2018 Tribeca Film Festival bows in NYC

Now in its 17th year, the annual Tribeca Film Festival is about to shower New York City with a flood of new fiction and non-fiction films, while also showcasing the works of virtual reality artists.

Running April 18-29, the TFF features nearly 100 feature-length fiction and non-fiction features from 46 countries (all world or U.S. premieres), almost half of which are by female directors. There are also short films, TV series, sports films, interactive programming, retrospective screenings of film classics, and TV presentations.

The festival opens Wednesday evening with the world premiere of the documentary "Love, Gilda," about comedienne Gilda Radner, featuring reminiscences from her "Saturday Night Live" colleagues and those she inspired.

Other documentaries include "General Magic," the intriguing story behind a Silicon Valley startup which, in the 1990s, created the precursor of the smartphone, which bombed; and "The Feeling of Being Watched," in which a young Muslim journalist investigates the history of FBI surveillance of her suburban Chicago neighborhood pre-dating 9/11. 

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A Muslim-majority neighborhood is under FBI surveillance in "The Feeling of Being Watched." Cinetic Media

Also: "Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable," about the young surfer who lost an arm to a tiger shark in the waters off Hawaii, and who, 13 years later, is still competing in surfing competitions; and "Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes," about the revolutionary jazz label.

"House Two" is an examination of the murder of Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha. Literal cultural appropriation is the topic of "The Man Who Stole Banksy." "The Fourth Estate" offers a behind-the-scenes look at The New York Times. 

There are also biographies of playwright Terrence McNally ("Every Act of Life"), fashion editor André Leon Talley ("The Gospel According to André"), composers Howard Ashman ("Howard") and Ryuichi Sakamoto ("Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda"), and fashion designers Alexander McQueen ("McQueen") and Guo Pei ("Yellow Is Forbidden").

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Jeffrey Wright in "O.G." Tribeca Film Festival

Narrative features include "O.G.," starring Jeffrey Wright as an inmate preparing for release after serving 24 years behind bars, which was filmed in a maximum-security prison. "Disobedience," from Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio (director of this year's Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film, "A Fantastic Woman"), stars Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, each navigating the strictures of an Orthodox Jewish community in North London.  Michael Mayer's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull" stars Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss and Corey Stoll.

A married woman and a man meet while hiking the Appalachian Trail in "Maine," while a young Scottish woman finds herself at a crossroads in her life in "The Party's Just Beginning." Charlize Theron plays an at-the-end-of-her-rope mother whose hiring of a young nanny changes her life in Jason Reitman's "Tully." And in the true-crime tale "Stockholm," a bank robber takes a group of tellers hostage, who in turn defend him from authorities.

"All About Nina" stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an aspiring standup comic. "Blue Night" stars Sarah Jessica Parker as a jazz singer facing a life-changing crisis. Matt Smith (the 11th "Doctor Who") stars as Robert Mapplethorpe in a biopic of the controversial photographer ("Mapplethorpe"). "Mary Shelley" stars Elle Fanning as the writer who gave the world "Frankenstein."

And what would a festival be without a zombie film?  Take your pick: "Cargo," set among the living dead in the Australian outback, or "The Night Eats the World," in a post-apocalyptic Paris.

The festival also celebrates the anniversaries of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" and Brian De Palma's "Scarface," starring Al Pacino ("Say hello to my little friend!"). Alexandre Rockwell's 1992 comedy "In the Soup," starring Steve Buscemi and Seymour Cassel, is being presented after a restoration of the nearly-destroyed film.

Talks include conversations between Bradley Cooper and festival co-founder Robert De Niro (April 21), and Alec Baldwin and Spike Lee (April 24). Filmmakers Alexander Payne and Nancy Meyers, documentary legend Sheila Nevins, and actors Claire Danes, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jamie Foxx will also be interviewed.

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The Tribeca Virtual Arcade. Tribeca Film Festival

And on April 23 Patti Smith and her band will perform following a screening of the concert film "Horses."

There are also master classes in writing, music, sound design and other cinematic crafts, and the Tribeca Immersive sidebar features virtual reality works.

Screenings will be held at the Cinepolis Chelsea and Regal Cinemas Battery Park Stadium, as well as the Beacon Theatre, School of Visual Arts Theatre, the Tribeca Film Center, and the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Single tickets and various ticket packages are available online, or call toll free (866) 941-FEST (or 3378). Rush tickets may be available for select screenings.

For more information and screening locations visit tribecafilm.com/festival.

Get the free festival app for Android and iPhone.

And if you can't make it to Manhattan in the next two weeks, there is always the festival's section for online work -- Tribeca N.O.W. -- which you can watch from home or on the go.