Tribeca Film Fest opens online with buzz films

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The 9th annual Tribeca Film Festival opens April 21 with the premiere of Shrek Forever After in 3D, the most commercial screening in its lineup and a selection of films for virtual festivalgoers.

Tribeca has earned a reputation for attracting breakout independent films, documentaries and international program, despite being a relative newcomer to film festivals. The New York Festival is 48 years old, Sundance is 32, San Francisco is 53, and the ultimate fest, Cannes, opening this May, turns 63.

This year the Tribeca event introduces Tribeca Film Festival Virtual, extending the event beyond Manhattan allowing up to 5,000 people to watch eight films online, along with shorts, panel discussions and Q&As for a $45 pass.

Sundance and SXSW festivals also tried streaming films online. But Tribeca is also entering the distribution business with Tribeca Film, bringing a dozen features to cable and satellite VOD at $6-$8 per rental. The move could shift how independent films get seen.

The festival's online lineup includes actor Ed Burns' Nice Guy Johnny, Brazilian film Elvis & Madonna and documentaries, such as Sebastian Copeland's Into the Cold about a trek across the Arctic. (

From the program's 85 films, the following are some of the other features creating a buzz:
• Oscar winner Alex Gibney's My Trip to Al-Qaeda
Climate of Change, an ecological documentary narrated by Tilda Swinton
The Two Escobars about the drug lord Pablo and futbol player Andres Escobar
Get Low starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray
The Space Between featuring Melissa Leo from first-time director Travis Fine
The Killer Inside Me by Michael Winterbottom based on Jim Thompson's novel

The foreign film category represents 38 different countries, with highlights including the comedy Micmacs from Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Irish comedy Zonad, by John Carney ( Once), and the The White Meadows by jailed Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof.

Special events include the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day, Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair, and the 45th anniversary showing of Dr. Zhivago in a restored copy.