Tribeca Film Festival Goes to the Drive-In

Outdoor Film Screenings Mark the Opening of Renowned New York Festival


The yearly Tribeca Drive-In series on April 21-23 will preview the 10th annual Tribeca Film Festival. (Courtesy of Tammie Rosen/TribeTttca Enterprises)

Published: April 20, 2011

This year’s Tribeca Film Festival opens with a drive-in, minus the cars. A series of free outdoor film screenings will kick off the famed New York City film festival.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve done a drive-in series. We usually get between 3,000 and 4,000 attendees,” Genna Terranova, senior programmer, said. “It’s a great time to meet up with friends and see New York-centered movies.”

According to Terranova, viewers used to be able to attend the screenings in cars, but when that took up too much space, they changed the seating style and kept the title.

“I have friends who make a Facebook group every year to talk about the drive-in series and get together to do a picnic. It’s just a great time to get together with friends,” Terranova said.

In past years, the Tribeca Drive-In series has featured cult classics like “Grease,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Thriller,” but this year, the series will be decidedly 1980s and New York City themed.

“Although, we have a lot of movies to choose from, we try to pick New York films enjoyed by a wide audience,” Terranova said.

Celebrating the 10th year of the Tribeca Film Festival, the free outdoor screenings will begin on April 20 with the premiere of Cameron Crowe’s documentary “The Union.” The movie tells the story of the collaboration between Elton John and Leon Russell, which resulted in the 2010 album also called “The Union.” Those interested in seeing music legend Elton John in person can buy tickets to the screening where he will make a special appearance.

The Drive-In’s next movie, “Fame,” will be shown on April 21 at dusk. The classic film, ideal for Alvin Ailey dancers, follows musicians, actors and dancers who seek stardom by attending New York City’s High School of Performing Arts. The 1980 movie, directed by Alan Parker, runs 134 minutes long.

On April 22, the festival will premiere “When the Drum is Beating,” a new film that tells the story of Haiti’s oldest big band, Septentrional. The 2011 film is a documentary directed by Whitney Dow with a running time of 84 minutes.

Finally, the series will close on April 23 with a New York City classic, “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” The film, featuring childhood favorites Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog, depicts the trials and tribulations of the Muppets opening their own Broadway musical. This 1984 film, directed by Frank Oz, runs 94 minutes long.

The pre-show activities start at 6:30 p.m. each night. April 21 activities include giveaways by the festival’s sponsors Time Warner Cable and JetBlue, professional street dancers and a Tribeca’s Got Talent pre-show. April 22 activities will include a live performance, both before and after the screening, by the famous Haitian band featured in the film.

Although April 23 is a family-friendly show, students can attend the pre-show activities to participate in face painting, balloon art, Muppets trivia, Muppet-making and the chance to see their favorite childhood characters in person.

“This is the 10th year of the Tribeca Film Festival and we want to share it with the public,” Terranova said. “The Drive-In is a great way to have the community experience the opening of the festival.”