The Tribeca Film Festival this year introduced the Tribeca X Award, a juried award for branded entertainment. The new honor's goal is to "highlight the excellence, authenticity, originality and creativity in storytelling that is sponsored or underwritten by a brand and recognize the best artist-brand collaboration of the past year," according to the Festival's announcement of the award.
The Tribeca X Award launch followed Droga5 veteran Andrew Essex being named CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, the festival's parent company, while Jane Rosenthal, who co-founded the festival in 2002 with Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff, moved up to executive chair. Mr. Essex at the time of the launch said, "People no longer seem to care where a story comes from, as long as it's great. Brands increasingly acknowledge this and often produce extraordinary content that rises to the standards of world-class storytelling."
The first Tribeca X Award went to a quirky and intriguing short film from Skunk U.S. director Greg Brunkalla, which featured bow-tie wearing "cyborg" Neil Harbisson strolls around New York discussing his unique ability to "hear colors." The film was sponsored by Samsung Galaxy, and is part of a series of collaborations between Samsung and Vimeo called Connected, that commissions top directors to explore the relationship between humans and technology. Harbisson, a real life color-blind artist, can only see in grayscale, and wears an antenna attached to his skull that allows him to "hear colors." As he tells a bewildered couple of British tourists in the film, it's like a body part that he even showers with.
Brunkalla has fun with Harbisson's encounters in the city, but the film is also thought-provoking, particular on the subjects of race, and on how we interpret color.
Branded entertainment was previously not eligible to be honored at the Tribeca Film Festival. That's generally been the case elsewhere on A-list festival circuit, although there have been exceptions. In January, for instance, a NetScout-supported film directed by Werner Herzog premiered at Sundance.
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