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Top 10 Moments from the 2021 Tribeca Festival

The Tribeca Festival concluded its 2021 season on Sunday June 20, celebrating outstanding storytelling in media. This was the festival’s 20th anniversary, as well as America’s first major in-person film festival in over a year.

Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments from the 12-day long festival!

Audiences screened movies digitally and in-person

After a year of virtual events enjoyed from the comfort of our living rooms, the Tribeca Festival gave movie lovers the option to participate either from home or in-person.

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According to the festival program, at-home participants could watch feature and short films after the movies’ in-person New York City premieres. At-home audiences could even watch additional content that was curated just for them.

The festival had multiple immersive experiences for its in-person guests. Exhibits and virtual reality experiences helped to further the narrative of some of this year’s films.

In The Heights cast stunned in Washington Heights

The movie-musical In The Heights had its premiere on the opening night of the Tribeca Festival. The cast walked along a yellow carpet set up in Washington Heights (where the film takes place) made to resemble Usnavi’s bodega from the Broadway show turned movie.

Cast members like Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, and Marc Anthony all looked glamorous as they entered the United Palace for the premiere. Director Jon M. Chu and producers Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes were also present to celebrate the release of the long-awaited film.

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The Novice, Brighton 4th, and Ascension won top awards

The Tribeca Festival jury selected the recipients of the event’s awards. The Founders Award for Best U.S. Narrative Feature Film went to the thriller The Novice, directed and written by Lauren Hadaway.

Comedy-drama Brighton 4th won the award for Best International Narrative Feature Film. Directed by Levan Koguashvili, the film follows a former wrestling champion on his cross-continental trip to connect with his family.

Directed by Jessica Kingdon, Ascension was awarded Best Documentary Feature. The Tribeca Festival program describes the doc as “an exploration of contemporary China’s identity as it relates to its vision of consumerism, innovation, and social standing.”

Inclusion of games and podcasts

For the first year ever, the Tribeca Festival showcased podcasts from “influential voices and creators.” The games portion of the festival highlighted the connection that games have to entertainment and culture, as well as their art, innovation, and storytelling.

The first ever games award was given to video game developer Geography of Robots’ Norco. Vermont Ave. won the Podcast Fiction Narrative Award, while Guardians of the River won the award for Non-Fiction Narrative.

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Juneteenth Program

In honor of the now-national holiday Juneteenth, the Tribeca Festival curated a program celebrating Black stories and storytellers through a variety of media. This also included a “Queen Collective,” with documentaries created by young diverse women.

Other projects in the Tribeca Festival Juneteenth Program included documentary Ailey directed by Jamila Wignot, short film A Song of Grace by Arielle Knight, feature film Queen of Glory by Nana Mensah, and winning podcast Guardians of the River.

Stacey Abrams received the inaugural Harry Belafonte Voices For Social Justice Award for her “exceptional leadership, service and commitment to fighting against social and political injustices.”

A$AP Rocky Stockholm Syndrome documentary premiered

A$AP Rocky’s documentary titled Stockholm Syndrome premiered during the first weekend of the Tribeca Festival. Directed by filmmaking collective The Architects, the documentary showcases the rapper’s experience after being arrested in Stockholm, Sweden for a violent altercation in 2019.

The film explores the system that A$AP Rocky was placed in, as well as his influence on modern culture.

The festival highlighted Puerto Rican films

This year, Tribeca Festival had a “Borough to Borough” program which brought free screenings to different neighborhoods throughout New York City. As part of this program, the festival highlighted Puerto Rican films to celebrate the community’s art, culture, and imprint throughout the city.

In partnership with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the festival screened two short films titled Takeover and Martina’s Musical Adventure. The festival also screened Puerto Rican stories like Landfall (from the 2020 Official Selection) and Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It.

Paris Hilton screened her documentary

On the closing night of the festival, Paris Hilton screened her 2020 documentary titled This is Paris. Directed by Alexandra Dean, the documentary takes viewers through the story of Paris that paparazzi pictures and social media don’t show. Of the film, Paris wrote: “Being honest and opening up about my trauma and my past wasn’t easy, but it was the best decision I ever made.”

Blondie spoke about the power of musical storytelling

As part of Tribeca Talks, a program that explores the entertainment business, ‘70s rock group Blondie chatted about how storytelling intersects with music. Members Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Clem Burke spoke with New York artist and director Rob Roth about the narratives that can be told through song.

Tribeca Talks included topics like diverse storytelling, inclusivity, and what the future of film looks like. Other speakers included Amy Schumer, Bradley Cooper, Emily Ratajkowski, and John Legend.

Radio City Music Hall reopened

On Saturday June 19, Dave Chapelle: This Time This Place premiered at Radio City Music Hall. This marked the first event in the venue in 15 months, according to Associated Press. Directed by Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert, the documentary follows Dave Chappelle throughout the summer of 2020 as he gave performances from cornfields to lighten the heavy emotional burden for his community.

After the screening, Dave Chappelle surprised the audience with a concert from Fat Joe, Q-Tip, A$AP Ferg, Ghostface Killah, and De La Soul, as reported by Variety

We are so happy that we get to celebrate movies in person again! You can catch some of this year’s films like Werewolves Within and 12 Mighty Orphans in theaters now!

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