Visionaire Covers Tribeca Film Festival: Tribeca Film Festival Art Awards
By Lisa Collins

“The intersection of visual art and cinema is central to the Tribeca Film Festival,” offers art world essential, Alex Gartenfeld, the Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; the Co-curator of the 2018 New Museum Triennial; and 2017’s Curator for Tribeca Film Festival’s Art Wards program, for the second year in a row.

The deep-rooted yet fresh tradition of ‘artists supporting each other’ has been essential to TFF since its start, when Tribeca Film Festival Co-founder and Executive Chair, Jane Rosenthal, brainstormed the concept of ‘bringing together downtown creatives, for the first Artists Awards program.’ The concept: a group of noted artists would gift a piece of their work as an award to the Festival’s winning filmmakers.

Now in its 16th edition, TFF17’s roster of nine talented, contemporary artists was culled from a wide palette. “We look to represent a plurality of voices — artists from varied backgrounds working across mediums, at different stages of their career,” remarks Gartenfeld.

This curated nine joined an ‘illustrious group of over 125 past participants’ including: Matthew Barney, Francesco Clemente, Chuck Close, Eric Fischl, Walton Ford, Nan Goldin, April Gornik, Jeff Koons, David Salle, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Dustin Yellin, and JR. We love that even a painting from the late artist’s Robert De Niro Sr.’s ecliped body of work was included in 2011’s Art Awards.

Sponsored annually by Chanel, the innovative program of artists gifting a piece of their body of artwork to filmmakers has become a huge draw of the Festival’s multi-faceted appeal; further engaging NYC’s downtown community, as the Art Awards collection is featured in a free exhibition, open to the public throughout the Festival’s entire run, from April 19th – 30th.

While neither value nor re-sale value is a determining factor in selecting the pieces, this year’s Arts Awards expanded its borders. Gartenfeld furthers, “Since its founding, Tribeca Film Festival has sought to nurture artists working in and around New York. To emphasize the growth of the program — and American cinema’s cross-coastal influences — we broadened the program to include talents from Los Angeles, including Sterling Ruby.”

TFF further boasts, “Each artist personally selected one of their original works to be awarded to the winning filmmakers selected by the Festival jury.” Clearly the pieces were camera-ready, for the ceremony, filled with excited, hopeful filmmakers at BMCC.

Capping off its electric, show-stopping run with an impressive slate that included 97 feature length films, 57 short films, and 30 immersive storytelling projects from 41 countries, the 16th Annual Tribeca Film Festival announced its winners of both juried and audience prizes to a crowded auditorium. “It is more important than ever to celebrate artists both in front of and behind the camera who have the unique ability to share different viewpoints to inspire, challenge and entertain us,” said Jane Rosenthal, Executive Chair and Co-Founder, Tribeca Film Festival.

With winners representing a wide, eclectic range of topics, and exciting filmmaking talents, both seasoned and emerging, from all over the world, Rosenthal noted how this year’s list reflected a banner year of participants, “And how wonderful is it that the top awards in all five feature film categories were directed by women.”

One awardee in particular, Kaveh Mazaheri, the winning director of Retouch, from Irian, which won Best Narrative Short, could not pick-up his art award in-person — “Study: Flooded Oxbow for Ophelia (MM#3800)” by Stephen Hannock — as he and his crew were halted by the current administration’s stringent travel ban. Unable to get a U.S. Visa, Mazaheri sent a videotaped statement:  “I am pleased and humbled to accept this award. I would like to honorably present it to all immigrants around the world who are struggling for a better life.”

As Gartenfeld shared prior, “Tribeca Film Festival is dedicated to supporting independent production by artists, and to creating a dialogue between the fields of contemporary visual art and cinema.” Reaching across the aisle, from one artist to another, is clearly a win-win scenario for TFF, in terms of expanding our world’s borders of storytelling and storytellers to the edge of innovation and freshness!

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