Although the project had been talked about for years, the Tribeca Film Festival first came into being last year to help bring tourism and fun back to downtown Manhattan after the attack on the World Trade Center. Last year was a commemoration; this year was more of a celebration.
Dara Wishingrad was production designer for this year's Festival, working with Dalzell Productions. “The operative concept or thread that I offered to this year's festival is that of life growing up through the rubble,” she says, “and this is manifested in many ways via design and production.” The Festival featured many special events, including an opening procession (below); the opening night gala at the Winter Garden; the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the primary screening venue (right); the drive-in movie theatre on Pier 25 (top and above right); the awards show at Stuyvesant High School; and the closing night gala in the atrium at the Embassy Suites hotel.
For the drive-in theatre, Wishingrad says, “there was a massive lit marquee at the entrance and a giant screen at the far end of the pier.” She notes that at dusk or after dark, the full magic of the piece was in effect. Despite the chilly, misty weather, people came to the drive-in, ate popcorn, and watched When Harry Met Sally, Diner, and Grease on successive nights, the last including a sing-along. While the designer is proud of all of the Festival events, the drive-in was closest to her heart.
“When I was doing research for the design, all those nights in childhood came back to me: bundling into the car in footed pajamas, the swing set under the screen, the sound quality of the film, and the summer air smell through the open car window. All this felt like love to me, and drove the concept and drawings and carried on into the building and install. [During the shows], a thousand of us had that same experience — all at the same time, all in the same place, just steps away from one of our country's deepest wounds.”