Tribeca Festival Organizers Surprised It’s Still Going

When Robert De Niro kicked off the 14th annual Tribeca Film Festival Wednesday afternoon, he noted, “This is the fourteenth time I’ve stood in front of you, surprised it’s still going on.”

After all, the whole shebang was initially conceived as a temporary stopgap to rejuvenate downtown New York in the wake of 9/11. “What was once a statement about our resilience as a community has become an insitution,” he said of TFF.

Fellow co-founder Jane Rosenthal, meanwhile, made a confession. “The Tribeca Film Festival has been harboring some impure thoughts. Our world has changed. When Tribeca started, everyone wasn’t walking around with a high-definition camera and an editing studio in their pockets,” she said, holding up her iPhone.

That’s why, she continued, the festival has branched out in recent years to encompass digital and multiplatform storytelling — including virtual-reality experiences — as well as showcasing some TV works like the upcoming Netflix documentary series “Chef’s Table.”

But Rosenthal was quick to add that the expansion into new territories doesn’t take away from the film component; it just means the festival wants to be a place where filmmakers and other artists tell stories across multiple media.

“Does that mean we’re going to produce ‘Grand Theft Auto: Tribeca Film Festival’ edition?” Long pause. “No …” she said unconvincingly. “I don’t think so. But if someone else does, we’ll screen it.”

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