Manos Sucias courtesy of Sunshine Sachs

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, one of New York City’s most famed film festivals, begins next week.  Regrettably though, it is a bit sparse on Black/African diaspora directors save Garrett Bradley of the narrative feature film Below Dreams.  Still, there are a number with African diaspora subject or starring films worth checking out including Five Star from Brooklyn director Keith Miller whose previous effort Welcome To Pine Hill was a quietly powerful, and one executive produced by Spike Lee.  Summaries are supplied courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

I will be supplying full reviews for some of these films.

Also of note, Friday April 25th is the TFF’s ‘Film For All’ campaign that allows the public to see movies for free all day including the Nas documentary Time Is Illmatic which is highlighted below. Tix can be secured between April 14-17. Further details can be found HERE.   Also of note but not listed below is the new documentary When The Garden Was Eden from actor Michael Rapaport (Boston Public, Zebrahead) which is a look at the New York Knicks during their 1970’s basketball championships run. If you recall, Rapaport previously directed the widely popular A Tribe Called Quest documentary Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.  Only limited tickets are still available for this film.

The majority of screenings are at the Bow Tie Cinemas (the former Cleaview Chelsea) at 260 West 23rd Street at 8th Avenue and AMC Loews Village 7 at 66 3rd Avenue at 11th Street. Some shows are nearing being sold out and may only have ‘Rush’ tickets available and the entire lineup and schedule can be found at



Towing a submerged torpedo in the wake of their battered fishing boat, ‘Jacobo,’ a desperate fisherman and Delio, a naive kid, embark on a journey trafficking millions of dollars of cocaine up the Pacific coast of Colombia. While Jacobo is a seasoned trafficker, young Delio is unprepared for the grim reality. Shot entirely on location—in areas that bear the indelible scars of drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare—director Josef Kubota Wladyka establishes a sense of place with meticulous sensitivity, capturing the visceral paradox of incredible vibrancy yet devastating poverty which permeate this war-torn region. Refusing to glamorize the drug trade, Manos Sucias instead offers a rare glimpse of its devastating effects.

Executive Produced by Spike Lee.


Thursday 4/17 6:45 PM
Friday 4/18 9:45 PM
Monday 4/21 10:30 PM

North American Premiere
Length: 84 minutes
Language: Spanish
Country: USA, Colombia
Year: 2014
Cast: Cristian Advincula, Jarlin Martinez, Manuel David Riascos, Hadder Blandon

Director: Josef Wladyka
Screenwriter: Alan Blanco & Josef Wladyka
Producer: Elena Greenlee, Márcia Nunes
Cinematographer: Alan Blanco
Executive Producer: Spike Lee, Mary Regency Boies, Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen
Co-Producer: Mirlanda Torres Zapata, Carolina Caicedo




Multimedia artist One9’s documentary follows the trajectory of Nas’ 1994 landmark debut album, Illmatic, one of the most important and revolutionary albums in hip hop. Even 20 years after its release, Illmatic is widely recognized as a hip-hop benchmark that captured the sociopolitical out- look, enduring spirit and collective angst of a generation of young artists searching for their voice in America. Tracing Nas’ influences from the music of his jazz musician father, Olu Dara, to the burgeoning hip-hop scene in his native Queensbridge, Time is Illmatic describes the almost insurmount- able obstacles he faced in creating his opus, providing an authentic and passionate account of Nas’s personal journey from a young street poet to a visionary MC.



Wednesday 4/16 7:30 PM at THE BEACON THEATRE (premiere)
Friday 4/18 6:00 PM
Friday 4/25 4:00 PM

World Premiere
Length: 78 minutes
Language: English
Country: USA
Year: 2014

Director: One9
Screenwriter: Erik Parker
Producer: Erik Parker, One9, Anthony Saleh
Editor: David Zieff, One9, John Kane U$A
Associate Producer: Martha Diaz
Cinematographer: Frank Larson
Composer: B. Satz
Additional Cinematography: Ben Kutchins, Ari Issler, David Joseph




A reverie of images and sound, Below Dreams loosely follows the narratives of three very different people returning to New Orleans for the promise of a better life. But as each character experiences the city’s realities, it becomes clear that their individual hopes and dreams may no longer be possible, and that with change must also come sacrifice. Shot documentary style, but with dreamlike qualities melding fiction and reality, this is a hypnotic tribute to both the socially marginalized and to the city of New Orleans itself.

Co-presented by The Black House Foundation


Friday 4/18 6:45 PM
Saturday 4/19 3:45 PM
Sunday 4/20 7:30 PM
Wednesday 4/23 5:30 PM

World Premiere
Length: 74 minutes
Language: English
Country: USA
Year: 2014
Stars: Elliott Ehlers, Jamain Johnson, Leann Miller
Director: Garrett Bradley
Screenwriter: Garrett Bradley
Editor: Garrett Bradley
Cinematographer: Milena Pastreich, Brian C. Miller Richard
Executive Producer: Garrett Bradley



five star

After John’s absent father is struck by a stray bullet, Primo takes it upon himself to verse the young boy in the code of the streets—one founded on respect and upheld by fear. A member of the Bloods since the age of twelve—both in the film and in reality—the streets of Brooklyn are all Primo has ever known. While John questions whether or not to enter into this life, Primo must decide whether to leave it all behind as he vows to become a better husband and father.

