Culture Representation: Taking place in Latvia (mainly in the city of Riga), in January 1991, the dramatic film “January” features an all-white cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: A 19-year-old film student finds his artistic and political awakening during the Soviet Union’s attempts to forcibly occupy Latvia.
Culture Audience: “January” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in watching coming-of-age stories that take place during political unrest.
“January” is a “slow-burn” character study taking place during Latvia’s January 1991 political conflicts with the Soviet Union. This well-acted coming-of-age story about an aspiring filmmaker fares better with its historical context than with its dull romance. People who see “January” are better-off knowing in advance that the film has a meandering quality that reflects the movie’s protaganist being undecided about what he is going to do with his life. Therefore, viewers who are expecting the movie to have a lot of snappy dialogue or suspense-filled scenes will be very disappointed.
Instead, “January” takes a more realistic tone in depicting one month in the restless life of a 19-year-old aspiring filmmaker, who unexpectedly finds his artistic voice during the Soviet Union’s violent attempted takeover of Latvia. “January” director Viesturs Kairiss says the movie was largely inspired by his own life: He was also a 19-year-old aspiring filmmaker in Lativia in January 1991.
Kairiss co-wrote the “January” screenplay with Andris Feldmanis and Livia Ulman. “January” had its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the jury prize for Best International Narrative Feature. “January” has an artistic touch with recreations of Super 8 footage playbacks for the most nostalgic-looking scenes.
In “January,” the 19-year-old protagonist is named Jazis (played by Karlis Arnolds Avots), who is an only child still living with his parents in his hometown of Riga, Latvia. His mother Biruta (played by Baiba Broka) is a strong-willed and outspoken anti-Communist. His father Andrejs (played by Aleksas Kazanavicius) is a more laid-back parent and a member of the Communist Party. At the time this story takes place, Latvia’s Supreme Council had declared Latvia’s restored independence from the Communist Party-controlled Soviet Union less than a year earlier, in May 1990.
It’s later revealed in the movie that Jazis’ birth name is actually Jāzeps. His mother and maternal grandfather secretly had a Christian baptism for Jazis/Jāzeps because they didn’t want Communist member Andrejs to find out. The different political beliefs of Biruta and Andrejs cause some tension in their marriage, but it’s not bad enough where the spouses want to break up. Andrejs tells Jazis in an early scene, “I didn’t go to Moscow because you were born,” implying that Andrejs wanted to move to Moscow, but he agreed to Biruta’s wish to raise Jazis in Latvia.
In the beginning of the movie, it’s shown that Biruta is worried for Jazis and his future, since Jazis is not quite sure what he wants to do with his life. She tells him that he’s better off being enrolled in a university so that he we won’t be conscripted by the Soviet Army. Because “January” shows only one month in the life of Jazis, it’s implied that Jazis was already enrolled as a college student but perhaps was thinking about dropping out.
Jazis is currently a student at an unnamed arts university that has limited resources when it comes to filmmaking. The students have to make do with their own cameras, if they’re lucky enough to have a camera. Jazis is shown taking an acting class, where one of the sessions is about acting like an animal. The unnamed, middle-aged male teacher (played by Artūrs Skrastiņš) randomly chooses students in the class to act out these exercises.
Jazis is told to act like “a whale cast on the sea shore.” Jazis’ moaning “beached whale” performance on the floor results in many of the students laughing at him—and not in a good way. The teacher also gives some criticism of Jazis’ performance for not being very believable. When the teacher asks a female student to act like a kitten drinking milk from a cup, she crawls on all fours, makes a purring sound, and starts rubbing herself against the teacher’s legs, while he smiles in delight and praises her performance. Many of the students walk out in protest because they think the teacher’s reaction shows sexist manipulation of this female student.
Jazis has a male friend at the school named Zeps (played by Sandis Runge), whose importance to the story fades away when the movie heads into a somewhat predictable direction of making Jazis fall for a more popular female student. Her name is Anna (played by Alise Danovska), who hangs out with a group of artistic rebels, some of whom go to the same school. She’s part of the group of students who walk out of the acting class and taunt Jazis in the hallway over his “beached whale” acting performance.
Jazis doesn’t care about being an actor. He wants to be a director, but he’s not quite sure what types of movies he wants to make. There’s a scene in “January” showing him going to a makeshift video store and renting a tape of filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s 1984 movie “Stranger Than Paradise.” It’s an indication that he’s a fan of unconventional independent filmmakers.
