Actor Paul Rudd stars in "Almost Christmas." (Mehdi Taamallah / AFP / Getty…)
Comedies starring Paul Rudd and Julianne Moore, a new drama from Neil LaBute and documentaries about personalities such as Richard Pryor, Gore Vidal and Elaine Stritch will be some of the films world-premiering in the Tribeca Film Festival's Spotlight section.
Festival organizers announced Wednesday that among the notable scripted tales will be Craig Zisk’s “The English Teacher,” in which Moore stars as an educator whose life is shaken by a former prized pupil, and Phil Morrison’s "Almost Christmas," an odd-couple comedy about two bumbling French-Canadians played by Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti (and evokes for this reporter the possibility of a Kevin Kline-esque set of fake French accents).
Also in comedies, Clark Gregg, fresh off his “Avengers” turn, directs and stars in "Trust Me," a Hollywood satire about an unlucky talent agent that stars a group of indie boldfaced names including Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman and Amanda Peet.
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Meanwhile, Labute’s “Some Velvet Morning” stars Stanley Tucci, and centers on relationships romantic and parental. The playwright-filmmaker had a surprise hit with his most recent feature, “Death at a Funeral.”
The documentaries world-premiering in the festival's Spotlight section feature a notable if motley mix of names.
Nicholas Wrathall’s “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia” looks at the late contrarian intellectual, while in “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic,” Marina Zenovich, the notable documentary filmmaker behind “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” examines the troubled life of the innovative comedian.
Nor is Pryor the only groundbreaking performers featured in a Tribeca film. Whoopi Goldberg takes a rare turn behind the camera to document the life of comedic pioneer Moms Mabley in “Got Somethin' to Tell You,” and in. "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me," Chiemi Karasawa examines the iconic Broadway performer in a movie that includes interviews with the likes of Tina Fey and Nathan Lane.
Though it has drastically cut the number of features in half from over 160 at its peak to fewer than 90, the festival can still fill its Spotlight section with a wide mix of titles. This year's slate will also feature Sundance breakouts such as Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight" and David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche" alongside a documentary about feline online phenomenon Lil Bub in Andy Capper and Juliette Eisner “Lil Bub and Friendz” (also “includes Mike ‘The Dude’ Bridavsky, Ben Lashes, Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat, Keyboard Cat,” if you were curious).
On Tuesday, the festival announced competition titles, which include a Brad pitt executive-produced documentary and a look at the life of Michael Haneke.
The festival also announced midnight titles Wednesday, which include WWIIcyborg tale “The Machine” and woman-in-prison black comedy “Raze,” while the festival’s storyscapes section includes multimedia presentations such as the multimedia “Star WarsUncut,” a set of alternative takes on the classic.
The 12-day festival begins April 17 in New York.
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