“It was supposed to be a one-off,” De Niro said of the festival’s founding in 2002, a little more than a year after the destruction of the nearby World Trade Center. “What was supposed to be a statement about the resiliency of the neighbor hood has become an institution … with your continued support, I’ll continue to be surprised,” at which point Bob wrapped it up, the room breathed a sigh of relief, and De Niro’s pal and festival henchwoman Jane Rosenthal went about spelling out what exactly TFF would be offering this year.
The festival includes rather ambitious forays into new media, virtual reality, hacking, innovative storytelling, to such a degree that the specter of SXSW seemed to be haunting Tribeca: Would the festival start gravitating away from film and putting more emphasis on technology to the point its entire IDENTITY would be in crisis? After all, Rosenthal, the festival’s own co-founder, said if you were to do ONE THING thing at Tribeca this year it should involve a visit to the new Spring Studios at 50 Varick St. (not Spring!), 150,000 square feet of space intended as the creative hub of the festival and devoted to its juried “Storyscapes” initiative, gaming platforms, interactive summits and various mash-ups of technology and filmmaking.
Rosenthal said the TFF organizers had been having “impure thoughts” regarding the changes that have been wrought to media since the festival’s inception. However: “We love film here. Love it. And our impure thoughts don’t threaten that love.” If only that De Niro guy could read a script….