Jazis may not know yet what type of movies he wants to make, but he’s first shown using his hand-held camera for another type of filming: video journalism. Jazis is fascinated by filming the soldiers of the Soviet Union’s OMON (a special police branch of the National Guard of Russia) that have become an increasing presence in Latvia. Whenever the OMON soldiers see Jazis filming them, they react angrily by demanding that he stop filming and sometimes by physically assaulting him.
Jazis comes home after one of these assaults and wears the cuts and bruises on his face almost like badges of honor. When his mother asks Jazis how he got hurt, he tells her. She’s concerned, but she also considers herself to be an outspoken resistor to any Soviet takeover of Latvia. Biruta is later shown participating in peaceful citizen protests against the Soviet Union’s attempts to control Latvia.
Jazis’ unwillingness to be intimidated by these OMON soldiers is the first indication that he won’t let obstacles get in his way when he wants to film something. It’s also the start of what will become his political awakening as the OMON and other Soviet military presence in Latvia become more ominous and more violent. However, the movie doesn’t have a predictable story arc of Jazis getting this political awakening.
Jazis doesn’t attend activist meetings. He doesn’t talk about politics too much with his mother, who has beliefs that are more in line with what Jazis believes, since Jazis definitely does not want to become a Communist. Nor does Jazis want to join a political party.
Instead, in this one-month period, Jazis arrives at a better understanding of the world and what he wants to do with his life through his love of filmmaking. His decision on what type of filmmaking career path to take is still undefined, and it’s tangled up in his romantic feelings for Anna, who eventually takes a liking to him too.
Jazis and Anna discover this mutual attraction when Jazis invites her to a family house party, where she meets his parents. Anna and Jazis end up dancing at the party. Eventually, Anna opens up to Jazis about her family and her life goals.
Anna lives with her mother and stepfather, whom she says is not a Communist. “He supports the independence movement,” Anna comments about her stepfather. Anna tells Jazis that her biological father died of alcoholism. Her biggest goal in life is to make movies.
Jazis starts hanging out more with Anna and her rebellious friends. She even changes his hairstyle to look more punk rock, with his hair fluffed out and greased up into a Mohawk-inspired look. Later in the movie, Jazis gets his hair cut at around time he becomes more concerned about the violence happening around him. This haircut is the movie’s symbolic way of showing development in Jazis’ maturity.
Anna and her clique aren’t true anarchists. They mostly talk about being anti-establishment, and they make some annoying but harmless mischief. For example, there’s a scene where Anna, Jazis and her friends are hanging out a food court, when she and some of the friends start grabbing and eating food from other people’s plates before being chased away. Jazis doesn’t participate in these shenanigans. He always seems like a little bit of an outsider at these get-togethers.
Eventually, Anna and Jazis become sexually intimate, but their first sexual encounter together is less than romantic, since he has “performance issues” and seems to be very inexperienced. “January” tends to falter in depicting this budding romance, because Anna and Jazis don’t really have any meaningful conversations with each other outside of their interest in filmmaking. Anna seems more willing to be open about her feelings than Jazis, who always seems to be holding back on showing who he really is when he’s with her.
Therefore, people with enough life experience can see that what Jazis and Anna have isn’t real love. It’s a mutual attraction that stops and starts intermittently. However, it seems like the “January” filmmakers want to convince viewers that Anna and Jazis’ relationship is an impactful “love story,” when it’s really just a teenage crush. The “romance” in this film is actually quite monotonous and not as meaningful as it could have been.
Anna has been developing her skills as a filmmaker by doing music videos. One day a semi-famous director named Juris Podnieks (played by Juhan Ulfsa) comes to the school to look at the students’ work. Juris is so impressed with Anna’s work that he immediately offers her a job working for him as an assistant. She eagerly accepts.
But you know what that means: Jazis gets jealous, although he tries to pretend that he isn’t jealous. At first, he congratulates Anna, who seems so relieved that he’s not angry, she hugs him. However, at a party to celebrate Anna’s new job, Jazis sulks on a couch.
And later, Jazis shows up unannounced when Anna is supposed to leave with Juris and other co-workers for a film shoot. Jazis accuses Anna and Juris of getting romantically involved. Anna angrily denies it and tells Jazis that he’s acting like a paranoid lover. Jazis even tries to block her from getting in the car where Juris and her co-workers are witnessing this conflict. This argument is another turning point in Jazis and Anna’s bumpy relationship.
Because “January” takes a realism approach to showing this month in the life of Jazis, not everything in the movie is compelling drama, just like in real life. There are stretches of the movie where not much happens except Jazis moping around and doing some filming here and there. The best scenes in “January” are those that involve Jazis becoming more enlightened about the stakes involved in Latvian freedom and the sacrifices that Latvian residents have to make to fight for that freedom.
