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Jennifer Merin

Tribeca Film Festival Sponsorship Protested

By April 30, 2012

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A group of documentary filmmakers. as well as other members of New York's cinema community, and concerned movie goers have signed an open letter to the Tribeca Film Festival; (TFF), protesting the festival's ongoing relationship with Brookfield Properties, a corporate sponsor of TFF since 2005.

The protest was launched during this year's edition of TFF (April 19 to 29) because of Brookfield's actions against the Occupy Wall Street movement in November, 2011.

Brookfield owns Zuccotti Park, which the Occupy Wall Street movement had used as its base camp -- until Brookfield had them evicted.

Signed by filmmakers Laura Poitras, Zach Levy, Astra Taylor, Jennifer Baichwal, Jem Cohen (who documented Occupy Wall Street) and Sam Green, among others, the open letter says:

    "...we are troubled to learn that the festival has allowed Brookfield Properties to be one of its major sponsors this year and that multiple advertising trailers for Brookfield play in preshow programs.

    Given Brookfield's role in evicting the Occupy movement from Zuccotti Park, Brookfield hardly seems an appropriate sponsor for any festival that aspires to support new creative and cultural ideas. The company should not be given such a high-profile platform to help re-brand themselves as supporters of artistic expression and free speech."

Additionally, the protestors have created a "How the heck is Brookfield Properties an OK sponsor for Tribeca Film Fest?" Facebook Page for the purpose of creating public debate about Brookfield's sponsorship of TFF, and about corporate sponsorship, in general, of festivals and films, particularly documentaries.

Clarifying the need for debate, Zach Levy is quoted in the New York Times article about the open letter as saying: that he "hoped the protest raised larger issues, like how corporate money affects an institution's voice or programming. The price of corporate sponsorship shouldn't be silence, but really an opportunity for greater engagement."

What do you think of corporate branding of festivals and films?

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