Previously: #7 AFI Silverdocs
Our take: By all accounts, the 2009 edition of Tribeca was a complete rebirth for a festival that many feared had invariably lost its way. The fest, which had spread its wings all over Manhattan, pared down and focused on having a festival neighborhood and most found the result to be a major success. The Tribeca organization also seemed to quietly weather a series of changes that led to former Sundance chief Geoffrey Gilmore coming aboard to run the Tribeca Institute. A top-notch, all-star doc slate, financial parity for the $25,000 doc prize (which had been set lower than the narrative) and the Institute's Gucci doc fund all signal that the organization imagines itself as a multi-pronged film organization that supports nonfiction.
The downside: Last year's great slate was mostly in place before Gilmore came above and many of the high-profile titles were films that hadn't been accepted during Gilmore's Sundance reign. Members of the press report a better fest for them than in previous years (when the festival was outright hostile towards them) but still has a way to go. Will the Institute's many prongs (a festival in Doha?) suffocate a festival that needs good care and feeding?
Important recent premieres: RACING DREAMS, OUTRAGE, FIXER: THE TAKING OF AJMAL NAQSHBANDI, AMERICAN CASINO, WHICH WAY HOME, SHADOW BILLIONAIRE, ONLY WHEN I DANCE, P-STAR RISING
Our coverage of Tribeca here.
Filmmaker: "Big and sparkling, with tickets that are too expensive, I still love Tribeca. It changes the mood of the city while it's on and I love seeing lines up the block of New Yorkers anxious to see the latest offerings. Generous with filmmakers in terms of accommodations, parties and tickets. Industry likes to bitch about Tribeca, but they all come anyway. And its becoming a decent market, giving Sundance a run for their money. We sold our film directly from the fest. Still, fest can be overwhelming, with too many films, glad they have scaled back a bit but they should curate a little more carefully I think."
Filmmaker: "the audiences at Tribeca are still fantastic, and with a minimum of three screenings for each competition film (often 4, since they do various special screenings) it is second to none in terms of the chance you have to interact with audiences (though they still have issues with the rush line & screenings that say they're sold out but aren't - perhaps that's inevitable in NY). The films always look & sound great (at least mine have). And the programming is original, not driven too much by content (particularly doc) but seems to seek out diversity of styles & stories, with a strong international focus. The more popular/star-driven stuff draws crowds but has little to do with an indie's festival experience, just raises the profile. Seem to have come on hard times recently in terms of accommodation etc, but they still cover filmmakers generously & again, no shortage of food & drink to get you through. The biggest problem of course is that, being in NY, there's really no central location, NY industry people pop in & out of the fest between their jobs & other obligations, & everyone else is busy fitting in other meetings or seeing friends (as are many filmmakers) so you don't have the captive/fishbowl intensity that makes so many festivals work. And the general industry cynicism around tribeca makes it hard to get serious press, it's still the festival everyone in the industry loves to hate, & I think that's undeserved - the programming is original & bold & they are good to filmmakers. Again, not a place where deals are done, but still one of the most satisfying places to have a premiere because so many people will see your film, & audiences are great."
Filmmaker: "2009 was the best Tribeca to date, but it’s not a fest where a lot of business gets done. Will be interesting to see what happens this year. I hope they keep it small and downtown. It desperately needs a central hang-out location where people can just bump into each other."
Filmmaker: "I fell in love with Tribeca this year. People have always been pretty cynical about this event, but this year less resources did them good. There was a smaller, more focused programme of film (which was fantastically attended by public) and a greater sense of community. I had New Yorker friends cursing how darn good the whole event had got. Big thumbs up."
Filmmaker: "great fest, if only a bit too big, too many films. could be more contained. $$ for all; good connection between filmmakers."
Filmmaker: "too scattered. no festival vibe because there is no center. A minor market."
Filmmaker: "A great place to launch a doc in the spring."
Filmmaker: "Great industry presence and great audiences. Haven't been there for a few years, but it was too big and hard to understand what its emphasis was. Apparently now that's being addressed so hopefully it can go head-to-head with Sundance for US doc premieres."
Filmmaker: "People say bad things about this festival but they always have sold out screening. The challenge for Tribeca is that because they are in NYC it's hard to feel festival-ish and centered. The city is too powerful. But the crowds are great and because it's NYC there are a lot of people -- industry, media, and others -- who will come to screenings."
Industry: "Huge change from last year. Actually became a festival from last year. Having everything in one place, you get the feeling you can actually run into people. The documentary programming was great. Sundance last year was so over the top social justice heavy and Tribeca was a much healthier mix and I really enjoyed the films that I saw. I think one of the reasons it got better was that they cut back on the number of films."
Industry: "For some reason, this festival bothers me. An example: last year, about 95% of the festival took place in and around Union Square. Not really "Tribeca" at all. There's just an energy, at the parties and with the crowds, that don't feel film savvy to me. It's the New York City vibe that rubs me the wrong way. More of a "club" feel. Last year, I found the programming to have gotten immeasurably stronger than in the past, and approve of the slimming down of the program itself, but I still just think I have an aversion to Tribeca. It feels like a festival that hasn't "earned" its status yet but "bought" it instead."
Industry: "wouldn't say it's
essential to attend, but it's getting better. smaller size this
year was a vast improvement - less films to fall through the cracks .
.still feels a bit too big, but moving in right direction."
Industry: "Much improved over the last couple of years, with better programming and more of an industry slant. Definitely on the ascendent."
Industry: "getting a
lot better. great programming and more focused."
Industry: "The promise of Tribeca is great but it has been all over the map so far in terms of quality of films and venues. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with the new regime."
Industry: "Not a lot of community for the filmmakers but when handled correctly, a film can launch nicely in NYC - the program overall is very hit or miss."
Industry: "It's getting better, and by that I mean the festival is now slightly less condescending towards non-red-carpet press than they used to be. (The programming used to be 10% interesting and 90% a total waste of time; this has only improved by fractions.) If I didn't live in New York, I would not travel to attend."
Industry: "A playdate/premiere in NYC. Attentive and knowledgeable audiences. Strong multi-platform press attendance. However, it's not enough that you're competing against the narrative premieres, you're also competing against the Big Apple and you can't win. Downsizing was evident this year."
Industry: "We’ve never picked up anything from Tribeca so it’s of little use to us when programming. We go to a few events/screenings simply to stay in the mix. The doc programming is too inconsistent for it to be a must attend for us. We participate Tribeca All Access to get early looks at docs we may be interested in later."