These are strange times for the Tribeca Film Festival. After starting off with a lot of publicity (perhaps too much) and potential eight years ago, the brainchild of Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff has been struggling to find itself. Well aware they needed more help to really be considered a big time event, the trio brought in former Sundance Film Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore to help refocus the festival in a digital age, but it’s unclear whether this year’s “virtual” fest (where you can watch eight of the festival’s less star-friendly selections online) or iPhone app can really expand the festival’s reach. We’re huge fans of Gilmore who spent twenty years helping shaping Sundance into the industry power event it is today, but it’s going to take awhile to turn this boat around. Because no matter how much razzle dazzle you try to put on a festival, it all begins with your actual film slate.
Sadly, and as increasingly been the case, the list of potential premieres this year is not that enticing. “Shrek Forever After” and “Letters to Juliet” are studio films that aren’t expected to make any real noise no matter how unexpectedly good (or bad) they are. And as for premieres, well you’ve got the U.S. debut of “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” with Andy Serkis, “Open House” with Anna Paquin, Tricia Helfer and Brian Geraghty, “Space Between” with Melissa Leo and “William Vincent” with James Franco, but overall there doesn’t seem to be that much to get excited about. Perhaps the festival’s continued slotting between SXSW and Cannes is more of a problem than the organizers want to admit, but they are certainly doing everything they can to work the room, er, city.
Today, the festival announced its competition juries and they feature a slew of names more familiar to the guest’s chair on late night talk shows than the festival circuit. The official juries include Aaron Eckhart, Cheryl Hines, Jessica Alba (World Documentary! I repeat, World Documentary!), Whoopi Goldberg, Selma Blair, Zach Braff, America Ferrera, Justin Bartha (doesn’t he live in LA?), Peter “Twilight” Facinelli, Brooke Shields, Andrew McCarthy and Alicia Keys. Luckily, mixed into the paparazzi friendly group are cinefiles such as doc director Dan Klores, acclaimed actress Hope Davis, producer Margaret Brown, filmmakers John Ridley, John Hamburg, Gary Winick and Gary Ross as well as EW’s Dave Karger. Then again, perhaps not. Or, maybe the competition really isn’t that important (yet) to Tribeca.
You tell us New Yorkers, are you heading downtown to check out this year’s fest? Share your thoughts below.
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