Tribeca Film Festival

The 5 Biggest Reasons Why We’re Excited About Tribeca Film Festival 2018

The Tribeca Film Festival kicks off this week to once again put the spotlight on the latest independent films and their makers. Featuring over a thousand screenings, numerous panel discussions, and more, it’s easy to see why millions of people attend this acclaimed film festival each year.

Whether you’re just a movie fan or have your heart set on a career in filmmaking, here are five reasons why the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival is set to be the best one yet.

Impressive List of Must-See Movies

The beauty of having a film festival spanning 12 days is that no matter what kinds of movies you like, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

This year there will be more than 50 narratives and 45 documentaries spread across every genre imaginable. Of course, there are always a few films that people definitely don’t plan on missing. Fans of documentaries will want to check out Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It, The Rachel Divide, and Songwriter. Great story films people are talking about are Braid, The Seagull, and centerpiece film Zoe.

With so many great films to recommend, be sure to take a look at the official Tribeca website for a full list of films.

More Films Directed by Women Than Ever Before

Tribeca Film Festival 2018 will make history by having more films directed by women than ever before.

Almost half of the 96 films set to screen at Tribeca this year were directed by women — certainly a cause for celebration, given that women are still vastly underrepresented in the film industry as a whole. According to the famous Celluloid Ceiling study, only 1 percent of 2017’s most successful films employed 10 or more women behind the scenes.

Some of the most anticipated female-directed films that will be at Tribeca include Liz Garbus’ New York Times documentary The Fourth Estate, Eva Vives’ comedy drama All About Nina, and Untogether, the directorial debut of Emma Forrest.

A Look at Upcoming Games

It wasn’t long ago that most people considered games as a form of children’s entertainment. Today, the digital medium is seen as arguably the most powerful form of storytelling. Thanks to the power of interactivity, games allow the audience to not only become a part of the narrative but also influence the outcome of a story and its characters.

Tribeca Games will once again celebrate the artistic and technical achievements of games at this year’s show. Things to look forward to include a special preview of the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a talk from God of War‘s creative director Cory Barlog, and a variety of demos and esports tournaments for attendees.

Talks From Stars & Filmmakers

If there’s one thing Tribeca fans love more than watching new films, it’s listening to their makers talk about their project. Since the Tribeca Film Festival’s focus is on independent films, this gives aspiring filmmakers a chance to learn more about the process from both up-and-coming stars and renowned industry figures.

This year, attendees won’t want to miss the Scarface reunion, after its 35th anniversary screening. Other notable talks will include Sarah Jessica Parker, John Legend, and the duo of Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.

Legendary Film Anniversaries Honored

It makes sense that an independent film festival like Tribeca would do its part to honor the anniversaries of timeless classics. After all, it’s movies like these that help inspire the next generation of filmmakers to push their creative limits and see that their stories one day make it to the big screen.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Scarface, a screening of the legendary gangster epic will be followed by a reunion panel including Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, and director Brian De Palma.

Oscar-winning masterpiece Schindler’s List will also be screened to commemorate its 25th anniversary. A Q&A including Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Embeth Davidtz will follow.

What are you most excited to see at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

4 Reasons to be Excited About This Year’s Tribeca Film Festival

Despite being one of the youngest events in the industry, the Tribeca Film Festival continues to draw millions of filmmakers, artists, and enthusiastic audience members eager to take part in the celebration. Thousands of documentaries, independent films, shorts, and many other projects are submitted in hopes of taking home an award and gaining recognition.

With more than 12 days of discussions, premiers, and more to enjoy, it’s easy to see why we all look forward to this great festival each year. Tribeca Film Festival 2017 is now in full swing, which means it’s the perfect time to round up a few of the many reasons why you should be excited about this year’s gathering:

Film Shares The Spotlight

For 15 years the Tribeca Film Festival has given countless independent filmmakers a chance to show off their hard work. While this event is still very much about film, this year the decision was made to cut the number of film features by 20 percent, leaving less than 100 films to compete. This was done to make room for other types of content not normally given equal attention at other big events.

One of the areas that is being expanded is the television program. This year’s Tribeca attendees will get to see large-profile TV debuts like National Geographic’s “Genius” and Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Other Tribeca TV premiers generating buzz include indie variety show “The EyeSlicer,” and HBO’s “Chris Gethard: Career Suicide.”

