tentpole is used to describe a blockbuster movie that
can appeal to everyone. If it were applied to a
festival, the Tribeca Film Festival would be it.
The sixth annual
festival opens Wednesday with a wide selection of
international art-house fare, populist premieres, and
family-friendly films--157 features and 88
shorts jammed into 12 days of screenings, panel
discussions, and parties.
founded in response to the September 11 attacks by Robert De
Niro; his producing partner, Jane Rosenthal; and her
husband, the entrepreneur Craig Hatkoff, the Tribeca
festival has gradually developed an identity as
diverse as the city itself.
everything from an avant-garde film called
Passio--with live music by Arvo Part at
the Cathedral of St. John the Divine--to
Spider-Man 3,'' said chief festival
programmer and executive director Peter Scarlet.
''You can't get
two things that are more unlike each other, but it's that
almost surreal juxtaposition of different kinds of things
that I think is an example of how we're trying to
redefine what a film festival is.''
launched in 2002, as Rosenthal says, because of an ''act of
war.'' She and De Niro wanted to do something to benefit
their neighborhood, just north of where the World
Trade Center towers once stood.
They began with
no long-term plans, but six years later the festival has
become an international fixture--nestled between the
more domestic Sundance Film Festival in January and
the preeminent international fest, Cannes, in mid May.
Because of its
origins, Tribeca will always be defined by its connection
to September 11 and the continuing reverberations of that
''We are a
political festival,'' said Rosenthal in a recent interview
in her Tribeca office.
Though Tribeca in
its early years intentionally opened with heartwarming
comedies like About a Boy, last year it
confronted its history by opening with United
93, the documentary-like recounting of the flight that
crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11.
The festival has
increasingly highlighted films that deal with post-9/11
issues like the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. That mission
expands this year with a series of global
warming-themed short films produced by the SOS
(Save Our Selves) campaign. They will open the festival in a
gala hosted by Al Gore on Wednesday.
''We will do
things and show things, and whether you like it or not, it's
something to see and it's ways to ask questions,'' said
Rosenthal. ''We might be able to do something about
climate change quicker than we can do something about
our current administration.''
Among this year's
political documentaries are Taxi to the Dark
Side by Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys
in the Room), which details the policies behind the
Abu Ghraib scandal; Beyond Belief, about two
September 11 widows traveling to Afghanistan; and I Am an
American Soldier: One Year in Iraq in the 101st
Airborne, for which filmmaker John Laurence documented
soldiers' lives for 14 months.
big-tent events are the U.S. premiere of Spider-Man 3
on April 30; the premiere of Curtis Hanson's romance
Lucky You, starring Eric Bana and Drew
Barrymore; and one of the festival's signature events: the
''It's really a
sit-in,'' joked Rosenthal, explaining that the outdoor
screenings are her favorite part of the festival. This year
will feature a 20th anniversary screening of Dirty
Dancing, the animated Surf's Up, and
Planet B-Boy, a documentary about breakdancing.
A new addition
this year also pays respect to a genre often given scant
attention at movie festivals: the sports movie. Sponsored by
ESPN, Tribeca will present 14 premieres of
sports-related films, as well as a screening of the
baseball classic The Natural.
ambassadors of the sports festival are former NFL running
back and now TV personality Tiki Barber, and tennis
legend Billie Jean King.
Movies playing in
the Tribeca Family Festival include Gumby: The Movie
and a documentary on student council races in four
different middle schools titled The Third Monday in October.
merit is often measured in its ability to present movies
appealing to distributors--it's a marketplace. The two
most successful Tribeca-showcased films are
Transamerica, which went on to yield Felicity
Huffman a Best Actress Academy Award nomination, and
Jesus Camp, which received an Oscar
nomination this year for Best Documentary.
''I'd like to see
a narrative picture break out in a mainstream way, but
that takes time,'' said Rosenthal. ''You can't do anything
will catch on this year is impossible, but among the
eagerly awaited films are the Leonardo
DiCaprio-produced Gardener of Eden; the poker
mockumentary The Grand; and Lady
Chatterley, an adaptation of the second version (of
three) of D.H. Lawrence's erotic novel. The film won
five Cesar Awards, the French equivalent of the
But there are
many more, from 47 countries and territories. Among the
international entries are the Turkish Times and
Winds, the Kurdish Half Moon, and The Last
Man, hyped as the first Lebanese vampire movie.
The festival can
similarly boast the first movie directed by Fred Durst,
front man of rock-rap group Limp Bizkit: The
Education of Charlie Banks. It's surely a sign that
at Tribeca, everyone is welcome. (AP)