The emotional crediblity of “January” is largely dependent on Avots’ performance as Jazis. Avots does a very good job of portraying the late-teens angst of someone who is old enough to legally be an adult but might not be emotionally mature enough to make adult decisions. Danovska’s nuanced and admirable performance as Anna indicates that there could’ve been potential to develop this character beyond just being the protagonist’s love interest.
Because “January” spends a great deal of screen time on the relationship between Jazis and Anna, opinions about “January” might vary, depending on how viewers feel about Anna and Jazis being a couple. It’s impossible not to notice that Jazis and Anna’s romance doesn’t have a lot of convincing passion or a deep emotional connection. Jazis’ jealous streak is also an indication that Jazis and Anna ultimately aren’t right for each other, since he’s already showing signs of being enviously competitive with her as a filmmaker.
Fortunately, “January” doesn’t veer too far off-course into Jazis and Anna’s topsy-turvy relationship. The movie is essentially about Jazis thinking that his earliest filmmaking experiences would be making short student films, but instead his earliest filmmaking experiences ended up documenting the increasing political terror around him. Someone’s life shouldn’t be defined by just one month, but “January” shows in effective ways how one month can change the course of someone’s life.
The following is a press release from the Tribeca Film Festival:
The 21st annual Tribeca Festival, presented by OKX, announced the winning storytellers in its competition categories at this year’s awards ceremony at Tribeca eatery Thalassa. Awards were given in the following competition categories: Feature Film, Short Film, Audio Storytelling, Immersive, Games, Human / Nature, AT&T Untold Stories, and Tribeca X.
The ceremony awarded $165,000 in cash prizes. The Festival, which hosts over 600 events across New York City, concludes on June 19th.
“Today’s honorees are a testament to the vitality of cinematic storytelling, representing the most exciting achievements across countries, genres, and platforms,” said Cara Cusumano, Festival Director and Vice President of Programming. “We are proud to recognize such a diverse and innovative group of works and creators with today’s well-deserved award winners.”
A special Virtual Award Winner Screenings series will be available for U.S. audiences via Tribeca At Home on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19, 2022.
Tickets can be purchased at tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets. Competition winners in the Short Films Category, presented by Meta, are available to stream on the Meta Quest 2 virtual-reality headset as well as the Tribeca page on Facebook through Sunday, June 19.
In cash awards and in-kind services provided by sponsors, some award winners received the unique Tribeca Festival Art Award. Supported by CHANEL, the world-class artists donated work to honored filmmakers.
The winners of the Audience Award, which are determined by audience votes throughout the Festival, will be announced next week.
2022 Winners and Special Jury Mentions, as selected by the 2022 Festival Jury, are as follows:
U.S. NARRATIVE COMPETITION
The Founders Award for Best U.S. Narrative Feature: Good Girl Jane, (United States) – World Premiere, presented by OKX. Bullied out of private school and at odds with her divorced parents, lonely high schooler Jane spirals out of control after falling in with a hard-partying crowd and becoming smitten with a dangerously charismatic bad boy. Directed and written by Sarah Elizabeth Mintz. Produced by Fred Bernstein, Dominique Telson, Lauren Pratt, Sarah Elizabeth Mintz, Simone Williams. With Rain Spencer, Patrick Gibson, Andie MacDowell, Odessa A’Zion, Olan Prenatt, Eloisa Huggins. The winner receives $20,000.
Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature: Ben Snyder and Elizabeth Rodriguez for Allswell, (United States) – World Premiere. Three Nuyorican sisters navigate the daunting life challenges of single motherhood, career, and family, all while finding humor and solace within the bonds of sisterhood in this absorbing dramedy. Directed and written by Ben Snyder, and written by Elizabeth Rodriguez. Produced by Gia Walsh, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Vince Jolivette, Ben Snyder, Ari Issler, Paul Jarrett, Kara Baker. With Elizabeth Rodriguez, Liza Colon-Zayas, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Felix Solis, Max Cassella, Michael Rispoli, Shirley Rodriguez, MacKenzie Lansing, and J. Cameron Barnett. The winner received $2,500.
Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature: Azuli Anderson for Next Exit, (United States) – World Premiere. In a world where ghosts are real and front-page news, a controversial new medical procedure allows people to peacefully kill themselves. In the midst of this breakthrough, two strangers travel cross country together to end their lives, only to unexpectedly find what they’ve been missing along the way. Directed and written by Mali Elfman. Produced by Derek Bishé, Narineh Hacopian. With Katie Parker, Rahul Kohli, Rose McIver, Karen Gillan, Tongayi Chirisa, Diva Zappa.
