The Tribeca Film Festival just began in New York this week, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve read lots about different film festivals (Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, etc) and the various movies that premiere at them but as I’m not an international movie star or even just been in a feature film or lived in a city that held one, I’ve never been able to go. That’s why I am so enthusiastic about the Tribeca Film Festival!
And also because I’m praying for a glimpse of Robert DeNiro.
Anyway, the TFF is featuring many a free program this year, one of them being the Tribeca Drive In down in the World Financial Plaza right along the Hudson. They set up food trucks, hand out free stuff, and screen fan favorite movies. This year, they’re showing Jaws and the Goonies.
If you know me at all, then you know both of these films are among my favorite movies of all time. I grew up watching both incessantly (and still do).
Last night, they screened Jaws, and I took myself on a much-needed solo date to see it. As I was born in the 1980s, I only had ever seen Chief Brody, Quint, and Matt Hooper battle that terrifying shark on a television screen. My parents, on the other hand, came of age in the 1970s, so they witnessed it all on the big screen when it came out in ’75. As such, I’ve always felt that I missed out a bit on what made the film so awesome in the first place: the sheer size of a giant shark on a giant screen.
Watching Jaws basically in a harbor was probably the coolest thing ever. I honestly couldn’t tell if the seagulls I was hearing were coming from the screen or the sailboats next to me on the Hudson. It was a perfect setting. Most of the audience was people my age or older who’d grown up with the movie in some way: either from seeing it in the 70s or the “handing down” of it from their parents who’d seen it in the 70s. We all clapped together, laughed together, screamed together, and cheered together. There was a kind of magic in the air. A nostalgia made new. Though the majority of the audience had seen the film before, for many of us (myself included), it was like seeing the film for the first time.
And it kind of GOT to me, you know? I got this overwhelming feeling of happiness, love, and community. All of us were here because we LOVED this movie. We’d all had our own experiences with this movie; in some way, it had shaped us all. Now here we were: all of us sharing this moment. It made me realize how lasting an impact films have as opposed to other art forms. Film lasts forever; handed down from generation to generation. There’s something inherently special about that.
And I don’t think anyone can deny there’s something inherently special and MAGICAL about Steven Spielberg’s films from the 1970s and 80s. There’s a mythical quality about them, you just can’t put your finger on; it’s just a feeling. Paired with John Williams’ scores, I just don’t think it gets any better. Maybe it feels like childhood or growing up. I don’t know. His movies from that time are…well, timeless. Classic. You never forget your first time seeing them.
Maybe that’s why last night was so special to me. I nearly cried on the subway ride home. I finally got to see one of my favorite Spielberg movies on a big screen for the first time…the way people saw it for the first time when it premiered in 1975. The way my parents saw it. And for just half a second, I didn’t know what year I was in. It felt timeless. I was under a spell. We all were.
That’s the power of the movies.
And I HAVE to be a part of that. I HAVE to be a part of something so beloved it keeps drawing people back to it 37 years later. Something people pass down to their kids. I want people to feel all the things I felt last night: the nostalgia, the magic, the joy. I want to tell stories people love. Make films that shape their lives and experiences in a way that MUST be shared with others.
I WILL be a part of that.