Weekly Feature

Larry David in Woody Allen's "Whatever Works".

A 2009 Tribeca Film Festival Primer

April 22, 2009
by Liz Colville
Since 2001, the Tribeca Film Festival has been a showcase of national and international views, helping to bring life back to an area hit hard by September 11—and the recession. The festival has become an important cultural event for more than just New Yorkers.

The Tribeca Film Festival Vision

The Tribeca Film Festival was cofounded by native New Yorker Robert De Niro in 2001 to coax New Yorkers back to the neighborhood of the World Trade Center site following 9/11. Tribeca showcases provocative documentaries, dramas, comedies and short films from all over the globe. Like Sundance, Tribeca has become a haven for film. In recent years, it has become increasingly selective, shirking off "complaints that it is a dumping ground," as the film critic Stephen Holden put it.

In recent years, Tribeca has become a hip destination for Hollywood’s leading actors, giving the festival and the ticket prices even more of a lift, increasing the allure of the event and making it one of the most expensive film festivals in the world. In 2005, one film critic thought Tribeca was doomed to be a starless pity party for movies without distributors. Time has proved that critic wrong: Not only are smaller, "sleeper" films gaining better exposure than ever before, they are also winning Oscars.

In 2008, festival organizers also admitted that raising their prices to $18 a ticket in 2007 was "a big mistake." For 2008, they were lowered back down to $15, a price that will stay in effect this year.

You can buy tickets and ticket packages from the official site.

This year, the festival has an important role that echoes its inaugural year: While showcasing films about serious and important topics, as it has always done, the Tribeca Film Festival has also chosen some lighter films to help take viewers' minds off the recession, as well as to inject more capital into a neighborhood at the crux of the global financial crisis.

2009 Films to Watch

The star of the 2009 festival, at least on paper, is Woody Allen's latest New York outing, "Whatever Works," starring Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood and Patricia Clarkson. Allen has shot abroad for his last several films, and his return to New York will open Tribeca on Wednesday, April 22. The film is set to release in theaters on June 19.

There are 86 films being featured at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival; the only thing that makes the event confusing is deciding what to see. The staff of New York Magazine watched 51 of the films and has chosen 16 must-watch options, including "Easy Virtue," a period piece based on Noël Coward's 1924 play; "Racing Dreams," about a group of go-kart drivers "dreaming of nascar stardom" and "Depatures," the 2009 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film.

ComingSoon looks at a longer list of 2009's screenings and neatly summarizes what's memorable about each choice. The site includes "Outrage," from Kirby Dick of "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," about closeted gay politicians who make a career out of speaking against the lesbian and gay community; Armando Ianucci's "In the Loop," a satire about Anglo-American politics that's "one of the funnier British exports in some time"; and "Rudo Y Cursi," a reunion of Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" as brothers competing for soccer stardom.

Browse the Tribeca Film Festival Web site for an alphabetical list of all the films being shown this year.

Dining in Tribeca

Those not in New York City can take note of Tribeca's offerings and catch up with them later, but for those in the city, the Tribeca Film Festival is only one part of the Tribeca experience. The area's restaurants are also crucial to the movie-going adventure.

Urbanspoon rounds up its picks of the best restaurants in Tribeca, and lists all restaurants alphabetically. Each restaurant gets its own page where you'll find contact information, menus where applicable, user reviews and a map showing the restaurant location.

The NYC Restaurants section of findingDulcinea's New York City Guide includes Urbanspoon and several other directories of Manhattan restaurants to help you know before you go, read user reviews and even book a table online.

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