The uncomfortable thing about the Tribeca Film Festival (April 21-May 2, 2010) is that nobody knows exactly what it is for. This may be a problem that it will never solve. It is not prestigious enough to woo any really good stuff away from Cannes, and in any case Venice and Berlin are always vigilant about picking up that festival's scraps. In the U.S., Tribeca does not really pretend to compete with Sundance, and even in New York City, its hometown, the website of the Mayor's Office of Theater, Film, and Broadcasting currently lists forty-six other festivals taking place within the city limits. It wasn't this way at first, of course. Tribeca was founded in the winter of 2002 by Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro, who wanted to pump money into a lower Manhattan that had recently been...

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