Tribeca Starts Buzzing

Organised for the fifth year in a row, the Tribeca Film Festival seems to have hit its stride this year. Sure, every year its cheerleader, Robert de Niro, pops up on the covers of Time Out, the Village Voice and as many publications as the festival PRs can get their hands on. But this year, things seem to be running smoothly behind the scenes too.

There is an actual press office with helpful people and plenty of PCs and MACs that are not all hogged by hotmailing journos. There is a lounge where filmmakers, industry and press can meet over free soda and snacks. Members of the industry have to fork over hundreds of dollars for accreditation, which is unheard of in Europe, but in the Capital of Hustle, people are willing to pay for access. The filmmakers whose work has been selected are rewarded for their creative suffering with eyepopping Crumpler messenger bags, a big box of Final Cut Pro software and plenty of after-parties.

The TFF is overly ambitious in its scope, with a top-heavy schedule that tries to be all things to all people: red carpet glamour, political documentaries, workshops, mentoring programmes, family screenings, a lounge with live singer-songwriters and much more. The festival has even outgrown Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal Street) with screenings in multiplexes further uptown.

But its hub remains in Tribeca and the festival accomplishes what its staid older brother, the New York Film Festival, doesn't. Filmmakers and the media are walking the streets of Tribeca, mingling, speaking different languages, making new friends, checking out the local shops. The New York Film Festival is a series of high quality films, screened at the Lincoln Center, but it's a rarified Upper West Side party for insiders only. After four previous editions, which were tentative and definitely lacking in the organisational department, the Tribeca Film Festival has finally managed to create a buzz on the streets of New York, which is quite an achievement, since the hustle and bustle in the Big Apple hardly needs any encouragement.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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