Also exciting is Tribeca’s virtual reality and multimedia program. Ever since it was introduced five years ago, TFF’s VR dimension has served as a place where VR filmmakers and developers could unveil their work. This year Tribeca is featuring a number of VR projects made by both VR veterans and newcomers to the medium — including Kathryn Bigelow’s first VR film, “The Protectors.”

Premieres Galore


A whopping 78 films are set to make their world premieres at this year’s Tribeca festival. There’s no better festival out there when it comes to the number of projects that will finally be shown to audiences for the first time. Among that list are a number of premiers that we’re especially excited to finally see.

One of the most anticipated films is “Aardvark,” starring Zachary Quinto, Jenny Slate, and Jon Hamm. The story, which is about a mentally ill man falling in love with a person who might be a hallucination, sounds perfect for fans of movies like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Other film premiers that have people talking are comedy-drama “Flower,” starring Zoey Deutch and Adam Scott; biography-drama “Dabka,” starring Al Pacino and Evan Peters; and documentary “The Death And Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” by Oscar-nominated David France.


Plenty of TV shows will also be making their world premiers. A definite must-see is Spike TV documentary series “I Am Heath Ledger,” which celebrates the late actor’s life and accomplishments by showing footage of interviews, home movies, and more.

Be sure to check out Tribeca’s film guide to see all the narratives, features, and more set to make their first viewing.

Awesome List of Speakers & Guests


One of the best things about the Tribeca Film Festival is the people who get invited to serve as speakers, panelists, Q&A guests, and even moderators. These stars come from a wide variety of industries to celebrate film as well as other forms of art.

This year’s list of guests includes Paul Feig, Bruce Springsteen, Noah Baumbach, Lena Dunham, Barbra Streisand, Alejandro G. Inarritu, Kathryn Bigelow, Johnny Rotten, Common, Jon Favreau, and even Kobe Bryant to talk about working with animator Glen Keane on a short film. Moderators include Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Robert Rodriguez, and Scarlett Johansson.

The competition section will also feature a jury of accomplished actors and filmmakers. They include: Peter Fonda, Amy Berg, Diane Lane, Amy Heckerling, Christina Ricci, Priyanka Chopra, Barbara Kopple, Willem Dafoe and Melanie Lynskey

A Celebration of Interactive Entertainment


There’s going to be a lot of film and TV show watching in the 12 days that the Tribeca festival spans. The last weekend, however, followers of perhaps the newest and most innovative form of storytelling get to enjoy a celebration known as the Tribeca Games Festival.

This festival-within-a-festival puts the spotlight on video games and their ability to immerse people through a combination of art, storytelling, and gameplay. Attendees will get a first look at a number of anticipated titles, including Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series.” A number of renowned game developers will be around to discuss their design process while making their hit titles.

Best of all, the games festival will conclude with keynote conversations by two of the most prolific storytellers in the industry. They include Hideo Kojima of “Metal Gear Solid” fame along with Ken Levine, the writer and director behind the atmospheric “BioSHock” series.

What are you most excited to see from this year’s TFF? Let us know in the comments below. Interested in beginning your own visual and performing arts journey? Check out our many hands-on programs at New York Film Academy.

Tribeca Film Festival’s History and Star Power

When you first dreamt of becoming a filmmaker, you probably had a few names in mind. Say, Sundance or Cannes. But what about Tribeca? The Tribeca Film Festival is a very prestigious name in the filmmaking world and, yes, another perfect setting for your arts and entertainment dreams.


The Tribeca Film Festival isn’t just a place to showcase drama; it’s an event with a dramatic start. According to the official Tribeca website, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff founded the festival in 2001 after the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. The whole idea was to re-inspire lower Manhattan after the tragedy. That’s why the founders chose the Tribeca neighborhood as the location for the festival. Today the festival team programs film screenings as well as interactive experiences, live performances, and arts and technology panels. Tied to the festival is the Tribeca Film Institute, which helps develop the work of emerging and student filmmakers by awarding grants. (You can watch some of the projects that have benefitted from TFI grants on Vimeo.)

This year, AT&T and Tribeca teamed up to award a whopping $1 million grant to an underrepresented filmmaker at the Tribeca Film Festival. The collaboration, which has been dubbed “AT&T Presents: Untold Stories,” is simple: AT&T will provide the funding and Tribeca will provide the mentorship.

