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The Tribeca Festival: Art and Tragedy


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The Tribeca film festival is more than a New York tourist attraction, it represents tragedy, recovery, and the resilience of the people of New York. Founded in 2002 by Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal, the festival was created after 9/11 as a tactic to reignite the light that used to prosper in Lower Manhattan. To bring independent filmmakers to the public eye, the festival hosted a series of events including a family film day, documentary and short film competitions, and, perhaps most impressively, a ‘Best of New York’ series created by Martin Scorsese. In their first year over 190,000 people attended the event, an impressive number for the year following 9/11 when people were actively avoiding large public gatherings, primarily movie theaters.

Tribeca Festival 2022

 After 9/11 the landscape of the movie industry changed drastically, movies were canceled, remade, and even trashed. Many survivors of the tragic September eleventh events described the scenes of the day as something from a movie, and they were. At the time the last thing people wanted to see at the cinema was the horrific events the entire nation had just witnessed firsthand. Making the introduction of The Tribeca film festival so appealing, it was a way for the American people to share their experiences, or just share something beautiful. 

The Tribeca film festival has changed as society and the artistic community has changed. When it was founded the focus was primarily on recognizing independent filmmakers, however, as our interests have shifted so has the focus of the festival. In 2011 the video game L. A Noire became the first video game to have premiered at the film festival, and the first non-film to be recognized by the organization. However, the biggest adaptation The Tribeca film festival made was becoming the Tribeca festival. While that change in the title seems insignificant, it actually represents the rebranding and broadening of the festival as a whole. 

Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro

The Tribeca Film Festival was defined by a singular word -film- although this word defined them it also kept them in a creative box. Transforming into the open-minded and creative outlet of the Tribeca Festival has allowed the event to adapt to changing times, including the introduction of the Coronavirus. After the cancelation of the 2020 Tribeca Festival, they launched various virtual and digital events that showcased the many talents of filmmakers and creators throughout the world. One of these events was the We Are One project they launched in partnership with YouTube, an international completely digital 10-day film festival. Giving creators from every corner of the world a chance to express their creativity as well as their story.

The Tribeca Festival has shown the United States and New York City what it means to be resilient in the face of adversity. A cultural phenomenon has been built off of the backs of independent creatives responding to tragedy and beauty. When we let organizations like this prosper we see ourselves prosper, let’s keep art thoughtful and keep Tribeca artful

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