Every spring, something rather special happens in the Tribeca section of Manhattan, something most people know about but only cinefiles and industry professionals really bask in. I’m talking of course about the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place in the Big Apple from April 19-30. The festival celebrates some of the very best in film, TV, and interactive experiences. This year the selections are as diverse as ever, and with so much to see, one must develop and execute their itinerary very carefully. Out of the many films being presented this year, I’ve chosen five that are on my must-watch list:

1.) Gilbert – Feature Documentary, directed by Neil Berkeley

Most documentaries shine a spotlight on world issues and notable public figures from history; they are often sobering examinations of real life events. Now, if you heard that they’ve made a doc of legendary shock comic Gilbert Gottfried, you may seem a bit perplexed, but this particular film examines the man from a very careful and thoughtful lens. Dick jokes aside, Gottfried is revealed to the public as a family man and a sensitive soul. This unlikely documentary is sure to pull you in, grab you, and leave you with smile on your face.

2.) Dog Years – Feature Narrative, directed by Adam Rifkin, starring Burt Reynolds and Ariel Winter

Dramedies about growing old are usually a big hit, and Dog Years seems to continue in that grand tradition. With an older Burt Reynolds trying to recapture the magic of his faded career, this film might ring truer than one might think. Vic Edwards (Reynolds) is being honored with a lifetime achievement award at the fictional Nashville Film Festival, and his young, brash driver/escort named Lil (Winter) soon embarks on a road trip with the once great and shining star. This film has lots of potential due to of its self-referential nature and quirky dramedy appeal.

3.) The Circle – Feature Narrative, directed by James Ponsoldt, starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, and Bill Paxton

Tech thrillers are great ways for actors to showcase their emotional range, and The Circle looks to be one of those special opportunities for young starlet Emma Watson to branch out a bit. Hired by a huge media company and soon recruited for a sketchy company experiment by morally-ambiguous founder Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), Mae (Watson) must now navigate the murky waters and potential dangers this tricky experiment has created.

4.) Hounds of Love – Feature Narrative, directed by Ben Young, starring Emma Booth, Stephen Curry, and Ashleigh Cummings

The Australian Hounds of Love, in what appears to be a brutal and downright creepy horror/thriller hybrid, follows a deranged suburban couple (based on real-life Australian serial killers) who take pleasure in kidnapping and torturing random teenage girls. With the horror genre pretty random in recent times (Get Out being one of the stronger entries), Hounds looks to be a solid entry in the genre, with a stylish mix of physical and psychological terror. This Aussie export might even just start a cult following.

5. The Boy Downstairs – Feature Narrative, directed by Sophie Brooks, starring Zosia Mamet, Matthew Shear, and Deirdre O’Connell

In what appears to be a millennial reinterpretation of When Harry Met Sally and classic Woody Allen romances, The Boy Downstairs delves into indie-flavored New York dramedy. Recent college graduate Diana (Zosia Mamet) is looking to make a name for herself in the Big Apple. She starts this process by moving into a Brooklyn apartment, only to discover that the tenant right below is her ex-boyfriend, Ben (Matthew Shear). With her ditzy, well-meaning persona a comic delight in HBO’s Girls, Mamet and The Boy Downstairs is sure to entertain with lighthearted charm and cute “will they / won’t they” romantic quirkiness.

These are just a fraction of what the Tribeca Film Festival has to offer this year, as numerous cinematic gems surely await. The talented actors and filmmakers behind said films will be occupying the downtown area of Manhattan in the coming weeks. April 19 – April 30, and will hopefully give film lovers what they crave. It is up to you, the viewer, to indulge and enjoy. Just plan accordingly.

Click here for tickets and information regarding the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

Randall J. Unger (Randy) is a film critic and interviewer who reviews movies of all kinds. He interviews actors, filmmakers, composers, dancers, and even special effects makeup artists for his film review show / podcast 'Unger the Radar'. Some of the talent he has interviewed includes Jude Law, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Marisa Tomei, Elijah Wood, Kevin Pollak, Robert Rodriguez, and Kal Penn. He is a regular fixture at screenings, comic cons, and other special events. He is based in New York City. Twitter: @randall_unger