Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another Tribeca Film Festival Spreads Downtown Throughout the City

Advance Story by Brad Balfour with Eric Lurio

It all started with 9/11 when the planes that hit the twin towers devastated lower Manhattan and one of the wealthier neighborhoods--TRIBECA (the TRIangle BElow CAnal Street). Originally an industrial area, artistic types moved into inexpensive lofts and turned them into luxury housing during the 1970s.

One local resident--megastar actor Robert DeNiro--decided to start a film festival in the area to revive the neighborhood and city. So, in the fall of 2001, mere weeks after the attack, he and producers Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff announced that the first Tribeca Film Festival would happen the following May.

In 2002, the initial Tribeca Film Festival was a major success. Unlike most film festivals in New York City, the emphasis was as much on "festival" as on film, and the event included a rock concert in Battery Park and a children’s street fair.

Now, with the exception of the street fair, the festival has all but abandoned Tribeca itself eight years later. With this year's Tribeca Film Festival--running from April 22nd to May 3rd--most of the screenings take place either in Chelsea or the East Village; and there are a bunch of screenings at the DGA theater on West 57th street (the opening night is at the Ziegfeld Theater on W. 54th St.), miles away from the neighborhood it was originally promoted.

De Niro and company have been trying to create a New York film festival like those in Toronto and Berlin that has an impact on both the entertainment industry and the public at large, something a bit populist, a worthy cause.

With the price at $15 per individual ticket (general screenings prior to 6 pm or after 11 pm are $8, but of course that's doesn't include service charges which depend on how you get tix) there may be problems for attending, especially in this recession. And keep in mind, there are some expensive panels--"Behind the Screens" and "Tribeca Talks"--are $25.

[left: image from Love The Beast] This year, there are only about half the films that were there last year, which may be better idea if these are more hits than misses--plus you usually get the directors and cast doing Q & As after the screenings. And the free outdoor films--The Drive-In--are going to be at the World Financial Center Plaza, so no one has to cross the West Side Highway as in the past.

There are free things as well: a couple of panels--and some at the Apple Store in Soho--plus the aforementioned Drive-In. And there's the one event that actually takes place in Tribeca--the Family street fair on Greenwich between Hubert and Chambers Street.

But most people come here for the movies, so there are 45 World Premieres,15 North American Premieres, 12 New York Premieres, Five International Premieres and Three U.S. Premieres. If you go, The fest has lots of new films to see.

[left: image--Kobe Doin' Work] The festival is divided up into the following categories: The Galas (which includes the opening night film, Woody Allen's "Whatever Works"--to be seen at midtown's Ziegfeld; Spike Lee’s “Kobe Doin' Work” and the Nia Vardalos starrer “My Life In Ruins”) World Narrative Competition; World Documentary Competition; Encounters; Showcase; Midnight; Restored/Rediscovered; Shorts; and the ESPN Sports Film Festival track.

Then there are other things like panel discussions for those who are into the mechanics of filmmaking and the issues surrounding it; they have famous people talking about the craft which is always more fun to see live than on screen. Plus, there just all those people that come to town to remind us that NYC is Hollywood East!

For more infomation--check out the website or call (646) 502-5296

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