Best Performance in a U.S. Narrative Feature: Rain Spencer in Good Girl Jane, (United States) – World Premiere. Bullied out of private school and at odds with her divorced parents, lonely high schooler Jane spirals out of control after falling in with a hard-partying crowd and becoming smitten with a dangerously charismatic bad boy. Directed and written by Sarah Elizabeth Mintz. Produced by Fred Bernstein, Dominique Telson, Lauren Pratt, Sarah Elizabeth Mintz, Simone Williams. With Rain Spencer, Patrick Gibson, Andie MacDowell, Odessa A’Zion, Olan Prenatt, Eloisa Huggins.
Special Jury Mention for Best Performance in a U.S. Narrative Feature: Liz Carbel Sierra in God’s Time, (United States) – World Premiere. A heart-racing, NYC-set dark comedy that sees two best bros in recovery for addiction trying to prevent the potential murder of their mutual crush’s ex-boyfriend.
Directed and written by Daniel Antebi. Produced by Emily Korteweg, Andrew Hutcheson, Reid Hannaford. With Ben Groh, Dion Costelloe, Liz Caribel Sierra, Jared Abrahamson, Christiane Seidel.
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE COMPETITION
Best International Narrative Feature: January (Janvaris), (Latvia, Lithuania, Poland) – World Premiere. An aspiring filmmaker tries to search for who he is against the backdrop of Latvian independence in this dark but dreamy coming-of-age story. Directed by Viesturs Kairiss. Written by Viesturs Kairiss, Andris Feldmanis, Livia Ulman. Produced by Inese Boka-Grūbe, Gints Grūbe. With Kārlis Arnolds Avots, Alise Danovska, Sandis Runge, Baiba Broka, Aleksas Kazanavičius, Juhan Ulfsak. In Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian, with English subtitles. The winner received $20,000.
Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature: Martín Boulocq and Rodrigo Hasbún for The Visitor, (Bolivia, Uruguay) – World Premiere. In the atmospheric and visually-compelling drama The Visitor, an ex-convict returns home in search of a new life and a chance to reconnect with his estranged young daughter, only to be met with resistance from his father-in-law – an influential pastor in the Evangelical community in town. Directed by Martín Boulocq. Written by Martín Boulocq, Rodrigo Hasbún. Produced by Andrea Camponovo, Alvaro Olmos. With Enrique Aráoz, César Troncoso, Mirella Pascual, Svet Ailyn Mena, Romel Vargas, Teresa Gutiérrez. In Spanish with English subtitles. The winner received $2,500.
Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature: Jan Mayntz for We Might As Well Be Dead (Wir könnten genauso gut tot sein), (Germany, Romania) – International Premiere. The disappearance of a dog and the sudden isolation of a security guard’s daughter start a bizarre chain of events in an apartment complex obsessed with keeping up appearances. Directed by Natalia Sinelnikova. Written by Natalia Sinelnikova, Viktor Gallandi. Produced by Julia Wagner. With Ioana Iacob, Pola Geiger, Jörg Schüttauf, Şiir Eloğlu, Moritz Jahn, Susanne Wuest, Knut Berger, Mina Özlem Sağdıç. In German, Polish with English subtitles.
Best Performance in an International Narrative Feature: Dorota Pomykała for Woman on a Roof, (Poland, France, Sweden) – World Premiere. One morning a 60-year-old midwife does something extremely unexpected, which breaks her family and life apart. Inspired by a true story, this is a complex character portrayal told with outstanding cinematic realism. Directed and written by Anna Jadowska.
Produced by Maria Blicharska. With Dorota Pomykala, Bogdan Koca, Adam Bobik. In Polish with English subtitles.
Best Documentary Feature: The Cave of Adullam, (United States) – World Premiere. Living by the mantra ‘it’s easier to raise boys than to repair broken men’, martial arts sensei Jason Wilson tenderly guides his often-troubled young Detroit students with a beautifully effective blend of compassion and tough love. Directed by Laura Checkoway. Produced by Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland, Roy Bank, Joe Plummer, Laura Checkoway. With Jason Wilson, Kevin L. Collins Jr., Gabriel Davenport, Daniel White, Tamarkus Williams. The winner receives $20,000.
