Posted: 04/20/2010


Tribeca’s Opening Press Conference Highlights Films/Events and Touts New Interactive Initiative


by Chris Wood

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New York – The opening press conference to begin the ninth annual 2010 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) took place on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. Remarks on this year’s 12 day film festival (April 21st through May 2nd) of 85 features and 47 shorts were made by TFF co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, John Hayes of American Express, the founding sponsor of the Festival, and others.

TFF began in 2002 as a response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and subsequent loss of vitality in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. In addition to the wide variety of films offered, TFF also features panel discussions, valuable networking opportunities for filmmakers and the industry, as well as free community events. Such events include: the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day (Saturday May 1st, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.), the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair (Saturday May 1st, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.), and the three-night Tribeca Drive-In (April 22nd through April 24th).

“The Drive-In is always a special highlight for me,” Rosenthal said at the press conference. Rosenthal is the producer of a number of films that include 2004’s “Meet the Fockers” starring Robert De Niro. The TFF Drive-In takes place at the World Financial Center Plaza and is showing the following three films this year: (1) “The Spirit of Salsa,” on Thursday, April 22nd; (2) the Tom Hanks 1988 film “Big,” on Friday, April 23rd; and (3) “The Birth of Big Air,” on Saturday, April 24th. “If you like BMX biking, you should really be there,” Rosenthal said. “Big Air” follows the storied career of BMX legend Matt Hoffman who will be at the WFC location live to perform on the day of screening.

In an effort to realize that not all who would like to attend the TFF in New York City are able to for various reasons that obviously include location, TFF has launched a new initiative called Tribeca Film Festival Virtual (TFFV). TFFV is accessed through the TFF website and allows audiences around the globe to view and participate in the festival online. “We are actually streaming this press conference live, right now,” Nancy Schafer, Executive Director of TFF, said on the TFFV initiative.

Other content on TFFV includes: conversations with filmmakers and industry experts, live streaming TFF events (including the TFF Award show), a daily highlight reel of the day’s biggest moments, and live coverage from the red carpet. Also, one can chat online with other viewers and screen selected short films from past TFFs.

In addition, from April 23rd through April 30th, TFFV Premium Pass holders ($45 per pass) can watch a selection of eight full-length feature films and 18 short films simultaneously premiering at the 2010 TFF in New York City, which begins with writer/director/actor Ed Burns’s latest film, “Nice Guy Johnny.” The New York native wrote, directed and stars in this film about Johnny Rizzo (Matt Bush, “Adventureland,” 2009) and his dilemma of trading in a dream job in sports talk radio for a better paying job to please his fiancée.

A TFFV interview with Burns is available in which he discusses how the idea came to him after a conversation with his agents, where he was sitting down with his producer partner and posed the question: “Why do they want you to give it [the dream job] up?” And their answer was to “make a film about a guy who’s asked to give up the dream.”

Alex Gibney has three films (“My Trip to Al-Qaeda,” “Untitled Eliot Spitzer Project,” and “Freakonomics”) in this year’s TFF. His 2007 Academy Award winning documentary, “Taxi to the Darkside,” premiered at 2007’s TFF and won its “Best Documentary” award. “It was difficult to know whether it [“Taxi to the Dark Side”] was going to get an audience,” Gibney said. “The programmers loved it. They were very careful with it. And that kind of cemented my appreciation for what the festival can do.”

Two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro spoke briefly at the press conference and said that he has already “seen and enjoyed a number of outstanding documentaries.” Joan Rivers “A Piece of Work” and “Earth Made of Glass” about the genocide in Rwanda are among the films De Niro has already viewed. “I look forward to hearing what our audiences think about these and the rest of the films in the festival,” De Niro added.

De Niro also took a moment to thank the 2,300 TFF volunteers from 13 different countries who are working the festival this year. “A very impressive number and I want to thank them for being a part of Tribeca,” De Niro said.

During the press conference, the TFF trailer was played and ended with the tagline, “Here comes the neighborhood.” And for this year, the neighborhood has a much greater availability for those outside of the New York City area to enjoy films and events with its first-time ever online viewing initiative. On with the show.

For more information on the 2010 TFF, visit the festival’s website ( For further information on how to make the virtual connection to TFFV and buying Premier Passes, access the following link: .

Chris Wood Writer

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