Tribeca Film Festival Will Be First Big North American Festival To Bring Back In-Person Screenings

Ever since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the U.S. in March, film festivals have gone almost entirely virtual — with all the major North American festivals like SXSW, Sundance, TIFF, and more foregoing the in-person experience in favor of digital ones (minus the occasional drive-in or arthouse theater screening). But with the vaccine rollout at a steady pace and the end of the pandemic in sight, the Tribeca Film Festival is taking the steps to become the first North American film festival to go back to in-person with its upcoming 2021 edition this summer.

The 20th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival is returning with in-person screenings and live events this summer, for an outdoor 12-day festival running from June 9 to June 20.

Made possible by New York's statewide arts initiative NY PopsUps and presented by AT&T, the Tribeca Film Festival 2021 will host "innovative" community screenings across all boroughs at venues like Empire Outlets (Staten Island) and The MetroTech Commons (Brooklyn), as well as notable New York City spots like Brookfield Place New York, Pier 57 Rooftop, The Battery, and Hudson Yards (Manhattan), per the festival's press release.

"Tribeca is a community of the most resilient and talented storytellers on the planet. In 20 years, that community of creators and our partners have become a family," said Jane Rosenthal, co-Founder and CEO of Tribeca Enterprises and the Tribeca Festival, and also one of the principals behind NYPopsUp. "This summer we are excited to reunite as Tribeca becomes a centerpiece of live entertainment in neighborhoods across New York City."

"The Tribeca Film Festival was born out of our mission to bring people together in the aftermath of 9/11. We're still doing it," added Tribeca Festival co-founder Robert De Niro. "And as New York emerges from the shadow of COVID-19, it seems just right to bring people together again in-person for our 20th anniversary festival."

In addition to the outdoor venues, Tribeca is hosting "community screenings" in all New York City boroughs, including the Bronx and Queens, using traveling 40-foot screens. Tribeca officials said they are working closely with the New York State Department of Health to ensure that the public gatherings comply with COVID-19 safety protocols.

An outdoor festival is the right course of action for Tribeca, which last year went virtual with a pretty scarce and disappointing line-up. It especially makes sense at the height of summer, when vaccine eligibility is expected to be expanded and more things can be held outdoors. But the news does come as concerns have been raised about New York's rapid business re-openings, despite COVID cases plateauing and worries about a new COVID-19 strain in New York City. June is still a few months away, so hopefully this will be a joyous gathering rather than a distressing one.