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“That’s who we are”: Robert De Niro on today’s launch of his Tribeca Film Festival

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Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival kicks off in New York City today, live and in person after last year's event went virtual because of the pandemic.

The annual event, created in 2001 to revitalize lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks, has a new mission this year: helping get New York City's economy back on its feet after COVID-19.

"I mean, it seems apropos, if you will, to follow this and to carry on that tradition," festival co-creator Robert De Niro tells ABC Audio. "Last year we had the virtual, this year doing what we're doing –and it's within what we should be doing. That we are who we are."

His partner, producer Jane Rosenthal, explained that to bring the event to life as the pandemic eases was "a challenge," adding, "but we like the challenge."

She goes on, "The filmmakers, the artists, everyone who helped curate the program and the filmmakers that are coming, that was the easy part in a lot of ways. It was really dealing with restrictions that were changing all the time and dealing with it and just being facile…"

Rosenthal concludes, "I think that part of Tribeca, too, is to inform our New York economy that we're open, that by being in all of the different boroughs, we're not only entertaining audiences, but we're we're helping small businesses."

The festivities officially kick off with John M. Chu's adaptation of "hometown hero" Lin-Manuel Miranda's In The Heights this evening. De Niro called it the "perfect" film to launch the festival across the entire city.

Rosenthal agrees: "Simulcasting to all of the other eight big screens that we'll have from the Bronx to the Battery, Staten Island, Brooklyn. It's just going to be an exhilarating evening."

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