Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tribeca ’12—Beyond the Screen

Not many film festivals will give an innovation award to a jazz musician and his luthier. Yet, that will happen Friday the 27th when the Tribeca Film Festival, Professor John Christensen, and the Disruptor Foundation will recognize Pat Metheny, Linda Manzer and the rest of the honorees at the third annual Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards ceremony. It is just one of many events sponsored by Tribeca that challenge and expand the definition of a film festival.

Once again, community outreach is an important component of this year’s festival. New Yorkers still waiting for even a “soft” recovery to reach the City will be happy to know this includes many free events. Tribeca’s commitment to sports programming continues with the Tribeca/NY Fest Soccer Day on Saturday (4/21) with demonstrations and skills-and-drills sessions for the kids led by pros, plus a five-a-side corporate challenge tournament for entertainment and fashion firms. There will be more opportunities to pick up pointers from local New York teams the following Saturday (4/28) during the (free) Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day, as well as regular exhibitions of BMX Freestyle stunt riding.

Also on the 28th, the Tribeca Street Fair returns with arts, crafts, and food from some of New York’s most popular restaurants. It is also a chance to hear performances from some of the top shows on and off Broadway, including Rock of Ages, Memphis, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, and Million Dollar Quartet, free of charge. For family viewing, there will be a free screening of the Emirati animated series Freej Folklore, but advance tickets are still required (see the Tribeca website for details).

Indeed, Tribeca is still very much a film festival, featuring several movies patrons know will always be good. Chief amongst them is Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws, the grandfather of all blockbusters. Perfect for spring, it screens for free as part of the Tribeca Drive-In at the World Financial Plaza, on opening night (4/19). Other free Drive-In titles include Richard Donner’s The Goonies (just in time for the latest Cyndi Lauper career revival), preceded by a pre-screening treasure hunt this Friday (4/20), and the documentary Knuckleball, a selection of the Tribeca ESPN Sports track, follows on Saturday (4/22).

In addition to sports, technology is an important theme in Tribeca programming, particularly for the ticketed retrospective screening of John Badham’s WarGames, Saturday after next (4/28) at the SVA Theatre. Indeed, it remains a thoroughly entertaining film that is still relevant to today’s controversies. Badham, co-star Ally Sheedy, and several experts in military and network security will participate in the post-screening discussion.

Tribeca will host a host of panel discussions throughout the festival, covering films screening this year as well as issues affecting the motion picture industry. Arguably, the marquee Tribeca Talks presentation will observe the 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures, featuring festival co-founder Robert DeNiro and Judd Apatow, with Deadline’s Mike Fleming keeping it real as the moderator. (Note: Meryl Streep also committed to appear, but has just cancelled.)

Tribeca culminates with the award winner screenings on Sunday April 29th. Each year the festival commissions original works of art for select prize winners, which are currently on exhibit at the New York Academy of Art. For twelve days, from April 19th through the 28th, patrons will have the opportunity to form their own opinions as to which film stand out and vote accordingly in the audience awards balloting. Once the festival starts, you will find plenty reviews and recommendations here.