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Opening Wednesday: 22nd annual Tribeca Festival

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On Wednesday in New York City, the 22nd annual Tribeca Festival kicks off. Founded in 2001 by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal in an effort to revitalize lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks, the event has broadened in scope from a film festival to celebrate visionaries in various media, from film and TV to interactive, audio and gaming. 

Rosenthal recently told ABC Audio that finding the right projects to celebrate during the event is a daunting task. “We’re very fortunate that we have an extraordinary group of curators led by festival director Cara Cusumano, and they get to deal with the 12,000 plus submissions, and they cull it down.”

She adds, “So Bob [De Niro] and I get the benefit of watching it pretty much after it’s been really narrowed down.” That said, she admitted she was still “bleary-eyed” from watching so much content before the event.

Rosenthal also spoke of the festival shifting primarily from film to highlight many mediums, from a documentary about trailblazing ballet dancer Misty Copeland to Disney-Pixar’s movie Elemental and mainstream TV properties like AMC’s The Walking Dead spinoff Dead City. 

“Whether they’re on … television or in a theater or whether you’re streaming it, or whether it’s a game or audio storytelling, the festival is about great stories,” Rosenthal says.  

Apart from the submissions, this year’s festival is special for one major reason: It’s the first Tribeca since the U.S. COVID-19 public health emergency was declared over.  

“I’m really looking forward, especially after what feels like the long years of COVID and COVID protocols, to just be there and laugh or cry or yell in a movie theater,” Rosenthal says.

The Tribeca Festival runs through Sunday, June 18.

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