By Amanda Moses
The Tribeca Film Festival has always been a beacon of hope for New York City, providing an outlet for creative minds to have their voices heard, and it reaches out to the masses with their artistic endeavors. Founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff developed the festival as a way to reinvigorate the economy in the aftermath of the World Trade Center terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001.
Last year, the festival was postponed in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year it once again was reinvented as a pillar of hope, opening on June 9th for 12 spectacular days of innovative storytelling, directorial debuts, video game immersive experiences, and much more. Now deemed the Tribeca Festival for its far-reaching content that spreads past the silver screen, the extravagant affair was able to shine a light during the dark times for its 20th anniversary.
The biggest change this year was hosting the entire event across all five boroughs in open-air venues. The Tribeca Festival truly brought back the classic outdoor movie appeal by creating socially distant seating areas in 120 amazing locations, such as the renovated Pier 76 at Hudson River Park. Other scenic locations included Spring Studios, Brooklyn Commons at MetroTech, The Battery, and other areas.
The Tribeca Festival made sure to pay homage to the frontline workers who have aided this city in its comeback, as well as underscored critical race issues by hosting various segments dedicated to Juneteenth. It was truly a love letter to New York City and how it has and will continue to rise above the ashes like a phoenix. In a short film promoting the event, co-founder Robert De Niro called it a revitalization of art, stating, “New York is now, New York is everything, and New York is forever.”
Kicking off this extravaganza was In the Heights, which was screened in nine different locations across the city, and truly embodied the Latin lifestyle in Washington Heights. It was one of many films to provide representation for the Latin community, as well as other nationalities, genders, and orientations were celebrated.
The red carpet was rolled out for star-studded premiers, such as Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It with its iconic namesake in appearance, Blondie: Vivir En La Habana with the stellar singer Debbie Harry addressing audiences, and even actor/producer Adrian Brody premiered the film Clean as a father’s day special. Each showcase highlighted an important talking point and allowed audiences to both be entertained and broadened their scope of particular issues.
Additionally, Tribeca worked with a multitude of contributors to create a short film documenting the fact that this festival is the first in North America to comeback following the pandemic, which included De Niro, Fran Leibowitz, John Legend, Lin Manuel Miranda, Jon Chu, Stacey Abrams, Whoopi Goldberg, Darren Aronofsky, Steve Buscemi, Patti Smith, Delroy Lindo, John Turturro, Elegance Bratton, Michael Rappaport, Ximena Sariñana, Mike Jackson, Scott Z. Burns, Steve Bognan, Julia Reichert. The short movie is entitled: “2021 Tribeca Festival: 20th Anniversary Film.”