Tribeca’s Carless Drive In Attempts Nostalgia; Fails
“I’m not going to sit out here in the cold to watch ‘Fame,’” declared my friend resolutely. She was not alone.
On April 21, the World Financial Center Plaza, bathed in bright sunset hues, opened out onto a spectacular view of the Hudson. There were no cars in sight, but a few yachts bobbed on the water nearby.
Scaffolding towers rose from the brick pathways as if heralding an international sporting event, while enthusiastic festival workers passed out glow sticks to the crowd.
The Drive-In, which is held annually in downtown New York City, is a free event that includes film screenings and musical performances that are open to the public. Unlike the more exclusive screenings and gala parties that give the Tribeca Film Festival its glamorous reputation, the Drive-In events are part of an initiative to make festival happenings more accessible to the public.
“The Tribeca Film Festival was started nearly 10 years ago to revive culture and business in lower Manhattan, and showcase what Tribeca has to offer,” said Nancy Schafer, executive director of The Tribeca Film Festival, in a press release. “During each Festival, we have featured a variety of free community events as our way of giving back to the city, and this year is no exception.”
When I arrived at this year’s drive-In premiere for a screening of the 1980 film “Fame,” I came expecting something like the drive-ins my mother had taken me as a child on car trips through Massachusetts. What I found instead was a Drive-in without cars, or even a place to spread out a blanket.
The Plaza was covered in hot pink banners and filled with folding chairs emblazoned with JetBlue stickers on their backs. But hundreds of chairs now stood empty.
Just 24 hours earlier, more than 5,000 fans crowded into the plaza for a free screening of Cameron Crowe’s new documentary “The Union,” capped off by a six-song performance by Elton John himself.
Described by its own production team as one of the “most innovative” events in the film festival, the Drive-In in reality does nothing to warrant this claim. The so-called Drive-In offers instead cement, and folding chairs proving that the only thing it has going for it is its affiliation with the TFF. For an event that unabashedly markets the nostalgia of a country drive-in, what it delivers is nothing short of a scam.