Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival has consolidated its reputation as one of the calendar's canniest and most innovative cine-fests by launching its own UK video-on-demand service. For eight weeks from April 16, Blighty-based film lovers will be able to watch festival films without having to make the trip to the Big Apple.
"You can't be in neutral on a moving train," festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal told Empire of the new VOD deal with Virgin Media. "We've been looking to expand [the festival] since setting up a small distribution arm three years ago, but we needed our plans here to be well-oiled."
UK viewers will be able to clap eyes on festival debutant Greetings From Tim Buckley, a father/son drama about the musical Buckley clan starring Penn Badgley and Imogen Poots, Kiwi black comedy Fresh Meat, Johnny Knoxville-produced doc The Wild And Wonderful Whites Of West Virginia and three other picks.
TriBeCa's most esteemed resident, De Niro, and his production partner Rosenthal set up the festival 12 years ago to regenerate an area of New York struggling in the wake of 9/11. It's since swelled into a prestigious shindig with a rep for cultivating indie filmmakers. So will on-demand enable young talent to find distribution a simpler business than De Niro and Martin Scorsese back in the early '70s? "It's a good question," mused the actor. "There weren't many independent films being done back in the Mean Streets days and not nearly as many as today."
Rosenthals sounded a note of cautious optimism. "The business model needs to change [because] you’re changing dollars for pennies", she said, "but it gives new and seasoned filmmakers the opportunity to make films outside the studio system".
As for De Niro himself, his home viewing is equally untraditional. “I put it on my computer. Certain movies I have to look at with an audience, especially a comedy or something like that.”
Tribeca's VOD service will be available to UK viewers for eight weeks from April 16. For more information and film listings, head to the official site.