Tribeca Film Festival, borne the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, gets underway this week just two days after bombings rocked another city up the Eastern seaboard.
Tribeca’s Wednesday-night kickoff, the documentary “Mistaken for Strangers” (below), will take place at the BMCC Tribeca PAC with what the festival says is the usual amount of security.
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"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon,” TFF said in a statement to TheWrap on Tuesday.
“The safety of our festival guests is our top priority. We have security personnel posted at every major venue and we have always worked closely with the NYPD since the inception of the festival.”
Also the same this year: TFF will mix narrative features and documentaries and showcase around 100 movies, and it will include films with distribution, films looking for distribution and old films brought back for another look.
Where in past years the festival has included high-profile studio productions like “The Avengers,” “Shrek Forever After” and, at the first Tribeca in 2002, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” this year’s fest is going for indies, not blockbusters.
Its opening film, “Mistaken for Strangers,” follows the rock band the National and is, according to director of programming Genna Terranova, “a film about the creative process, which makes it an authentic way to open the festival.”
In between, Tribeca will present close to 100 features, divided between dramas, comedies, documentaries, horror movies, sci-fi flicks, family movies, sports movies … and more than a few things that fall outside of any usual classifications.
“Robots in Residence,” for instance, is an installation in which visitors will be interviewed by robots who look like baby seals, with their answers recorded and incorporated into a film.
Over at the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 facility in Long Island City, Michaelangelo Frammartino’s wordless, 30-minute “Albieri” will run on a continuous loop without credits, inviting viewers to walk in, walk out and watch as much or as little of it as they want.
“Star Wars Uncut” takes George Lucas‘s original blockbuster and hands it over to fans, who have reshot every scene one 15-second block at a time.
There’s even a film-festival presentation of a video game, with actress Ellen Page and director David Cage on hand to present “Beyond: Two Souls,” which Tribeca calls “an emotionally charged interactive thriller” and the rest of us might refer to as a PlayStation 3 game.
“When you’re watching films or watching TV or just experiencing media these days, you’re doing it all different ways on multiple screens,” Terranova told TheWrap.
“So much of what’s changing in storytelling is the way the audience interacts, from crowd-sourcing to crowd-creative-sourcing.”
What’s crowd-creative-sourcing, you may ask? Tribeca will answer that question with “Tricked,” a new thriller from “Basic Instinct” and “RoboCop” director Paul Verhoeven. With an opening sequence already written, Verhoeven invited people online to come up with the rest of the script, and also allowed different community-recruited teams to film their own version of the movie.
Tribeca will present the film and a documentary about its making on April 23, and then TFF creative director Frederic Boyer promises Verhoeven will “explain everything” in a subsequent Q&A.
The emphasis on new ways of showcasing films, and of showcasing alternative ways of storytelling, is a deliberate step for the film festival, said Boyer and Terranova in an interview with TheWrap.
“All the filmmakers are thinking, Why not screen films outside the screening room?” said Boyer. “Maybe in a church, in a school, in the PS1… We are seeing experiments in how to make a film and how to screen a film, and those are important to us.”
More conventional filmgoing experiences still constitute the majority of Tribeca’s offerings, and this year those include Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight,” Neil LaBute’s “Some Velvet Morning,” David Gordon Green’s “Prince Avalanche,” Kat Coiro’s “A Case of You,” and new works by the indie directors responsible for “Junebug” and “Sherrybaby,” Phil Morrison’s “Almost Christmas” and Laurie Collyer’s “Sunlight Jr.”
Documentaries are typically a Tribeca strong suit – this is the festival that launched “Taxi to the Dark Side” and “Bully” – and this year’s slate ranges from Josh Fox’s follow-up to his Oscar nominated fracking doc “Gasland” to a look at “the most famous cat on the internet” in “Lil Bub & Friendz.”
Also: Songstress Elaine Stritch, writer Gore Vidal, college basketball phenom (but pro flop) Lenny Cooke, Gucci creative director Frida Giannini and political cartoonish Herbert Block get the doc treatment in “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” “Gore Vidal: the United States of Amnesia,” “Lenny Cooke,” “The Director” and “Herblock – the Black & the White.”
In addition to the screening of “The King of Comedy,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice,” Roger Spottiswoode’s “And the Band Played On” and the animated feature “The Smurfs” will be screened, many of them in free outdoor events.
“Tribeca Talks” conversations will include director Jay Roach with actor Ben Stiller, director Mira Nair with actress Bryce Dallas Howard, and Clint Eastwood interviewed by director Darren Aronofsky, while the festival also includes a lineup of industry panels, a number of sports films presented in conjunction with ESPN and a “Family Festival” on the fest’s final Saturday, April 27.
“The audience in New York is so diverse, and they really bring amazing energy to the table,” said Terranova. “So we start with the filmmakers, make sure we get that right, and then everything else will follow.”