The Tribeca troika of festival founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Paula Weinstein took brief turns at the podium during a lunch for journalists in town to cover the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Created in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center towers, the festival has grown in size and scope, adding television, music, live performance, VR and gaming to its programming over the years.

Retrospectives also are part of the festival’s DNA, as evidenced by both the opener and the closer: At Radio City Music Hall tonight, the Festival officially launches with the premiere of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Chris Perkel’s documentary about the life of the legendary music producer, which will be folllowed by a concert featuring equally legendary Davis-connected performers including Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Earth Wind & Fire, Jennifer Hudson and Barry Manilow.

Robert De Niro
Jeremy Gerard

The festival’s closing night event on April 29 includes screenings of The Godfather Parts 1 & 2, on the occasion of the first film’s 45th anniversary, followed by an onstage gathering with director Francis Ford Coppola and stars Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire and De Niro.

“Who would have thought that the era when everything was run by the Mafia,” De Niro joked in his characteristically brief welcome, “would be looked back on as the good old days?” Weinstein added that this year’s programming team had something in common with President Donald Trump’s budget creators, offering “a reflection of who we are” and how they wished to be perceived by the rest of the world.

“The audience today wants to participate,” Weinstein said, detailing the festival’s growth in immersive programming like VR and gaming, to provide “an ecosystem” for enthusiasts. “Tribeca has become the premiere festival for premiering VR work,” she added.