If you sat inside screenings during the Tribeca Film Festival, you’d see lots of familiar faces in the film industry: executives from just about every major film company; even Harvey Weinstein dropped in for the world premiere of “Trucker.” But as I reported for the Wall Street Journal Online, Tribeca has been and continues to be a place where films are picked up — not for major releases — but for miniscule theatrical runs, and for the most part, DVD, cable and video-on-demand releases.
This really isn’t so much Tribeca’s fault as it is simply a case of the shifting marketplace. Frankly, there are very few strong independent films made in any given year, and about 95% of those will premiere at Sundance or Toronto. Like SXSW, Los Angeles Independent, AFI, and the rest, Tribeca will always have worthy, watcheable films, but their buzz acquistion titles are not going to match those at the Park City and Canadian festivals. And I don’t mean to demean their programming; this is not a critical slight — in fact, there are several excellent films that I would champion from a critical perspective (i.e. “Somers Town,” “My Winnipeg,” etc). Here, rather, I’m examining the festival’s weary status as a marketplace, something which they’ve been trying to cultivate ever since year two.
“Bart Got a Room” could prove me wrong. As I write this, Cinetic Media is pushing a print of the teen comedy around the major studio specialty divisions in Los Angeles. Perhaps their marketing departments will see a future “Napolean Dynamite”/”Superbad” hit in “Bart.” But I definitely didn’t. As many smart distribution executives told me, the film is a tweener — an adult film in teen’s clothing — which hasn’t worked in the marketplace. Neither crude enough for the “American Pie” audience, nor smart enough for the art-house audience, “Bart” doesn’t have the perfect fit that’s required in today’s marketplace. I’m shocked that a number of critics enjoyed what appeared to me as a derivative and unappealing film. But I’m not a fair judge, as I walked out after 30 minutes.