Best Cinematography in a Documentary Feature: Boris Levy for The Wild One, (France) – World Premiere. Jack Garfein — Holocaust survivor, theater and film director, key figure in the formation of the Actors Studio — vividly, animatedly, passionately recalls a life where historical tragedy and personal art formed a unique, driving, uncompromising vision. Directed, written, and produced by Tessa
Louise-Salomé. With Jack Garfein, Willem Dafoe, Peter Bogdanovich, Irène Jacob, Boby Sotto, Dick Guttman, Blanche Baker, Patricia Bosworth, Foster Hirsch, Geoffrey Horne, Kate Rennebohm. The winner receives $2,500.
Best Editing in a Documentary Feature: Christopher McGlynn for The Cave of Adullam, (United States)
– World Premiere. Living by the mantra ‘it’s easier to raise boys than to repair broken men’, martial arts sensei Jason Wilson tenderly guides his often-troubled young Detroit students with a beautifully effective blend of compassion and tough love. Directed by Laura Checkoway. Produced by Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland, Roy Bank, Joe Plummer, Laura Checkoway. With Jason Wilson, Kevin L. Collins Jr., Gabriel Davenport, Daniel White, Tamarkus Williams. The winner receives $2,500.
BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR COMPETITION
Best New Narrative Director: Michelle Garza Cervera for Huesera, (Mexico) – Feature Narrative, World Premiere. Valeria has long dreamed about becoming a mother. After learning that she’s pregnant, she expects to feel happy, yet something’s off. Nightmarish visions and an unshakeable paranoia have her questioning what she wants, and an ancient evil spirit may be the cause. Directed by Michelle Garza Cervera. Written by Michelle Garza Cervera, Abia Castillo. Produced by Paulina Villavicencio, Edher Campos. With Natalia Solián, Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla, Mercedes Hernández, Aída López, Martha Claudia Moreno. In Spanish with English subtitles. An XYZ release. The winner receives $10,000.
Special Jury Mention for Best New Narrative Director: Floor van der Meulen for Pink Moon, (Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia) – World Premiere. An adult daughter kidnaps her father, whisking him away to a cabin in the snow, hoping to alter his unexpected announcement that he has had enough of life and will end it by his next birthday. Directed by Floor van der Meulen. Written by Bastiaan Kroeger. Produced by Derk-Jan Warrink and Koji Nelissen. With Julia Akkermans, Johan Leysen, Eelco Smits, Anniek Pheifer, Sinem Kavus.
BEST NEW DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR COMPETITION
The Albert Maysles Award for Best New Documentary Director: Edward Buckles Jr. for Katrina Babies, (United States) – World Premiere. Katrina Babies is a first-person account of the short-term and long-term devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, as told by young people who were between the ages of 3 and 19 when the levees broke. Directed by Edward Buckles Jr.. Written by Edward Buckles Jr., Luther Clement Lam, Audrey Rosenberg. Produced by Edward Buckles Jr., Audrey Rosenberg, Rebecca Teitel. With Miesha Williams, Cierra Chenier, Arnold Burks, Damaris Calliet, Calvin Baxter, Quintina Thomas Green. An HBO Documentary Films release. The winner receives $10,000.
NORA EPHRON COMPETITION
Nora Ephron Award: Michelle Garza Cervera for Huesera, (Mexico) – Feature Narrative, World Premiere. Valeria has long dreamed about becoming a mother. After learning that she’s pregnant, she expects to feel happy, yet something’s off. Nightmarish visions and an unshakeable paranoia have her questioning what she wants, and an ancient evil spirit may be the cause. Directed by Michelle Garza Cervera. Written by Michelle Garza Cervera, Abia Castillo. Produced by Paulina Villavicencio, Edher Campos. With Natalia Solián, Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla, Mercedes Hernández, Aída López, Martha Claudia Moreno. In Spanish with English subtitles. An XYZ release. The winner receives $20,000.
Best Narrative Short: Night Ride (Nattrikken), (Norway) – New York Premiere, Short Narrative. It is a cold night in December. As Ebba waits for the tram, an unexpected turn of events transforms the ride home into something she was not expecting. Directed and written by Eirik Tveiten. Produced by Gaute Lid Larssen, Heidi Arnesen. With Sigrid Husjord, Ola Hoemsnes Sandum, Axel Barø Aasen. In Norwegian with English subtitles. The winner receives $5,000.
Best Documentary Short: Heart Valley, (UK, Wales) – World Premiere, Short Documentary. Heart Valley follows a day in the life of solitary Welsh shepherd Wilf Davies. Directed by Christian Cargill. Written by Kiran Sidhu. Produced by Christian Cargill, Lily Wakeley, Kiran Sidhu. With Evan Wilf Davies.
