Following September 11, 2001, New York’s morale and economy was on the rocks. The arts in particular were struggling. That year, in the midst of all the pain and confusion, the Tribeca Film Festival was created.
The TFF founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff. Jane Rosenthal is an American film producer, Robert De Niro is a well-known actor/producer, and Craig Hatkoff is a New York real estate investor and philanthropist. The three New Yorkers created the festival “to enable the international film community and the general public to experience the power of film by redefining the film festival experience.” The TFF has helped re-establish New York City as a major filmmaking hub and aided in the recovery of the beloved lower Manhattan.
The first festival was set up with only 120 days of planning, with the help of over 1,300 volunteers. More than 150,000 people attended and new filmmakers were given a chance to shine. Included in this inaugural festival was, and still are, competitions for film categories such as Best Narrative Film, Best Documentary, and Best Short Film. As the festival grows, more categories, awards, and screenings have been added. For instance, films that have screened at the TFF include Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, About a Boy, Spider-Man 3, and The Avengers.
With a successful turnout in 2002, Robert De Niro expanded the festival in 2003 by purchasing the cinema space at 54 Varick Street, the Tribeca Cinema. Today the theatre is unfortunately up for sale and has closed, but the festival is still going strong and now screens at venues throughout the city and at its illustrious Tribeca Festival Hub, Spring Studios.
This year AT&T is sponsoring the festival, and a few keynote speakers, virtual reality experiences, and a new panel series, Tribeca Talks: Storytellers, have been announced. Among these distinguished guests, the few who have been announced include: Tina Fey, Tom Hanks, Sir Richard Branson, Google ATAP’s Regina Dugan, High Fidelity founder Philip Rosendale, and STRIVR’s Derek Belch.
The festival has always been known for feeding the creative art of storytelling and being a showcase for innovative times. This year the festival will be screening the premiere of Invasion! the world’s first VR, interactive, animated film from Baobab Studios. This interactive animation has been co-created by Maureen Fan (former VP of Games for Zynga) and Eric Darnell (director of Antz and the Madagascar series). This project follows “menacing aliens with vastly superior technology who come to claim the Earth and destroy anyone in their way.” Earth citizens then come together and defeat the enemy. This project will be creative and fun for all, especially since the earth citizens aren’t depicted as human beings, but two meek and fluffy white bunnies, which promise to be a crowd pleaser. TFF has also announced a new section titled, Storyscapes, which will be judged by a jury and showcases new technology and interactive storytelling.
Jane Rosenthal created this festival 15 years ago with the belief that “film and culture [have] the power to unite a community. As Tribeca has grown, so has [its] storytelling.” The Tribeca Film Festival is constantly reimagining cinematic experiences and bringing together the city and artists. Many new filmmakers and visionaries present their work and together they honor the art of storytelling.
Along with the TFF’s series of panels and premieres, the festival’s all-access passes will allow patrons entrance to live music events, live performances, and the famous Filmmaker Party. The best part about the TFF is that everyone can attend no matter your budget. All-access passes range from $1,250-$550 and general screenings from $40-$10 depending on the day of the week.
The program and schedule of films is yet to be announced, but we know that it will be a stand-up event. Whether you’re a filmmaker, film buff, or just in for a great time, the Tribeca Film Festival is the number one spring film festival to attend. With an open mind and heart, we can explore how love and art continue to unite communities.
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