A comics legend, a punk band and an Israeli sci-fi drama bring Jewish themes to the Tribeca Film Festival


(New York Jewish Week) – Now 21 years old, New York’s biggest film festival is also reliably rife with Jewish connections. And this year, the festival — which runs at various venues throughout Manhattan, beginning Wednesday evening and continuing through June 18  — boasts a cool crop, ranging from a profile of Jewish comics legend Stan Lee to a mystery surrounding an Iranian dissident artist whose daughter formerly oversaw one of the city’s most unusual Jewish film festivals. 

Here are some of the Jewish-interest films premiering at Tribeca this year. If you can’t make it in person, select films this year will be available for streaming following the festival.  

“The Future”

Screening in the international narrative competition, this Israeli sci-fi drama plays off the deep divides in Israeli society today. The story is a murder mystery: The head of the country’s space program is killed in the run-up to Israel’s first mission to the moon, and the leader of a new “Minority Report”-esque algorithm designed to predict future acts of terrorism decides to interview a Palestinian university student who has confessed to the murder. 

Playing June 10, 11 and 17.

“Stan Lee”

In advance of its streaming premiere on Disney+, this documentary tells the life story of the Jewish Marvel Comics legend who co-created pop culture’s most recognizable superheroes (including Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four). The film also profiles other Jewish comics pioneers in Lee’s orbit, including underground comics publisher Flo Steinberg, who began her career as his secretary.

Playing June 10, 11 and 18.

“A Revolution on Canvas (Untitled Nicky Nodjoumi)”

The former artistic director of the New York Sephardic Film Festival, Sara Nodjoumi has also produced documentaries like “The Iran Job” and “When God Sleeps,” both about the explosive intersection of pop culture and the Iranian regime. Now, Nodjoumi has turned the lens on her own father, Nickzad, an Iranian “treasonous” artist who saw more than 100 of his paintings mysteriously disappear. Co-directed by Nodjoumi and her husband Till Schauder, the documentary attempts to trace the paintings’ disappearance while asking larger questions about the fate of artists in a repressive society.

Playing June 11, 13 and 15.

“Every Body”

This timely documentary on intersex activists from “RBG” co-director Julie Cohen profiles three people born with ambiguous genitalia who hope to push back on common misconceptions about the gender binary and “corrective” surgery in the wake of sweeping legislation targeting trans people in a growing number of states. One of the film’s subjects, Austin-based Alicia Roth Weigel, is Jewish, and has talked about studying Kabbalah because the Book of Genesis describes “the image of God” as “male and female.” The film will receive a broader theatrical release June 30.

Playing June 11, 12 and 16.

“Scream of My Blood: A Gogol Bordello Story”

Self-proclaimed “Gypsy punk” band Gogol Bordello, which has rotated several Jewish members, has been a global cult sensation for decades (with one heck of a live act). This documentary, which will be screened before a live performance from the band, chronicles the group’s raucous history and its explosive new chapter as a loud protest voice in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the homeland of charismatic frontman Eugene Hütz. While Hütz is not Jewish, he told the Manchester Jewish Telegraph that his family often experienced antisemitism from neighbors who had assumed they were. (Hütz also starred in the film adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Jewish metafiction “Everything Is Illuminated.”) 

Playing June 13, 14 and 16.

Bonus: Jewish issues in audio storytelling

As podcasts grew in popularity in recent years, TriBeCa has introduced an “audio screening” program to complement its film selections. A few of its audio selections this year are of interest to Jewish audiences. There’s “Shalom, Amore,” a docu-fictional series about an Italian Jewish family during Mussolini’s Fascist regime, featuring the voice talent of Stanley Tucci. “Aisha,” a short audio drama, follows developing tension between a Palestinian girl in Gaza City and an Israeli-American aid worker. 

Check festival guide for showtimes.

For more details and information about this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, click here