We all know the criticism leveled at Tribeca each year: It's the event that all the girls really like but never date.
The Tribeca guy is decent and well-groomed, has real personality, he's cultured and bilingual, he's fun, family-friendly and tries to cater to everyone's needs.
But there's always the spontaneous, crazy guy (SXSW); the older, experienced guy (Sundance); the sexy European guy (Cannes); the elegant, borderline pretentious guy (Telluride); and the non-threatening business guy (Toronto). Even Tribeca's roommates, the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films, seem to get luckier.
But why does that seem to be the case? People genuinely like and appreciate what the directors -- who include chief creative officer Geoffrey Gilmore, artistic director Frederic Boyer, executive director Nancy Schafer and programming director Genna Terranova -- bring to New York's theaters for the 12-day event, which ended Sunday. They work hard and they have strong tastes, even as they are perpetually hamstrung by the festival's timing.
Gilmore was definitively more involved in programming this year and had a larger presence throughout; as for Boyer, observers are still waiting to see what he can do with a full year to prepare, assuming his contract is renewed through the 2013 iteration.
"I want to talk about quality of filmmaking, I want to talk about quality of stories," says Gilmore, who sees the marketplace as just one piece of a festival pie that is equally about the jury decisions, audience reaction and press/criticism. "I feel very strongly about the quality of what we did this year. A deep range of filmmaking is what we achieved."
But assessments from industry players -- including a collection of theatrical and VOD acquisition execs and distribution reps -- seem to break down into two distinct groups: Those who had films to peddle, and those who were looking for films to buy. In general, the former were exceptionally pleased; the latter came away with a resigned shrug.
One executive with films in the program declared the 2012 fest "pretty spectacular," with Gilmore's increased participation in press and screenings a boon for the filmmakers. Organization was smooth and the decrease in the number of films meant the festival could give better attention to those it chose to highlight (just 89 features at the 2012 edition).
At the same time, the Tribeca fest's eclectic audiences, which totaled some 116,000, were able to find the films they wanted to see -- particularly the ever-strong documentary selections.