In a press release, Tribeca co-founder Jane Rosenthal said, “As a champion of supporting underrepresented filmmakers for over a decade, Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Film Institute are proud to collaborate with AT&T on ‘AT&T Presents: Untold Stories,’ a significant and essential program that goes beyond the generous funding. To be able to say to a filmmaker that we are not only going to help get your important story made, but we will provide the mentoring, guidance, and guaranteed distribution so it will get seen, is an incredible feeling.”


The Tribeca Film Festival has launched numerous film careers and premiered films that in just 16 short years are on their way to becoming classics. The first festival premiered “About a Boy,” “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and “The Avengers.” The festival is also a place for career-changers. This year, for instance, Kobe Bryant will be premiering a short film.

If you have the chance, go to the Tribeca Film Festival to see what’s new in independent cinema. The fun begins April 19. View the film and event schedule on the official website.

If you’re interested in learning more about filmmaking yourself, check out New York Film Academy’s film programs.

How Can You Get Your Short Into The Tribeca Film Festival?

Tribeca Film Festival

Over the past decade, The Tribeca Film Festival has become one of the most prestigious international film festivals for aspiring filmmakers. It’s an honor when we hear about our students’ thesis films being accepted into the festival. Given the importance of the festival, we had filmmaker and New York Film Academy Instructor Abraham Heisler speak with Sharon Badal, shorts programmer for the Tribeca Film Festival. Sharon provides insightful advice for students submitting their shorts to TFF. This Q&A is a must read if you’re considering submitting to Tribeca or any film festival for that matter.

Abraham Heisler: Thanks for joining us. Would you like to introduce yourself and tell us about your background?

Sharon Badal: Sure. My name is Sharon Badal. I am the head of shorts programming for the Tribeca Film Festival. I have been with the festival since its inception and my job is to program all the shorts for the festival. I am also the director of short film programming and initiatives for Tribeca Enterprises. I am a film school graduate myself, from NYU, and worked in the studio system for 10 years. I did freelance production and actually started with Tribeca in 1999, several years before the festival began. I’ve also produced different projects for various Tribeca entities, but once the festival started, that became my main area of focus.

AH: Obviously, Tribeca is one of the premiere film festivals, but can you tell us what makes it a unique festival?

SB: I like to think that Tribeca epitomizes the phrase, “There’s something for everyone!” because in addition to, obviously our very strong slate of features and shorts, we have our public events like the Family Festival and the drive-in. We have a very diverse Tribeca Panel Series series, which covers many different topics about the film industry and entertainment industry in general. And so I think that what makes Tribeca unique is that it is just like New York. There are a lot of different things for a lot of different people. And we are part of the fabric of the city by reflecting that in what is admittedly a very large festival with a lot of different activities.

AH: Tell us about the submission process. How many submissions do you receive and how many slots do you have to fill?

SB: We receive approximately 2,900 shorts each year and it’s not so much about the slots, but it’s about the programs. We have eight programs. We have five narrative programs, two documentary programs, and one experimental program. So, the amount of films we accept can range anywhere from 55 to 70 depending on the length of the films we select.

AH: What determines the theme of each program?

SB: Depending on the year, we decide what those programs are. Last year, we had very strong genre submissions, so we created a specific genre program. The year before that, we had very strong animation submissions, so we created an animation program. The themes of the programs are dictated by the submissions and what we select, and that is the magic.

Once you get to that point where you have that group of films that you love the most then you put them together and curate how they are going to play and what the ride is for the audience from the beginning of a program to the end of the program. And the very last thing that happens is that you look at each group of films that you now have put into a program and create a thematic element. “What do they all have in common? How do we tie a loosely creative ribbon around them?”

So, there’s no specific thematic that we go into from the get-go. The exception to that, of course, is because we are a New York Festival, we love to have a New York shorts program every year, and whether we have that program is dependent on if the shorts we love the most fit into that category.

AH: Who views the submissions?

SB: I have a co-programmer whose name is Ben Thompson. He’s been with me for years. And I have a dedicated group of screeners who are all industry professionals and do this on the side because they love the short film format as well. One of us watches every single submission and then Ben and I sit together watching all of our top choices. And then we make the final selections.!

AH: And what do you look for in a short film?!

SB: Good story! That’s really what it is. I mean, I can go on and on, but in the end the film lives or dies by the story and if it’s strong enough.!

AH: That’s the first thing we tell students at the New York Film Academy.

SB: Absolutely! Keep telling them.!

AH: Students are always concerned with production value. How much does that weigh in on your film selections?

SB: Well, I have to emphasize that sound is very important. You know, with the newer technology, the visual image has gotten much, much better. But, I do think that the sound, the quality of the sound from the beginning and the final sound mix are very important. If we can’t hear it we can’t show it.

