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The Reel Deal

or why you should start making plans to attend

by Sonny King

Attending a film festival can seem a daunting task for the average movie fan, so I will attempt to de-mystify the process for those of you that skipped this year's second annual Tribeca
Film Festival in the hopes that you will seriously consider attending next year's event.

Originally conceived by post-9/11 downtown NYC residents Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal to give something back to the
neighborhood following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) has since taken on a life of it's own attracting filmmakers, press, and moviegoers from around the world. In its second year, a relatively 'brand new' event, the festival organizers are still working out the 'bugs,' but all-in-all the sometimes chaotic atmosphere is meeting most attendees entertainment goals.

Of course, the primary goal of a film festival is to attract good (if not great) films and TFF is definitely doing that. This year's winners included the internationally acclaimed films "Blind Shaft"
(China), "A Normal Life" (Kosovo), "Trial" (Iran), "Song of the Millenium" (Tunisia), and "It is easier for a camel..." (France). And not only the films came to TFF, but the majority of the filmmakers and cast members for these films attended the screenings and moderated question and answer sessions with the audience following each showing. Being able to question a film's creators directly after seeing a movie is my favorite part of attending film festivals, and certainly this element alone makes festival attendance far superior to a normal trip to the theater. Not only that, TFF keeps its ticket prices at the normal $10 rate, so cost is not a prohibitive factor for those wishing to see movies and the people that created them.

Attending audiences were also allowed to vote for their favorites which included the critically acclaimed "Together" (China) and the documentary "Keeping Time: The Life, Music, and Photographs of Milt Hinton." Another type of film that permeates TFF which you definitely can't find at your local cinema is the "short" (under 30 min.) category. Not only were many great shorts preceding feature screenings, but collections of shorts were presented throughout the festival (over 200 shorts in all).
Many of these shorts screenings were attended by high-profile 'jurors' including feature actors Holly Hunter, Fisher Stevenson and Parker Posey (they chose shorts-winners "Precious Moments" (Norway) and "Milton Rogovin: The Forgotten Ones").

For those looking for glitz and glamour there were several 'red-carpet' Hollywood films at TFF, including "Down with Love" featuring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor; "The In-Laws" with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks, "Paris" with Bai Ling (escorted by Richard Gere), and "Maldonado Miracle" (attended by director Salma Hayak and her escort Edward Norton). Other celebrities either attending panel discussion or just watching movies and spotted in the crowds included director Michael Moore, Al Pacino, Helen Hunt, Ann Magnuson, Gabriel Byrne, Elizabeth Shue, Jane Seymour, etc. Even if you don't like movies, the festival also featured street entertainment, concerts, and giveaways galore.

I would like to note that those who try to order advance tickets next year and find the films "sold out" should not be discouraged. The reason being that 'pre-sold' events take into
account seats reserved by the producers of the films and "all-access" passes that TFF insiders use to attend screenings. Many of these seats become available prior to the start of the films. So I highly recommend going downtown and getting in line for a 'wait-line' ticket, since 90% of those that get in line get into the theaters (and they do not start the films until everyone's in).

Hope to see more of you at the third annual Tribeca Film Festival 2004 next spring, especially now that you know prices and seating availability for screenings are reasonable and accessible right up to the last minute.


© 2005 BIGBreakNY, LLC. No material may be reprinted without permission.