Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 23, 2013

Follow-up on the Tribeca Film Festival incident

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 7:35 pm

Today, I heard from Brandon Rohwer, the Tribeca Publicity Director, who told me that he was sorry that I was banned from the screening of the herring documentary but that they had certain rules to follow otherwise the gates of hell would open and Satan’s minions would rise from the depths and lay siege to mankind.

Specifically, for someone like me who does not have press credentials, the publicist has to contact them in advance so my name will show up on a list. I got the feeling after reading his email that the Boston Marathon bombing would not have taken place if the Tribeca Festival officials had been in charge.

There were a “lot of moving parts” that involved security, etc. Like I might have sneaked in to see a movie at that theater other than the one sponsored by Tribeca. Or stolen a box of Good and Plenty’s when nobody was looking. Or peed on a toilet seat. Or took a crap and neglected to flush. That is why they needed a cop who looked like Eric Campbell to keep an eye on potential wrong-doers.

Being told that I had to leave the Tribeca screening

I wrote back to him:

A day after the incident I was told by the publicist that I had rsvp’d to the April 22nd rather than the April 19th screening. So even though I accidentally came to the wrong screening, I see no reason on earth why I would have been prevented from sitting down to watch a documentary on herring fishermen after she told your people that I was a New York Film Critics Online member and not an Al Qaeda operative.

I can understand why you would stipulate that publicists furnish you the name of the critics they invite ahead of time but in this particular instance a decision to make me turn around and go home really fucking burned me up.

I have written 650 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, most of them about documentaries like the one I wanted to see. I am not just a film reviewer. I have also written for scholarly journals on the environment, including “Capitalism, Nature and Socialism” and “Organization and Environment”. My review would have exposed the film to a much broader audience than the one that usually attends a Tribeca movie.

Finally, you know and I know that there is a two-tiered approach to critics. For people like David Edelstein or A.O. Scott, there is a red carpet. For nobodies like me, there has never been an incentive to get press credentials because the application process is like something out of a Kafka novel.

This year publicists approached me to view about 6 different Tribeca screenings, either in person or through DVD/Vimeo. I was looking forward to promoting the festival because I think it does a good job of presenting exactly the kind of films my readers look for.

But right now I would never bother writing a single word on behalf of Tribeca. You made someone who writes about film out of love rather than money feel like I was crashing a party. I deserved better.


No wonder he is paid to keep people from seeing movies rather than making them.


  1. Isn’t the Tribeca festival the one that pulled a Cuban movie after protests of some sort? Oh well, the life of a film reviewer is never easy.

    Comment by S. Artesian — April 23, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

  2. Actually, what happened is a little different. They scheduled a typical counter-revolutionary movie that included a couple of Cuban actors who disappeared down to Miami once they got to NY.


    Comment by louisproyect — April 23, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

  3. WE ALL deserve better. I don’t understand a film festival that apparently doesn’t want people to view the films it is showing. Who gives a shit whether a viewer is a film critic, a scholar, or — and I use this word as a compliment — a NOBODY?

    Comment by Tobysgirl — April 24, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

  4. “Moving parts” and “security” …They’re just running a movie festival, right? Why didn’t they just say “We’re sorry” and ask what they could do to make things right?

    Comment by Richard Greener — April 25, 2013 @ 2:19 am

  5. “WE ALL deserve better. I don’t understand a film festival that apparently doesn’t want people to view the films it is showing. Who gives a shit whether a viewer is a film critic, a scholar, or — and I use this word as a compliment — a NOBODY?”

    Film festivals are also an opportunity for wealthy, high profile donors to show off, much like opening night at the opera. They also allow filmmakers to market their films to potential distributors.

    I’m guessing that this festival is suffering from security paranoia driven by the demands of such donors for exclusive access, uncontaminated by the presence of people like Louis.

    Comment by Richard Estes — April 25, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

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