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De Niro's Baby Is Growing

Tribeca Film Festival turns five.


Elephant Tales  

Some 700 kids attended last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, but that number wasn’t enough for Peter Downing. The only way the creative director of the Family Festival could expand attendance was to increase the juvenile offerings—never mind that the area’s theaters were booked solid. “We had to leave the neighborhood this year to double the number of screenings,” he says from his Greenwich Street office. “Now we’re showing films on the Upper West Side, midtown, and the East Village,” from April 25 through May 7. In the Canadian film Peace Tree, Kylie and Shazia, grade-school best friends, attempt to share their holidays with each other until their intolerant parents step in to keep the Christian and Muslim girls apart. For animal lovers, Elephant Tales finds a menagerie of pachyderm brothers, a wiseguy baby chimp, a Valley Girl giraffe, and an infant lion cub, all in search of their parents who’ve been captured by poachers. (It’s all live-action, not animation, shot on the African savannah.) Australian director Mario Andreacchio employs narrated dialogue, in the manner of Babe, and the animals’ natural movements tell the story. Teenagers have their own section of the festival, T4Teens, with coming-of-age films from Finland and indies from the U.S. One of them, Punching at the Sun, was shot in Elmhurst and follows a South Asian teen dealing with his emotions after his brother’s murder. With all the new offerings, what will happen if the festival keeps outgrowing its space? “Well, that’s a major what-if,” says Downing with a laugh. “But the only way to grow is to reach beyond, and God bless us if we have to push beyond that.”

4/25 to 5/7; (866-941-3378 or; festival on 5/6 goes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., along Greenwich St., bet. Hubert and Duane Sts.


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