Securing The Avengers for its closing night slot is a coup for Tribeca’s organisers and an indication of the festival’s growing status.
There will be plenty of high fives going around Tribeca Film Festival headquarters after top brass secured The Avengers to fill the closing night slot. They deserve to be proud: Joss Whedon’s spandex mash-up could become the biggest hit of a superhero-saturated summer and even though the world premiere will have taken place in Los Angeles more than two weeks prior, this is a timely show of faith in the New York event’s sex appeal.
That Tribeca can wield the financial clout of backer American Express like Thor’s hammer and be relied upon to make a splash on Apr 28 will not have gone unnoticed by Marvel Studios, global distributor Disney and Paramount, either.
In many ways Tribeca and The Avengers are a perfect match: Whedon was raised in Manhattan, the movie wrapped production recently in the Big Apple and the notions of heroism and resilience are etched deeply into the psyche of proud New Yorkers. Tribeca was established to encourage investment to return to the ravaged post-9/11 Downtown district and, in a nice touch, police officers, firefighters, first responders and military personnel will be invited to attend the premiere and meet the cast.
Tribeca has showcased studio behemoths before – think Shrek Forever After and Spider-Man 3 – and for a populist festival with global aspirations, it never hurts to drop another blockbuster-elect into the roster. Yet the excitement that seems to be coursing through festival staff this year owes its origins story to more than mere bragging rights over a highly anticipated summer release.
In its first decade, Tribeca has struggled to establish an identity and corral a consistently eye-catching programme and I get the sense from talking to Tribeca Enterprises chief creative officer Geoff Gilmore and Cannes émigré and new artistic director Frederic Boyer that this year’s artistic voice could surprise people.
Tribeca inhabits a hellish spot between Sundance and Cannes and there’s no doubt this has played against the programme in the past and made headline acquisitions few and far between. But the festival’s staying power counts for a lot and Boyer told me recently of the importance of championing young filmmakers and developing lifelong relationships.
“We have to seduce a lot of filmmakers,” he said. This will take time to bear fruit but it’s an unimpeachable mandate and the programming team will always have that New York cachet to attract an emerging talent base.
Gilmore is back in the thick of Tribeca programming now and his boldness, allied to Boyer’s Gallic flair and the passion of their colleagues, will only help matters. Gilmore and festival executive director Nancy Schafer have been nothing if not dogged in their belief that the broader cultural remit of Tribeca Enterprises, with its sister festival in Doha, global bridge building aspirations and online distribution activities closer to home, will develop the festival’s allure.
New York’s massed ranks of buyers will never desert the festival and if it strikes a major chord soon – maybe next month – Tribeca could become a necessary stopping-off point for their sceptical senior Los Angeles counterparts too.