The 20th Tribeca Film Festival 2021 is in New York City June 9-20, 2021. The festival is a really fun collection of screenings, virtual reality storytelling, diversity celebrations, television, podcasts and talks.
The Tribeca Film Festival has always been about creative solutions to New York problems. If we can’t go to the festival, the festival will come to us. Tribeca is the first major U.S. film festival to screen live since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the New York Arts Revival program, it will feature safe screenings in all five boroughs including Hudson Yards, Empire Outlets and Metrotech Commons.
Tribeca Film Festival 2021 Films
The features program screens 66 films from 81 filmmakers in 23 countries. There are tons of premieres and a newfound energy promoting the work of women and filmmakers of color with a focus on Puerto Rico.
With all the COVID confusion, we missed the Festival’s press registration this year, so this story is based in part on Cinema Tropical’s Festival coverage.
The Festival opens with In The Heights, Jon M. Chu’s (Crazy Rich Asians) take on Lin-Manuel’s hit Broadway musical. The story of about life in the New York barrio of Washington Heights and how it is all changing under our feet from gentrification. The story has changed a little from the musical, but will make you very, very proud. 🇩🇴🇵🇷
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It is Mariem Pérez Riera’s documentary about the girl who rose to fame in 1961 as Anita in “West Side Story” and will star in the Steven Spielberg remake coming later this year. 🇵🇷
Perfume de Gardenias is Macha Colón’s story of an elderly woman who deals with her husband’s death by planning with other women in her community how they want to be buried and celebrated on their own deaths. 🇵🇷
On the Divide is Leah Galant and Maya Cueva’s story about three Latins whose lives intersect at the last abortion clinic on the border of McAllen, Texas. The characters may all be Latin, but true to life, they are all different. 🇲🇽
499 contemplates the legacy of Cortez through the eyes of a stranded “conquistador” traveling through contemporary Mexico. [We hate that word. They weren’t conquerors. They were godless thieves, rapists, slavers, and murderers who only succeeded through betrayal and extreme violence. All those beautiful colonial buildings in Spain and across the Americas were bought with American blood.] 🇲🇽
Stateless / Apátrida is Michèle Stephenson’s documentary on the conflict between Dominicans and Haitians on the island of Hispaniola. The DR took away the citizenship of Dominicans of Haitian descent in 2013, leaving over 200,000 people stateless.
The conflict, which continues today across the Massacre River that divides the countries, is a fight between freedom and slavery, French and Spanish speakers, Vodou and Catholicism, plantation workers and ranchers, and embracing our Blackness or denying it.
Even though most Dominicans are African descent, the dictator Trujillo (1891-1961) defined Dominican identity as European-Catholic and entirely against Haiti’s African-Vodou. The Dominican-Haitian conflict is part of his legacy. Following that man makes no sense. He was African descent too, but so ashamed of himself that he whitened his face with powder for photographs. 🇩🇴
Contactado is Mariana Rondón and Marité Ugás’ story of a self-proclaimed prophet who remembers his past when a young follower tries to get him to return to preaching. 🇲🇽
Landfall is Cecilia Aldarondo’s story of the unyielding relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, colonizer and colony, especially after Hurricane Maria (2017) put the island back in the stone age overnight with no electricity, phone, internet, gas, water, police, firefighters or government services – for 3-6 months in urban areas and two-three years in the mountains. The island is finally recovering from Maria, but thousands of Puerto Ricans still live under blue tarps. 🇵🇷
La Madrina: The [Savage] Life of Lorine Padilla is Raquel Cepeda’s look back at Padilla’s life after being the queen of a Bronx street gang, The Savage Skulls, back when The Bronx was burning. Back in the day, it was hard, but today the Bronx is beautiful. Gentrification is the problem now. 🇵🇷
My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To is Jonathan Cuartas’ horror movie about the conflicted family that kills people to keep their little brother alive. 🇨🇴
The Last Out is Sami Kahn and Michael Gassert’s story of three Cuban baseball players whose dream of playing Major League Baseball leads their lives in different directions. 🇨🇺
Through the Night is Loirla Limbal’s story of the price of the American Dream as seen through the eyes of three working mothers who rely on a 24-hour daycare center in Westchester. 24-hour daycare? In Westchester? That’s heartbreaking, but all too real.
I Carry You With Me / Te llevo conmigo is Heidi Ewing’s LGBTQ+ story about two men who meet in Mexico, but are driven by social pressure to seek new lives in New York City. 🇲🇽🏳️🌈
Cucarachita Martina’s Musical Adventure is Waldo Cabrera’s animated film based on the Raquel M. Ortiz story which is itself inspired by Pura Belpré’s (1899-1982) picture book “Pérez and Martina: A Portorican Tale” (1932). Belpré was New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian. 🇵🇷
There is a full list of films and showtimes on tribecafilm.com
A Symbol of New York’s Resilience
The Tribeca Film Festival is a symbol of New York’s resilience because the festival was originally founded to help Downtown New York recover from the 9/11 tragedy in 2001. Downtown had become a ghost town. Things were so bad that you could walk right into Nobu Tribeca without a reservation.
The festival revitalized Tribeca and turned it into a film marketing and production hub. We’ll do it again. This is Tribeca. This is New York.
See you at the Tribeca Film Festival 2021