Tribeca boosts credit with AmEx

Sponsor's five-year re-up bolsters fest's growing budget

The Tribeca Film Festival kicked off Wednesday with Gov. David Paterson signing the New York State production tax credit bill into law, the unveiling of competition judges and American Express' commitment to five more years as the fest's main sponsor.

David Bowie, Whoopi Goldberg and Molly Shannon are among the 31 judges in Tribeca's six narrative, documentary and shorts competitions. Others include Peter Dinklage, Fred Durst, Matthew Modine, Mario Batali, Christine Lahti, Lili Taylor, Jay McInerney, Andre Leon Talley and Doug Liman, who was on hand for the fest's announcement Wednesday.

AmEx's renewed pact is welcome news for Tribeca. In its first six editions, the founding sponsor picked up 20% of Tribeca's budget, which has multiplied three to four times since the inaugural 2002 fest to hit an estimated $13 million last year. It's unclear whether this year's edition will have a lower budget or cut into its $1 million annual deficit as it cuts back venues and 24% of its feature slate, but the AmEx support will be crucial in the effort.

Paterson's bill, finalized two weeks ago, increases the state's 10% below-the-line tax credit for film and TV productions to 30% plus an added 5% for New York City projects. The $575 million program also speeds the rebate waiting period from two years to one and extends the current deal to 2013, with an ultimate $110 million cap.