Tribeca Revisited

by Anthony Kaufman
May 11, 2004 12:58 PM
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While there's nothing more sastisfying than bashing the behemoths, I do believe that the Tribeca Film Festival is not merely the evil beast I originally portrayed. Despite all the pomp and circumstance, despite the family-friendly healing hootenanny that eclipses the movies, I saw with my own eyes Fest Exec Director Peter Scarlet's "trickle down" effect in action. It may sabotage the economy, but it worked at the film fest. Star-seeking New Yorkers found themselves down at the UA theaters looking for the next big thing in American studio pablum and ended up in an obscure Russian art film. (See my report in indieWIRE to read further about the movies and this one, in particular.)

Scarlet has said repeatedly that all the hype trickles down to the movies, and judging from the walkouts I saw at some of the films, I believe these folks bought tickets for whatever was available and found their eyes opened to the possibilities of cinema. Granted, such groundbreaking filmic experiences were few and far between at Tribeca, but they did exist. I wished I could have seen the faces of the filmgoers watching NY, NY competition winner, Jennifer Todd Reeves' haunting experimental feature "The Time We Killed" on closing night. (Shocked at the awards ceremony, she said, "I make experimental films. And I'm told they're not commercially viable.") Indeed. And congratulations.

The other fact that confirmed the festival's worthiness was this year's Audience Award winner. It did not go to the latest Ed Burns movie, but a documentary about three mothers whose sons were killed by police officers.

Now I can't say everything is pure and clean at Tribeca. Corporate festival sponsors always make me a little queasy, but when I saw the four General Moters Hummers (with Tribeca logos) driving fest guests around downtown, I nearly flipped. I thought these festival organizers were Democrats. What in the Hell were they doing with Hummers? I know, I know: all festivals need their money and support, but people, you have to draw the line somewhere.

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