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The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) is a prominent film festival held in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan, showcasing a diverse selection of independent films. Since its inaugural year in 2002, it has become a recognized outlet for independent filmmakers in all genres to release their work to a broad audience.
In 2006 and 2007, the Festival received over 8,600 film submissions and held 1,500 screenings. The Festival's program line-up includes a variety of independent films including documentaries, narrative features and shorts, as well as a program of family-friendly films. The Festival also features panel discussions with personalities in the entertainment world and a music lounge produced with ASCAP to showcase artists. One of the more distinctive components of the Festival is its Artists Awards program in which emerging and renowned artists celebrate filmmakers by providing original works of art that are given to the filmmakers' competition winners. Past artists of the Artists Award Program have included Chuck Close, Alex Katz, and Julian Schnabel.
The festival now draws an estimated three million people--including often-elusive celebrities from the worlds of art, film, and music--and generates $600 million annually.
The 2003 festival brought more than 300,000 people. The festival showcased an expanded group of independent features, documentaries and short films from around the world, coupled with studio premieres, panel discussions, music and comedy concerts, a family festival, sports activities, and outdoor movie screenings along the Hudson River. The family festival featured children's movie screenings, storytelling, family panels, workshops, and interactive games culminating in a daylong street fair that drew a crowd estimated at 250,000 people.
At the end of 2003, De Niro purchased the theater at 54 Varick Street which had housed the recently closed Screening Room, an art house that had shown independent films nightly, renaming it the Tribeca Cinema. It became one of the venues of the festival.
In an effort to serve its mission of bringing independent film to the widest possible audience, in 2006, the Festival expanded its reach in New York City and internationally. In New York City, Tribeca hosted screenings throughout Manhattan as the Festival's 1,000-plus screening schedule outgrew the capacity downtown. Internationally, the Festival brought films to the Rome Film Fest. As part of the celebrations in Rome, Tribeca was awarded the first ever "Steps and Stars" award, presented on the Spanish Steps. A total of 169 feature films and 99 shorts were selected from 4,100 film submissions, including 1,950 feature submissions--three times the total submissions from the first festival in 2002. The festival featured 90 world premieres, nine international premieres, 31 North American premieres, 6 U.S. premieres, and 28 New York City premieres.
In 2009, Rosenthal, Hatkoff and De Niro were named number 14 on Barron's list of the world's top 25 philanthropists for their role in regenerating TriBeCa's economy after September 11.
As of 2010, the festival is run as a business by Tribeca Enterprises.Andrew Essex has been the CEO of Tribeca Enterprises since January, 2016.