The 11th Annual Tribeca Film Festival kicks off today in New York City. For those of you who can't make the trip to the Big Apple to participate in the festival, Xfinity TV is bringing customers access to some of the Festival's films and behind-the-scenes extras on Xfinity On Demand and XfinityTV.com. This offering includes three films available before they make their debut at the Tribeca Film Festival: Death of a Superhero, The Giant Mechanical Man and Sleepless Night. I had a chance to chat with Todd Green, General Manager of Tribeca Film, about this year's festival, what films to be on the lookout for and how the landscape of distributing independent films is changing.
If viewers can't make it to the festival, can you give them any tips on how to create a Tribeca Film Festival experience of their own?
I love the idea of people hosting "Tribeca Film Festival" parties right in their living rooms by using the power of Xfinity On Demand. With four of this year's Festival titles playing On Demand, and three available even before they premiere at the Festival, people can literally program an evening or weekend or week of Tribeca Film Festival titles for themselves and their friends. In addition to the features we have extra content that gives viewers an insider's look at the films...just like you would at the festival. We even have two titles we're making available On Demand from last year's festival, so that gives people six Tribeca Film Festival titles to choose from. People should have fun with creating whatever festival experience they want, either getting a group together in a physical space or by using their social networks to share the experience of watching a film. That's what's special about a festival...the ability to talk about films and hear other points of view. You can do that with Tribeca Film On Demand during this year's festival and all year long.
For new indie film fans, can you share some of your favorites with us? What are a few of your must-sees?
I think it's important that all indie film fans experience the diversity a festival like Tribeca offers. A film festival is the perfect place to experience films that you wouldn't necessarily gravitate toward. A few of my favorites this year include Sleepless Night, billed by The Hollywood Reporter as "a sort of Die Hard (in a nightclub) crossed with Taken," Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story; an extraordinary doc that examines the implications a 1966 NBC News documentary about the changing times in the American South had on one person's decision to finally speak his mind. The doc is the subject of a full "Dateline NBC" broadcast May 20, 2012, at 7pm.
What role does technology play in the independent film world?
Advances in technology have improved the economics of indie film. Indie filmmakers' production costs have dropped considerably thanks to improvements in digital cameras. The explosion of social media has helped filmmakers market their films in ways never thought possible with limited marketing budgets. Finding an audience for indie films is still a challenge, but advances in technology allow people to watch films when and where they want. When you consider that video-on-demand is only ten years old it's exciting to imagine what the next ten years will bring to the independent film community. A film in this year's festival, Side by Side, addresses some of these questions. Narrated by Keanu Reeves, Side by Side looks at the transition being made from traditional film to digital. And it's not just the indie filmmakers making the transition, it's some of Hollywood's biggest names too.