Wils paving new way for Tribeca Institute

Nonprofit aims for local economic revitalization

In its ongoing campaign to turn downtown Gotham into a commercial and cultural entertainment mecca, the Tribeca Film Festival troika of Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff has tapped local politician and former TV producer Madelyn Wils as president-CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute.

The nonprofit entity, devoted to revitalizing Lower Manhattan and promoting the art of film, is a distinct org from Tribeca Films and the for-profit Tribeca Enterprises, though it actively supports the annual film festival.

Rosenthal, emphasizing that the institute shares the core healing and rebuilding principals on which the Tribeca Film Festival was founded post-Sept. 11, said the unit will look to do events that lead to economic revitalization, including programs that will feed the fest, which last year pumped $47 million into the downtown economy.

Outside the fest

Wils, who will continue to serve as chair of New York’s Community Board 1, takes up her new post in February. She is tasked with managing nonfestival-related programming and educational activities of the institute, which was founded after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 with a mission to create cultural initiatives to aid in the economic redevelopment of Lower Manhattan.

A former TV program development exec for Paramount TV, Time Life and Washington Post Group, Wils transitioned into local politics. She represents the Financial District, Battery Park City, the Civic Center, Tribeca and the South Street Seaport. She also serves on the board of directors of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and is a trustee of the Alliance for Downtown New York. She is a director of the Hudson River Park Trust and a trustee of the Conservancy for Historic Battery Park as well as the Gateway School in New York.

In addition to the Tribeca Film Institute’s programs and special events serving filmmakers and product showcases, Wils intends to expand the org’s primarily feature film mandate to include performing arts.

Wils worked with the Tribeca Film Festival organizers last year, helping the fledgling event secure venues and negotiate bureaucratic red tape.

Wils said she hopes to develop both community- and industry-based initiatives, including working with the city’s Dept. of Education on various school-based projects and expanding its talk series with influential arts and film industry individuals.

Part of Wils’ remit will be to lure private foundations as backers of future programs such as the Sloan Foundation, which has been underwriting a script and writers development program.

“We don’t want to do what NYU film school does,” said Wils, noting that the various functions of the festival, the institute and Tribeca Enterprises will continue to grow. “They’re all related and will operate in a sisterly way over time as the missions and mandates of the different (Tribeca) entities evolve.”

‘Deep dedication’

“Madelyn Wils has shown a deep dedication to the community of Lower Manhattan, and she is the perfect person to lead the Tribeca Film Institute as it continues its mission to rejuvenate downtown,” said De Niro.

“This is a pivotal time for the Tribeca Film Institute. Madelyn has tremendous vision. We welcome her energy, her leadership and her commitment to New York as we broaden the reach of the Institute,” said Rosenthal.

For-profit Tribeca Enterprises has been busy of late, having acquired the Screening Room (now called Tribeca Cinemas) and, earlier this month, announcing the creation of a consumer-oriented Entertainment Expo at Gotham’s Javitz Center starting this fall.

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