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Tribeca celebrated rebirth of Lower Manhattan

Touching on topics from South African democracy to misery in a Brazilian prison, the third Tribeca Film Festival screened 150 works while celebrating lower Manhattan's rebirth after the terror attacks. “We felt we needed something to heal ourselves and our neighborhoods” said DeNiro . The event is held on the first two weekends in May. This year's festival offered features, documentaries, shorts and major-studio premieres that drew 350,000 spectators to lower Manhattan . The Regal cinemas, home to most of the screenings, provide attendee’s with a startling view of ground zero.
The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in January 2002 as a public charity by De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Martin Scorsese, and Craig Hatkoff to inject new life into a shut-down neighborhood. Now, 80 percent of attendance is for free events and the festival operates on a fund-raising basis. Highlights of the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival include a preview of scenes from DreamWorks' animated comedy "Shark Tale" -- including De Niro's voice; the New York premiere of the comedy "Coffee & Cigarettes," in which director Jim Jarmusch "eavesdrops" on conversations over coffee, about everything from Paris to alternative medicine; and panel discussions led by director Martin Scorsese as well as a round table discussion of “Sex in Cinema”, featuring Manhattan filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and The Angry Inch”), actress Glenn Close and director Kimberley Pierce (“Boy’s Don’t Cry”) along with director Steven Shainburg (Secretary) . This years event was entirely shot and broadcast to satellite viewers nation wide by HDNet’s whose coverage began May 3 and continued through the awards ceremony on closing night. Viewers were live on the red carpet for premieres and screenings with stars including David Duchovny, Robin Williams, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen. The 3rd Tribeca Film Festival also marked the return of MeniThings productions as director Aristomenis Tsirbas presented his award winning cgi film “Terra” to a sold out theater in lower Manhattan.

Director Aristomenis Tsirbas’ award winning film “Terra” was selected early on to screen in the short subject segment of this prestigious event. Our festival was founded because of what happened when someone was challenging who we are as a country," Rosenthal said. "It's about having different voices and hearing different points of view." A large focus was placed on the local response to the terrorist attacks. Both presentations of “Terra” screened to packed theaters. “The programming was tough this year, with so many entries” explains senior programmer Maggie Kim, “Terra” was our only unanimous choice, we absolutely love this film”. “We support artists like Aristomenis Tsirbas and are happy to see him back. His work is what the spirit of this festival is about”. The short films subject matter seemed to resonate with the audience who applauded loudly as the credits rolled.
Gearing itself to the public, and not the industry, means that the Tribeca Film Festival has morphed into a movie carnival. Panels, for example, also featured composer Howard Shore discussing his Oscar-winning work on New Line's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy; old films once again screened at the car-free "Drive-In at Pier 25"; an outdoor street festival featuring Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg , reading to children was also presented as part of the family festival. The outdoor concert featured artists”Black Eyed Peas” “Macy Gray” , “Steve Winwood” and “Van Morrison” . Self proclaimed rock star “Bono” dropped by to speak about the AIDS crisis to the crowd of thousands in Battery Park. He vowed to return with U2 to next years festival.

Awards night was held at the Tribeca center for the performing arts . The event was an emotional one for presenters and artists alike.. Chinese helmer “Liu Fen Dou’s “The Green Hat” took the top prize for “Best Narrative Feature” as well as the award for “Best New Narrative” for his touching story of a man grappling with his spouse’s infidelity. An overwhelmed Paolo Sacramento was reduced to tears as he was presented the best documentary filmmaker award by Martin Scorsese for his powerful debut “The Prisoner of The Iron Bars”. In the festivals NY, NY category, celebrating Big Apple filmmakers, a quiet and clearly shocked Jennifer Reeve’s accepted a Christopher Walken painting “Still” as her award for the experimental feature “The Time We Killed”. In all over $125,000 in cash and prizes were doled out to the honoree’s. The packed stage included all of the winners as well as comedian Eddie Izzard, Actor Kevin Bacon and New Yorkers Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese as 82 year old Sister Rose climbed to the stage to thank the hosts for “breathing life back into this community”. The artists on stage and the audience visibly reacted to her powerful speech and the event’s message was driven home by this Tribeca resident and star of the documentary “Sister Rose”.

Dane Allan Smith
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