NEW YORK CITY — Film festivals can have a reputation for being insider-only, industry events that leave little for the general public to enjoy. But given that the Tribeca Film Festival was founded with the purpose of reinvigorating a neighborhood, it’s no surprise the fest is dedicated to engaging locals.
Even if you’re not in the know about the many feature films, documentaries and shorts coming to town starting Wednesday, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the festival — and some are completely free.
DNAinfo.com New York compiles a few of the highlights.
At the Drive-In
As New Yorkers, we don’t often get to experience that suburbanite feel of seeing a free movie outdoors. This year, the World Financial Center’s Brookfield Place will welcome the public for screenings of a few crowd-pleasing films. On April 18, 19 and 20 doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 8:15. Chairs are provided, but bring blankets to keep warm in the evening chill.
The series begins with a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s avian-threat flick, “The Birds.” Friday’s event starts with a costume contest in which attendees can dress up as their favorite Tim Burton character. The auteur’s classic 1980s ghost comedy “Beetlejuice” is screened shortly after. On Saturday, contests and giveaways will kick off the night, along with an in-person appearance by Lil Bub, the subject of the new cat documentary from the hipsters at Vice, “Lil Bub and Friendz,” which will be screened that night. The documentary lets us in on what it's like for a perpetual kitten to be the subject of a beloved Internet meme.
Out in the Street
Tribeca takes over Downtown on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the Family Festival Street Fair and Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day. On Greenwich Street from Chambers to Hubert streets, the fair will feature a real interactive film set and the Tribeca Food Feast, in which local chefs will create dishes on a kitchen stage. It will also include some beloved features from past Tribeca street fairs, like live Broadway performances, puppet shows, a free family screening of “The Smurfs” and a preview of this summer’s “The Smurfs 2.”
Sports films have a growing presence at the fest, which this year includes movies about Muhammad Ali, Katarina Witt and NCAA coach Pat Summitt on the roster. To complement those docs, Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day will take place on North Moore St. between Greenwich and West streets. Some notable New York athletes will make appearances alongside free sports-related games, demonstrations and giveaways.
On to the Big Screen
While there are plenty of films and panels that are open to the ticket-purchasing public, a few free filmmaker appearances might be the easiest way to get inspired by the festival and do some star-gazing at the same time. SoHo’s Apple Store will play host to the hourlong events, which begin on Friday, April 19, and run almost every day during the festival.
The series kicks off with a film about one of Brooklyn’s beloved bands. The brother of The National’s frontman Matt Berninger directs “Mistaken for Strangers.” As a roadie and impromptu filmmaker, Tom Berninger follows the band on tour and appears with his brother and executive producer Marshall Curry to discuss his work. Other highlights include a discussion of “Greetings from Tim Buckley” on Thursday, April 25, with filmmaker Daniel Algrant and star Penn Badgley, as well as a discussion of the documentary “How to Make Money Selling Drugs” with producer Adrian Grenier and filmmaker Matthew Cooke.