Reprinted from IndieWire by Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson on June 9, 2021.
As we emerge from the pandemic and return safely to theaters, and movies, and yes, crowds of people, we can enjoy what we’ve missed: sharing laughter, tears, or excitement with strangers, as well as the joy of discovery that only happens at a film festival. As buyers return to live screening rooms and the summer beckons with Tribeca, Cannes, and many more to follow, we’re all discovering the new normal; we’re not returning to the old one. Change brings new behaviors, new distribution models — and with that, the risk of losing things we care about.
Festivals will continue to play a vital role in the film ecosystem, but what has been gained and what has been lost?
Let’s cut to the chase: The 2021 Tribeca Festival is not, as a tweet by Governor Andrew Cuomo put it, “the first in-person film festival to take place in North America since before COVID.” There have been many smaller festivals across the continent. Still, as Tribeca launches its 20th edition with a premiere of In the Heights at the United Palace in tandem with outdoor screenings at all five boroughs, it will mark the first large-scale physical event for the North American film industry since the pandemic began. …