Special Jury Mention for Best Documentary Short: Stranger at the Gate, (United States) – New York Premiere, Short Documentary. A U.S. Marine plots a terrorist attack on a small-town American mosque. His plan takes an unexpected turn when he comes face-to-face with the people he sets out to kill. Directed by Joshua Seftel. Produced by Mohannad Malas, Suzanne Hillinger, Conall Jones, Jeremy Mack, Anna Rowe, Eric Nichols. With Bibi Bahrami, Dr. Saber Bahrami, Dana McKinney, Emily McKinney, Richard “Mac” McKinney, Jomo Williams.
Best Animated Short: More Than I Remember, (United States) – New York Premiere, Short Animation. Fourteen-year-old Mugeni awakes to the sounds of bombs. As her family scatters to the surrounding forests to save themselves, Mugeni finds herself completely alone. Directed by Amy Bench. Written by Mugeni Ornella, Amy Bench, Carolyn Merriman. Produced by Amy Bench, Carolyn Merriman. With Mugeni Ornella. The winner receives $5,000.
Student Visionary: Daydreamers, (Belgium) – North American Premiere, Short Narrative. A father and his daughter are very passionate about motorcycles. An eye condition jeopardizes their shared hobby. Directed by Ante Pask. Written by Ante Pask, Emiel van Wouwe. Produced by Ella Bal, Ante Pask.With Jurgen Delnaet, Flo Martens, Robby Cleiren. In Dutch with English subtitles. The winner receives $5,000.
TRIBECA AUDIO STORYTELLING COMPETITION
Best Audio Storytelling in Nonfiction: Mother Country Radicals.
In 1970, Bernardine Dohrn declared war on the United States. Now, her son Zayd tells the story of how she was radicalized, and became the most wanted woman in America. Created by Zayd Ayers Dohrn, executive produced by Zayd Ayers Dohrn, Jon Favreau, Sarah Geismer, Lyra Smith, Alison Falzetta, Misha Euceph, with sound design by Arwen Nicks, Stephanie Cohn, Ariana Gharib Lee, and Misha Euceph, and music by Andy Clausen.
Special Jury Mention Best Audio Storytelling in Nonfiction: I Was Never There.
Take a trip into the countercultural movements swirling through West Virginia in the 1970s and 80s. Jamie Zelermyer and her mother Karen investigate the shocking disappearance of their friend Marsha “Mudd” Ferber and explore her evolution from suburban housewife to back-to-the-land hippie to drug-dealing bar owner. As mother and daughter venture deeper into the mystery of Marsha’s disappearance, the two process their own history: Jamie reflects on her nontraditional upbringing and Karen reckons with the joyful and complicated consequences of her decisions. Created by Jamie and Karen Zelermeyer, produced by Adesuwa Agbonile, Lindsey Kratochwill, Liz Smith, Alessandra Wollner, edited by Jenny Kaplan and Liz Smith. Executive produced by Jamie Zelermyer, Jenny Kaplan (Wonder Media Network), and Karen Zelermyer, with sound design by Liz Smith.
Best Audio Storytelling in Fiction: The Hollowed Out.
When a journalist returns to her hometown to investigate a suspicious accident involving a friend, she finds fractured relationships and mysterious rumors about what’s really going on in her town. Created, written, edited, and produced by Brit and Nick Kewin. Starring Stephanie Costa, Carolyn Taylor, Moynan King, Madison Cheeatow, Shomari Downer, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, with sound design by Justin Helle.
TRIBECA IMMERSIVE COMPETITION
Storyscapes Award: Kubo Walks The City, (France, South Korea) – North American Premiere. Seoul, 1934. Korea is under Japanese occupation. Like “ethno-detectives,” viewers follow in the footsteps of Kubo, a Korean writer, in his urban flânerie. Through caricatures that mock the shortcomings of a Korean society emerging from the poverty and archaisms of the past, explore a city recklessly discovering the modernity and prosperity that come with occupation. Directed by Hayoun Kwon and produced by Innerspace VR. The winner receives $10,000.
Special Jury Mention for Storyscapes Award: EVOLVER, (United Kingdom, France, United States) – World Premiere. EVOLVER from Marshmallow Laser Feast is a collective virtual reality experience which drops audiences deep inside the landscape of the body, following the flow of oxygen through our branching ecosystem, to a single ‘breathing’ cell. Through this transcendental narrative, it becomes clear that breath not only sparks life, but also connects us to the natural world through the cycle of respiration.
