Tribeca Film Festival opens in New York

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NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Tribeca Film Festival Co-founder Robert De Niro and actor Robert Downey Jr. attend the "Marvel's The Avengers" Premiere during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at the Borough of Manhattan Community College on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

New York's Tribeca Film Festival, created a decade ago after the 9/11 attacks, opens Thursday with a touch of sparkle from Cannes thanks to new artistic director Frederic Boyer.

Boyer joined festival founders Robert De Niro and producer Jane Rosenthal for an opening presentation Wednesday in lower Manhattan where movies will be shown until April 29.

The 89 films, including 50 world premiers, and 60 short films were selected from 46 countries for Tribeca.

Boyer, who was recently in charge of the Directors' Fortnight at the much bigger Cannes festival, said he sees room for Tribeca to expand.

"In Cannes there's a lot of pressure, because it's the biggest festival in the world and it's also a market. Most people don't want to miss Cannes for strategic and financial reasons," he told AFP. "Now, people ask themselves, 'Why not do Tribeca?' You can do a premiere here, there's huge media and the US public."

Choosing films for Tribeca required an open mind, he said.

"A program it's like a menu, it's an adventure. We want the audience, like us, to be moved, to be educated by films," he said at the opening press conference.

"We don't choose a film because it's African, we chose the film because it's good," he said.

Boyer said he's a fan of art house films but he's also "very pop culture. I love rock, and blockbusters when they're good."

That flexibility invited an avalanche of candidates for the 2012 program: 3,090 full-length films and documentaries and 2,860 short films, beating the then record total of 5,624 offers last year.

Among contestants for the six prizes in the official contest are "All In" by Argentina's Daniel Burman, "Unit 7" from Spain's Alberto Rodriguez, and the US-Mexican "The Girl" by David Riker.

Documentary subjects include Kenyan fishermen, Coptic Christians in Egypt, handicapped lovers in South Korea and Chinese youths rebelling against Internet censorship.

Outside the official competition are films including "As Luck Would Have It" from Spain's Alex de la Iglesia, and "Xingu," from Brazilian Cao Hamburger, which tells the story of three brothers taking part in the settling of the Mato Grosso wilderness.

Tribeca was founded in 2002 in a bid to help the neighborhood around the destroyed World Trade Center to recover. Although it isn't an A-list festival, it has established a following.

"We founded Tribeca in response to 9/11. We're entering our second decade and we are really excited about what Tribeca is today. We continue with our core principles: community, innovation, discovery and industry," Rosenthal said.

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