tribeca-o8Last week the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival launched its virtual festival. Today it unveiled a competition slate with virtually no films I’ve ever heard of before.

The hottest title in today’s announcement isn’t in competition. It is an in-progress showing of an untitled documentary by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney about the precipitous fall of New York governor Eliot Spitzer when the “Sheriff of Wall Street” was brought down by revelations he patronized prostitutes. Given the venue and current controversy surrounding Spitzer replacement David Patterson, there will likely be a ticket demand rare for documentaries.eliot_spitzer

Tribeca already announced its fest-opener, Shrek Forever After, and will add some sex appeal and starpower with premieres of three or four big studio films that Tribeca will announce next week. The festival will consist of 85 features and 47 short films that will run from April 21 to May 2. The Spitzer doc will be one of three Special Event screenings. The others: a state of the art restored version of the 1965 David Lean Russian Revolution classic Doctor Zhivago, and a work in progress screening of Zachary Iscol’s The Western Front, the first person account of a Marine soldier’s return to Iraq.

The competition slate, on the other hand, is deliberately loaded with films from around the world that are meant to be discoveries, said festival programmer director David Kwok and executive director Nancy Schafer. None of the dozen titles in the World Narrative Feature Competition has distribution, and many are making their North American or World Premieres.

Falling between the Sundance and Cannes film festivals, Tribeca always has had something of an identity crisis since it was launched by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal to bring crowds back downtown after 9/11. The festival’s spring timing puts it in competition with those long-running festivals for plum titles.  Kowk and Schafer oversee the programming, while Geoff Gilmore–the longtime Sundance picture picker–operates a level above in the chief creative officer post. Gilmore worked closely with Rosenthal and sponsor American Express to launch Tribeca’s VOD distribution and virtual festival initiatives that are new this year.

Here are the films competing for the World Narrative Feature Competition prize:

The Lineup:

Buried Land (Bosnia): A valley of ancient pyramids is discovered under the hills of Central Bosnia. Directed by Geoffrey Alan Rhodes and Steven Eastwood.

Dog Pound (France): The plight of three kids fighting for life and hope, incarcerated in a detention center. Directed by Kim Chapiron.

Loose Cannons (Italy): A man tries to get out of the burden of becoming partner in the family’s pasta business. Directed by Ferzan Ozpetek.

Lucky Life (USA): A group of friends make one last trip to the beach with a dying pal. Directed by Lee Isaac Chung.

My Brothers (Ireland): 17-year old youth breaks his father’s prized wristwatch and make a road trip to replace it. Directed by Paul Fraser.

Open House (USA) Man who’s forced to watch over his sexually predatory partner and her violent urges wants out and finds path to redemption. Directed by Andrew Paquin.

Paju (South Korea): Drama about two residents of Paju, a bleak town that leaves little hope for its residents. Directed by Chan-ok Park.

Gainsbourg, Je t’Aime…Moi Non Plus (France): A glimpse at the escapades of French maverick Serge Gainsbourg. Directed by Joann Sfar.

Snap (Ireland): Carmel Winters-directed drama about three generations of family poised to repeat past mistakes.

When We Leave (Germany) Feo Aladag-directed drama about young Tirkish-German woman who flees Istanbul and an abusive husband for Berlin.

The White Meadows (Iran). Mohammad Rasoulof-directed fable-like story of Rahmat, who sails from island to island off the coast of Iran to collect tears.

William Vincent (USA). Jay Anania-directed drama that stars James Franco as the title character, a man who flees New York after falling for the favorite call girl of a gangster, but quietly returns to rescue her.