The purpose of any film festival is to showcase and celebrate creative storytelling—but the Tribeca Film Festival isn’t just concerning itself with what kinds of stories are being told, but how they're being told.
In conjunction with its 15th anniversary this year, the Tribeca Festival Festival will feature the Festival Hub, a dedicated center built around the idea of experiential (and experimental) storytelling.
"For me it was about how as a storyteller you could tell more immersive stories," says Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of Tribeca Film Festival and executive chair of Tribeca Enterprises. "The festival has always looked at how can you tell stories in different ways—how can you always push the limit of storytelling?"
Rosenthal has made it a priority for the Tribeca Film Festival to be an early adopter of highlighting innovative platforms and running the through line of storytelling across unconventional means: Storyscapes (a juried competition featuring immersive transmedia works) launched in 2013, a digital short film competition in partnership with Amazon debuted in 2005 (a few months before the advent of YouTube), the #6SecFilm Contest introduced Vine to the festival rotation in 2013, the detective video game L.A. Noire was honored as an official selection in 2011, and underground hacking conference DEF CON took over the festival last year.
With the Festival Hub this year, Rosenthal and her team are doubling down on gaming and transmedia by bringing back Storyscapes, DEF CON, and tech/media forums, as well as incorporating new elements like the Virtual Arcade, a selection of 13 VR experiences.
"The innovation and imagination is what we try to showcase with these unique works that doesn’t usually have a place," Rosenthal says. "It’s interesting because so much of this work, you look at it and go, 'Okay, does this belong at the Tate Modern or does it belong on YouTube?' 'Does it belong as an app?' 'Where does it go?' And that kind of expression has been exhilarating."
One thing Rosenthal stresses for creators, however, is to avoid innovation for innovation’s sake—just because something can be presented through VR, doesn’t mean it should. Applying that approach to curating content for the festival and launching the Festival Hub is how Rosenthal has kept integrating innovation organic at the Tribeca Film Festival.
"In a place like the festival it’s very important for us to make sure that you’re seeing things that are aesthetic within the virtual world," she says. "We try to curate works that mix together all these different technologies and look at the future of humanism, look at what’s the philosophy of consciousness."
The Tribeca Festival takes place April 13-24. Get the Festival Hub lineup and more info here.