The Tribeca Film Festival is going back to its roots as the 13th annual edition kicks off Wednesday.
The event, founded to revitalize lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, is renewing its emphasis on the eponymous neighborhood after years where a large chunk of the screenings were held in the East Village.
Organizers wanted to “refocus downtown and create spaces that are walkable distances from each other, really drive the filmmakers, industry and public together so we get this community-building sense that’s something we always try to strive for,” programmer Cara Cusumano said.
They’ve sought to achieve that in two key ways. First, the Regal Battery Park cinema on North End Avenue will house a large chunk of the festival’s public screenings for the first time in years.
Other downtown venues include the Borough of Manhattan Community College Tribeca PAC, always packed with celebs at glitzy premieres, Brookfield Place and the Tribeca Film Center.
The festival is also launching a hub at Spring Studios on Varick Street, where there are special events planned including talks, interactive exhibits and more.
The popular family festival street fair returns to Greenwich Street on April 26, as well.
The renewed attention on TriBeCa is a major plus for the neighborhood, according to Catherine McVay Hughes, chair of Community Board 1.
“If someone is coming downtown for the family festival or to see a movie, there are so many unique places to eat and stores that people can make an evening out it or a day,” she said.
Not everything is sunshine and roses, though. Co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal Tuesday told The Daily Beast that the de Blasio administration isn’t doing enough to support the festival.
“I don’t have many opinions on de Blasio at this point,” De Niro told the publication. “We don’t get any support at this point. There’s nothing.”
Rosenthal added: “I have no opinion, too, and that should tell you what my opinion is. … Festivals like Toronto and Sundance get a lot of money from both their states and the city, and we do not have that kind of support here.”
Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen disagreed with that characterization.
“The de Blasio administration has not only remained supportive, but this year increased promotional funding to more than $300,000. We look forward to a great festival this year and building further on our productive partnership,” she said in a statement.
Organizers’ dissatisfaction has to do with “direct financial support, not the marketing support we currently receive from the City, and for which we are appreciative,” a festival spokesperson said in response.
Whatever the case, there’s no question that an abundance of cinematic riches are set to be offered throughout the festival’s run until April 26. Things begin with the world premiere of “Live From New York!,” a documentary about “Saturday Night Live,” and wrap up with a 25th anniversary screening of “Goodfellas” with a Q&A moderated by Jon Stewart. In between, there’s an extraordinarily diverse program featuring a bevy of movies starring A-list heavyweights, hard-hitting documentaries and other unique films culled from around the globe. Live events, including talks and music performances, abound.
“We are for the people of New York City,” Cusumano said. “I think that’s reflected in the programming that you see, which is varied. We have a lot of different audiences who come here and are looking for very different things, and we want to provide that for them.”