Haydenfilms News & Events

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tenth Tribeca Festival Embraces Technology and the Community

By Michael Katz and Erin Thomas
HFI Correspondents

With the motto “It’s Movies. It’s New York,” it is no small wonder that the Tribeca Film Festival, now celebrating its tenth run, has become a linchpin to the lower Manhattan community. The festival was founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff in 2002. Tribeca has received tens of thousands of submissions and has injected an estimated $600 million into the community.

During an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, which was part of the Tribeca Talks Director’s Series, a new program featuring interviews with some of Hollywood’s biggest names, Robert De Niro said that people come to New York “for a reason…You can feel anonymous here, you can feel a part of the community here…It’s got everything.”

With six different film categories, there is something at Tribeca for everyone. Drawing guests and filmmakers from around the world, it is considered an international film festival, and this year alone has received entries from 40 countries. One film participating in the World Narrative Competition, “Grey Matter,” is the world premier of the first feature-length narrative film from Rwanda.

A big part of Tribeca is focused on the filmmakers of tomorrow. They host the Family Festival, which includes a street fair, a sports day and a special “kids access” day where children can experience the excitement of the red carpet. The Downtown Youth Behind the Camera gives students the chance to showcase their work from different programs and schools.

The Tribeca Film Instiute (TFI) was also founded to restore creativity and innovation to lower Manhattan’s youth. Its mission statement says, “The Institute’s educational programming leverages an extensive network of people in the film industry to help New York City students learn filmmaking and gain the media skills necessary to be productive citizens and creative individuals in the 21st century.” With the success of TFI and Tribeca, it is easy to see how independent film projects can revitalize a community.

De Niro said that box-office films are becoming a “formula.” He prefers the versatility of independent film, saying “You have more room, latitude to do things that are more interesting.” In addition, filmmaking creates jobs, can bring people from around the world to a specific area, and attracts more customers to local businesses.

The Academy Award-winning actor, producer and director has good reason to invest so much time and energy into the Tribeca area. “I love New York. I’m a New Yorker,” said De Niro, who was born and raised in Little Italy. The actor is known for his deep commitment to the city’s post-9/11 recovery. When 9/11 struck, De Niro said, “I remember when it happened. All the things that I was interested in, the movie projects…I said this is all never going to happen; forget it; I don’t know what’s going to happen now.”

But if Tribeca has proven one thing, it is that the arts can help a community bounce back, even from the worst of tragedies. Today, De Niro’s projects are still going strong. “I have a few, I’d say seven to ten that are very actively being developed and worked on,” he said. Tribeca has also been busy with new projects.

The festival has adapted to ever-changing technology, and has recently added an online component to its programming. Now, audiences can interact with filmmakers and comment on their videos, watch live streams of the festival, including movies, discussion panels, red carpet coverage and much more.

Although De Niro is keeping busy, he is still a man of principles. “I use a computer, but I don’t Twitter. I don’t do any of that.” He does own an iPhone, and said that “The iPad is good to read scripts.”

With a mobile app and online presence, the Tribeca Film Festival has found new ways to help audiences stay on top of its programming. If you have not had the chance to go to Tribeca, it is easier than ever to plan your trip, from transportation and hotels, to venues, to restaurants. Just visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/ to take a look at all the festival has to offer, and to start planning your strip today. Tribeca has become a hive of activity and a melting pot of culture.