Film festivals pause, hurting sports fare
On March 12, one day after the NBA shook the sports world by announcing it would suspend its season, the Tribeca Film Festival joined the list of events forced to shut down in the face of the growing public health crisis. Citing the state of New York’s restrictions on large public gatherings, Tribeca co-founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal said in a statement that the event would be postponed from its originally planned dates of April 15-26.
No proposed makeup date has been set. The Atlanta Film Festival, the next festival on the spring calendar, was set to take place from April 30-May 10, but last week those organizers announced that it would also be postponed.
The Atlanta festival had announced just one sports film: “Curtis,” a feature film about the relationship between a former high school basketball star living with schizophrenia and a young player. The postponement of Tribeca, however, is a major blow to the sports movies that were set to premiere. The lineup included Cuban baseball documentary “The Last Out,” gymnastics investigation “Athlete A,” historical surfing doc “Girls Can’t Surf” and a short mountain biking feature, “On Falling.” All were slated to make their worldwide debuts, which means filmmakers had been hoping Tribeca’s platform would deliver both critical acclaim and distributors interested in buying their movies.
A Tribeca spokesperson declined to comment on the postponement and plans for moving forward.
Since 2007, Tribeca has partnered with ESPN to build programming specifically around sports films. ESPN said it will “wait and see how Tribeca will be dealing with things, then we’ll adjust accordingly.”
Michael Gassert, who co-directed and produced “The Last Out,” has spent the past few weeks completing post-production on the film, but it’s unclear how the movie will proceed from here. “It makes sense for us to finish the film and be ready to adapt,” he said, noting that the film’s team is currently discussing alternative possibilities for release.
Jon Patricof, who was Tribeca’s president from 2005 to 2015, believes the festival’s leadership has what it takes to schedule the event for later in the year. “Tribeca is an incredibly resourceful and ingenious company,” said Patricof, who noted that co-founders Rosenthal, Robert DeNiro and Craig Hatkoff assembled the original festival in 2002 in a matter of months. “If I could imagine one organization that would have the resolve to persevere and put this on, it would be Tribeca,” Patricof said.
Under Patricof’s lead, Tribeca also ran a supplementary online film festival from 2011 until 2015.