Conceived by actor Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff as a way to bring people and events back to Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11, the Tribeca Film Festival has always included free festivities for kids, families, and the surrounding community. And as the festival has grown over its 10-year run, so have the public screenings, fairs, and other activities. In addition to the annual Family Festival Street Fair and Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day, which take place on April 30, this year's lineup of community events includes the return of the Tribeca Drive-In, filmmaker discussions known as the Tribeca Talks, and the inaugural N.Y.F.E.S.T., a soccer competition between film and entertainment industry folks.
“The Tribeca Film Festival was started nearly 10 years ago to revive culture and business in Lower Manhattan and to showcase what TriBeCa has to offer. During each festival, we have featured a variety of free community events as our way of giving back to the city, and this year is no exception,” said Nancy Schafer, the festival's executive director.
In fact, the organizers opened the 10th iteration of the festival with a free-to-the-public screening and live music. Held on April 20, the outdoor event at the North Cove of the World Financial Center Plaza premiered Cameron Crowe's documentary The Union and featured a performance by Elton John. In the three nights following, the Tribeca Drive-In offered three more movie showings at the Hudson River-adjacent site, a series that included two New York-centric films—1980 classic Fame and the family-friendly Muppets Take Manhattan. For these, sponsors JetBlue and Time Warner Cable supplied games, photo ops, giveaways, and other activities.
To integrate more athletic pursuits and sports fans into the festival, film director Jeffrey Saunders and Sony Pictures executive vice president of acquisitions and productions Dylan Leiner created N.Y.F.E.S.T., the New York Film and Entertainment Soccer Tournament. The tourney pitted industry professionals against each other in five-on-five matches on Saturday. Sponsored by Umbro and the New York Cosmos, the competition at Pier 40 also included skill stations, contests, and clinics for kids. Proceeds from the event benefited charities that provide soccer programs for underserved urban youth.
With 513 screenings, the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival runs through May 1.