A friend told me today that the Tribeca Film Festival has done a good job of creating an event that welcomes people from outside the film industry, she noted that unlike other film fests in the city, this is one that doesn’t seem like its aimed at the movie industry elite or a select group of film insiders. By those standards, the Tribeca Film Festival is truly a success.
Rebecca Traister’s lengthy article about the festival in today’s NY Times calls the TFF “one of the fastest-growing cultural institutions in New York,” citing its $15 million budget. “We are committed to overcoming the sense that a film festival is a wholesale experience, where you have to be a member of that trade to get in,” festival chief Peter Scarlet told the Times, “This is retail. You can walk in off the street.
Yet if that’s the case, then why is it so important to festival organizers that this be a “premiere festival”, with new films that have not been seen by film buyers? In the NY Times piece, Traister concludes with a charge that will no doubt ruffle a few feathers over at the Tribeca Film Center:
For all of the festival’s glitzy pageantry, civic impact and expansion plans, there is one arena in which it has yet to make an impact: in the industry that spawned it. Unlike the Sundance Film Festival, which has become a major shopping expedition for Hollywood distributors, the TriBeCa festival has not yet been host to the sale of a single film, or launched a formerly unknown independent title into widespread consciousness. For some observers, that remains an elusive form of validation, a coming-of-age ritual that the festival will have to undergo before it truly arrives.
Whether this year’s installment will see the fest move closer to becoming a must-attend industry event remains to be seen, but if early buzz is any indication, organizers might find it easier to draw film buyers if they moved TFF away from the week before Cannes.
Pictured above (left to right): Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorsese, Jane Rosenthal and NY Governor George Pataki unveiling the Tribeca Film Festival in Dec. 2001.