The Tribeca Film Festival began in the shadow of September 11 in 2002. This year, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff celebrated its 20th year with a mix of in-person and virtual screenings. Throughout the 12-day affair, it represented a hopeful awakening from a city that a year ago was still locked up and overrun with the coronavirus.
In the heights, an adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway play, served as the opening, a fitting nod to the theater industry, which was particularly hard hit by the restrictions and forced to shut down entirely, and is now gearing up for a fall 2021 return. (Sadly, a well-deserved reaction regarding the lack of Afro-Latinx representation in In the heights cooled the mood around that film.) And before the festival ended on Sunday, Radio City Music Hall opened for the first time since COVID began for the documentary’s premiere Dave Chappelle: This time, this place. Rappers like Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, De La Soul, Ghostface Killah and Fat Joe took to the stage alongside the comedian, turning the affair into a celebration.
Between images from the comedy that Chappelle hosted in a cornfield in Yellow Springs, Ohio, at the height of the pandemic, the film explores the effect of the past year – including COVID-19 and Black’s protests. Lives Matter – over the city. The fact that Yellow Springs is the chosen home of a somewhat lonely but ultra-famous comedy legend is, of course, what makes the film interesting, but the documentary (directed by Chappelle’s neighbors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar ) also serves as an important exploration of the small town in the United States.
Once the festivities are over, all 66 feature films will slowly be released to the general public in the coming months, and Chappelle’s documentary is just one of a few that design enthusiasts may find intriguing. Reflection: A walk with water, directed by Emmett Brennan and a major exploration of the constructed world, follows a group of people walking along the Los Angeles aqueduct. During interviews, various environmentalists discuss what needs to be changed in our cities in order to preserve one of our most precious resources and avoid disasters.
Less disturbing but no less interesting is Wolfgang, a look at the life and career of a man widely regarded as the first celebrity chef. It’s a staple for foodies, but a big talking point in the film is how Wolfgang Puck’s West Hollywood restaurant Spago, which he opened in 1982, changed the restaurant industry with a innovation in design: the open kitchen.
As Reflection: a walk with water, the film Neutral ground looks at one of the great challenges of our time. Directed and written by CJ Hunt, the documentary is set in New Orleans and humorously documents the tense conversation surrounding the removal of Confederate statues. This was part of this year’s new Juneteenth lineup at Tribeca, which also included 10 short films from BIPOC filmmakers hosted in partnership with Lena Waithe and films about Rick James, Alvin Ailey, Harry Belafonte, and more.
Last but not least, anyone who loves a juicy art flight should not miss out The last Leonardo, a documentary which is not in fact about a crime but which could just as well be. It tells the story of Salvator Mundi, a painting that some believe – but some passionately deny – is by Leonardo da Vinci. Whether it is or not, it still reached $ 450.3 million at auction in 2017, making it the most expensive painting ever sold and a shining example of when art is becoming so much more than simple pretty pictures.