Project Creators: Marshmallow Laser Feast, Jonny Greenwood, Meredith Monk, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Howard Skempton. Producers: Nicole Shanahan (Bia-Echo), Edward R. Pressman, and & Sam Pressman (Pressman Film), Terrence Malick (TF Malick Productions), Antoine Cayrol (Atlas V), and Mike Jones (Marshmallow Laser Feast).
New Voices Award: LGBTQ + VR Museum, (United Kingdom, Denmark) – North American Premiere. LGBTQ + VR Museum is the world’s first virtual reality museum dedicated to celebrating the stories and artwork of LGBTQ people by preserving queer personal histories. The museum contains 3D scans of touching personal artifacts, from wedding shoes to a teddy bear, chosen by people in the LGBTQ community and accompanied by their stories told in their own words. The in-person version presented at Tribeca is a never-before-seen multiplayer biometric experience controlled by users’ emotions in real-time. Project Creators: Antonia Forster and Thomas Terkildsen. Producer: Albert Millis.
TRIBECA GAMES COMPETITION
Tribeca Games Award: Thirsty Suitors, (United States) – World Premiere. Jala is a young woman returning home for her sister’s wedding and confronting her past. With wildly varied gameplay, Jala will fight skate punks, random suitors, and ultimately, her exes, in the ultimate battle to heal old hurts and ignite new truths, bringing Jala closer to understanding what she wants from her future. Can she learn to love herself and heal the wounds of her past? Created by Outerloop Games. Published by Annapurna Interactive
Special Jury Mention for Tribeca Games Award: Oxenfree II: Lost Signals (United States) – World Premiere. OXENFREE II: Lost Signals is the mind-bending follow-up to the critically-acclaimed narrative adventure game OXENFREE from Night School Studio. In the small coastal town of Camena, unnaturally occurring electromagnetic waves are causing interference with electrical and radio equipment.
Reluctantly, Riley Poverly returns to her hometown to investigate the mystery. What she finds is more than she bargained for. Created by Night School Studios. Published by Netflix.
HUMAN / NATURE COMPETITION
HUMAN / NATURE Award: Katrina Babies, (United States) – World Premiere, presented by Bulleit. Katrina Babies is a first-person account of the short-term and long-term devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, as told by young people who were between the ages of 3 and 19 when the levees broke. Directed by Edward Buckles Jr.. Written by Edward Buckles Jr., Luther Clement Lam, Audrey Rosenberg. Produced by Edward Buckles Jr., Audrey Rosenberg, Rebecca Teitel. With Miesha Williams, Cierra Chenier, Arnold Burks, Damaris Calliet, Calvin Baxter, Quintina Thomas Green. An HBO Documentary Films release. The winner receives $5,000 and a custom engraved bottle of Bulleit Bourbon.
AT&T PRESENTS UNTOLD STORIES COMPETITION
AT&T Presents Untold Stories: Smoking Tigers, (United States). Over one summer spent at an elite academic bootcamp, a lonely Korean American teenager hides her true identity to fit in, only to discover the bittersweet pains of adulthood. Directed and Written by So Young Shelly Yo. Produced by Guo Guo. Untold Stories is a multi-year, multi-tier alliance between AT&T and the Tribeca Festival that awards $1 million dollars, mentorship, and distribution support to systemically underrepresented filmmakers to produce their films. Smoking Tigers will also be guaranteed a premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Festival, subject to timely delivery of the film and granted a dedicated “first look” opportunity with HBO Max.
TRIBECA X AWARD COMPETITION
Best Feature for Tribeca X: The Beauty of Blackness. Brand: Sephora. Agency: Epic Digital, VOX Creative, Digitas, Ventureland. Directors: Kianna Moore and Tiffany Johnson. In 1973, Eunice Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet, noticed a problem: Black women had to mix their own foundation in order to find a color that matched their skin. To tackle the problem, Johnson launched Fashion Fair, the first national cosmetics company that focused entirely on Black women. The brand triggered a renaissance in style among Black women and the global cosmetics industry took notice. Now, Fashion Fair is staging its comeback as a Black-owned business in a new era defined by massive cultural shifts and increased competition. The Beauty of Blackness follows current Fashion Fair CEO Desiree Rogers and President Cheryl Mayberry McKissack as they face the massive undertaking that goes into reviving an iconic beauty brand amidst a new cultural context and gives a front-row look to how the industry has changed, and how much progress we still have to make.
