mary j blige (the london sessions)

*To say the 14th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, April 15-April 26, has something for everyone is an understatement. Categories include Black, Latino, Asian, Music, Sports, Comedy, Activism, Animation, LBGT, Romance, Technology, Adolescence, and Documentary films, just to name a few.

Returning for the second year is the TFI Interactive Playground that connects participants with a selection of groundbreaking immersive projects. One of the highlighted projects is “A Dark Night,” which is a virtual reality piece that tells the story of the day Travyon Martin was shot and killed.

Of the over 200 selections, here are some of the films that have Black story lines.

(T)ERROR: A rare inside look at FBI undercover tactics in progress. The film follows Shariff, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned informant, in his attempt to befriend a suspected Taliban sympathizer and build a fraudulent case against him. Confronted with an ethically murky, high-stakes story, directors Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe respond with poise and tenacity.

Mary J. Blige—the London Sessions: She records her 13th studio album and there are behind the scenes sessions with Sam Smith, Emeli Sandé, Naughty Boy and Sam Romans. A performance by Blige will take place after the screening.

In My Father’s House: Award winning artist Che “Rhymefest” Smith sets out to reconnect with his estranged father, the man who abandoned him over twenty years ago, after moving into his childhood home on Chicago’s South Side.

CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap: Directed by Robin Hauser Reynolds, “Code” documentary exposes the dearth of minority and female software engineers.

Nectie Youth: This is the debut film of 23-year-old South African filmmaker Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, who wrote, directed and stars in the film. It focuses on the lives of two 20-something suburbanites facing adulthood in a divided city.

Cronies: This documents a day in the life of three male friends and what they will and won’t do for one another when their bonds and boundaries are challenged. It’s simultaneously sad and funny. Triple-threat filmmaker Michael Larnell wrote, directed and edited the film.

Brian Tillman and son, Che Smith

Brian Tillman and son, Che Smith (‘In My Father’s House’)

Down in the Valley: Former pro basketball player and Sacramento, California’s first African-American Mayor, Kevin Johnson, is shown as he takes on the NBA to keep the city’s basketball team from relocating. The documentary shows the social and sometimes political power of sports and how the community rallied together to save the Sacramento Kings. The film is part of ESPN’s “30for30” documentary series.

A Ballerina’s Tale: The document takes a behind the curtain look at the life of Misty Copeland, a Black female soloist with New York City’s American Ballet Theater. Nelson George directs. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Copeland. There will also be a performance by Erica Lall and Naazir Muhammad.

Stranded in Canton: The feature film tells the story of a hapless entrepreneur from the Democratic Republic of Congo who goes to Canton, China, to set up a business. He tries to manufacture political T-shirts to sell back home in Africa but ends up living in limbo.

Play It Forward: The documentary looks at the lives of two former All-American football players Tony Gonzalez and his older brother, Chris. They speak candidly about how they overcame disappointment and supported each other through tragedies on the winding journey to fulfilling their dreams.

The Greatest Catch: Directed by Spike Lee, the World Premiere documentary focuses on Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants met with the New England Patriots, who were undefeated going into the NFl finale. With two minutes left in the game, just when it looked like Giants quarterback Eli Manning will go down, he spots David Tyree, a veteran special team player down the field and goes deep, setting up one of the most renowned plays in football history.

Short Films

 Stop: Directed and written by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the short tells the story of a young man’s livelihood put to the test when the police stop him on his way home from practice.

The Trials of Constance Baker Motley: Directed and written by Rick Rodgers, the World Premiere Documentary spans the legal career of the first Black woman voted NY State Senator, from working closely with Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to being appointed to the federal bench by President Lyndon Johnson.

We Live This: Directed by James Burns and written by Todd Wiseman, Jr. This Short tells the story of  four boys from the projects who come together to pursue their dreams.

For more information and tickets, go to www.tribecafilm.com/festival.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]