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Filmmakers come to Tribeca for buzz

Connecting with auds can help a pic, even if it's been sold

Whether they are looking for a distributor or already have one, filmmakers participating in the ninth annual Tribeca Film Festival all want the same thing — buzz.

Alex Gibney will unveil three documentaries at the fest, including his untitled Eliot Spitzer Film (a work in progress), “My Trip to Al Qaeda” and the fest’s closing night film, “Freakonomics,” which he co-directed.

“Tribeca has been good luck for me,” says Gibney, who premiered his Oscar-winning doc, “Taxi to the Dark Side” at TFF in 2007. “I desperately wanted the Spitzer film at Tribeca because there obviously is a very strong New York component to it.”

While Gibney would like to get a distributor onboard for both films (Magnolia picked up “Freakonomics”), he ultimately wants each film to “make a big splash” during the fest.

Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, directors of IFC doc, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” would like to make a splash of their own.

Despite having premiered and sold the doc at Sundance earlier this year, the duo wants to “give New York audiences a taste of the film” before its eventual theatrical release.

Word of mouth is exactly what distrib Magnolia is hoping to get out of the fest when it screens Neil Jordan’s “Ondine,” which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year and is skedded for a June release.

“I make Hollywood movies and I make independent movies, and it happened that ‘Ondine’ is a small, tender independent film that was finished at a time when the distribution situation for these kinds of films is very tough,” Jordan says. “So I thought going the festival route was a great idea.”

Sony Pictures Classics is another distributor eager to screen films on its upcoming spring/summer slate during Tribeca, including Aaron Schneider’s “Get Low” and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Micmacs,” as well as Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give.” But SPC co-topper Tom Bernard says it’s unlikely he will acquire any films at the fest.

While the slower marketplace may not be for SPC, Ambush Entertainment seems to see it as an advantage. Last year, after premiering Matthew Broderick starrer, “Wonderful World” at Tribeca, Ambush sold it to Magnolia. This year the company has “Nip/Tuck” producer-writer Richard Levine’s debut feature, “Every Day,” starring Helen Hunt and Liev Schreiber.

Also looking for a home for his narrative feature debut, “Monogamy,” is helmer Dana Adam Shapiro. Shapiro says Tribeca’s chief creative officer and ex-Sundance guru Geoffrey Gilmore was one reason why he wanted to go to TIFF.

While Gilmore does not select films for the fest, his new initiatives are captivating filmmakers including longtime Tribeca participant Edward Burns. Having debuted four films at fest, starting in 2002 with “Ash Wednesday,” the helmer will open the inaugural Tribeca Film Fest Virtual with his latest pic, “Nice Guy Johnny.”

“You want your film to be seen by as many people as possible,” Burns says, “and if something like 5,000 people around the country see ‘Nice Guy Johnny’ and hopefully talk it up and discuss it virally, it not only helps my chances with distribution, but it also helps ensure that I will continue to make movies.”

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