Must-see black films at Tribeca Film Festival

The 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival begins in New York City today and runs through April 29. The festival was started in 2002 after the September 11th attacks. The trio of the festival’s organizers, including Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff, sought to bring the luster and shine back to the Tribeca neighborhood; and it worked.

This year’s festival will show over 100 films from all around the world covering a range of topics and genres. We’ve highlighted six must-see black films from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival that you don’t want to miss.

2 Days In New York

If you want to laugh out loud at an eccentric French family and see a straight-edge Chris Rock awkwardly react to the antics of said family, then look no further than this comedic tale. 2 Days In New York is writer/director Julie Delpy’s follow-up to her 2007 film 2 Days In Paris. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, to great reviews. Marion (Delpy) finds herself in New York with a new man, Mingus, played by Chris Rock. The two share an apartment with their children from previous marriages. Mingus is a radio personality/journalist who is nervous about meeting Marion’s family for the first time. His nerves quickly change to distress when the family can’t stop laughing at his name and he gets kicked out of a massage parlor with Marion’s frisky father.

Lucky for us, Rock reverts to his usual brashness when he locks himself in a study to vent to a life-sized cardboard of Obama! If you want to take a break and catch a few laughs with Chris Rock and a crazed family from France check out Julie Delpy’s comedy 2 Days In New York.

War Witch

Beautifully shot in the mesmerizing vastness of The People’s Republic of Congo, War Witch tells the story of 14 year old Komona who has faced unspeakable tragedies. The film gained universal critical acclaim when it played at the Berlin Film Festival. Rachel Mwanza, in her debut role, delivers a captivating performance.

The story unfolds as a simple narration by the young girl to her unborn child; however Nguyen brings the story alive with subtle, yet compelling, images of the new world Komona must live in. After rebel soldiers attacked her village; Komona is forced into the dangerous and unpredictable world of rebel fighting as a child warrior. The young girl, seen as a witch with mystical powers for being the sole survivor of the rebel attack, has to fight for herself and the growing child inside her. Through her despair, Komona finds herself closely aligned to an albino boy who becomes her protector and close friend. Writer/director Kim Nguyen weaves a story of heartache, tragedy, and love in this vivid portrait of a child solider.

Benji

Benji is 95-minute documentary which brings to life the tragic story of 17 year old Ben Wilson. In 1984, Ben was on his way to living out his NBA dreams when he was sadly murdered a day before his senior season. Benji, as he was known around the Chicago south-side, was described as a sweet-natured kid with high hopes. His death left not only the city of Chicago, but the whole nation devastated. Filmmakers Coodie and Chike created a harrowing story of success, determination, and the loss of a potential legend.

Broke

Have you ever wondered what goes through the minds of professional athletes when they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on jewelry, cars, and lavish homes? Filmmaker Billy Corden helps answer this question. Broke explores the financial decisions made by retired athletes Jamal Mashburn (Mavericks, Heat, Hornets), Bernie Kosar, (quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins), and Andre Rison (wide receiver for multiple NFL teams). These men were once cheered and praised for being ferociously competitive, but did that same nature have devastating results when carried into their personal lives? This captivating documentary explores the issues of freeloaders, health problems, and bad investments, all of which come with the fame and fortune of professional athletes.

Stones in the Sun

First time film director, Patricia Benoit provides a vivid look at the Haitian-American immigrant experience. In the 1980s, a young couple, two sisters and a father and son are forced to leave Haiti and arrive in New York. The travelers arrive in the US at a time of political violence and unrest. While the world around them seems to be cracking, the weary travelers are forced to deal with the truth of their connected paths. Stones In The Sun takes a raw look at the experience of Haitian-American immigrants while leaving out stereotypes and preconceived notions.

The Russian Winter

John Forte gained notoriety with a Grammy nomination for his work as a producer and songwriter on the 1996 Fugees album, The Score. While The Fugees went on to world success, Forte was incarcerated by the age of 26. Forte was given a second chance when his sentence was commuted in 2008. The Russian Winter takes us on Forte’s personal journey as he tours Russia, sharing his musical talents with the world.