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Press Conference Kicks off Tribeca 2010

A star-studded line-up (De Niro! Gilmore! Gibney!) introduced the press to TFF 2010, Tribeca Film, and TFF Virtual on Tuesday.

TFF 2010 Press Conference
Alex Gibney, Nancy Schafer, Craig Hatkoff, Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, John Hayes, Geoff Gilmore
© Getty Images / Credit: Astrid Stawiarz


This morning, Tribeca leadership and special guests introduced the Festival in the annual Tribeca Film Festival press conference. For the first time, the press conference was streamed live on the Internet to an international audience. (To watch an archived version of the press conference, visit Tribeca Film Festival Virtual.)


TFF co-founder Jane Rosenthal kicked things off by welcoming everyone and talking about tomorrow’s opener, Shrek Forever After in 3D, calling it the best Shrek ever. She also outlined the Festival—including the free community events like the Family Festival Street Fair, the three Tribeca Drive-In events, and the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day—and invited everyone to come out and enjoy. “It’s going to be a good party! Like the city itself, you never know who you’re going to meet.”
TFF 2010 Press Conference: Rosenthal, De Niro
Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro / © Getty Images / Credit: Astrid Stawiarz


Next up was another co-founder, Robert De Niro, who wanted to specially thank all the people who make the Festival happen, including the Tribeca staff and this year’s cadre of volunteers—2300 in number, representing 13 countries. After citing the documentaries he is particularly taken with this year—Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Earth Made of Glass, Monica & David, Sons of Perdition, and My Trip to Al-Qaeda—De Niro invited everyone to “come and enjoy all our Festival has to offer.”
For those not in NYC, De Niro also introduced the two new ways movie fans across the country can participate in 2010: Tribeca Film Festival Virtual, and Tribeca Film On Demand, both presented with Founding Partner American Express®. With a TFF Virtual Premium pass, fans can watch a selection of films online from April 23-30, in addition to numerous red carpets, panels, Q&As with filmmakers, and more. (For a full schedule, look here. Some content is only available with a Premium pass, but some is also open to the public.) With Tribeca Film On Demand, viewers across the country can watch 16 films via their cable providers; included in this line-up are 7 films screening at TFF in NYC—viewers can watch them On Demand starting on April 21, even before they premiere at TFF! (Some titles will also have a theatrical run at Tribeca Cinemas, starting May 5.)
Tribeca’s Chief Creative Office Geoff Gilmore called these new initiatives “a gamechanger,” and said he “couldn’t be more thrilled” with the new models. “We are in the process of reinventing what festivals do and how they reach audiences.” He also gave special thanks to Tribeca’s partner, American Express. “These days, festival exposure in itself doesn’t guarantee an audience [for a film]. Thanks to American Express, we are using the Festival as a marketing platform for Tribeca Film. The initial slate of films has terrific talent, and these challenging and important films will be able to connect with audiences around the country.” He went on, “Change makes people nervous, but… it gives me great hope for the future of independent film.”


TFF 2010 Press Conference: Hatkoff, Rosenthal, De Niro, Hayes
Craig Hatkoff, Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, John Hayes
© Getty Images / Credit: Astrid Stawiarz


Next to take the stage was John Hayes, Chief Marketing Officer of American Express, who cited the company’s initial interest in rebuilding lower Manhattan, its current recognition that “our cardmembers care deeply about film,” and their commitment to serving customers, giving them “incredible access to events around the world.” As Founding Partner of Tribeca Film, American Express is going the next step in “helping to redefine the independent film experience, connecting filmmakers’ amazing achievements with audiences everywhere.” He concluded, “It’s a great opportunity to build new audience, discover new films and filmmakers, and expand Tribeca and independent film beyond just here in New York.”


After a screening of the new Tribeca 2010 trailer, TFF Executive Director Nancy Schafer praised the work of the programming team: “I can’t wait to share the films we’ve chosen with audiences. From the rockers of Rush to the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel… we have an extraordinary slate, with 85 features and 47 short films from 38 countries.” Schafer was especially pleased that Tribeca will welcome 40 first-time directors, reiterating the Festival’s commitment to both new and established work.
TFF 2010 Press Conference: Schafer, De Niro
Nancy Schafer, Robert De Niro / © Getty Images / Credit: Astrid Stawiarz

Once a slate is selected, Schafer continued, “themes always seem to emerge. This year, we have many stories about real people—Vidal Sassoon, The Woodmans, Ian Dury—and many comedies: The Infidel, Zonad, and The Trotsky, to name a few.” And one theme Tribeca always programs for is sports: this year, the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival has 7 docs, ranging from Ice Cube’s Straight Outta LA to Keep Surfing to The Two Escobars.


Schafer also encouraged people across the U.S. to experience Tribeca: “While theatrical screenings are the centerpiece of the Festival, we realize that not everyone can come to NYC. Technology has made it possible for film to come alive online, all [film fans] need is an Internet connection and a premium pass” [or a cable box]! TFF Virtual has narrative and doc titles from Ed BurnsNice Guy Johnny to the 80s-inspired teen comedy Spork to Tribeca/ESPN’s Into the Cold to the debut film from Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez, The Sentimental Engine Slayer.
TFF 2010 Press Conference: Alex Gibney
Alex Gibney / © Getty Images / Credit: Astrid Stawiarz


After an entertaining clip reel, Jane Rosenthal introduced Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney as “another theme,” declaring TFF 2010 “the de facto Alex Gibney film festival,” due to the three films in which he had a hand: My Trip to Al-Qaeda, Untitled Eliot Spitzer Film, and (one segment of) Freakonomics.
Gibney explained, “I’ve been busy, yes but looking at this line-up makes me want to watch some movies!” He went on to explain his personal connection to TFF, going back to his 2007 premiere of Taxi to the Dark Side. “It was difficult to know whether it was going to get an audience. I brought it here, the programmers loved it, and were very careful with it… and it went on to win an Oscar.”


In general, Gibney “values what the Festival stands for—the way it was founded and the celebration of the values that resurgence [of lower Manhattan] represents. The antidote to terror and tyranny is culture.”
One of the most anticipated films of TFF 2010 is Gibney’s Untitled Eliot Spitzer Film. “I was always determined to bring this film here,” Gibney explained. “There’s no place better, and I was delighted it was accepted as a work in progress. Only this festival would have given me the confidence and comfort to show it in its unfinished state.”
TFF 2010 Press Conference: Geoff Gilmore
Geoff Gilmore / © Getty Images / Credit: Astrid Stawiarz

In a Q&A with press members in the audience, Gilmore reiterated the positive economic impact of the relationship with American Express: “Not only is money to produce films hard to find, but distribution and marketing is crucial… We know we haven’t found THE solution here—we have to build this. Audiences on VOD aren’t used to looking for independent films—they are used to [watching] studio work. This all reminds me of where we were 25 years ago. We are now growing to a momentous moment of change—I am looking forward to seeing where it’s going and how it will grow in the future.”



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