Ten years on, the Tribeca Film Festival is going on as strong — and as unpredictable — as ever. Last spring, the fest kicked things off in midtown Manhattan with the premiere of “Shrek Forever After.” This time around, Tribeca returned to its roots, settling into the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center (just steps from Ground Zero) for the debut of “The Union,” Cameron Crowe’s documentary about the Grammy-nominated musical collaboration between Elton John and Leon Russell.
“We can’t believe our luck,” Elton told MTV News Wednesday on the red carpet as paparazzi flashbulbs popped around him.
Joining the music legend on the carpet were Martin Scorsese, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Anna Kendrick, Rainn Wilson, Denis Leary, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Zoe Kravitz, ?uestlove, David O. Russell and others. Elton himself confessed he was initially nervous to invite Crowe’s cameras into the recording studio, but was very happy with the results and the opportunity to debut the film in New York.
“I’ve never had a song filmed when I’m writing it, but Cameron’s such a friend, I trusted him,” he told us. “New York City is my favorite place to play. I’ve played 62 shows at Madison Square Garden, I’ve played at Radio City, Central Park, Shea Stadium, Fillmore East. It’s been a very important city in my musical career and probably the most exciting city in the world.”
“The Union,” then, provides a singular window into Elton’s artistic process, and folks like ?uestlove couldn’t wait to see what it was all about. “The ’70s icons that we worship, they came before the information age,” the Roots drummer told us. “Now, you can watch Kanye make beats, but I would love to see how Elton collaborates. Who does the music, who does the lyrics, how that all works out.”
And as the celebs glided down the red carpet on their way inside the theater, many couldn’t help but marvel at how the festival, born in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, continues to thrive a decade later. “People forget that after 9/11, this neighborhood was devastated,” Denis Leary told us. “People were afraid to come down and some people were moving out. [Robert] De Niro and [festival co-founder] Jane Rosenthal brought people back down. They brought culture back down and real spirit, which is much to their credit.”
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