AH: Out of your 2,900 submissions, how many appear to be homemade or amateurish?

SB: You know it’s an interesting question, Abe, because I can’t tell anymore. If you asked me this question five years ago, I could’ve told you I can see immediately when a film was shot on a home video camera. But the technology makes that no longer visible. I would say the place where that is most noticeable is in the quality of the acting. That is where you know if it’s an “amateur production.” That’s usually where the weakness is, in the acting and not the physical production itself. We wouldn’t prejudice a film if the production quality is less than 100% but the story and the acting holds up. If you showed me blind three films, I would not be able to tell you which ones are trained filmmakers and which ones are untrained.

AH: Would you say the winning combination is story + acting + good sound?

SB: I would say the winning combination is … first of all: SHORT! We are an academy qualifying festival and we go by the running time of the academy, which is under 40 minutes. But, the longer your short is, the better that script has to be. And I would say it is rare that I see a 28-minute student film that shouldn’t have been 15 minutes. That’s where technology has hurt us because in the “old days,” time was money. Every frame of film meant a cost. It meant a cost in film stock, a cost in development; it meant a cost in the editing room. Now I think that because the technology is so inexpensive and those costs don’t apply, that filmmakers are not containing themselves enough.

If I see a shot of someone walking, I don’t need to see them go down the entire street slowly. And that’s where I find the weakness. So, by short I do mean the most expedient storytelling possible. I’m not saying that every short has to be under 12 minutes, don’t misunderstand me. But, I’m saying that the story has to be told in a very concise [way] and [with] sustained action. It’s not a feature. You can’t use the time the way you would to develop a feature.
So, the winning combination is short + story + acting.

AH: What “do’s” would you recommend to filmmakers?

SB: Do get your audience into the film quickly. No feature main credit sequence. Do make sure that your ending is satisfying. I would say that’s one of the biggest problems — that you could be with the short all the way and it’s pretty obvious that the filmmaker didn’t quite know how to end it. And that’s very disappointing. The ending has to be satisfying. Do spend as much time in the script stage as possible getting that story into its best shape.

AH: How can a filmmaker benefit from having their film programmed at Tribeca?

SB: Our mission, basically in terms of the film side, is to discover and nurture filmmakers and bring their work in front of an audience. So, one of the things that we do, especially with the shorts programs, is screen at least three times each. And we also have a very strong filmmaker component to the festival, which are private events — networking, socializing, educational — that are available only to those filmmakers whose films have been invited. And that is part of our nurturing part of the formula where we want them to meet each other and have opportunities where they are exposed to the press, exposed to the industry. We feel that, and especially for the short films this is quite often the case, that when we invite you we are helping you to launch your career.

And our press team works very hard and does an extraordinary job of making sure that the press outlets are aware of the shorts, are aware of the filmmakers. They build stories that come out of the festival and that are interesting to the public. So, I think that’s where we’re different. We really have this very strong desire to make that festival experience a career changer. !

We’ve had shorts filmmakers return to Tribeca with features. We’ve had shorts filmmakers win Academy Awards. We’ve watched our shorts filmmakers go on to do many other things and when a filmmaker is at Tribeca they are forever part of our family. We do want to see what they do next and we are their cheerleaders from that point on.

AH: What would you say to filmmakers whose films do not get accepted?

SB: You know it’s simply a matter of the math. Really, when you think about it, let’s say we program 60 shorts out of 2,900 submissions. That’s about 2%. And I would have to say, don’t take it personally. My hope is that for every filmmaker whose film we decline, to use a music analogy that they are not thinking of themselves as a one-hit wonder, but they want to be Bruce Springsteen and be around for a long time and therefore their reputation is important. So when we decline, it’s nothing personal and it’s even nothing personal about the film. It might not have anything to do with the film. I might be able to slot 60 films and you were 61 and I loved your film and I just don’t have room for it.

So part of it is not taking it personally. I mean, rejection is part of this entire entertainment industry and it’s something that you need to accept with grace and dignity because hopefully you’re going to come back with something else.

AH: Anything else you’d like to add?!

SB: I am now in my 20th year teaching at NYU undergrad film and TV. So I have to say that from a purely personal perspective, I hope that filmmakers still and always will consider themselves artists. That you don’t make a film because you think Tribeca might like it. But, you make the film that you want to make always and that it is creative first. That I think is really important.