Hollywood may be worried about AI, but the Tribeca Festival is ready to embrace the future

Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s annual Tribeca Festival, which opened Wednesday night and runs through June 16, will look a little different this year.

For the first time, Tribeca will give awards to short films generated by artificial intelligence.

It’s one of the entertainment industry’s first public embraces of the new technology, which many actors and writers fear will render them obsolete. The use of AI was a major sticking point in last summer’s Writer’s Guild and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

“People are concerned about jobs and that’s something obviously we’re all concerned about,” Rosenthal told The Post. “But I think it will also be about creating new jobs… if you’re a VFX [visual effects] editor, you’re still going to be a VFX editor … you’ll just have new tools to play with.”

It’s the latest move by the 23-year-old festival to keep up with the changing media landscape. While good old-fashioned movies and documentaries are still the stars, the festival dropped the word “film” from its name in 2022 and rebranded itself as simply Tribeca Festival.

We want to bring all the artists and all different kind of storytellers under our big roof,” Rosenthal said.

In recent years, Tribeca has also added awards for less conventional mediums such as video games, music videos and audio storytelling.

Artists are pivoting theyre doing pieces in VR, in art, they’re doing gaming, Rosenthal said. It’s a much more fluid way to kind of look at how artists approach the world and the stories they want to tell.

The moves come despite the fact that both Rosenthal and De Niro are veterans of conventional filmmaking. They first teamed up to make the 1992 Val Kilmer movie “Thunderheart” and, over the decades, have been producing partners on a number of notable projects, including Academy Award nominee “The Irishman,” “A Bronx Tale” and “Meet the Fockers.”

This year’s Tribeca Festival will highlight a number of traditional, high-profile movies including “Daddio,” starring Dakota Johnson and Sean Penn; the coming-of-tale “Sacramento” with Michael Cera and Kirsten Stewart; and “Winter Spring Summer or Fall” with Jenna Ortega as a teen prodigy.

The documentary “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” will open the fest on Wednesday night.

Last month, Rosenthal spoke at an AI film festival in Hollywood that was put on by Runway, a company that edits and creates videos using artificial intelligence. She also launched a partnership between Runway and Tribeca to involve the company in judging AI short-video submissions.

I always like playing with new tools that can help us tell our stories and the best of way ways,” Rosenthal said. “Look, the business is changing … we’re all consuming things differently.”

As Tribeca embraces new technology, it’s also celebrating its iconic co-founder Robert De Niro with a “De Niro Con” in honor of the actors 80th birthday. 

What do you get Bob De Niro for his 80th birthday? We decided to throw a De Niro Con, Rosenthal said. The event, slated for June 14 to 16 at Spring Place, is an added celebration to Tribeca’s usual events.

It will include an immersive experience with exhibits featuring old photos, notes and scripts, as well as 13 screenings and fireside chats. Quentin Tarantino and DeNiro will give a talk about “Jackie Brown,” director David O. Russell and Ben Stiller have the honors for “Silver Linings Playbook,” and Martin Scorsese and Nas will discuss “Mean Streets.”

There will even be a competition for the best sandwich in honor of the actor dubbed the De Niro Hero.

And, always, New York is the star of Tribeca. Part of the reason for launching the festival in 2002 was to revitalize downtown neighborhoods after 9/11 destroyed much of the Financial District.

And while it went online in 2020, during pandemic lockdowns, Tribeca returned in person in 2021 one of the first big events to get people excited about being here again

Hugh Grant said the best line,” Rosenthal told The Post. “‘The one thing about a film festival, it’s a great shot of vitamin B12 in the arse for any city.’”

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