It is easy to forget how downbeat and dispirited lower Manhattan was in the months following the evil terrorist atrocities of September 11th. The Tribeca Film Festival has become a magnet for film premieres and distribution deal-making, but revitalizing the hard hit neighborhoods south of Canal was part of its founding impetus. The festival quickly expanded to venues in the East Village and Chelsea, but community involvement remains a priority. Once again, the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival has programmed a full roster of free screenings and community events.
Of course, Tribeca is about movies first and foremost, so fans will be happy to see the return of the Tribeca Drive-In at the World Financial Plaza. The series kicks-off this Thursday (4/18) with a true classic, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (vintage trailer here). Movie fans should be particularly primed to revisit the Tippi Hedren-Rod Taylor thriller, considering its production was the subject of HBO’s The Girl and Sacha Gervais’s Hitchcock slyly references the film in its clever denouement.
The Drive-In continues on Friday (4/19) with Tim Burton’s career defining Beetlejuice, starring Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, and Alec Baldwin pretty much at the peak of their careers. The series concludes with a premiere, Lil Bub & Friendz, a documentary profile of a feline who became an internet sensation. Doors open each night at 6:00, with activities like trivia and spooky costume contests taking place before the screenings commence at dusk (roughly 8:15, give or take). Seating is free on a first come-first served basis.
Maintaining the outreach tradition, Tribeca will again mount the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair on the following Saturday (4/27). Many of the events will replicate the motion picture production experience for young viewers, with programs co-produced with the Museum of the Moving Image. There will also be live performances from the casts of current or upcoming Broadway shows, including Wicked, Annie, Cinderella, and Motown.
The free screenings continue with The Smurfs, not exactly a classic, but it features the animated voice of the great Jonathan Winters, whom we sadly lost just last week. The audience at BMCC will also get a sneak peak at The Smurfs 2 as a bonus. Lines will form thirty minutes before show time, also on a first come-first served basis. For those who cannot get in, there will be plenty of food, crafts, and games at the fair.
Also on Saturday the 27th, Tribeca will mount the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day. Packed with games and skill building exercises, this year’s edition will feature Mets ticket giveaways, a New York Rangers interactive program, on-sight lessons from the New York Red Bulls, and a special appearance from the Staten Island Yankees’ mascot, Scooter the Holy Cow, whom I’d rather meet than any Hollywood star.
Tribeca also has an impressively diverse menu of events, including special screenings of the Story Corps and GE Focus Forward short film projects. It is worth spending some quality time with the Tribeca schedule to find all the events that might appeal to your family without breaking the budget. Of course, there will be no shortage of ticketed festival screenings. Look for individual film reviews to start here soon.