Tribeca broadens film slate for festival's second decade

Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:24pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Tribeca Film Festival kicks off this week with a greater emphasis on independent foreign films in competition, stars such as Justin Bieber on red carpets and a broader overall program heading into its second decade.

The festival, one of the largest in the United States and co-founded by Robert De Niro as a way to revive downtown Manhattan after the September 11 attacks, opens on Wednesday with high-profile Hollywood comedy, "The Five-Year Engagement" starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.

But the 12-day festival which runs until April 29 features mostly independent cinema. From almost 6,000 submissions, Tribeca 2012 will screen 89 feature films split between 57 fiction and 32 documentaries, including 50 world premieres.

Half of its lineup of 12 fiction films in competition are international productions, including "Yossi," an Israeli fiction film about a closeted gay man in Tel Aviv that opens the narrative competition and "The Girl," an American/Mexican production starring Abbie Cornish as a struggling, single mother in Texas who helps smuggle immigrants over the border.

"War Witch" is shot entirely in the Congo and tells the story of one girl's harrowing life since rebel warlords stormed her village.

Among world documentaries, "The World Before Her" parallels the lives of women in the Miss India beauty pageant with those in a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls. It opens the documentary competition.

This is the first year Tribeca organizers selected debut night films for the narrative and documentary competitions, and the overall program reflects of a range of films from around the world instead of typically dominant European fare, said Tribeca's chief creative officer Geoff Gilmore.

"I think they had been all over the map, sometimes in the past," he said of the programming in the past 10 years. "There was sometimes a lack of consistency, and I think one of the things that you look for is the kind of discovery and diversity that we have in the program this year."   Continued...