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Tribeca Film Festival 2009 – The Program Slims Down as It Returns to Its Roots


“Leaner” and “slimmed-down” are the terms being bandied about to describe Tribeca’s program this year which has scaled back to 85 features — down from 120 in 2008, and roughly half that in 2007. Indeed, the festival — launched in the aftermath of September 11 —  has returned to its roots as a revitalizing force for downtown NYC. The big guns are fittingly led by Woody Allen’s Whatever Works, his first Manhattan-set movie in four years (which opens the fest), while Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience is also highly anticipated thanks to his stunt casting of porn star Sasha Grey.

Other movies of note? Mandy Stein’s Burning Down the House focuses on the late punk rock Mecca CBGB’s 

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With all due respect to the locals, the best Tribeca has to offer this time around might be in the way of imports: Japan’s Yojiro Takita’s Academy Award-winning Departures is getting an overdue New York premiere as is An Englishman in New York in which John Hurt revives his role as gay icon Quentin Crisp; another movie getting a bit of pre-festival buzz is Seven Minutes in Heaven, the debut from Israeli director Omri Givon, which traces the aftershocks of a bus bombing on a memory-plagued survivor.

If that all sounds a bit highbrow, there are also a number of premieres geared more toward mainstream audiences: Cheryl Hines making her directorial debut with some help from Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton.

As usual, the festival program will include a number of free events. Besides the usual Drive-In and Family Day activities, a number of industry panels will be free and open to the public, including a series on the art of screenwriting. For more information on the festival, its films, and its events, check out Tribeca Film Festival‘s website.

For more on this year’s festival, tune in to the AMC News Special on Fri., May 1 @ 11PM | 10C.

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