Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal, as they have every year since 2002, kicked off New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival, which has grown to become of the nation’s signature celluloid events.

Film festivals are tricky things to arrange; much preparation and thought are needed to get them off the ground, but once they get rolling, they’re both an economic boon, and a creative one, to whatever city is hosting them.

“It’s become quite the prestigious event for any city or town. Cannes [Film Festival] is the benchmark for sure, but festivals in Park City, Telluride, Sundance and Tribeca are immediately after,” said PR-man David Salidor who was heavily involved in the very first Hamptons International Film Festival back in 1992.

“If they’re done right, they’re a terrific outlet for new films. This year’s Hampton event is the 20th year,” he said.

This past weekend we ventured to three new Tribeca films, each exemplary in their own right. Randomly selected were “Free Samples,” “While We Were Here” and “Whole Lotta Sole.” All exhibited high caliber creativity, while featuring some terrific performances.

This year’s slate of films was brilliantly handled by Geoffrey Gilmore, who had the same assignment at Sundance for many years. Having him at the helm immediately bumped up the caliber of what would be up on the screen and signaled perhaps their best event ever.

“Free” featured Jess Wixler, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Halley Feiffer and a most welcomed return to the screen, by no less than Tippi Hedren.

The script featured the main character, former law-student Jillian essentially dealing with her life and her shortcomings. In a series of terrifically staged scenes, she confronts almost all the key players in her life, as well as a potential new boyfriend, essayed by Eisenberg.

Wixler gives a breakout performance. She’s in basically every shot and holds it all together beautifully. Director Jay Gammill did a terrifically serviceable job. I really liked this one.

The beautiful and stunning Kate Bosworth stars in Here, which was shot in beautiful black-and-white on the island of Ischia; which made the photography particularly awe inspiring.

Bosworth is in a marriage that is on its last legs and her performance was mesmerizing. Iddo Goldberg, as her husband and Jamie Blackley, as Caleb, were very strong as well.

A sad story for sure, but you couldn’t take your eyes away from the screen. Kudos to writer/director Kat Coiro.

Sole is the product of Director Terry George and features a chaotic series of mishaps and shenanigans, starring Brendan Fraser, Colm Meany and David O’Hara.

Whereas the first two films bordered on the more serious and sensitive, George’s film was madcap and a fitting closing film. My thanks and appreciation, to Craig Hatkoff and Rosenthal for another outstanding week.

Bego Book Launch Sets Off Alarm Bells

Joel Diamond, Rebecca Holden, Mark Bego (right)

Celeb-author Mark Bego held the launch party for his latest book “Aretha Franklin-The Queen of Soul” (Skyhorse) last week in L. A. at Nic’s Martini Lounge.

The party which included, producer Joel Diamond, actress Rebecca Holden, Raspin, Angela Bowie and Beth Wernick, from the company Imaginary Friends. It was going strong when the fire alarm suddenly went off.

“There was a problem in the kitchen which resulted in the alarm going off; I swear I had nothing to do with it!” said the sly Bego.

An hour later, all the guests were back and continued the launch-event. As for the No. 1 question of the night, it was what might be the author’s next book subject? Answers ranged from Bee Gee Robin Gibb to to recently deceased Dick Clark Stay tuned for the writer’s 60th opus!

Names in the News

Eddie Finocchiaro, Vincent Desi, Terry Guerin, Martha Reeves, Mandi Dixon, Alan Rothstein, Bruce Grakal, Michelle Grant, Scott Stevens, Heather Moore, Janice Swallows, Robert Funaro, Chris Gilman, Howard Bloom, Jill Christensen, Becky Bleu.