Each winter, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival takes over our city in the most delightful manner — search lights blaze into the night sky, announcing stars arrivals to the Arlington; State Street eateries and coffee shops swell with cinephiles; movie houses whir with world-premiere and top-notch celluloid treats. After more than a week of excitement, a year feels like a long wait until the next one.
Thankfully, there is an interim option. Across the country, as spring ascends, New York City hosts its ode to the silver screen — the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF). Started in 2002 by Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal, and her philanthropist husband, Craig Hatkoff, TFF is a massive affair that, like SBIFF, assembles an exciting slate of movies and talent for 12 days of education and entertainment. Yet, while several million attend the festival — a far cry more than the number at SBIFF — TFF’s reach feels smaller in the enormity that is the Big Apple. The seven-floor headquarters on Varick Street is abuzz with activity, and there are pockets of badge wearers near the Chelsea theaters where much of the festival takes place. But in a city of 8.5 million, it’s presence is somewhat diluted.
Nevertheless, what TFF lacks in intimacy, Manhattan itself makes up for, offering supporting opportunities for festival-goers. As the birthplace of numerous arts and trends, New York is the setting for many of the films screened here. As such, viewers have the luxury of visiting locations seen in movies. For example, in director Matt Tyrnauer’s fascinating documentary Studio 54, which chronicles the rapid rise and fall of Steve Rubell an Ian Schrager, whose experimental nightclub is still the stuff of legend, festival attendees can take the subway uptown to the hallowed — or desecrated, depending on your point of view — building at 254 West 54th Street that housed the infamous disco. Or wander over to Robert Mapplethorpe’s 24 Bond Street studio, as seen in the gripping, eponymously named film Mapplethorpe. With Manhattan’s varied ethnic neighborhoods, it’s also possible to find an eatery serving food of the country in which a particular film takes place — a great way to continue your cultural immersion after movie’s end.
With its varied slate and slew of world premieres, TFF is a cinema connoisseur’s heaven and a fantastic complement to our towns’ own revered film festival. Keep an eye here for Independent writer Ninette Paloma’s and my reviews, impressions, and experiences at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.