Best Short for Tribeca X: The Comeback. Brand: Apple. Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab Shanghai. Director: Zhang Meng. The story follows a disheartened young stunt double-slash-wannabe director, his father, and a rag-tag crew of villagers as they set out to shoot an out-of-this-world movie in hopes of reviving their fading village and making it “internet famous”. This 23-minute heartwarming story is set to encourage everyone to never stop believing in their dreams, even if that dream is as far aways as Mars. Will they succeed in the end? A multi-genre movie mixes up Hollywood sci-fi, traditional Kung Fu action and nostalgic feel-good comedy, entirely shot on iPhone.
Best Series for Tribeca X: Stories About Helpful People. Brand: Zendesk. Creative Studio: Even/Odd. Directors: Sindha Agha, Erin Brethauer, and Tim Hussin. As a customer support company, everything Zendesk does — from how they build their customer experience software to the way they work with customers, is all about being helpful. It’s the spirit they believe in. “Stories About Helpful People” is a series of mini-documentaries and photo stories. It’s a series intended to inspire the Zendesk community to rally around the spirit of helpfulness. In GOLDEN AGE KARATE, a high school student helps a group of senior citizens get through a vulnerable time, by teaching them karate. In ERIC AND THE BEES, a U.S. military veteran discovers that beekeeping helps him cope with PTSD — and teaches other vets the healing powers of the hive.
Best Immersive for Tribeca X: Emerging Radiance: Honoring the Nikkei Farmers of Bellevue. Brand: Meta. Creators: Tani Ikeda and Michelle Kumata. Emerging Radiance, directed by Tani Ikeda and illustrated by Michelle Kumata, celebrates the untold stories of Japanese American strawberry farmer
who lived in Bellevue from 1920 to 1942. With a hand-painted mural and Spark AR Instagram filters, visitors have the opportunity to meet Toshio Ito, Rae Matsuoka Takekawa, and Mitsuko Hashiguchi, three survivors of the World War II incarceration camps, as they share in their own words their connections to the land before World War II, during incarceration, and post-World War II. Produced by Meta Open Arts.
About the Tribeca Festival
The Tribeca Festival, presented by OKX, brings artists and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, VR, games, music, and online work. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is a platform for creative expression and immersive entertainment. Tribeca champions emerging and established voices; discovers award-winning filmmakers and creators; curates innovative experiences; and introduces new technology and ideas through premieres, exhibitions, talks, and live performances.
The Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Tribeca will celebrate its 21st year from June 8–19, 2022.
In 2019, James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, a private investment company with locations in New York and Mumbai, bought a majority stake in Tribeca Enterprises, bringing together Rosenthal, De Niro, and Murdoch to grow the enterprise.
About the 2022 Tribeca Festival Partners
The 2022 Tribeca Festival is presented by OKX and with the support of our partners: AT&T, Audible, Bayer’s One a Day, Bloomberg Philanthropies, CHANEL, City National Bank, CNN Films, Converse, Diageo, Discovery+, DoorDash, Indeed, Meta, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Sephora, Spring Studios New York, P&G, United Airlines and Unreal Engine.
June 18, 2022 UPDATE:
AUDIENCE AWARD – NARRATIVE
First Place: Our Father, the Devil – Directed by Ellie Foumbi Marie Cissé’s (Babetida Sadjo) troubled past comes calling with the arrival of Father Patrick (Souléymane Sy Savané), an African priest whom she recognizes from a terrifying episode in her homeland.
Second Place: Wes Schlagenhauf Is Dying– Directed by Parker Seaman A personalized video message to a coworker who contracted COVID, ignites an artistic fire in two aspiring directors, inspiring them to take a cross country road trip to visit their sick friend.
AUDIENCE AWARD – DOCUMENTARY
First Place: The Cave of Adullam– Directed by Laura Checkoway A heartwarming look at Detroit martial arts teacher Jason Wilson, who mentors young Black boys, giving them rare and invaluable experience of being seen and cared for as the vulnerable beings they are.
Second Place: Lift– Directed by David Peterson New York Theatre Ballet’s Project LIFT program has been offering scholarships to homeless, home insecure and at-risk children, exposing them to the beauty and discipline of ballet, often for the first time while helping them develop talent they never knew they had.
AUDIENCE AWARD – ONLINE
First Place: Cherry – Directed by Sophia Galibert A driftless and uncommitted 25-year-old in Los Angeles discovers she has only 24 hours to make one of the most consequential decisions of her life, what to do about an unplanned pregnancy.
Second Place: In Her Name– Directed by Sarah Carter Frustrated, aspiring artist Freya has to put her career on hold to care for her formerly famous artist dad. When her estranged, well-heeled sister Fiona shows up, the sisters grapple with the impending demise of their father, reigniting their sibling rivalry.