This was a hot, hot, hot ticket.

Not to be outdone, Lil Baby’s documentary, “‘Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby,” also made its world premiere at TF and snagged a streaming deal with Amazon Prime in a power move. A word here about this project: if you think you know Lil Baby, you really don’t until you see this extremely well-produced and edited documentary.  One doesn’t have to be a fan of his or even of hip-hop to find this work deeply evocative and compelling. Very, very well done. Don’t miss it.

These two films can also be viewed throughout the festival after the premiere, of course, as all others.

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Let’s talk, finally, about “Kaepernick & America,” a documentary that actually made its premiere via the online portion of the festival. Produced by CNN journalist and anchor Don Lemon and Black music veteran Bill Stephney, this documentary features no present-day, exclusive words from Kaepernick himself, and yet it’s so very, very engaging that one wishes it was a series.

It’s important to humanize icons or villains (take your pick, depending on your P.O.V.) because you get to understand how and what made that person. “Kaepernick & America” does this, not only for the subject but also for us as a country. Indeed, some of the darkest statements compiled from previous news clips are downright shameful to anyone who considers him or herself a part of the human race. In addition, what becomes a surprising standout is former professional athlete and reporter Steve Wyche and his recounting of the slow build to what became the actual kneel. The entire story is fascinating and leaves the viewer wondering just what may come next for a figure with such strong conviction and confidence. It’s a must-watch.

There is still time to buy tickets. The Tribeca Festival started June 9 and runs through June 19, 2022, and has a special “at-home” or online screening offering for many of the films.

Make your popcorn now.

Lauren DeLisa Coleman is a Digi-Cultural Trend Analyst and Producer. She’s the founder of http://lnkagency.com/ and Vapor Media, and a commentator on public sentiment and tech on MSNBC
Agency representation: Leading Authorities. Author: “America’s Most Wanted: the millennial” an Amazon, “Best: New Media Studies” pick: http://amzn.to/KmsuJ8