Tribeca Film Festival Preview - Films, Fun and Fellini

The seventh annual Tribeca Film Festival opened yesterday in lower Manhattan and will run from April 24 to May 4, 2008 showcasing a quality collection of creative and diverse films, activities and all things artistic.

The Tribeca Film Festival and founding Sponsor American Express announce their committment for another five years.

The Festival’s opening press conference began with co-founder Jane Rosenthal, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg along with New York Governor David Paterson kicking off the Festival's official start with photos op’s and announcements of continued support by founding sponsor American Express and a tax cut incentive legislation by Governor Paterson. Tribeca Film Festival's Co-founder Robert DeNiro was not present.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Festival's Co-founder Jane Rosenthal, and New York Governor, David Paterson. (l-r)

The festival will present 121 full length films and seventy-nine short films from forty-one countries. There will be fifty-three world premieres, six international premieres and thirty North American premieres. All festival films are judged on their genre and artistic value and not by the country of their origin. Former Festival Artistic Director Martin Scorsese, the festival’s first Artistic Director was quoted by Peter Scarlet, the current Artistic Director, as saying, “films don’t wear flags.”

Festival Co-founder Craig Hatkoff, American Express Chief Marketing Officer, John Hayes, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Festival Co-founder, Jane Rosenthal, New York State Governor David Paterson, Festival Artistic Director, Peter Scarlet and Festival Juror and Bourne Identity Director, Doug Liman. (l-r)

Included in the Festival’s line up are activities that are annually becoming part of a family theme that the festival promotes. The Tribeca Film festival’s Drive-In is a metropolitan version of the classic Americana Drive-In and more fuel efficient with the Drive-In, stadium style seating and a Jumbotron screen, located in the World Financial Center at Battery Park City’s Boat Basin. 

The Tribeca Film Festival's classic Americana Drive-In New York style.

The Festival will host three Drive-In’s on three consecutive nights beginning on Thursday, April 24 with Thriller Night marking the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s classic video “Thriller.” The Weinstein Company will present Meerkat Manor: The Story Begins on April 25th and April 26th, Sports fans can watch Fan’s Favorite Football Flick. All of these events are geared toward the entire family and are accompanied by games, contests and other unannounced fun things.

The Tribeca Drive-In celebrates the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

The Festival’s Tribeca Family Festival Greenwich Street Fair presented by American Express, the festival’s founding sponsor, will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2008. The Street Fair, like the festival, presents a variety of activities, children’s games, adult amazements and wonderment for all along the Greenwich Street in the Tribeca section of Manhattan. 

American Express has been more than a friend to the festival since its beginning and announced today that their commitment to the revitalization of lower Manhattan through the Tribeca Film Festival will continue for another five years. 

The festival continues to be a celebration of triumph over adversity always remembering the reason behind its origin. The memories of those events remain somber. They are reflective and the celebration of the spirit and the festival is always tempered by the loss. We do remember. This same spirit is evident in many of the films entered for judging in the festival. 

True-tragedy films or documentaries presented in a dramatic/feature genre, films that celebrate the triumph of the human spirit, are in abundance at this year’s festival. Films that expose the unimaginable evil of history where the spirit longed to triumph but the circumstance and the restrictions of the heart, mind and soul were set in a different era. Even countries and civilizations that are considered third world have modernized gently and the longing of the soul and the triumph of the human spirit along with the modernization have led to a belief that albeit slowly conditions will improve.

Tribeca Film Festival presents "Ramchand Pakistani" a story of triumph over adversity.

Love is seen through many eyes in this year’s festival, even the animated eyes of the lovely Sita, in Sita Sings the Blues, and yet it is still love. Love that causes men to confess in video love letters and walk to their destiny; love that causes the hidden poet to burst into flame and exclaim, “My Marlon, My Brando, My Diego Rivera!” What did this mean to a wounded Turkish actress who found love for a lifetime on a film set in Turkey with a burly Kurdish actor known only for his portrayal of a comical superman?

"Sita Sings the Blues," is another portrayal of love and anguish.

The global political landscape is another theme at the Tribeca Film Festival. It is very interesting to view local foreign press coverage and see views of news reporting on the same events that we, who have a free press, see daily. And yes, there are stark differences.

From Turkey, "My Marlon, Mr Brando," a story of love and anguish.

The realities of war are dead and dying bodies: Some who die in battle and those who are left to mourn and die the slow death of loss. Countries that are destroyed left in ruins, disgruntled feelings and disenfranchised families. Those are the realities. The films entered for judging have shown Iran and Iraq, snow covered mountains, deserts, people, restricted lifestyles and commercialization. Anti-War Protests in Turkey, high school students in Baghdad where war has become common, civilians “mistakenly” shot in the back.

And of course, the other constant in life: Religion.  Religions of the world are represented and presented in the docu-drama style and one can see the separateness of our beliefs and the commonness of our goals.

The film, Toby Dammit by late director Federico Fellini was entered in the restoration category. One can see why Fellini’s name is spoken with awe in the film industry. He is as masterful as a painter and in this film his canvas, the film, became a Picasso. The religious over tones are impossible to overlook. The duality of man’s soul and his actions are captured perfectly in the split screen of the main character’s half light; half-shadowed face.

Federico Fellini's “Toby Dammit” restored and colorized is featured at this year's festival.

With religion being so strong a pull in the individual life another film that deals with the soul’s need to find nourishment was World’s Apart. This film is interesting in that, and without judging, religious beliefs can often be the poison that destroys a believer’s heart. The nourishment the soul longs for creates the desire for the individual to change through love. Religions of the world, and of this film, can restrain the individual until they hate the hand that poisons their heart. Justifiably.

The success of the festival is judged by the people who enjoy it! Each year the Tribeca Film Festival continues to grow and reflects the successes of the previous festival. This year’s Tribeca Film Festival has something for everyone. The ticket prices have been lowered making the trek to Tribeca worthwhile even for those above 14th street.

The Drive-in’s and Street Fair are free with many activities for children including face painting, clowns, balloons and this is for the public to enjoy.  And you can’t beat the price. And if you have ever been to the Festival you know that American Express provides, POPCORN! Free Popcorn on every corner and free for everyone.  So get out and get to this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

For more information on the Tribeca Fim Festival


Press Conference photos by Janet Walker. Courtesy of Pulse Point Productions, Inc.:

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