Tribeca Film Festival
Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
When online retailers introduced wireless reading devices and e-books, some book lovers balked. For traditionalists, nothing will ever take the place of a dog-eared classic that smells slightly musty, like a library's long-forgotten card catalog.

But, with technology revolutionizing the way we buy shoes, grocery shop and pay bills, every industry is evolving...including the arts. Like bibliophiles before them, some movie lovers hold the status quo sacred. For them, nothing compares to surround sound, a 40-foot screen and a tub of buttery popcorn. But, for the digital generation, the glow of a computer screen, portable convenience and chat functionality are just as appealing.

As a sign of the times, New York's famed Tribeca Film Festival is going virtual. For the first time since its inception in 2002, the Tribeca Film Festival is giving movie lovers unprecedented access to red carpet events, panel discussions and live Q&As with directors and actors. Those who purchase the $45 premium pass—which is less than the cost of a few screenings and a box of Raisinets—will also be able to stream eight feature-length films and 18 short films, starting on April 23, 2010.

Nancy Schafer, executive director of the Tribeca Film Festival, says this virtual experience will help the festival fulfill one of its missions—to broaden the audience for independent films.

"One of those things we always talked about when we were just running the Tribeca Film Festival in New York is: 'How do you take a film festival on the road? How do you make it bigger than just the 12 days or the town it's in?'" she says. "One of the things that made us hesitate was, when you take the films out of New York City and out of this festival environment, it loses the buzz and the feeling. So, if you were just doing a screening in another city, it wouldn't feel like you were at Tribeca. Now, technology has really allowed us to put this festival online, in a fashion, and to capture that buzz and that feeling."
Tribeca Film Festival
Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
An Internet connection and a laptop allows film fans (age 18 and older) from Nebraska to New Mexico to log in and watch, whenever and wherever they want. "I'm kind of too old, but I think a generation younger than me is consuming film this way," Schafer says. "They are watching them on their computers. ... As we talk about expanding the audience for great films, let's show them where they're watching them."

Not only will pass holders get to watch world premieres—like director Edward Burns' latest film, Nice Guy Johnny—they'll be active participants in the festival. After the credits roll, Burns will take questions from audience members in the theater and online. "Anyone who's online and wants to chat while you're watching movies or talk about the films is able to do that," Schafer says. "It's going to create a community online that is exclusive to those people who bought the pass."

The virtual festival will also include a live Q&A with legendary comedienne Joan Rivers and streaming video of a press conference with one of the festival's founders, Oscar® winner Robert De Niro.

Tribeca Film Festival Virtual runs April 23–30. To buy your premium pass, get a full list of participating films and find out more information, visit


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