kristen stewart’s sci-fi romance, mia wasikowska's directorial debut, and other tribeca film festival highlights

From dystopian futurist features to David Byrne’s electrifying color guard documentary, here’s what to catch at New York’s favorite film festival.

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Mar 3 2016, 6:57pm

Yesterday afternoon, Tribeca Film Festival organizers announced the first half of the fest's feature film slate, and there's already a lot to get excited about. Perhaps most notably: one third of this year's films are by women directors -- which is not only a record number in the festival's history, but a seriously needed injection of diverse and distinctive viewpoints behind the camera. (Did you see the Director's Guild of America's first Feature Film Diversity Report? Yeah, only 6.4% of the 376 major feature films released in 2013 and 2014 were directed by women). One of these pioneering women is actress Mia Wasikowska, who will make her directorial debut with the world premiere of Madly.

The film is an anthology of short films exploring love in all its weird and wonderful facets, and one in which Wasikowska shared directorial duties with five other vibrant filmmakers, including Gael García Bernal and Bat for Lashes frontwoman Natasha Khan. Madly will open TFF's International Narrative Competition, which is split from US-based narrative films in order to "strengthen the Festival's support for American narrative filmmaking and allow the breadth of international filmmaking to be reflected in the program," reads TFF's official announcement. Justin Tipping's Kicks -- in which two best friends traverse the Bay Area in an adventure to retrieve stolen sneakers -- will open that U.S. division.

Other narrative films to get excited about can be found in the Festival's out-of-competition Viewpoints showcase, "Tribeca's home for films with bold directorial visions [which] embraces underrepresented perspectives, styles, and characters," the announcement reads. Drake Doremus' sci-fi romance Equals -- starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult -- is set to make its US premiere. The dystopian project imagines a world in which human emotion is considered a disease. It'll be joined in Viewpoints by the New York premiere of another highly anticipated futurist film, Ben Wheatley's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's High-Rise -- the scarily prolific story of a housing complex in which residents are stratified by social class.

TFF also announced a standout selection for its World Documentary Competition, which will be opened by the world premiere of Contemporary Color. The film chronicles David Byrne's color guard extravaganza of the same name which was staged last summer in Toronto and Brooklyn. St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado, Dev Hynes, and the legendary Talking Heads frontman himself took to the Barclay's Center stage for electrifying musical performances paired with an unprecedented showcase of color guard artistry. Jenny Gage's All This Panic -- a film following sisters Ginger and Dusty as they come of age in New York City -- will join Contemporary Color in making its world premiere in the competition.

The Tribeca Film Festival runs between April 13 and April 24. Watch this space for updates, interviews, and more!

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Text Emily Manning
Image via YouTube

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