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The Documentaries of the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival

The 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival has ended after a two week run which saw approximately 400,000 people attend it's screenings, events, industry talks, "drive ins," and Q&A panels. The festival opened on April 16th and featured the documentary "Time is Illmatic," about Queens native rapper Nas. The film directed by One9 takes a look at Nas's 1994 critically acclaimed debut album and Nas's rise from a street poet to one of the most influential rappers of all time. After the screening, Nas performed for the crowd, celebrating the 20 year anniversary of his debut album.

The Documentaries at the Tribeca Film Festival
The Documentaries at the Tribeca Film Festival
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Photo by Neilson Barnard

The festival which featured over 100 films, saw it's documentary lineup extremely popular and solid this year. One of the most talked about documentaries was the Quincy Jones produced "Keep on Keepin' On." The documentary directed by Alan Hicks explores the relationship of blind piano prodigy, Justin Kaulflin and his mentor, jazz legend Clark Terry. The inspirational film which had several interested buyers, had audiences giving standing ovations as the credits rolled on the screen. Another popular documentary, "Champs," directed by Bert Marcus, takes a no holds barred look into the lives of champion boxers Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Evander Holyfield. Any boxing enthusiast will enjoy the documentary which contains home footage from the boxers early rise up the ranks to all of their major fights. The hard hitting film does a good job of showing how the fighters came from nothing, made a fortune and then lost it all. Interviews with several celebrities ranging from Ron Howard to Mary J. Blige were a nice addition to the film.

"Dior and I," a documentary about the French fashion house was another huge success. The film directed by Frederic Tcheng takes the viewer behind the scenes at Raf Simmons and his first Haute Couture collection as the fashion label's new Artistic Director.

"Famous Nathan" directed by Lloyd Handwerker was a delight to watch, especially if you love New York history. The film was a fun, colorful look at how Nathan's Famous Frankfurters became a Coney Island landmark.

Actor and Native New Yorker Michael Rappaport brought his love of the Knicks to the big screen with his documentary "When the Garden Was Eden." The film is based on the 2012 book by author Harvey Araton. Many of the Knicks championship team members were featured in the film.

"1971" by director Johanna Hamilton is about an organization of eight people called The Citizens Commission whose agenda was to investigate the FBI during the Vietnam War.

Director Jody Lee Lipes film "Ballet 422," takes viewers inside the private world of professional ballet. Lipes who also did the cinematography along with Nick Bentgen follows the 25 year old choreographer of the New York City Ballet, Justin Peck as he creates the company's 422nd original piece.

"Fishtail" is a documentary by director Andrew Renzi about life in the wilderness and the cowboys of Montana's Fishtail Basin Ranch.

Producer Simon Chinn and director Ed Perkins deliver a visually appealing documentary, "Garnet's Gold" about Garnet Frost who experienced a near death experience hiking by Scotland's Loch Arkaig.

Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini explore the Transgender community in Puerto Rico in their film, "Mala Mala." Through their captivating storytelling and in your face cinematography, they deliver a dynamic documentary which examines the hardships that the unique subjects face in their quest for work and equality among their LGBTQ community.

Award winning director Jessica Wu grapples with the controversial topic of population control in her documentary "Misconception."

Another Award winning director Marshall Curry debuted his film "Point and Shoot," about Matthew VanDyke. VanDyke was a college graduate that wound up in Iraq and formed an alliance with a group of men in a rebel army. He was eventually captured and held in solitary confinement for six grueling months.

Director Nancy D. Kates investigates the life of Susan Sontag in her film, "Regarding Susan Sontag." Through the use of archival footage, and interviews with friends, family members lovers and co workers, Kates delivers an intimate look at one of the most influential woman of the 20th century.

The Kathputli colony in Delhi are the subject of Jimmy Goldblum and Adam Weber's film, "Tomorrow We Disappear." The film examines the fight of the Kathpulti artists as they fight to keep their land from being bulldozed and transformed into luxury high-rises.

Director Orlando von Einsiedel's film "Virunga," is a visually stunning look at Africa's oldest national park. The park is the last natural habitat for the endangered mountain gorilla, and the film examines the ongoing political and environmental crisis in the Congo.

