The first hint of spring weather signifies more than summer’s impending arrival—it also signifies the beginning of the annual Tribeca Film Festival sponsored by American Express! This year, American Express is focusing on the parallel of music and film, showing how both creative outlets inspire the other. The cinematic celebration kicked off with the world premiere of Mistaken for Strangers, a documentary about The National, filmed by the lead singer’s brother, Tom Berninger.
Richard Belzer opened the evening on a reflective, somber note, before introducing Jane Rosenthal and Robert DeNiro. “Tonight is a very poignant night because the festival was born because of 9/11 and Bobby’s vision of making fellow New Yorkers feel safe coming down here with their families and going to restaurants and movies…and honoring the spirit we showed after 9/11. Now, it’s very, very moving to be able to see this, coming out fearlessley,” he said. “Then we had the Boston tragedy and those people showed incredible humanity and bravery. So tonight, we’re going to dedicate this festival to the people of Boston. Tonight, we’re all Bostonians.”
The crowd, which included Josh Rader, Liza Minelli, Mira Sorvino, and Riley Keough, erupted into supportive applause, before settling in for a look at the relationship between two brothers and a band.
After the documentary, guests moved over to Highline Ballroom, where a staged primed for a concert was set, easily leading to the assumption that The National would be performing. True to assumptions, after a brief cocktail hour, Matt Berninger took the stage and immediately launched into “Oh, Holy Night” in honor of his brother and a cheeky scene from their tour bus. A set of eight songs followed, some new and some old, in celebration of the opening night and the documentary’s premiere. True to the film, guests had the chance to experience the electrifying presence of Berninger as he moves into the crowd and exudes his undeniable energy and passion for music. Talk about a powerful way to start this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Throughout the Festival, the Music + Film theme will continue, with panal discussions, performances and obviously a focus on the two art forms. Events to look forward to include Greetings from Tim Buckley starring Penn Badgley, a panel discussion with past “American Express Unstaged” director Todd Haynes, lead singer of The National and hip-hop artist Q-Tip, and the American Express “Unstaged” concert series with Vampire Weekend and director Steve Buscemi at the closing festival.