News conference kicks off Tribeca festival

New York governor David Paterson brought a package of film and TV production tax incentives with him to Wednesday morning’s news conference to officially kick off the Tribeca Film Festival.

Paterson talked up the state’s sweetened package of lensing incentives during the press sesh, which also featured Gotham Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tribeca fest co-founder Jane Rosenthal and juror-filmmaker Doug Liman announcing various initiatives and events.

The state’s new incentive plan triples the tax credits offered to filmmakers, to 30% on in-state below-the-line costs, with an additional 5% in New York City (Daily Variety, April 11).

“Recently, we started losing business to our neighbors, like Canada, Connecticut and Massachusetts, Paterson said. “New Yorkers never go down without a fight, and with the significantly expanded state film tax credit I announced today, New York will continue to serve as the most fascinating backdrop in the world.”

Gotham is the first city in the country to offer an extra tax incentive bonus.

Ironically, Tribeca fest co-founder Robert De Niro was not on hand as he was shooting a film — in Connecticut.

American Express chief marketing officer John Hayes announced that the company, a fest partner from the beginning, will remain a sponsor for another five years.

Fest organizers touted the range of pics on display this year. Filmmakers shot the 120 features and 80 shorts in the festival in 41 countries, with some 15 lensed in New York. The slate includes 53 world preems and 30 domestic bows.

Tribeca artistic director Peter Scarlet pointed to the changing culture of moviemaking and attendance. “Movies are being made in ways we couldn’t have imagined,” Scarlet said. “People are making films on cell phones, and films are being made for cell phones.”

Liman, a resident of Tribeca, announced that his fellow fest jurors are an eclectic bunch: helmers Callie Khouri and Peter Hedges; thesps Oliver Platt, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Dinklage, Molly Shannon and Lili Taylor; scribes Josh Schwartz and Jay McInerney; producer Christine Vachon; chef Mario Batali; designer Zac Posen; and rocker David Bowie.

Bloomberg lauded the fest for helping to revitalize downtown and increase tourism. He noted that while the nation’s economy is not in the greatest shape and tourism is on a downturn, the number of visitors to Gotham is on an upswing, hitting 47 million last year. Bloomberg commended the fest for bringing in more than 2 million visitors and $425 million thus far.

“Tribeca Film Festival’s ongoing success reaffirms Lower Manhattan’s role as a vibrant cultural destination and New York City’s place as a center of movie magic,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg’s been getting his share of on-screen time these days.

“I’m headed for my next career,” the mayor bragged about his recent turn on NBC skein “30 Rock” as well as his upcoming bit in the “Sex and the City” feature. About the fest’s opening-night film, Bloomberg quipped: “I’m excited to see ‘Baby Mama.’ It features my new co-star, Tina Fey, and, well, I carried her on ’30 Rock.’ “

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