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15 Films to See at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival

2 Days in New York
Magnolia Pictures

It's Year 11 for the Tribeca Film Festival, and it looks like the fest created by Robert De Niro is hitting its stride.

The 11-day event, which takes place April 18-29, has always been known for its flashy red- carpet premieres (this year's fest is bookended with the comedy "The Five-Year Engagement" and Marvel's latest “The Avengers”) and fun family fare (free Drive In screenings of "Jaws" and "The Goonies"). Tribeca is also branching out into the online world: For its second year, the festival will screen a handful of titles from this year's Tribeca Online Film Festival as well as stream some of its panels.

But if you like to watch your movies the old-fashioned way (in the theater), here are 15 titles from this year's fest that we think you should check out.

1. '2 Days in New York'

In Julie Delpy's sequel to her 2007 directorial debut "2 Days in Paris," she casts Chris Rock as her love interest for another dramedy filled with family and misunderstandings. Living the good life in New York with their children, Marion (Delpy) and Mingus (Rock) are in for an interesting two days when Marion's family shows up unannounced. Playing Marion’s father once more is Delpy's real-life dad, and if you saw "2 Days in Paris" you know where Julie got her screen presence (he's quite a hoot). Look for the film in theaters later this year.

2. 'Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey'

Already an established star in the Philippines, singer Arnel Pineda become a YouTube sensation in the States in 2007 for his rendition of songs by Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Journey. He was so impressive that Journey signed him to be their new frontman that year. His rags-to-riches story is highlighted in this moving documentary that follows Pineda and the group on their world tour.

Francophenia
Doug Chamberlain

3. 'Francophrenia (or: Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is)'

In 2009 James Franco signed on to act on the soap opera "General Hospital." He was filmed behind the scenes for most of his time there, and the footage has been used to build a mind-bending experimental thriller in which Franco portrays himself and a fictional character (voiced by Ian Olds, who directed the film with Franco). Filled with multiple-screen images, animation and reverse action, this one will surprise most Franco fans who know his work in Hollywood.

4. 'Hysteria'

In this funny period piece, Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal play a pair of rebels who, while fighting the Victorian establishment in 19th-century London, stumble upon the invention of the electro-mechanical vibrator. Rounding out the cast are Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett and Jonathan Pryce. Look for the film in theaters May 18.

5. 'Journey to Planet X'

Florida scientists Eric Swain and Troy Bernier have a dirty little secret: When they punch out from their desk jobs they turn to their other profession, making low-budget sci-fi films. Having enjoyed using green screens and amateur talent to bring their dreams into reality, Troy is now ready to make "Planet X," their greatest film yet. Can Eric and Troy's low-fi capabilities be enough to accomplish their huge ambition? Filmmaker Myles Kane and Josh Koury tag along to find out in this entertaining look at two DIY mavericks.

6. 'Knuckleball!'

With its ESPN Sports Film Festival sidebar, Tribeca has spotlighted some of the best sports-themed documentaries currently being made. This year is no exception as famed doc filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg ("Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work") will delve into the art of the knuckleball. With its slow, dancing movement, the pitch has baffled major league baseball batters for over 100 years, and the directors follow two modern-day pitchers who use it: recently retired Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and the Mets' R.A. Dickey.

Lola Versus
Fox Searchlight

7. 'Let Fury Have the Hour'

Author and visual artist Antonino D'Ambrosio's directorial debut gives a social history of the evolution of the political statement known as the "creative response." It was born in the Reagan-era '80s, when artists and activists channeled their displeasure in the reactionary politics that defined the country. Some of the influential figures highlighted in D'Ambrosio's film include Chuck D, Tom Morello, Lewis Black and John Sayles.

8. 'Lola Versus'

In the latest in Greta Gerwig's evolution, she plays Lola, a New Yorker who is suddenly thrust back into the dating pool when she's abruptly dumped weeks before her wedding. But the dating scene isn't how she left it eight years ago, leading to comical heartbreak. Look for the film in theaters June 8.

9. 'Mansome'

For Morgan Spurlock's latest documentary, he tries to uncover the true meaning of "mansome." From rocking the muttonchops to manscaping at your local spa, the way men groom themselves varies widely. Spurlock goes to barbershops and questions famous friends like Zach Galifianakis, Judd Apatow and the film’s executive producers Will Arnett and Jason Bateman to find answers.

The Playroom
One Mind Productions

10. 'The Playroom'

Coming off being part of a Best Ensemble win at Sundance for his performance in the stirring drama "The Surrogate," indie's go-to guy John Hawkes comes to Tribeca with a ... well, stirring drama. In "Playroom" he's the patriarch of a '70s family that on the outside looks like the blueprint of an all-American family; but as we see over the span of one night (and some booze), not everything is what it seems.

11. 'Searching For Sugar Man'

A big hit at this year's Sundance, where it premiered and walked away with the World Cinema Audience Award, this beautiful documentary delves into the legend of '70s folk singer Rodriguez, who, despite having microscopic record sales in the U.S., became a huge star in South Africa after word spread of his supposed horrific death on stage. Malik Bendjelloul's film explores what happened to Rodriguez and the uplifting power of music.

12. 'Side by Side'

This engaging documentary produced by Keanu Reeves examines the drastic changes that have occurred in filmmaking over the last several years, from the way we watch movies to how they are made. Reeves talks to the likes of James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan and Andy and Lana Wachowski to get their insights on the ever-changing business of moviemaking.

13. 'Sleepless Night'

Pegged as "Die Hard" meets "24," this action-packed thriller by French filmmaker Frédéric Jardin has fans of genre filmmaking excited. The film follows Vincent, a well-respected cop whose dirty side is hidden until he's caught stealing cocaine from a drug lord. Over the course of one night in a club, Vincent races against time to return the drugs in order to save his son’s life.

Take This Waltz
Magnolia Pictures

14. 'Take This Waltz'

In the long-awaited third directorial effort from actress Sarah Polley, she casts Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams as married couple Margot and Lou, who suddenly find themselves in a rut when Margot falls in love with her neighbor. It also features an impressive supporting role by Sarah Silverman.

15. 'Your Sister’s Sister'

Having already gained high marks at Toronto and Sundance, Lynn Shelton follows up her 2009 festival hit "Humpday" with this intimate look at the lives of thirtysomethings trying to understand their place in the world. This time we follow Jack (Mark Duplass), who, while mourning the death of his brother, accepts his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt)'s invitation to stay at their family's holiday house only to find that Iris' sister Hanna (Rosemarie DeWitt) is also there. And that's when things get good. Look for the film in theaters later this year.

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