The sixth annual Tribeca Film Festival, which runs through May 6, features more than 150 films from around the world, including dozens of documentaries and narrative features from the Middle East, Africa and East Asia.
Actor and director Robert DeNiro and producer Jane Rosenthal, together with developer Craig Hatkoff, founded the festival after the 2001 terrorist attacks. They wanted to help revive downtown New York, especially the area known as Tribeca, near the World Trade Center. The 12-day event has since become a showcase and laboratory for emerging filmmakers, both from overseas and the U.S., who gather daily in the filmmakers' lounge.
“Tribeca does a lot for filmmakers,” said filmmaker A.P. Gonzalez. “I'm from the west coast, and I've got a screenplay called Cross My Heart, and they've invited me out to make a presentation this year. I show a couple of my films, talk to people, hopefully find some financing."
Full-length documentaries at Tribeca included the premiere of We Are Together (Thina Simunye), which tells the story of an orphanage choir from South Africa. Most of the children at the Agape Orphanage have lost their parents to AIDS. The film was directed by a former volunteer at the orphanage, Paul Taylor.
9 Star Hotel is about some of the thousands of Palestinian men who sneak into Israel every day in order to work constructing new homes. They themselves camp out in the nearby hills. A portrait of the friendship among some of the men, the film will open in New York and several other American cities later this month.
The Devil Came on Horseback examines the situation in Darfur, Sudan, through the eyes of a former U.S. soldier who was stationed there as an unarmed observer. The photographs he took led to the film, which activists hope will help focus attention to the crisis in Darfur.
Among the feature films from East Asia is Tuya's Marriage, a tragicomedy about a Mongolian shepherdess whose husband is disabled in an accident. When she herself is injured, they divorce -- so that she can look for another husband who will agree to support them both.
The Tribeca Film Festival's big-budget movie event this year was the U.S. premiere of the latest in the Spiderman series. Spider-Man 3 premiered at a theater in the New York borough of Queens that's the home of the fictional hero, played by Tobey Maguire.