With Tribeca 2023 kicking off today, we wanted to highlight some of the festival’s documentaries. With music, art, video games, and sexual identity taking center stage, the festival promises a unique blend of titles. Below are Tribeca 2023 documentaries that spoke to us and our team.
Bad Like Brooklyn Dance Hall – Directed by Ben DiGiacomo, Dutty Vannier
Dancehall music blew up within Jamaican communities during the 1980s and 1990s. While it began a slow climb in New York, its introduction into the cultural hot pot of the city led to a fast-rising influence. It quickly transcended the genre, weaving its way into the rise of East Coast Hip Hop as it established a fandom outside the city. Documentarians Ben DiGiacomo and Dutty Vannier explore the phenomenon. Hearing Shaggy produces and contributes to the discussion helped it shoot up our list.
Break the Game – Directed by Jane M. Wagner
The idea of speedrunning a game feels abstract to non-gamers. Yet those in the community innovate and break the code of their favorite games. With the rise of Twitch, this trend has only grown as a way to draw viewers. Few video game creators or figures have been an object of love and hate like Narcissa Wright. The Trans gamer owned world records over several of the great Zelda games. With the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Wright returns to video game streaming. At the same time, Wright begins a relationship. The combination of the two pressures opens Wright up to love and hate on Twitch, all while they seek to set new records in one of the most popular games of all time.
BS High – Directed by Martin Desmond Roe & Travon Free
When IMG Academy crushed a small school known as Bishop Sycamore, the game drew national attention. Why did the number one team in the country play in such a small school? However, it quickly unraveled that Bishop Sycamore was not a real school. With college-aged players pretending to be high schoolers and a national spotlight, the story spun out of control. Martin Desmond Roe and Travon Free investigate how amateur athletics and money has become so corrupt through the tale of BS High.
Chasing Chasing Amy – Directed By Sav Rodgers
One of the more controversial films in Kevin Smith‘s career, Chasing Amy regularly receives reevaluation. On one hand, a cis white man told a story about a man wooing a lesbian woman. On the other hand, it showcased a bisexual character at a time when it was uncommon. Director Sav Rodgers addresses all sides of the film, from its production to its criticisms. With participation from most of the talent, including Smith, Joey Lauren Adams, and Guinevere Turner, the documentary combines cultural criticism with a personal journey to surprising effect.
Enter the Clones – Directed by David Gregory
When Bruce Lee passed away in 1973, many predicted the death of the martial arts film. Yet in the immediate aftermath, a new industry was born. Loving referred to as “Bruceploitation,” a series of actors and filmmakers donned the signifiers of Lee’s storied career. Director David Gregory discusses the scene with those who made the films and those who became the Lee stand-ins.
Hideo Kojima – Connecting Worlds – Directed by Glen Milner
Widely considered one of the most significant figures in modern video games, Hideo Kojima became an icon. Metal Gear Solid and Death Stranding became iconic works because of his talent as a storyteller. Kojima helped Kojima Productions separate from the iconic Konami in 2015. In the process, he created an independent game studio. Connecting Worlds seeks to understand why Kojima shook up the game industry.
The League – Directed by Sam Pollard
Few documentarians demand attention like Sam Pollard. Earlier this year, his feature Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes made noise at SXSW. His other work, including MLK/FBI and Citizen Ashe generated significant attention for their attention to detail and stunning stories. With Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson on board as a producer, The League could be extremely special. Focused on Negro League Baseball, Pollard’s latest is a must-see for baseball fans.
A Revolution on Canvas (Untitled Nicky Nodjoumi) – Directed by Sara Nodjoumi & Till Schauder
The Iranian artist Nickzad Nodjoumi has never shied away from controversy. Nodjoumi fled his native country more than once to escape political persecution. With more than 100 pieces of art considered “treasonous” in Iran, Nodjoumi became an iconic figure in the modern art scene of New York. His daughter, Sara Nodjoumi, steps behind the camera with Till Schauder to explore her father’s legacy and political stands against the Iranian Government.
Richland – Directed by Irene Lusztig
Christopher Nolan has received considerable press for his upcoming film about the Manhattan Project. Documentarian Irene Lusztig has similar interests but does so through the Frederick Wiseman school of filmmaking. Lusztig examines the small town of Richland, Washington, which produced weapons-grade plutonium for decades. The effects of this work have shaped the town, and Richland explores the complicated relationship of this work on the community.
Rule of Two Walls – Directed by David Gutnik
The series of documentaries emerging from the War in Ukraine has already shaken up the medium. The harrowing footage relays the stakes of the conflict. Yet few docs have shown what life on the ground away from the fighting has looked like. That’s where Rule of Two Walls shifts the perspective. In a story of art and resistance, Director David Gutnik gives us a vision of the Ukrainian art scene in the heat of the conflict.