"All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State," directed by Keith Patterson, Phillip Schooper takes a look at the first elected female governor of Texas.

"Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary," directed by Daniel Junge and Kief Davidson, explores the popular Lego invention by Ole Kirk Christiansen.

Another FBI related documentary is David Heilbroner and Kate Davis's film, "The Newburgh Sting." The film which includes shocking hidden camera footage investigates the FBI's role in targeting Muslim communities in poor neighborhoods and luring believers into committing acts of terrorism.

"Silenced," which received a rousing applause at it's press screening is a film which investigates the lives of whistleblowers Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou who were charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. Director James Spione delivers a riveting documentary film that is also produced by Susan Sarandon.

Another sports documentary, "Slaying the Badger," by John Dower, looks back at the 1986 Tour de France and the only American to win it, Greg LaMond.

Rock legend Alice Cooper is the subject of Reginald Harkema, Scot McFayden and Sam Dunn's documentary, "Super Duper Alice Cooper."

Mark Landis, one of the art world's most prolific forgers is the subject of directors Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman's documentary film, "Art and Craft."

"An Honest Liar" by Justin Weinstein and Tyler Meason is a fascinating look at the life of magician James "The Amazing" Randi. For over 50 years, Randi wowed audiences with his magic, illusions, Houdini like escapes and sleight of hand tricks. Randi's major passion other than his magic was to expose so called psychics, healers and fortune tellers such as Uri Geller, and the miracle healer preacher Peter Popoff.

"Love and Engineering," a film by Tonislav Hristov, tackles the touchy subject of finding love in the modern technologically advanced world. The film follows engineer Atlanas as he and his friends carry out experiments to see if the Bulgarian engineer really found an algorithm for love.

Middleweight boxing champion Sergio 'Maravilla' Martinez is the subject of Juan Pablo Cadaveira's documentary "Maravilla." The film takes an exciting look at the underdog boxing champ and his quest to regain the title taken away from him by Julio Chavez, Jr. in a controversial matter.

"The Overnighters," by Jesse Moss examines the lives of unemployed men that seek refuge from a local pastor in North Dakota.

Mike Myers made his directorial debut with his fascinating and emotional documentary, "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon." Gordon, a well known talent manager among the Hollywood elite, started out as Alice Cooper's manager and went on to represent some of music and entertainment's biggest names. Michael Douglas conducted a question and answer session with Shep Gordon after the film's screening.

Eva Longoria is the executive producer of the food industry documentary "Food Chains." The film directed by Sanjay Rawal, exposes the harsh conditions that farm workers endure.

Tribeca Talks After the Movie also featured the documentaries "Now: In the Wings On A World Stage" by Jeremy Whelehan which looks at the Bridge Project Theatre and "The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin" by Nicholas Moss. The film explores the digital currency created by Satoshi Nakamoto. Other special screenings included "Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank," the first openly gay Congressman by directors Michael Chandler and Sheila Canavan. Rounding out the music documentaries was "The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir," the guitarist for the Grateful Dead by Mike Fleiss. Alex Gibney presented his "untitled James Brown documentary," about the life of the legendary musician. "Bjork: Biophilia Live" by Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland captures the Icelandic artist as she performs a live concert based on her eighth studio album.

Other than Boxing, there were documentaries about baseball and soccer. "The Battered Bastards of Baseball" by Chapman Way and Maclain Way takes a comedic and inspiring look at the Portland Mavericks. ESPN 30 for 30: Soccer Stories featured "The Opposition," by Ezra Edelman and Jeff Plunkett and "Maradona '86" by Sam Blair.

There were several documentaries that screened under the short films program including "Life After Manson," a film by Olivia Klaus which follows the case of a member of the Manson cult. "One Year Lease" takes a comedic look at Brian Bolster's and Thomas Harrington's ordeal of listening to their eccentric landlord Rita. The film's story was told via Rita's irritating voice mail messages. "Showfolk," by Ned McNeilage follows the lives of seven Hollywood golden era veterans as they manage day to day living at the motion picture and television fund home in California.

It was another great year for film enthusiasts at this year's film festival. The Tribeca Film Festival is moving forward as one of the leading film fests in the U.S., and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The roster of narrative films and documentaries was strong and appealed to a broad audience of film goers.

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