Check Out These 10 Art Flicks at the Next Tribeca Film Festival

Yes, you can see Christopher Walken as a performance artist.

There’s an impressive roster of documentaries, feature films, and shorts that take place in the world of artists and museums on offer at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Taking place April 13–24, the festival includes documentaries on painter Elizabeth Murray and performance artist Chris Burden, and even a feature film that boasts Christopher “more cowbell” Walken as a deranged performance artist.

Prizewinners also get awards in the form of artworks, this year selected by Institute of Contemporary Art Miami. deputy director and chief curator Alex Gartenfeld.

Read on to learn more on our ten picks; follow the link in the title for full scheduling information. Tickets go on sale March 29.

<i>The Family Fang</i>.

The Family Fang.


1. The Family Fang
Rare is the feature film about an avant-garde performance artist, and this could be the one you’ve been waiting for—it features none other than Christopher Walken in that role. Starring Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman (who also directs) along with Walken and Maryann Plunket, The Family Fang tells the story of two unhinged artists who stage disturbing guerrilla performances. Instructed by their art-school professors that having kids ruins your career, the elder Fangs have children but force them to participate in their crazy stunts. It’s based on a debut novel by Kevin Wilson (which I liked so much, I reviewed it for Art in America in 2011).

2. The Banksy Job
This isn’t your father’s art heist film—it’s a London caper where ex-porn actor AK47 sets out to pilfer a public artwork by the famous anonymous street artist Banksy, the creator of Dismaland, the mystery man behind the mockumentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, and, who knows, maybe a parking attendant. Directed by Ian Roderick Gray and Dylan Harvey, this documentary follows the man who calls himself an “art terrorist.”

3. First Monday in May
The exhibition “China: Through the Looking Glass,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, was the fifth-most-visited show in the museum’s history, with 815,992 visitors. (It even beat the Alexander McQueen show, and by over 150,000 people.) The film documents the creation of the show by curator Andrew Bolton, and the glitz of the Met Gala, the star-studded annual event. It’s directed by Andrew Rossi, who helmed Page One: Inside the New York Times and Ivory Tower, which looked at the skyrocketing price of higher education.

Maurizio Cattelan 1

Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back.

4. Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back
Trickster artist Maurizio Cattelan’s hit Guggenheim retrospective, “All” (2011-12), pushed the museum to do the kind of show it had never staged before by suspending his sculptures in the middle of the rotunda. “I think he’s probably one of the greatest artists that we have today,” says hesitant New York dealer Adam Lindemann in the trailer, before adding, “but he could also be the worst.” See Maura Axelrod’s documentary (which we previewed in 2014) and decide for yourself.

Everybody Knows...Elizabeth Murray 1

Everybody Knows…Elizabeth Murray.

5. Everybody Knows…Elizabeth Murray
Painter Elizabeth Murray, champion of the shaped canvas and MacArthur Foundation “genius,” unabashedly explored the theme of domesticity in a career that spanned nearly five decades. Here, Kristi Zea, the producer behind beloved features like As Good as it Gets and Broadcast News, studies Murray’s place in the New York art world and her death from cancer at 59 in 2007.

6. The Artists of Skid Row
Mexican-born Ramiro Puentes says he kicked booze and drugs in the nineties, but became homeless all the same in 2009. When he got involved with a community arts program for mentally ill homeless people in Los Angeles, he discovered photography and launched on a life of art, documented by directors Molly Swenson and Tyson Saddler.



7. Burden
Performance art hasn’t been the same since Chris Burden had a friend shoot him in the arm. Directed by Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey, Burden goes deeper than the bullet hole, combining video documentation of 1970s performances with observations from colleagues (including a young Roger Ebert!) and film of the artist at his studio in recent years, before his death from cancer in 2015.

8. I Am a Pencil
This six-minute film, inspired by the outpouring of support for the graphic artists murdered at the offices of Paris satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, imagines the artist as a pencil.

9. Taylor and Ultra on the 60s, the Factory and Being a Warhol Superstar
We’re pretty sure the title of this fifteen-minute film, directed by Brian Bayerl, starring Warhol Superstar Ultra Violet and Lower East Side icon Taylor Mead, and featuring appearances by Salvador Dalí, Lou Reed, and Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner, says it all.

10. Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock
David Bowie, Debbie Harry, Mick Jagger, Joan Jett, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell Williams—they’ve all posed for Mick Rock, who’s been photographing musical superstars since the ’70s. If you’re into music videos, you may know the work of Barnaby Clay, who’s directed such productions for the likes of TV on the Radio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Gnarls Barkley; here, he shadows the man the London Times called “the music world’s top snapper.”

The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival will run April 13–24, 2016.

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