Tribeca Film Festival Elevates Games for 2021, Opens Submissions for First Games Award

Tribeca Games
Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival is expanding its focus on video games at next year’s planned fest in New York City: For the first time, Tribeca will open submissions for games to join the 2021 festival as official selections — and will bestow the inaugural Tribeca Games Award from the entries.

The festival also announced a new advisory board for Tribeca Games comprising luminaries from the games and film worlds. The members are filmmaker Nia DaCosta; writer-producer-director Jon Favreau, Electronic Arts co-founder Bing Gordon; the Game Awards producer Geoff Keighley; legendary game creator Hideo Kojima (“Death Stranding”); Sam Lake, creative director of Remedy Entertainment; and Kiki Wolfkill, head of 343 Industries’ Halo transmedia and entertainment at Xbox.

Tribeca’s move to make games part of the official festival comes after TFF has featured games and creators over the last several years, and as the worlds of cinema and gaming are increasingly blurring together, said Jane Rosenthal, Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival co-Founder and CEO.

“This was the natural next step. It’s the inflection point as filmmakers like J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau take so much from games, while game creators like Kojima take from movies,” Rosenthal said. “We have been always looking at new ways to tell stories — we’re platform-agnostic.”

According to Rosenthal, Tribeca Film Festival had expected to add the Tribeca Games Official Selections and award program in 2020, before the in-person event was canceled because of the coronavirus. Rosenthal said a contributing factor in the decision to expand Tribeca Games was the investment last year from James Murdoch to take a controlling stake in Tribeca Enterprises: Murdoch, she said, “believes in immersive, nonlinear storytelling. It was just time to do this.”

TFF first recognized video games as part of its program in 2011, when it named Rockstar Games’s “L.A. Noire” an official selection. In the years since, Tribeca has showcased games including “League of Legends,” “God of War,” “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” “Beyond Two Souls,” “Firewatch,” and “What Remains of Edith Finch.” The festival also has hosted panels with several top game creators and actors, such as a session with Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus last year prior to the launch of “Death Stranding.”

The 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival is scheduled to be held June 9-20, 2021 in New York City. The festival is now accepting submissions for Tribeca Games’ video game selections via this link. The new Tribeca Games Award (which may or may not include a cash prize) will honor games from the selections that demonstrate artistic excellence in storytelling in a game.

Tribeca Games is headed by VP Casey Baltes, who has produced games programming for TFF since 2017.  “Tribeca Games is expanding in response to the enthusiasm we have seen from the games community and our audiences,” she said in a statement. “Games have proven to be one of the most sophisticated storytelling vehicles today — not only with narrative but also with incredible artistic mastery, the creation of highly immersive worlds and providing meaningful connections to communities all over the world.”

Games selected will be considered official selections and will be featured during the 2021 edition of the Tribeca Film Festival. Eligible games include titles created for web, console, virtual reality, augmented reality and mobile devices.

The games picked as TFF Official Selections also will be eligible for the Tribeca Games Award and be considered for the NOW Creators Market, a private, daylong industry market bringing together creators to pitch new projects to a range of industry execs, including those from distributors, agencies, brands and more.

Deadlines to submit U.S. and internationally produced games for Tribeca Games 2021 are (all at 6 p.m. ET): Oct. 30, 2020 – early deadline ($40 entry fee); Dec. 2, 2020 – official deadline ($60 entry fee); and Jan. 13, 2021 – late deadline ($80 entry fee). More info is available at this link.