Tribeca to Overlea

I was a young–ish, ambitious and as naive as a crisp green guava that doesn’t know the worms will get to it as soon as the wind shakes it to the ground. I had just directed my first play in New York, and I was high on post-show artist’s restlessness and anxiety.

One of my cast members said- I’m in a movie showing at the Tribeca festival! So we went to see it. Tribeca Film Festival wasn’t a thing-thing yet, but there was a festival of sorts. Filmmakers who had robbed their own piggy banks clean, borrowed the last coin from mother and sold their one couch just to tell a story.

Watching my cast member’s indie film, I could see the starving-artist struggle written all over it. Likely shot with one camera, a barely credible set, poor editing, and packed with impossible passion. Standing ovation all the way. I knew that passion and the dare to do what every bit of reality tells you you can’t do.

Soon after, I directed my second play on Tribeca’s Canal Street. There’s nothing like NY art districts. A couple of years later, 9-11 happened, and the whole frenzy of independent films that debuted there officially became the Tribeca Film Festival, with Robert DeNiro as its founder.

The 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival is here, and it’s become this huge thing. I’ll tell you something though, this huge thing with big names and big-budget independent films stands on the sweat, passion and creative grit of artists like my cast member, Fidel Vicioso, whose IMDB bio now has credits that include acting alongside DeNiro and Robin Williams. I still have his young headshot on file.

I remember mostly the Austin Bukenya monologue from The Bride that Fidel proudly turned into a Shakespearean piece. Took several rehearsals for me to kill the Shakespeare in him. This particular African ritual drama did not come with the iambic pentameter he was imposing. Sometimes I wonder what would have become of my work had I stayed on in NY, but I don’t wonder too long. Washington DC had a storyline waiting for me to step into– let’s call it “Power and Place” for now.

Fast-forward. Our small studio, Tictocmind, is curating the films section of our neighborhood’s Overlea ArtsFest. Film entries are open to international filmmakers. I draw inspiration from the memory of Tribeca films to say that one day soon, we will have the Overlea ArtsFest Film Festival (OFF!), as big as Tribeca, and we will never forget that big festivals stand on the labor of artists who worked against impossible odds to tell a story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *