Did the Tribeca Film Festival benefit Downtown after 9/11?

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April 18, 2013  By Steven Greer, MD

Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro were interviewed on the CBS Morning show today, and Ms. Rosenthal listed examples of the recovery of Downtown New York after September 11th, 2001. For example, she mentioned that 7 new schools have opened and that “more people live Downtown than ever.”, clearly implying that her film festival helped contribute to those accomplishments. In fact, the Tribeca Film Festival is the beneficiary of larger forces put in place to help the recovery.

The most powerful force that caused the complete recovery of Downtown after 9/11 was the creation of the LMDC, funded by billions of dollars, which handed out grants and tax breaks to new businesses. The Tribeca Film Festival received initial seed funding from LMDC grants. LMDC disclosures indicate that approximately $4 million in grants have been issued to the film festival entities..

Mr. De Niro is the first person to acknowledge that lower Manhattan would have rebounded just fine after 9/11 without the festival. Billions were pumped into the economy from the LMDC, and real estate tax breaks caused thousands to move to the area. In addition, the global housing bubble helped generate office building conversions into apartment building on Wall Street, and new residential towers went up all over Tribeca and Battery Park.

In 2002, less than six months after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers and The Pentagon, CBS television producer Jane Rosenthal co-founded the festival with actor Robert De Niro to help revitalize Downtown New York. The two had previously worked together on a television series called TriBeCa that aired on the Fox network. Entering its 11th year, The Tribeca Park Film Festival kicked off on April 17th and will last through the 28th.

With millions of funding from the LMDC, corporate sponsors like American Express (headquartered in Battery Park), Apple, Bloomberg, and plenty of community support from Battery Park and TriBeCa residents, the event has grown into an East Coast film spectacle to rival Robert Redford’s winter Sundance Film Festival out West.

In the early 2000’s, independent film was not as prevalent as it is now and film festivals served an important role in promoting the smaller productions. With Internet video, Netflix, Google’s YouTube, etc, and cheaper digital camera and editing production techniques, “There are a lot of independent films now, many more than when I was starting out as an actor. Today, they are all over the place. Other than the big blockbusters, they’re all kind of independent.”, said Mr. De Niro in a recent interview for the WSJ.

After the financial collapse of 2008, the 2009 festival struggled to survive as corporate sponsors dwindled. The last two events, however, have rebounded back to pre-recession levels.

The film industry and New York have changed considerably since the festival started. TriBeCa as a neighborhood has also changed with the real estate crash and troubles at Citigroup. Battery Park City has grown with more high-tech energy efficient apartment buildings, new fine dining establishments, the arrival of the Goldman Sachs headquarters, and the A-list celebrities are moving to Battery Park. It will be interesting to see whether the 2013 festival has become more of a “Battery Park Film Festival”.

The new Conrad Hotel issued a press release that they are “official partners” with the Tribeca Film Festival and will host the awards ceremonies. The biggest events of the festival, such as the large outdoor “Drive-In” theater and the finale music concerts, have always taken place in Battery Park.

Factoring into the future of the Tribeca Film Festival, competition is coming to New York. The larger Sundance Film Festival is eyeing Brooklyn to start a satellite event in conjunction with The Independent Filmmaker Project.

Tribeca Film Festival to get competition from Sundance in Brooklyn

Tribeca Film Festival to get a permanent new home

The Tribeca Film Festival

The economic impact of the Tribeca Film Festival





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2 Responses to Did the Tribeca Film Festival benefit Downtown after 9/11?

  1. JFC says:

    Absolutely not! Ego-trip for the connected, and part of a strategy to circumvent local ordinances for illegal additions to DeNiro’s hotel. The festival is barely held in Tribeca, though most of the inconveniences to the neighborhood still remain.

  2. Alan D says:

    “A-list celebrities are moving to Battery Park. It will be interesting to see whether the 2013 festival has become more of a “Battery Park Film Festival”.

    Tents or Caravans?

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