The 2008 Tribeca Film Festival Gets Under Way

Tribeca Film Festival 2008

The first thing I noticed when opening the schedule was the wide variety of films that will be showcased at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. There are Music and Concert films, Sports themed films, Women themed films, War films, Art themed films. There are films from all over the world being shown at theaters throughout the city. The festival includes a Family Day street fair, premieres, red carpet events and perhaps more films than even a film junkie can handle. There are two major studio premieres at the festival, Baby Mama to open the event and the eagerly awaited Speed Racer to close the festival.

A mix of independent and studio films will be shown at the festival and there’s something to appeal to every taste from documentaries to comedy, drama and the classic films like Once Upon a Time in the West and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The film festival was started by Robert DeNiro to reenergize downtown NYC after the tragic events of 9/11. It has been a great success and gave the down town area the boost it needed. In it’s seventh year it’s still growing. It is safe to say that we are all very excited about this year’s festival, so stay tuned as we bring you all the best, live from the streets of NYC!

The festival was kicked off this afternoon with a press conference with the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NY Governor David Paterson and festival cho-founder Jane Rosenthal. Below you will find some notes from the event:

New York, NY – April 23, 2008 -Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal was today joined by New York Governor David Paterson, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, American Express Chief Marketing Officer John Hayes, Festival Artistic Director Peter Scarlet and Director and Festival Juror Doug Liman to kickoff the seventh annual Tribeca Film Festival, presented by American Express, and announce the 2008 Festival Jury. American Express also announced an additional five-year commitment of its support for the Festival. Festival organizers were joined by filmmakers participating in this year’s Festival at the press conference, which took place at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in lower Manhattan.

The 2008 Tribeca Film Festival will run from April 23 – May 4 and will include 121 feature films and 79 short films representing 41 different countries. The film slate features 53 world premieres, 6 international premieres, and 30 North American premieres. In addition to the line-up of films, this year’s Festival highlights include an array of panel discussions, gala premieres of major studio releases – including Universal’s Baby Mama and Warner Bros. Pictures’ Speed Racer – and the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. There are also free events, including Drive-In outdoor movies, the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair and the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day.

“Great films energize our lives,” said Rosenthal. “We started this Festival to heal our neighborhood and bring the magic of film to the city we love. Over the next 11 days we will view the world through the lens of filmmakers – advancing their work as we seek to inspire and entertain our audiences. I want to thank our sponsors and all those who helped to put together another great Festival, and invite all New Yorkers and our international visitors, to come experience the great creative work we will showcase and enjoy all that Tribeca has to offer.”

“New York has inspired filmmakers since the industry’s beginning,” said Governor Paterson. “But recently, we started losing business to our neighbors, like Canada, Connecticut and Massachusetts. New Yorkers never go down without a fight, and with the significantly expanded state film tax credit I announced today, New York will continue to serve as the most fascinating backdrop in the world. I am proud to have our great state foster an even greater number of productions, and feel fortunate that we have an event like the Tribeca Film Festival to showcase the work of great filmmakers and highlight the importance of this industry in our state.”

“New York City offers the best backdrop in the world to make movies, and every spring, Lower Manhattan offers the best place in the world to celebrate them,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The Tribeca Film Festival was founded to spur revitalization downtown, and its ongoing success reaffirms Lower Manhattan’s role as a vibrant cultural destination and New York City’s place as a center of movie magic.”

“The Tribeca Film Festival is a unique opportunity for American Express to bring unforgettable experiences to our Cardmembers who are passionate about film and entertainment,” said John Hayes, Chief Marketing Officer of American Express. “It is for that reason that we are happy to announce our commitment to the Festival for another five years. We look forward to another year of exciting and innovative programming and to our continued partnership.”

“American Express has been a true partner to the Tribeca Film Festival – not just financially, but also creatively – since the beginning,” added Rosenthal. “The company’s steadfast support and John Hayes’ personal friendship have enabled us to grow and take risks, and we look forward to what we will achieve together over the next five years.”

Jurors for the competitive categories were announced by Director and Festival Juror Doug Liman. Below is the list of jurors and their respective categories.

World Competition Categories:

The jurors for the 2008 World Narrative Competition are Peter Hedges, Gregory Hoblit, Callie Khouri, Oliver Platt and Christine Vachon.

The jurors for the 2008 World Documentary Competition are Jared Cohen, Whoopi Goldberg, Ross Kauffman, Padma Lakshmi and Jose Padilha.

New York Competition Categories:

The 2008 “Made in NY” Narrative Feature Award jurors are Peter Dinklage, Fred Durst, Greg Mottola, Stephen Schiff and Annabella Sciorra.

The 2008 “NY Loves Film” Documentary Feature Award jurors are Liya Kebede, Doug Liman, Esther Robinson, Josh Schwartz, Jay McInerney and Andre Leon Talley.

Short Film Competition Categories:

The 2008 Narrative Short jurors are Mario Batali, Christine Lahti, Molly Shannon, Lili Taylor and Zac Posen.

The 2008 Documentary and Student Short jurors are David Bowie, Red Burns, Matthew Modine, Lee Schrager and David de Rothschild.

American Express Chief Marketing Officer John Hayes announced that American Express, the Founding sponsor of the Festival, would continue its support of the Festival to another five years.

Underscoring the diversity and strength of the film program, Rosenthal showed clips from four highly anticipated Festival films at today’s press conference:

Pray the Devil Back to Hell, directed by Gini Reticker. (USA) – World Premiere. After more than a decade of civil wars leading to more than 250,000 deaths and one million refugees, a group of courageous women rose up to force peace on their shattered Liberia and propel to victory the first female head of state on the African continent.

Ramchand Pakistani, directed by Mehreen Jabbar, written by Mohammad Ahmed. (Pakistan) – World Premiere. Gorgeous colors enhance this tense tale, based on actual events, about a young Pakistani boy who, with his father, inadvertently crosses the border into India. Both wind up in jail for years, while mother (Nandita Das) is left bewildered and alone.

War Child, directed by C. Karim Chrobog. (USA) – North American Premiere. Emmanuel Jal spent his childhood as a soldier in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. Now this rising hip-hop star is using his music to raise awareness about his homeland’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. Dinka, English, Nuer with English subtitles.

Bart Got A Room, directed and written by Brian Hecker. (USA) – World Premiere. It’s ticktock ticktock for Danny as the prom approaches, and he still doesn’t have a date. With the help of his plain-Jane best friend and likable but wacky parents (Cheryl Hines and William H. Macy), his hopes for that “special” night may come true in this colorful and quirky comedy.

Following the screening of these clips, Rosenthal welcomed and introduced Leymah Gbowee (subject of Pray the Devil Back to Hell), Mehreen Jabbar (director, Ramchand Pakistani), C. Karim Chrobog (director, War Child) and Brian Hecker (director, Bart Got A Room), who were all on hand for the press conference.
“It is incredibly important to us to support filmmakers from around the world and around the corner and to help them tell their stories. Whether that story is the touching real life story of a Sudanese child soldier who overcomes tremendous odds to become an advocate for peace in his native country or a coming of age tale about a fictitious young boy’s struggle to find a prom date, we believe that our audiences will embrace all of the films in this year’s Festival,” said Rosenthal.

Robin Ruinsky has been a writer since penning her autobiography in fourth grade. Along the way she's studied theater at Syracuse University, worked with Woody Allen starring most of the time on the cutting room floor. A segue into the punk rock scene followed but writing was always the main focus. She writes for various crafty, artsy magazines about people who make craftsy, artsy collectible things. But her first love is writing fiction and film criticism which some people think are the same thing.

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