Tribeca plans sharper focus


NEW YORK -- The Tribeca Film Festival is beefing up its programming team and trimming down its slate.

The New York fest has hired Weinstein Company acquisitions exec Genna Terranova as a senior programmer, giving her the mandate to increase the fest's narrative entries.

Execs said Wednesday that they'd like to whittle down the festival offerings, which have grown substantially over the last few years, from the nearly 160 features of 2007 to between 120 and 130 in 2008.

"We realize our audience is getting a little overwhelmed by all of our titles," said Tribeca co-exec director Nancy Schafer.

Execs say docus will continue to play a strong role at the fest. But they hope that Terranova, who has helped acquire movies like Felicity Huffman-starrer "Transamerica" and the Samantha Morton drama "Morvern Callar," can up the scripted quotient.

The fest also wants to increase its relevance to the industry and the finished-film market. Tribeca has become a springtime ritual for New York filmgoers but has often been overlooked by buyers focusing on the Festival du Cannes a few weeks later.

Last year, nearly 30 titles were acquired out of Tribeca, but many were bought by smaller distributors; with the new focus, the festival hopes to bring in bigger buyers and yield more high-profile deals. "We've had a lot of movies bought out of the festival but we haven't had our 'Sex, Lies & Videotape' yet," Schafer said. "That's what we want, and that's what the industry wants."

As part of its new focus, the company also has promoted David Kwok to director of programming and brought on Julia La'Bassiere to run a year-round industry office.

Kwok will concentrate on the day-to-day operations of the festival, while Schafer, co-founder Jane Rosenthal and artistic director Peter Scarlet will focus on larger issues, including the fest's international expansion and other strategic initiatives.

La'Bassiere, a longtime consultant who is a vet of CAA and the Edinburgh Film Festival, will manage business relationships throughout the year as well as during the fest.