Tribeca Film Festival launches

Tribeca 2009

Tribeca 2009

Today I woke up early, left the bike at home and hopped onto the C train to Chambers Street in TriBeCa, Manhattan. (BBC said it would rain as hard as yesterday – actually, didn’t happen).

Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman and Spike Lee were in attendance, but there were no doughnuts… (When I picked up my press pass last week there were Snapples all over the shop and Dunkin’ Doughnuts. I thought yanks loved that shit.)

Jane Rosenthal – the real brains behind the fest – was the most eloquent, as indeed was the statuesque blue-blazered Uma Thurman. De Niro looked distinctly uncomfortable, despite this being his seventh year promoting film downtown. When some French journo asked him why he had launched Tribeca in Dohar and if it was to counter negative images of Arabs after 9/11, De Niro stepped up to the mic and just blanked.

‘Err, I don’t know’ he blustered before looking to Jane Rosenthal for help. I can’t even remember what she said, probably something about fostering international relations or something.

A slight bit of controversy came via a question from a cool dude from the Globe and Mail. ‘Can you categorically confirm that Tribeca is not moving to the Fall to bring it online with the festival year?’ (This question followed Spike Lee saying that the reason he had never exhibited in Tribeca was cos he never had a film ready, unlike with Cannes, Venice or Toronto).

Jane Rosenthal said: ‘I cannot categorically confirm what I’m having for lunch today. I have heard the same rumours that you guys have heard and I can’t say anymore.’

She was right squirmy!

The ROBERT DE NIRO, JANE ROSENTHAL, UMA THURMAN AND SPIKE LEE show

***

Festival jury announced; the 32 jurors include Uma Thurman, Meg Ryan, Morgan Spurlock, James Franco, Todd Haynes, Bradley Cooper, Melissa Leo, Parker Posey, Adrien Brody and Rachel Maddow

Tribeca Film Festival co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal kicked off the eighth annual Tribeca Film Festival today at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in lower Manhattan. De Niro and Rosenthal were joined by Uma Thurman, who will serve as a juror for the World Narrative competition and who announced her fellow 2009 Festival jurors, Spike Lee, who directed two films featured in this year’s Festival, and Rich Lehrfeld, VP, Global Sponsorship and Experiential Marketing for American Express, the founding sponsor of the Festival.

The 2009 Tribeca Film Festival will run from April 22 – May 3 and will include 85 features and 46 short films representing 36 different countries. The film slate, chosen from 4,720 submissions, features 45 world premieres, 5 international premieres, 15 North American premieres, 3 U.S. premieres and 12 New York premieres. In addition to the film line-up, there will also be an array of panel discussions, valuable networking opportunities for filmmakers and the industry, gala premieres of highly anticipated new studio releases – including Sony Pictures Classics’ Whatever Works and Fox Searchlight Pictures’ My Life in Ruins – and a number of free, community events, including the Tribeca Drive-In, the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day and the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair.

“At its core, our Festival has always been about great films; but it has also been about community and renewal. These themes were resonant right after we founded the Festival after 9/11, as well as in the years that followed and especially now – at a time of such uncertainty for so many people struggling with the global economic crisis. In good times and bad, people love to go to the movies, and we are thrilled to be here once again to present 12 days of films and events that will appeal to the industry and the general public alike. Whether you’re an accomplished filmmaker or just need a way to escape everyday life for a few hours, there’s something for you at Tribeca,” said Rosenthal.

“It’s great to see how much the Festival has grown since we began in 2002 and how it has impacted the neighborhood,” said De Niro. “We invite everyone to come to Tribeca to enjoy all that our Festival has to offer – from great films to industry gatherings to free community events.”

“Year after year, the Tribeca Film Festival brings a vibrant energy to New York City and excitement to filmmakers, film fans, and merchants in the local communities,” said Rich Lehrfeld, VP, Global Sponsorship and Experiential Marketing, American Express. “American Express is proud to continue our support of the Festival as we have since its inception, driving business to local merchants, celebrating filmmakers and the art of storytelling, and creating unforgettable experiences for our Cardmembers.”

“I want to thank American Express, our founding partner, who was with us from the very beginning when we set out to drive business, energy and excitement downtown post-9/11. They have offered unwavering support of that original mission and of the art of filmmaking and storytelling in a most powerful way,” added Rosenthal, who also noted, “We are grateful to all our partners and corporate sponsors – returning and new – who make our programming possible.”

“I’m so proud of the films we are showing this year, from the heaviest hitting documentary to the lightest comedy, there is something for everyone. I can’t wait for to share the films with our audience,” said Nancy Schafer, Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Jurors for the competitive categories were announced by Academy Award-nominated actress Uma Thurman.

“For me, and for people everywhere who love film, Tribeca has become a major event to which we all look forward with anticipation. And as a New Yorker, it’s been wonderful to see the impact the festival has had on the City. This year is especially exciting because I get to be a part of it as a juror. I look forward to watching some incredible films,” said Thurman.

Following is a list of the 2009 Festival jurors and their respective categories: It

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