Tribeca Cinemas

That first year of the Tribeca Film Festival, New Yorkers turned out in droves. I remember walking around Downtown with Governor George Pataki and actor Liam Neeson, stopping at all the fire houses and schools in the neighborhood, giving out tickets for our closing-night screening of Stars Wars. There was so much excitement and positive support from the community.

As we enter our 10th festival, that support has never waned, especially from the businesses and residents in our neighborhood. I get a thrill out of seeing thousands of people at our Drive-In, which we do every year in the North Cove at the World Financial Center. Year after year, it shows that New Yorkers are game for anything. In 2006 we screened Mad Hot Ballroom, where kids from the five boroughs danced together before the film. In 2009 we did a tribute honoring legendary screenwriter William Goldman with fellow screenwriters Scott Frank, Tony Gilroy, David Koepp, Aaron Sorkin and Beau Willimon, who were on hand to help honor Bill before the retrospective screening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—there’s nothing like bringing thousands of people together around a film.

FROM LEFT: TFF cofounder Robert De Niro with Nelson Mandela, Hugh Grant and Whoopi Goldberg; TFF cofounders Craig Hatkoff and Jane Rosenthal at the Vanity Fair dinner; Natalie Portman with Tribeca Film Fellow George Itzhak in 2009

Reel Growth
Since the first festival in 2002, the organization has grown dramatically. What many people probably don’t realize is that we do so much more than just the two-week film festival in the spring. Tribeca Film Institute, which is our nonprofit, works year-round with filmmakers, providing financial support, guidance and professional development as well as youth educational programs. Giving kids an opportunity to express themselves in a visual way is essential, especially as more and more arts programs lose their funding.

When we launched TFF, we started the Artists Awards program. In addition to cash prizes, the winning filmmakers receive a piece of artwork from a wellknown artist such as Eric Fischl, Clifford Ross, Laurie Simmons, Julian Schabel, Chuck Close… the list goes on. We showcase these pieces during TFF as part of a free exhibit; to me it’s one of the unheralded treasures of the festival.

One event I look forward to every year is our filmmaker brunch. Over bagels and eggs, I get to meet hundreds of directors whose films are part of the festival. Having spent months watching the films, it’s great to meet them in person (though the first person who comes over to me is always from the one film I haven’t seen).

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