First half of slate announced

The 10th Tribeca Film Festival looks to have leveled off the Gotham fest at a steady number of pics, with the 88 features on tap coming in approximately on par with the number of features offered last year.

But in the past decade, a flurry of activity has sprung up in a series of initiatives not specifically related to the fest, including programs in filmmaker and audience development, education and a year-round distribution enterprise that’s currently ramping up its sked. According to organizers, the 2011 fest is just one step in a larger program that aims to sustain the film industry through an uncertain future.

“We really want people said fest exec director Nancy Schafer.

Forty-four features of the fest’s 2011 slate were announced Monday, including the pics in contention in the fest’s two competitive categories, with the back end of the lineup to come next week.

Competish for narrative feature includes world preems of Dennis Lee’s Toni Collette and Michael Sheen starrer “Jesus Henry Christ,” Mateo Gil’s Sam Shepard topliner “Blackthorn” and Jannicke Systad Jacobsen’s Norwegian pic “Turn me on, Goddammit.”

On the doc side are contenders including Lee Hirsch’s bullying investigation “The Bully Project,” Maggie Bett’s “The Carrier” about a Zamibian mother who is HIV positive, and “Marathon Boy,” Gemma Atwal’s look at a four-year-old running prodigy in India and the political and social concerns that swirl around him.

Organizers touted the fact that an encouraging number of films to be included in this year’s fest have previously been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute’s programs, including “Jesus Henry Christ,” which grew out of the All Access Program for filmmakers, and “Marathon Boy,” which received docu support funds.

Like other fests, Tribeca also has been experimenting with new media brand extension. The Tribeca Online Film Festival returns for a second year, offering screenings of some festival features and shorts as well as ancillary fest programming such as Q&A sessions.

In the overall lineup of films, the banner categories used to classify films have been streamlined to five, with entries for the Cinemania and Spotlight series to be announced next week.

“It makes it easier for everyone, and for the audience, those sections don’t really mean anything,” said David Kwok, the fest’s director of programming.

Fest competitions will include new awards for cinematography, screenwriting and editing, while the best new helmer kudos (one for narrative and one for docs), have been opened up to films across the slate rather than only those in the competish programs.

Entries for the fest hit a record 5,624 submissions, according to organizers. Among the 88 features and 61 shorts selected, 43 are world preems in the 2011 fest, which runs April 20-May 1.

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