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Geoff Gilmore: Welcome to Tribeca

The new Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises chimes in with some words of wisdom about the state of independent film today.

Geoffrey Gilmore I’ve been at Tribeca for almost a month now, so I guess I can’t claim that I’m still completely frazzled or barely able to follow the complexities of morning staff meetings. Every institution is different, of course, and the familiarity I have with the arenas of independent and global film after nineteen years of operating inside these realms is more than offset by the abbreviations and shortcuts that the inner circle uses to communicate about various matters about which I’m on a complete learning curve.

But it’s exciting and invigorating to realize the expansiveness and ambition of the institution I’m now calling my own. Indeed, the Tribeca I’m getting acquainted with is at once young (the Festival is in its eighth year) and accomplished (dozens of films and filmmakers have been launched and showcased as a result of its programs). In addition, it has a complex and multifaceted agenda, including its commitment to its community (launched as it was in the destructive throes of 9-11), its service to filmmakers, and its attention to a global focus that resonates in every aspect of what it undertakes. And perhaps most significantly, Tribeca is an organization whose vision and structure make it especially well suited to addressing the future of the newly emerging world of film and storytelling.

The perch I’ve come from has been one that has given me extraordinary insight and awareness of the production, distribution and aesthetic evolution of independent film. And it’s given me a perspective that over the years has guided my work, fostered my focus on originality and diversity, and helped define the arena that independent film is today. But the world is changing in oh-so-many ways. A new era is upon us and it’s characterized and framed by everything ranging from the boundless optimism and hope of a unique and history-making presidency to the darkness of a world on the precipice of collapse. And the flourishing of independent film is subject to these effects. The funding of so many independent films emanated from the piles of equity capital that were seeking diverse sites to generate returns. But this is unlikely to continue, and the hundreds of features that found their way into the marketplace are not likely either to exist or to be able to follow the same path in the future. The marketplace is too crowded, the costs of marketing have skyrocketed, and the revenues are slim.

The new world has a global and eclectic face to it for many reasons: international film has changed and prospered, the old art film is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and the new global independent is seeking to find his/her place on whatever platform is available. Indeed, independent filmmaking is probably at a point where it needs to evolve to continue to have import, where its impact on the landscape of American film and film culture over the last three decades is morphing into something else—something that isn’t entirely familiar.

The world of film festivals is itself transforming and undergoing a reexamination, as just one aspect of this metamorphosis. It has to; otherwise, festivals will be irrelevant in a decade. We live in an age where information is overwhelming, but knowledge is scarce. The generation who now sees films knows far more about cinema, about global filmmaking and independent art and aesthetics than my generation did in the ’70s. But I daresay that it cares about it a lot less. Is this true? Is it a condemnation or a statement of fact?

That said, it is this realization of the convulsive change in the production and consumption of moving image story-telling that we are now experiencing that actually fuels my optimism and makes me anticipate a future that is far more propitious, stimulating and beneficial than what we now have. The last century of filmmaking has reached a conclusion. The next is soaring within the reach and aspiration of a new generation of artists and filmmakers. I’ve come to the right place to see it happen. Welcome to Tribeca.

Geoffrey Gilmore is the Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises.



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