Tribeca Film Festival Gets Political

Political news has been inescapable in the past few months—and it didn’t get passed the Tribeca Film Festival either. This year, the annual festival (taking place April 19-30) will feature several compelling documentaries taking a close look at political and social issues dominating the news. From international conflicts including the war in Syria to national controversies like the Dakota pipeline, take a look at these must-watch documentaries.

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From the Ashes

Directed by the Emmy-nominated Michael Bonfiglio, From the Ashes explores America’s coal industry’s legacy, as well as how it affects economy, health and the climate. The documentary also touches upon the future of the coal industry under the Donald Trump administration.

Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock

“What do we do when our land is under attack?” a man is heard screaming in this powerful documentary capturing the conflict of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. Actress Shailene Woodley, who was arrested while protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, serves as an executive producer with Myron Dewey and Josh Fox as directors.

Frank Serpico

Movements against police departments around the country make Frank Serpico a timely documentary about the former NYPD officer who exposed “corruption and payoffs” in the department in the 70s. It’s directed by Antonino D’Ambrosio, who also directed 2015’s We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited.

Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS

Directed by Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested with Mark Monroe as the writer, this harrowing documentary showcases the chaos in Syria and explains why its a cause of concern for the entire world. An up-close look at life is seen through families who share their terrifying experiences, including ISIS checkpoints that make it very difficult to escape. Experts also weigh in on the war as well as refugees being smuggled from Turkey to Greece.

The Reagan Show

In a time where Presidents are in the spotlight as much as celebrities, take a look back at the popular Republican president who was one of the first to have nearly every one of his moves documented during his 80s presidency. Directed by Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez, The Reagan Show is an entertaining documentary made with mostly archived footage that also shows United States conflict with Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the time.

For Flint

Emmy-award winning director Brian Schulz showcases the ongoing water crisis in the Michigan city which began in 2014. Through their grief and struggle, the diverse Flint residents Schulz films somehow exude optimism and are faces of inspiration.

Headed to the festival (or just towards it)? Check back Monday for a list of top spots to eat. 

anna halkidis

anna halkidis

Anna Halkidis is a senior web editor at Long Island Pulse. Feel free to reach out at or on Twitter @annahalkidis.