Live from New York it's the Tribeca Film Festival, which is now old enough to be bar mitzvahed and opens Wednesday night with a documentary salute to "Saturday Night Live" ("Live From New York!"), closes with a salute to the most New York of gangster movies ("Goodfellas"), but will mostly be a festival without borders, bringing foreign film, blockbusters and docs to neighborhoods throughout Manhattan.
The festival, whose original mission was about resuscitating business in downtown Manhattan post-9/11, will be occupying its original turf in a way it hasn't in years. (The Regal Battery Park multiplex, newly reoccupied, will host dozens of screenings.) TFF is also presenting more feature-length films (124 total) than it has since its infancy. At the same time, it'll still be holding events all over town, including some live events at the uptown Beacon Theatre that will include Mary J. Blige performing alongside her new "London Sessions" documentary; a dance-film mashup of "A Ballerina's Tale" about the American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland (along with a performance by her proteges); and a celebration of "Sinatra at 100" with a screening of "On the Town" and appearances by Tony Bennett, Brandon Flowers, Savion Glover and others.
Despite various sites devoted to interactive storytelling, gaming and the festival's DEF CON village (an offshoot of the annual hacker conference), film still seems to be the primary preoccupation, and that film will carry its usual international flavor (38 countries are represented, with strong presence by the United Kingdom, France and Germany).
At the same time, New York is all over the menu. Ex-Yankees Goose Gossage and Derek Jeter are among the cast of "Fastball," a baseball junkie's dream documentary about power pitching in the major leagues, which will be a highlight of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival (also included, the documentary "Palio," about the world's oldest horserace). Felix Thompson, one of the 41 first-time filmmakers in the festival (14 women, 27 men) sets his coming-of-age story "King Jack" in upstate New York. "Indian Point," Ivy Meeropol's rigorously balanced but nonetheless disturbing doc on the eponymous nuclear plant, will bring back memories of Shoreham. And "Very Semi-Serious," about the New Yorker magazine's celebrated cartoons, will be among the Tribeca Talks series when director Leah Wolchok chats with New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. Other T-Talks include Brett Morgen and Courtney Love on Morgen's doc, "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck," and the "director's series" -- Christopher Nolan interviewed by Bennett Miller, George Lucas interviewed by Stephen Colbert, Cary Fukunaga interviewed by James Schamus, and Brad Bird interviewed by Janeane Garofalo.
It wouldn't seem like the Tribeca Film Festival without James Franco, who produced and stars in "The Adderall Diaries," director Pamela Romanowsky's adaptation of Stephen Elliott's true-crime memoir about a once-successful novelist suffering from writer's block and addiction. The ultraviolent British drama "Hyena," set among outrageously corrupt London cops, is exactly the kind of edgy, auteurish fare festivalgoers look for at Tribeca. Among the world premieres, Amy Kohn's "A Courtship" examines arranged marriages among fundamentalist Christians. For those in search of a jolt, "Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle" is Nick Berardini's nonfiction story of the brothers who first marketed the Taser. And just as troubling as "Indian Point," perhaps, will be Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi's "Among the Believers," about a Pakistani cleric whose schools are training thousands of children for jihad.
In addition to the 25th-anniversary "Goodfellas" presentation, TFF is devoting special screenings to the 30th anniversary of "Clue," the 40th anniversary of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and the 60th anniversary of "Lady and the Tramp."
Tribeca Film Festival
WHEN| WHERE Wednesday-April 26 at various Manhattan venues
TICKETING BY PHONE Local: 646-502-5296. Toll-free: 866-941-3378
ONLINE TICKETING tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets