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Leave Your Apartment

Hell Gate Wants You to Watch These NYC Films at Tribeca

We love a movie about New York!

(Courtesy of “Emergent City”)

The Tribeca Festival tends to have one of the more voluminous slates in the film festival world, so it can be hard to know what you actually want to see. Since we here at Hell Gate have signed up for our press passes, we have marveled at the unrelenting deluge of emails: How can one festival feature so many feature films? 

But we at Hell Gate also love a movie about New York. (If you missed our screening of "Variety" at the Rockaway Film Festival last weekend, you missed out.) So, for this edition of Leave Your Apartment, we decided to curate a list of the most promising (to us) New York-centric films at this year's Tribeca (which is also for some reason an 80th birthday party for festival cofounder Robert De Niro). We're going in sight unseen, but here's what looks promising to us in this year's Tribeca lineup. 

"It Was All A Dream

(Showtimes: June 9 at 8 p.m at SVA Theater, June 10 at 9:15 p.m. and June 15 at 2:30 p.m. at Village East by Angelika)

In the 1990s, a group of writers reinvented music journalism in the pages of magazines like The Source, VIBE, Rap Pages, and XXL. Chief among them was dream hampton, who wielded a serene writing voice and an analytical clarity that seemed to arrive from decades ahead. "It Was All A Dream," what hampton calls her "visual memoir" of the period, is compiled from footage from her own archive. She was living and working among the era's brightest stars (Biggie, Method Man, Snoop Dogg), to whom she had unparalleled access. I'm excited to check that out—I'm hoping to that it will be something experimental and searing. Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be instructive.

You can watch the trailer here.

Adlan Jackson

"They're Here"

(Showtimes: June 8 at 2 p.m., June 11 at 8:15 p.m., and June 15 at 5:45 p.m. at Village East by Angelika)

I dove into a really gratifying "X Files" rewatch with my boyfriend earlier this year, and I have UFOs, aliens, and high strangeness at the top of mind right now, so I was psyched to see this movie on the slate. (To be honest, this kind of weird shit is never too far from the surface for me.) I also tend to love a documentary that's like, look at these people and the niche obsession that rules their lives and the way it brings them together but isolates them from the general population. Based on the official description of the movie, it sounds like the subjects were given pretty free rein to tell their stories of close encounters here, which is key to making this kind of movie work—I'm really, really hoping for "A Strange Harvest" vibes from this one. Let us hear the testimony! I want to believe!

—Katie Way

"Budd, Sweat & Tearz"

(Showtimes: June 9 at 5:30 p.m., June 12 at 5:15 p.m., June 15 at 5:15 p.m., and June 16 at 12:15 p.m. at AMC 19th Street. East 6)

As someone who's covered (and consumed) legal weed in New York City, I'm definitely curious to see the rollout through the eyes of the other—namely, the British documentarians who followed cannabis entrepreneur Craig Sweat, who spent more than 20 years in prison on drug-related charges and then went on to found New York's first legal, Black-owned cannabis business, Uncle Budd NYC. I'm a big fan of experimental documentaries and find they often work better in an abridged form, so I love the 22-minute runtime here for what is likely to be a pretty sad and fucked up story, albeit with moments of levity, given the state of cannabis equity in New York. 

—Katie Way

"I'm Your Venus"

(Showtimes: June 7 at 8:45 p.m. at AMC 19th St. East 6 and June 15 at 9 p.m. at Village East by Angelika)

"I would like to be a spoiled, rich, white girl," Venus Xtravaganza says toward the beginning of  1990's "Paris Is Burning," the seminal Jennie Livingston documentary on New York City's ball culture. She explained her desire: "They get what they want, whenever they want it." That mix of cheeky wit and vulnerability, not to mention her easy glamour, made her a magnetic presence in the film and an inspiration to a whole generation of trans kids, but Venus didn't live to experience the renown that the documentary would have surely brought her—in the final minutes of "Paris Is Burning," we abruptly find out that Venus was found strangled under a hotel room bed on Christmas Day in 1988. Who killed her still, to this day, remains unknown. 

Her death goes largely unaddressed, which feels like a great disservice, if not an injustice. So I'm especially curious to see "I'm Your Venus," an attempt to give Venus's life and death the time and consideration that "Paris Is Burning" did not (and perhaps could not). Directed by Kimberly Reed, most known for "Dark Money" and the great "Prodigal Sons," the documentary follows both members of the House of Xtravaganza as well as her biological family as they celebrate Venus's life and attempt to find some answers about her murder. But the real pleasure of the film, I suspect, will be once again seeing Venus on the big screen.

—Esther Wang

"Emergent City"

(Showtimes: June 11 at 8:30 p.m., June 12 at 8:45 p.m., and June 13 at 3:15 p.m. at Village East by Angelika)

What the hell is "Industry City"? Growing up in New York City, I’d never heard of this place, and then, sometime during the de Blasio administration, it revealed itself as another one of these new places on the map, spun out of the aspirations of the Economic Development Corporation, another one of their attempts at New York's new newest neighborhood. 

Of course, the area now called "Industry City" was always there, it just hadn't been kitted out with the EDC's patented food court/tax abatement combination of development. It was part of Sunset Park, the neighborhood's still-active industrial center, home to factories and a crumbling federal jail with horrific conditions. "Emergent City" follows the EDC and the de Blasio administration's efforts to reshape the neighborhood and asks who benefits when these types of walled-off megadevelopments spring up along the city's waterfront, and why a place that I've found to be almost completely abandoned at noon on a weekday while still being home to dozens of high-end shops is considered the best possible outcome for formerly industrial spaces. 

When these types of documentaries let a neighborhood play out in front of them, the public meetings, the protests, the quiet moments, like Frederick Wiseman's heroic "In Jackson Heights," they succeed. Given co-director Kelly Anderson's excellent documentary "My Brooklyn," which plumbed the City's redevelopment of Fulton Street Mall, I'm really looking forward to this.  

—Max Rivlin-Nadler

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