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While the attendees of Tribeca Film Festival crowd up the streets of Lower Manhattan, this reporter is ‘stuck’ in Berlin, weighing her options. It would have made for a much more interesting piece had I actually been attended the event – but distances can often act against us.
What, then, is Tribeca outside the US? To be honest, not much. Two of the three founders would not ring a bell to most people where I am from and until now, I personally had no knowledge of the Tribeca area itself. I have learned that the founding of the Tribeca Film Festival was a response to the devastation of 9/11, an event that redefined the world and to this day, 10 years on, has left scars yet to be healed. The idea behind the festival, as defined by De Niro, Rosenthal and Hatkoff, was to “spur the economic and cultural revitalization of the lower Manhattan district through an annual celebration of film, music and culture” according to the event website. A noble cause – inspirational and with the breath to reach hearts and minds of a broad segment of movie lovers. Especially since you can attend the event online.
It is an ingenious idea. The instant availability of Tribeca exposes the festival to a massive online audience across the US, the platform is simple and accessible and the content deserves the attention of anyone with an interest in cinema. But as I scripple away at my desk in Berlin, I cannot help but to feel a little – excluded. Shortly before Tribeca kicked off, we realized in the huddle of signing up the Toonari team to My Tribeca, that reporters outside of the USA were destined to run into some problems. It is very often so with online American video content that geo-targeted restrictions apply – you will find the same restrictions on free online British television content because outlets such as the BBC and Channel 4 are funded or partly-funded by the public. In situations like these, as a viewer, you quietly realize that this is not a machine of entertainment – but one of green.
However, I was not deterred. Despite the unfriendly geo-targeted restrictions, the inquiry service was swift and informative. One of the festival blogs is dedicated to trouble-shooting and after my initial disappointment over the exclusion from film viewing rights, I wrote the blog moderators to ask about the availability of live event streaming overseas. In response to my inquiry, Tribeca user ‘kmccrack’ wrote “Hi Claudia – Yes, live events will be available everywhere – the only geo-targeted restrictions are on the films themselves. (Also, you can watch HEIST from anywhere – give it a try!)”
I watched The Heist, by the Irish craftsman Thomas Hefferon, and patiently waited for the live events to start streaming.
It didn’t take long for me to lose interest. It is essentially a futile mission to take on the Tribeca Film Festival from Europe – or anywhere else outside of the US I would imagine. No matter how deeply you declare your love to the art of cinema, to only have the viewing pleasure of a single short movie and the soundless streaming of the red carpet (from an, I must say, awkward angle) is simply not enough to satisfy your enthusiasm. It is not without reason Tribeca has been comparatively unsuccessful in arousing the interest of a greater European audience; access will consequently define the masses. With its reputation and rising prestige, it may gain a significant level of international fame, such as for example the Sundance Film Festival, in a few years – without actually providing us Europeans with equal access. I have spoken on behalf of the people of Europe but my plea extends to all of us which are bared from Tribeca Online Film Festival: Let us join!
Until May 1, enjoy the Festival USA.