New York City’s biggest film festival is back for another year of games, art, music, and, of course, cinema. Though Tribeca Festival has technically dropped the “film” from its name, the 2023 edition is still ripe with screenings of the most exciting films to meet the big screen this year. Here are five gems to add to your watchlist as the festival gets underway…

Afire (dir. Christian Petzold)

Afire Tribeca
Afire (dir. Christian Petzold)

Four young holiday-goers must reckon with their darkest impulses after being trapped in a Balcan holiday home by a forest fire raging around them. This is the premise of Afire, Christian Petzold’s thrilling drama that has already made impact on the 2023 festival circuit after winning the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival this year. If it hits anything like Petzold’s previous feature Undine, then we may be looking at one of the sneak-best features of the 2023.

The Blackening (dir. Tim Story)

The Blackening (dir. Tim Story)

Tim Story’s The Blackening is the latest in a current trend of new-wave horror-comedies, including Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, and They/Them, that see contemporary issues probed and satirised through a Gen-Z lens. The film follows a group of seven black friends whose Juneteenth weekend in a remote cabin is upended by a psychopathic killer with a twisted game in mind. The aim? The group must decide which of them is “the blackest”. The stakes? Life or death. The film probes the role and stereotypes of the black character in the horror-genre, and, in true Scream fashion, our protagonists have to rely on their knowledge of the slasher film to survive.

Cypher (dir. Chris Moukarbel)

Acclaimed rapper and singer Tierra Whack tries her hand at acting in this new feature by Chris Moukarbel that follows Whack as a fictional version of herself. A fictional pseudo-music documentary, the film explores the long-running conspiracy that there is a secret society controlling the music industry.

After Freddie Gibbs fantastic portrayal of a rapper-turned-farmer in 2022’s underrated Down With The King, we’re excited to see another rap-star break down the boundaries between mediums.

Maggie Moore(s) (dir. John Slattery)

Maggie Moore
Maggie Moore(s) (dir. John Slattery)

Jon Hamm and Tina Fey star in this dark-comedy crowd-pleaser that follows Jordan Saunders (Hamm), a Police Chief assigned to a case in a small desert-town in Arizona in which two women with the same name were both murdered. He’s helped in his investigation by nosy neighbour Rita Grace (Fey), whom he begins to fall for. Mad Men heads should be excited about this one, as it sees Hamm reunite with his co-star on the HBO series, John Slattery, who is returning to the director’s chair after debuting his first feature God’s Pocket at Sundance almost ten years ago now.

Fish Out Of Water (dir. Francesca Scorsese)

After impressing audiences at Cannes this year, Francesca Scorsese is taking her debut short Fish Out Of Water to Tribeca for its official premiere. The film follows Lexi, a struggling and rebellious young mother who attempts to reunite with her estranged father after her mother’s illness worsens.

We spoke to the young filmmaker about the film, her relationship with Martin Scorsese, and how she’s carving her own style and voice as a filmmaker—check it out here!