Tribeca2021: As Fest Ends, Four More Essential Films to Explore

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CHICAGO – That’s a wrap! The 2021 Tribeca Film Festival – a hybrid mix of New York City in-person events and online access – has its last day on Sunday, June 20th. It’s also the last day for Tribeca At Home, click Tribeca2021.

The 2021 Tribeca Festival was presented by AT&T, bringing artists and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, VR, gaming, music, and online work. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is a platform for creative expression and immersive entertainment. This year’s celebration of storytelling can be enjoyed virtually through the “Tribeca At Home” program. Many of the most anticipated features and short films will be made available only as part of our Tribeca Online Premieres lineup … a diverse range of dramas, comedies and documentaries.

Bernstein’s Wall
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Click the title for information … Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

”Italian Studies” – Director Adam Leon’s meditation on fame, social status and teenagers is structured through an amnesiac writer (Vanessa Kirby of “Pieces of a Woman”) who is drifting in New York City. During a black out period, she reconstructs her life in the clues through her published works, including a short story collection called “Italian Studies.” Told in dizzying close-ups, it intrigues and frustrates at the same time, but Kirby’s performance is worth watching and the supporting cast of actors playing the teens are all on point. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

”The Novice” – Awarded the Best U.S. Narrative at 2021 Tribeca, this film lives up to the honor as an intense character study of a female student/athlete named Alex Dall (Isabelle Fuhrman, who also took home Best Actress), beginning her adventure on a college-level rowing team as a “novice.” Her intensity to be the best borders on obsession, and her teammates don’t take too kindly to that, or her. The film builds a suspense around Alex, until the audience is swallowed up and practically becomes her. Writer/director Lauren Hadaway, in her feature debut, focuses on the micro level in “making the team” and on the macro level in maturating as a human being during a challenging and confusing time. Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

”Pray Away” – Most adults are familiar with “conversion” therapy (also known as the more Orwellian “restorative” therapy), in which gay men and woman (as well as trans people) are subjected to either religious or pseudo-psychology to become “straight.” Director Kristine Stolakis sensitively allows the survivors of this abusive practice to tell their stories, and although there is hopeful redemption, the pain of the process to get there is devastating. And religion, of course, leads the way by using a belief in God or Jesus as a smokescreen for what nature has intended. Not so much an exposé as a primer for pain and suffering that is totally unnecessary, if only relatives and friends could accept another’s orientation and not live in fear. Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

”Bernstein’s Wall” – A bright and cerebral biography of composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein, one of the greatest classical music masters of the 20th Century. This force of nature rose from modest and non-musical roots that began by plinking on a piano at age ten to eventually becoming assistant conductor (and celebrity) at New York’s Philharmonic at age 25. The key to his greatness was in his teaching method, engaging his audiences with stories of how classical music fits into our humanity. What is striking about “Lenny” is his empathetic intellectualism, how he wanted the world to melt its weapons into the ploughshares of music’s beautiful noise. There is a wealth of archival footage to tell his story (mostly in Bernstein’s own voice) and director Douglas Tirola makes creative use of it. One of my favorites from the festival, mostly because I love Lenny and his times of influence.

Here is a short preview of “Pray Away” …

For more information about the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival click on senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor, Film Writer

© 2021 Patrick McDonald,

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