Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal kicked off the 15th year of the Tribeca Film Festival Wednesday at a luncheon in New York where they traced the storied history of the festival while also emphasizing a relentless focus on the future.
“Since Jane and I started this festival 15 years ago, we’ve always looked forward,” De Niro said.
This year’s festival features work from artists and storytellers in virtually every form, from film to virtual reality to a video game in which viewers control how the narrative unfolds.
“Innovation has expanded the boundaries of distribution for all storytellers,” Rosenthal said, adding that the newest member of the Tribeca organization, CEO Andrew Essex, who joined in January, had already left his imprint “all over the festival.”
As a part of the festival’s “Tribeca Talks” series, artists working in multiple fields will discuss making the transition from one creative role to another. These include writer-comedian Tiny Fey, who is also an actor, show creator and producer; Tom Hanks, who has branched out into producing and directing, and songwriter Patti Smith, who has taken a turn as a book author.
Tribeca Talks’s directors series will feature conversations between artists whose work spans TV, movies and the web, including director J.J. Abrams and actor-comedian Chris Rock, director Joss Whedon and actor Mark Ruffalo, director Baz Luhrmann and executive producer at HBO Nelson George, directors Andrea Arnold and Ira Sachs, director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and director Julie Taymor and actress Jodie Foster.
On Thursday, April 21st, Foster will join director Martin Scorsese and actors Harvey Keitel, Cybil Shepherd and De Niro for a 40th anniversary screening of “Taxi Driver.” Writer Paul Schrader and producer Michael Phillips will also be in attendance.
Festival director Genna Terranova highlighted Tribeca’s focus on quality by noting that the festival plays roughly one third the number of feature films as most large North American festivals.
“Boiling it down to about 90 features allows us to give every artist the opportunity to be heard and seen,” she said, adding that 80 percent of the films seeking distribution at last year’s festival landed a distributor. “We’re here to amplify film and filmmakers.”
Watch the trailer for Tribeca entry “Elvis and Nixon” below.