The Tribeca Film Festival was established in New York City in 2001 and served as a major aid to reviving the city after the tragic events on 9/11. In an effort to heal, rebuild and inspire the populous city, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff came together to stimulate the arena of film in the heart of Tribeca, not too far from where the attacks took place.
Fifteen years later, it is still a hub for emerging talent, directors, creators and passionate filmgoers to connect and witness the extraordinary in film. BlameEbro sent our team to cover the event for the first time, this is what they experienced.
1. Tickets aren’t cheap.
Tribeca’s Hudson and Festival Hub passes went on sale about a month and a half before it officially kicked off this year. The Festival Hub is priced at $550 while the Hudson pass is priced at $1250. Neither package is cheap and for a first-timer, the Hub pass still offers a great deal for a rather exclusive experience from afar. However, the 2016 film guide had not been released at that time. In retrospect festivals are known to expand all details during the point of sale. Not only do you get the ‘what’ you get the ‘who, where and when’ as well as any other crucial information needed to examine and weigh all the options. Sure enough it was a gamble with “NO REFUNDS. NO EXCHANGES. NO RESALE,” listed at the bottom the page. Nonetheless, if you’re passionate about the art of film it’s likely you would have jumped at the chance too.
2. There are levels to this credential life.
On opening day, you get your credentials from the box office at Spring Studios and as you’re going through the guide, you quickly learn why NO REFUNDS was in bold. Spring Studies is the only building you have full access to. This is a huge disappointment when the online and hard copy of the guide illustrates everything from Tribeca Talks and special screenings taking place all over the Big Apple throughout the two week period. Although the package lists “All access at Spring Studios,” the information is pitched in a sketchy way. It only told the “what” not the details on the ‘who, when, where’ surrounding how the festival works and where all the events would be taking place.
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3. Nothing really happens at Spring Studios.
Initially, it sounded like a great deal with the thought that most of the happenings would be at Spring Studios since that’s what the Hub pass exclusively offered. Without experience or a definite schedule published at the time of purchase, you would have no clue about the sticky situation that ensued. An inspiring filmmaker/enthusiast at the festival felt that while Spring Studios offered something great, Spring Studios offers “nothing about the essence of what Tribeca is and that’s misleading… You don’t see the films of the festival here.” He added, “You don’t get those screenings. That’s happening at other places.”
The technological side that you get at Spring Studios is a small facet on a larger scale when the heart of Tribeca is happening at venues like Beacon Theater and other places. The famous Dj Steve Aoki premiered and sold out the venue for his I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead debut and those are the kinds of rare screenings that attract a diverse crowd of music and film lovers. “I think they could have done a better job of explaining the difference between Spring Studios and the festival itself,” he said to explain the huge disconnect.
Sold out screening of #ILLSLEEPWHENIMDEAD at @beacontheatre made me ??☺️☺️ thank you NYC well everyone on the stage thanks you This film is all our story from the producers to @jjkrook the director to the people who got it to @tribeca to the folks handling the distribution and clearing the music michael the cinematographer the editors investors the different people interviewed my family everyone else that had a hand in this doc and last but not least all the fans from all around the world that made this story meaningful. ?????? A photo posted by Steve Aoki (@steveaoki) on
4. You may get turned away if the theatre fills up.
A vibrant artist and aspiring filmmaker who traveled from Orlando, Florida to be apart of the excitement was more upbeat about much of what he saw so far Spring Studios. However he still acknowledged the confusion he experienced around ‘rush’ tickets. “Nobody knew what rush lines meant. I was there for an hour and a half and nobody could tell me how I could get the tickets or where the box office was standing right outside the Festival Hub at Spring Studios. Nobody was able to tell us what to do.” Even if you are able to purchase a rush-ticket nothing is guaranteed because it’s first come first serve. On Friday night people who waited in the rush line outside of the Tribeca Performing Arts Center for the Tribeca Talks portion with Chris Rock were turned away when the theater reached capacity. Once again you’re at high risk to be swindled since it’s no guarantee that your ticket is getting you a seat and all sales are final. This is pretty harsh considering the amount of energy, time and money people spend to be apart of the festival. That’s enough to kill one’s enthusiasm. The downfall is their inability to readily provide effective information and uphold a fair system for the people.
5. But, we didn’t hate the Festival.
It’s not an act to condemn the festival as we recognize Tribeca’s long standing contributions especially to the city of New York not only in film, but economically. This is an effort to create constructive dialogue on ways Tribeca can improve their structure so that it’s more festival-goer friendly especially for first timers who don’t have a clue. Is Tribeca geared more to Hollywood or the emerging filmmakers, artists and everyday people that the ideas, stories and content is intend to reflect? The festival appears to be wrapped up in taking your money without being that devoted “access point for consumers to experience independent film and media,” in translating ‘the power of ‘cinema’ through their many platforms according to their mission statement.
We wonder how the executive chair and co-founder, Jane Rosenthal would respond to the frustrated first timer who remains hopeful of the festival’s chance to win them over during this final week at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.