An Emoji Documentary, a Bloodthirsty Painter Flick, and 5 Other Gripping Art-Themed Films to Catch at the Tribeca Film Festival

In one film an artist turns bloodthirsty, while another turns a documentary eye toward emojis.

Bliss, directed by Joe Begos. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.
Bliss, directed by Joe Begos. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

New York’s Tribeca Film Festival returns this week for its 2019 edition, with screenings taking place at theaters across the city from April 24 to May 5. As always, there is a strong selection of movies featuring art and artists, from a documentary about emojis, that unique form of 21st-century visual culture, to a feature film centered on a struggling artist struck with a sudden, unquenchable thirst for blood. Here are seven art-themed highlights from this year’s offerings, including where and when you can watch them.

 

 

Serendipity

Prune Nourry and Serendipity, directed by Prune Nourry. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Serendipity, directed by Prune Nourry. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

After artist Prune Nourry was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31, it was only natural that her illness became the subject of her work, which had always revolved around the human body. The resulting documentary film (produced by none other than Angelina Jolie and Darren Aronofsky) finds a surprisingly tender beauty in the debilitating effects of the subsequent medical treatments on Nourry’s own body, turning a traumatic tale of illness into a compelling work of art.

Friday, May 3; 8 p.m.; Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Theater at Spring Studios, 6 St. Johns Lane

 

Picture Character

<em>Picture Character</em>, directed by Martha Shane and Ian Cheney. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Picture Character, directed by Martha Shane and Ian Cheney. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

In 2019, emojis have become ubiquitous, a shorthand form of communication that is increasingly replacing the written word. But did you know that there’s a private non-profit international consortium that chooses what symbols join the emoji ranks? And are you familiar with emojis’ Japanese origins? Directors Martha Shane and Ian Cheney tackle all this and more in what promises to be an illuminating and amusing documentary that will change the way you think about language.

Sunday, April 28; 1 p.m.; SVA Theater 1 Silas, 333 West 23rd Street
Tuesday, April 30; 5:45 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue
Thursday, May 2; 6:30 p.m.; Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11; 102 North End Avenue
Sunday, May 5; 2 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue

 

Unceded Territories

<em>Unceded Territories</em>, directed by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and Paisley Smith. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Unceded Territories, directed by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and Paisley Smith. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

In Unceded Territories, Canadian filmmaker Paisley Smith has teamed up with Indigenous artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun to create a compelling VR experience based on his Pop-infused work, which touches on issues of colonialism, climate change, and indigenous civil rights. The viewer is transported into a brightly colored, surreal environment that is being slowly transformed by the oppressive forces of colonialist “Super-Predators.”

Friday, April 26–Saturday, May 4; 12 p.m.; Tribeca Festival Hub, Spring Studios, 6 St. Johns Lane

 

Our Time Machine

<em>Our Time Machine</em>, directed by S. Leo Chiang and Yang Sun. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Our Time Machine, directed by S. Leo Chiang and Yang Sun. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

The artist known as Maleonn, born Ma Liang, has become an influential Chinese figure thanks to his surreal photographs of highly detailed tableaux. For his next project, he plans to team up with his father, an opera director, on a theatrical production about time travel featuring a complex machine puppet. The play is inspired by the fact that Maleonn’s father, Ma Ke, is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Sunday, April 28; 5:30 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue
Tuesday, April 29; 7 p.m.; Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11; 102 North End Avenue
Friday, May 3; 7 p.m.; Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11; 102 North End Avenue

 

Framing Agnes

<em>Framing Agnes</em>, directed by Chase Joynt and Kristen Schilt. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Framing Agnes, directed by Chase Joynt and Kristen Schilt. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

This experimental documentary is based on the medical records of a woman named Agnes, who went to UCLA Medical Center for sex reassignment surgery in the 1950s. But her story wasn’t as unique as the trans community has been led to believe. In 2017, a group of trans artists discovered never-before-seen case files of other patients seeking similar treatment. The resulting film, which blends reenactment and documentary, looks to make this history of mid-century transgender experience, long hidden, visible.

Sunday, April 28; 3 p.m.; Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11; 102 North End Avenue
Monday, April 29; 5 p.m.; Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11; 102 North End Avenue
Wednesday, May 1; 4 p.m.; Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11; 102 North End Avenue
Saturday, May 4; 5 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue

 

Bliss

<em>Bliss</em>, directed by Joe Begos. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Bliss, directed by Joe Begos. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

This one promises to be extra creepy: Dark and moody artist Dezzy Donahue (Dora Madison) is having trouble making progress on her newest commissioned painting. An effort to restart her creative engine with a drug-fueled bender seems to help with her work, but things go off the rails when the debauchery unexpectedly sparks in her an unquenchable, all-consuming blood lust.

Saturday, April 27; 9:45 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue
Sunday, April 28; 9:45 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue
Wednesday, May 1; 9:45 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue

 

This Is Not Berlin

This Is Not Berlin, directed by Hari Sama. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

This Is Not Berlin, directed by Hari Sama. Still courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Avant-garde art is one of the driving forces of this coming-of-age story set in Mexico City during the 1986 World Cup. Best friends Carlos (Xabiani Ponce de León) and Gera (José Antonio Toledano) escape their sheltered middle-class background for the city’s underground clubs, where hedonism, anarchy, and drugs reign supreme.

Sunday, April 28; 6:45 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue
Monday, April 29; 9:15 p.m.; Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11; 102 North End Avenue
Thursday, May 2; 9:45 p.m.; Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Avenue


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