Uptown and downtown collide at Tribeca fest


By Jake Coyle, AP

NEW YORK–At the Tribeca Film Festival, worlds as far apart as Elvis and Nixon, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Justin Bieber, are colliding.

Though films remain the center of Tribeca, they’re surrounded by a multimedia clamor at the 15th annual festival, which opens Wednesday. This year’s docket is full of television, virtual reality and celebrity talks that will drive the conversation as much as the films.

And, fittingly, many of the movies at this year’s festival are themselves portraits of cultural institutions in flux and art forms in amalgamation. Things kick off Wednesday with Andrew Rossi’s appropriate opener, “The First Monday in May,” a documentary about the Met’s sometimes smooth, sometimes awkward embrace of fashion as an art on par with its more traditional holdings.

It’s Rossi’s (“Page One: Inside the New York Times,” “Ivory Tower”) latest look into the colorful, striving characters working amid a revered cultural institution. “The First Monday in May” delves into Met curator Andrew Bolton’s mounting of a mammoth exhibit of influential Chinese fashion, an undertaking that coincides with Anna Wintour’s annual Met Gala, the fashion extravaganza that benefits the Met’s Costume Institute.

Among the film’s many smartly observed moments of backstage turmoil is Bieber, of all people, singing impromptu in the Met halls as he excitedly strides into the ball.

“Andrew Bolton feels a certain sense of mission to prove to his colleagues and the art world in general that his area of concentration is worthy of existing in the museum and of being treated with the same seriousness as other disciplines of art,” says Rossi. “To see it from his perspective is really interesting because he’s almost at the helm of a disruptive force in the world of museums.”

At Tribeca, disruptive forces are everywhere. There are 38 interactive and virtual-reality exhibits — from a Grateful Dead performance of “Truckin’” to an exploration of Pluto — many of which will be presented at a “virtual arcade.” Sixteen television events, including the premieres of AMC’s “The Night Manager” and TNT’s “Animal Kingdom,” are planned.