Set during those New York summer weeks where the stifling heat seems to encase everything, Five Star plunges into gang culture with searing intensity. Director Keith Miller observes the lives of these two men with a quiet yet pointed distance, carefully eschewing worn clichés through its unflinching focus. Distinctions between fiction and real life remain intentionally ambiguous, allowing the story of these two men to resonate beyond the streets, as they face the question of what it means to be a man.


Thursday 4/17 9:00 PM
Friday 4/18 8:30 PM
Monday 4/21 8:30 PM
Saturday 4/26 2:30 PM
World Premiere
Year: 2014
Length: 83 minutes
Language: English
Country: USA
Cast: James ‘Primo’ Grant, John Diaz
Director: Keith Miller
Screenwriter: Keith Miller
Producer: Keith Miller, Daryl Freimark, Luisa Conlon
Editor: Keith Miller
Cinematographer: Ed David, Alexander Mallis
Executive Producer: Russell Miller




A months-long student strike at Mexico City’s National University throws roommates Sombra and Santos into a droll sort of limbo, whiling away the hours in their shabby apartment, pining for the girl from the pirate radio show and tricking the neighbor’s young daughter into helping them steal electricity. Their routine is interrupted by the arrival of Sombra’s teenage brother Tomás, who has been exiled from his home by their mother following an incident involving a baby and a water balloon. The trio sets out in search of Tomás’ hero, fabled folk-rock star Epigmenio Cruz, on a road trip that takes them across the sprawling megacity: through perilous slums and the rowdy student-occupied university halls to a ritzy party downtown.

Director Alonso Ruizpalacios establishes himself as a bold new voice in Mexican cinema with this energetic and imaginative feature debut, a retro- cool black-and-white portrait of Mexico City and of three restless young men searching for purpose and identity in a city of millions.


Thursday 4/17 9:00 PM
Saturday 4/19 4:00 PM
Tuesday 4/22 7:00 PM
Thursday 4/24 6:45 PM
North American Premiere
Length: 107 minutes
Language: Spanish
Country: MEXICO
Year: 2014
Cast: Tenoch Huerta, Ilse Salas, Leonardo Ortizgris, Sebastian Aguirre
Director: Alonso Ruizpalacios

Screenwriter: Alonso Ruizpalacios, Gibrán Portela
Producer: Ramiro Ruiz Ruiz-Funes
Editor: Yibran Asuad, Ana García
Cinematographer: Damian García
Executive Producer: Ramiro Ruiz, Alonso Ruizpalacios, Damian García




Junior is a precocious 9-year-old boy living in the housing projects of Caracas who wants nothing more than to straighten his head of tight curls for his yearbook photo. A desire that borders on obsession, it stirs homophobic panic in his mother, Marta, who is overtaxed from losing her husband, raising two children, and attempting to find a job. As she sharply recoils at Junior’s self-expression and abrasively acts to correct his behavior, Junior manages to find acceptance (and straight hair) in the company of his loving grandmother. From Venezuelan writer-director Mariana Rondón and featuring newcomer Samuel Lange in a beautifully standout performance, Bad Hair is a painfully tender coming-of-age drama about a boy caught in a maelstrom of identity and intolerance.

SUN 4/20 9:00 PM
TUE 4/22 12:00 PM
FRI 4/25 12:00 PM
SAT 4/26 6:45 PM

USA Premiere
Length: 93 minutes
Language: Spanish
Country: Germany, Argentina, Venezuela
Year: 2013
Cast: Samuel Lange, Samatha Castillo, Nelly Ramos, Beto Benites
Director: Mariana Rondon
Screenwriter: Mariana Rondon
Producer: Marite Ugas
Cinematographer: Micaela Cajahuaringa
Composer: Camilo Froideval
Sound Design: Lena Esquenazi




Stockton, California, is considered one of the worst cities in the United States, riddled with financial crisis and crime rates rivaling Afghanistan. Where everyone else saw hopelessness, 22-year-old Michael Tubbs saw possibility. In 2012, Tubbs ran for City Council, building his campaign from the ground up. In Kevin Gordon’s passionate and inspirational documentary he sets out to beat a politician twice his age and bring his community back from bankruptcy.

Sunday 4/20 3:30 PM
Monday 4/21 4:30 PM
World Premiere
Length: 72 minutes
Language: English
Country: USA
Year: 2014
Director: Kevin Gordon
Producer: Jhanvi Shriram, Ketaki Shriram
Editor: Laura Green, Emile Bokaer
Cinematographer: Kevin Gordon
Executive Producer: Jhanvi Shriram and Ketaki Shriram



*Work-In-Progress with a special conversation at the end with director Alex Gibney

James Brown changed the face of American music. Soul Brother Number One, as he was known, pioneered the journey from rhythm and blues to funk. With unique cooperation of the Brown estate, this is a definitive documentary biography of the James Brown story and legend.
Produced by Mick Jagger.

SCREENING and Special Conversation w/Alex Gibney
Sunday 4/27 6:00PM SVA-1

Year: 2014
Length: 130 minutes
Language: English
Country: USA

Director: Alex Gibney
Producer: Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman, Blair Foster, Peter Afterman
Editor: Maya Mumma
Associate Producer: Trevor Davidoski
Cinematographer: Maryse Alberti
Executive Producer: Alex Gibney




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