It came as no surprise earlier this year when the Tribeca Film folks announced that the festival would be the victim of downsizing -- after all, it is a highly sponsored event, and in the current economic climate corporations clearly don't want to be handing over barrels of cash towards a film festival. (In related news, Volkswagen just announced they would no longer be sponsoring the Berlinale.) As a result, the festival's program was significantly reduced, with the number features not even reaching triple digits.
Yet was this necessarily a bad thing? In conversations with fellow critics and regular festival-goers, the consensus seems to be that this year's leaner, meaner festival was more solid, and had far fewer of the "what-the-heck-was-this-doing-here" kind of films.
It was an extremely good year for first fatures -- of course there was the magnificent Fish Eyes (which Benten acquired), Damien Chazelle's 16mm black & white musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Jake Goldberger's Don McKay, Darko Lungulov's Here and There, Omri Givon's Seven Minutes in Heaven, and Rune Denstad Langlo's North, which walked away with the prize for Best New Narrative Filmmaker.
Sadly, I didn't get to see nearly as many films as I would have liked, as the negotiations for Fish Eyes took the better part of five days and nights. Long, long nights. Fortunately, I'll be able to catch up with a handful of them via screeners.
I've written reviews of two debut features, Here and There and Seven Minutes in Heaven, and they can be found over at GreenCine.