If you want to know about independent movies, look no further than Geoff Gilmore, the chief creative officer of the Tribeca Film Festival. This year’s festival, now in full swing, is Gilmore’s fourth. Previously, he spent 19 years as director of the Sundance Film Festival, and prior to that, he oversaw the film and television archives programming department at UCLA. “So I have done this for over two decades,” he says. The Tribeca Film Festival, founded in 2001 by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, is now in its 12th season and more influential than ever. Variety recently said the festival has entered “its rebellious phase,” and indeed, when delving into this year’s offering, you hear words like “transmedia” and “interactive storytelling.” XFINITY TV has enjoyed a long association with Tribeca Film and offered four movies from this year’s festival before they even premiered in lower Manhattan. “One of the most exciting developments is that people who can’t make the festival can enjoy it from home,” says Gilmore. We spoke with Gilmore about just that – how XFINITY TV subscribers can best enjoy the four new movies and larger selection of past festival favorites at home.
XFINITY TV is offering up four new feature movies from this year’s festival. Can you tell us a little bit about each one, starting with “Greetings from Tim Buckley,” starring Penn Badgley?
It’s one of the films we are showcasing at the festival. As you said, it stars Penn Badgley, an actor well-known from a very different context in “Gossip Girl.” But here he plays Jeff Buckley, the son of the folk singer Tim Buckley. The response has been terrific. It is a story that is both a romance and a father-son relationship, and it’s just very well done.
Watch a Preview for “Greetings from Tim Buckley:”
Tell us about “The English Teacher,” a comedy with Julianne Moore in the lead role.
We have a lot of different work that showcases major actors and actresses, and “The English Teacher” is one of those films. It is a story about a teacher who is very committed to her students, but maybe in such a way that her own life hasn’t quite been fully realized. It’s a wonderful story about a teacher who decides to take on a different aspect of life, gets a play produced, gets involved with a student that comes back to school, and in the process, she blossoms. Julianne Moore gives a wonderful performance aided and abetted by other teachers in the school, including Nathan Lane. It has got a real romantic kind of feel to it. I think people will like it very much.
Watch an Extended Preview for “The English Teacher:”
What about the film “What Richard Did”?
This is a little film about an Irish lad who gets into trouble at a party. It is a story of an upper class world of kids who don’t fully take responsibility for the things that they do and stars Jack Reynor, a young actor who will be in the upcoming “Transformers.” It also showcases the work of a director, Lenny Abramson who I think is about to move into Hollywood in a big way and just got a terrific mention in the New York Times.
Watch an Extended Preview for “What Richard Did:”
Please tell us about the fourth new film, “Fresh Meat.”
It is a gory kind of satire about cannibals and killers. It’s part of the genre work that we showcase at the festival, and although it can be tough, it is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.
Watch an Extended Preview for “Fresh Meat:”
Speaking of tough films and favorite genres, tell us what you consider and look for when selecting the film to be part of the festival?
It is not simple. You try not to start off with an agenda. Basically, you want to be responsive to the 6,000 plus submissions, which is what we had this year, and you are trying to figure out a way to think about responding to that range of work and not shut yourself off from certain kinds of films.
Describe what makes Tribecca stand apart and defines it from other film festivals?
As a festival, we are very much about showcasing a real breadth of work. The festival started as a response to 9/11 and was focused on helping to revitalize a community. Over the years it has evolved into something, which – while remaining about community – is also about a kind of new generation of filmmakers, innovation and storytelling. But it’s still very much about New York.
XFINITY TV subscribers also have access to more than a dozen movies from past festivals. Will you mention some of your favorites – movies you think they should make sure to explore.
I love “Resolution,” which is a really cool movie. Kind of a genre bender about a guy trying to get his friend off of drugs and ends up being about the super natural as much as about kind of a buddy film. I think Eddie Burns’ movie “Newlyweds” is for anyone who enjoys family drama with a dose of comedy. I also like “Romantics Anonymous” and I recommend the different kinds of storytelling that people can discover by checking out new indie films, like “Janie Jones” and “The Last Rights of Joe May.”
Do you have tips on how people can enjoy or curate a festival experience in their home?
I think what every festival is always about is discovery of films you may not have taken a chance on when going to a theater. You see something that interests you and click a button. So I recommend taking advantage of the new films and the different films from past festivals. I think you should try and see as much variety as possible, the same as if you were visiting the Tribecca Film Festival in person.