NY Tribeca Film Festival finds a voice and gets picky

Tue Apr 22, 2008 8:45am EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It opens with a comedy, Tina Fey's "Baby Mama," but when the seventh annual Tribeca Film Festival unspools later this week, organizers promise many of this year's movies will be no laughing matter.

Founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal told Reuters that Tribeca, started in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, has now found its own unique voice, borne from years of screening films that highlight difficult global issues and create conversation among audiences.

The 2008 festival opening on Wednesday can now afford to be "more picky," said Rosenthal, and as a result, organizers reduced the number of feature-length films to be shown this year to 120, which is about 25 percent fewer than 2007.

"Tribeca and Sarajevo are the only two film festivals that started because of an act of war, and I think that we very much look to program difficult subject matters at times and have conversations that ask global questions -- questions mainstream media doesn't necessarily delve into," Rosenthal said.

This year several films from and about Iraq will screen including "Baghdad High," made by four classmates who were given cameras to videotape their last year at school, and "War, Love God and Madness," a documentary about a filmmaker trying to make a movie in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Nearly 5,000 submissions were received for this year's event. Of the 120 feature films being screened, 24 are competing in the narrative and documentary categories, and 79 short films were submitted from some 40 countries.


"For an American film festival we're pretty global in reach," Rosenthal, who founded the event with De Niro and her husband Craig Hatkoff to economically and culturally rejuvenate lower Manhattan after September 11. Tribeca is a neighborhood near the site of the September 11 attacks.   Continued...

<p>Tina Fey poses for a portrait during a media day promoting the film "Baby Mama" in New York April 14, 2008. The film will premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (</p>