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Hideo Kojima, Jon Favreau join Tribeca Film Festival’s games program

Games will be honored at the 2021 event

Tribeca Games - 2017 Tribeca Film Festival Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The Tribeca Film Festival will expand its video game programming in 2021. The festival, which is slated for June 9-20, 2021 in New York City, will host a new Tribeca Games Award. Games can now be submitted as “official selections” of the festival, each of which will be eligible for the inaugural Tribeca Games Award.

The event will also feature the selections and include “conversations with leading voices in games throughout the Festival,” according to a news release. A new advisory board has been created to direct the initiative, including filmmaker Nia DaCosta, writer and director Jon Favreau, The Game Awards creator Geoff Keighley, game developer Hideo Kojima, Electronic Arts co-founder Bing Gordon, Remedy Entertainment creative director Sam Lake, and 343 Industries studio head Kiki Wolfkill.

Members of the new Tribeca Games advisory board have encouraged an expanded inclusion of games at the Tribeca Film Festival for “many years,” festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal told Polygon. “They all believe in the power of storytelling through games,” she said.

Video games were first included in the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011, when the event honored Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire as an official selection. The developer screened a portion of L.A. Noire to an audience ahead of a Q&A session at the 2011 event. Games (and conversations about games) have been included in the Tribeca Film Festival since. Rosenthal said it was a challenge, at first, for festival-goers and the company, internally, to “fully understand” the games presentations.

“A lot of times, people looked at Casey [Baltes, Tribeca Games vice president] and I like we had three heads,” Rosenthal said.

But times have changed, and people now understand that the audiences here aren’t very different after all.

“We are really seeing there is a real cross-pollination, year after year, of the audiences,” Baltes told Polygon. “The games events have always been very well received, particularly by people who are gamers. That the audiences who are attending the films are coming and experiencing games, and have a curiosity and are really interested in this, is one of the great joys of Tribeca Games.”

And during the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival (and the 10th anniversary of video games inclusion at the festival), video games will finally be honored with their very own award.

All sorts of games will be considered, from large, AAA titles to smaller, independently made games. “Eligible games include titles created for web, console, virtual reality, augmented reality and mobile devices,” Tribeca said in a news release. To be eligible, games need to be “premiered” or demoed for the first time in New York City, Rosenthal added.

“We’re looking for games that have not been seen before, discoveries,” she said. “As far the types of evaluation, I think the baseline is storytelling. Storytelling can come in many ways. It doesn’t necessarily have to come in a beautifully rendered world — like these exploratory world games. It can come in multiple forms.”

Games can be submitted now on the Tribeca Film Festival website. The early deadline is Oct. 30, with an official deadline on Dec. 2. Late-submitted games have until Jan. 13, 2021. (The difference here is the cost of submission: $40, $60, and $80, respectively.)

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