Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tribeca '11: Free Events

Launched in 2002 to help revitalize a Lower Manhattan still reeling from the September 11th terrorist attack, the Tribeca Film Festival has become one of the most influential stops on the world festival circuit. Deals will be made, tickets will be bought, and money will most definitely be spent. However, for New Yorkers on a budget (which is most of the City, given the ever deepening recession), Tribeca offers plenty of free programming to enjoy this year, but plan to arrive early. After all, many of the festival’s regular ticketed screenings have already sold out.

There will indeed be free movies, screened at the so-called drive-in at the World Financial Center Plaza. Patrons arriving early enough this Thursday will have a chance to experience Tribeca’s first ever talent completion and then watch a revival screening of Fame (the good one). The drive-in continues Friday night (4/22) with a screening of When the Drum is Beating, a profile of Haiti’s leading Caribbean-Jazz fusion ensemble, Septentrional, followed by a special performance by the band themselves. It concludes with the family friendly but New York-centric Muppets Take Manhattan. Doors open each night at 6:00, with the screenings commencing at dusk (8:15, give or take).

Continuing the festival’s long association with ESPN, Tribeca and the leading sports programmer will present a special “Sports Day” on Saturday the 30th. Featuring New York Knicks, including Riles-era fan favorite John Starks, members of the Brooklyn Cyclones, and the cast of Broadway’s Lombardi, there will be plenty of giveaways, mini-clinics, and family activities.

Of course, Tribeca is first and foremost about film, so parents should keep in mind the free, first-come, first-served screenings held at BMCC Performing Arts Center in conjunction with Tribeca’s Family Street Fair, also happening on the 30th. Tribeca will present a special first look at Niko: the Journey to Magika, an animated adventure set in the Philippines. Perhaps most appropriately given the festival’s origins, Tribeca will also present free of charge fourteen year-old Brook Peter’s debut documentary The Second Day, in which the former World Trade Center neighborhood kindergartner interviews his teachers, classmates, and rescue personnel about their experiences on that tragic day.

Tribeca is truly a New York event that transcends film. Founded to boost the community, the festival offers opportunities for average New Yorkers to enjoy the Tribeca experience, without breaking their budgets. The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival opens tonight and runs through May 1st. For more information about free events and regularly ticketed festival screenings, go to their website: