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Tribeca Film Hot Topic

Tribeca Film Hot Topic

Thompson on Hollywood

The hot topic of conversation at this Friday’s Independent Spirit Awards will be the role of film festivals in distribution, as Tribeca Enterprises honchos Jane Rosenthal and ex-Sundance director Geoff Gilmore announce their plans to actively engage in distribution for indie films with backing from investor Jonathan Tisch and American Express. Gilmore has long indicated that this was a direction he wanted to take. Now he’s acting on it. (Here’s the NYT.)

Tribeca Film is taking further what other fests have started, including Sundance (which partnered rather unimpressively with YouTube this year) and SXSW (which works closely with IFC Films). “We’re trying to take it to a whole other level,” Gilmore told indieWIRE. Eugene Hernandez, David Poland and Ted Hope react. Gilmore and Rosenthal want to open up the distribution log jam, primarily via digital distribution. But Hope identifies what I see as the primary road block to instant-fest launches which so far have not been very successful: the marketing gap.

I will get back to this anon.

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love for all

A concerned filmmaker

I feel like this is of marginal importance to the average independent filmmaker, since Tribeca is a for-profit corporation ostensibly created to help revive a neighborhood populated by investment bankers and movie stars after 9/11. Anybody who’s ever had to deal with the Tribeca staff who isn’t famous can attest to how un-filmmaker friendly they are. And I’ve always thought of the fest as really an extended ad for American Express, and a chance for Vanity Fair to do another glitzy photo spread of a big, celeb-filled opening party.

But more importantly, when festivals have a financial interest in the movies they screen other than simply filling seats in a cinema, I think it’s bad for filmmakers. The focus becomes less “what can we do to help filmmakers get exposure?” and more “what will sell?”.

This is probably yet another blow to truly independent filmmaker, and another step forward in the corporatization of independent filmmaking.

Chris Thilk

I think that’s the direction more festivals are going to wind up going in, only moreso as the years go by and one I’m surprised it’s taken so long for them to adopt. With the indie marketplace in a drastically different place than it was in even 2000 there’s going to be, I think, more calling for these festivals to put their money where their mouth is in terms of support for the movies and distribute some of them under their own banner.

However, the responsibility then falls on the filmmaker to promote its appearance on those on-demand channels. They can’t just expect the audience to stumble upon it and so need to be going full-speed on promoting it through the networks they’ve built up of potential fans and audience members.

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