Magazine article Variety

For Gotham Organizers, the Focus Is the Journey Fest Extends Brand as Event Evolves

Magazine article Variety

For Gotham Organizers, the Focus Is the Journey Fest Extends Brand as Event Evolves

Article excerpt

AS THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL enters its 13th year, fest leaders feel confident they've established an identity for the event as more than just a placeholder between Sundance and Cannes.

Now the only trick is to convince everybody else of that. Although the fest has expanded from its 2002 inception into a wide-frame array of offerings incorporating tech, sports, gaming and civilian-facing neighborhood events, organizers still face questions about what exactly TVibeca stands for.

"We're still a young festival, relatively speaking, and for us, adolescence means we've begun to see who we are," says Geoff Gilmore, the Sundance alum who added his indie cred to the fest when he signed on as chief creative officer of Tribeca Enterprises in 2009. "When we talk about what TVibeca is, it's always looking forward to what film festivals need to become."

One thing film festivals have become is a robust business. TEE boasts healthy sponsorships with AT&T, Bombay Sapphire, Lincoln Motor Co. and others through its hundreds of screenings, multiple funding initiatives and a slew of parties. The brand's footprint has even expanded to include international events and a distribution company, Tribeca Eilm.

That bustling activity likely factored into showbiz giant Madison Square Garden Co.'s recent acquisition of a 50% stake in TVibeca Enterprises. The $45 million deal won't change any of the day-to-day operations, but it will bring the downtown fest to uptown's Beacon Theatre and stands poised to grow the festival's brand across the country with MSG's other national venues.

"I think the ownership gives us resources and options that we're still trying to figure out," Gilmore says.

"Discovery," "community" and "innovation" are the organizing watchwords, as organizers pitch the latest festival centered around a slate of 89 films. That list launches with opening-night entry "Time Is Illmatic," the music doc about Nas that lends the fest a music-heavy slant culminating in "Begin Again," the closing-night offering starring a crooning Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. …

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