04/29/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What Tribeca Means To Me

Lately, I've been wearing my heart on my sleeve. It's embarrassing. My years of cynical outbursts and self-satisfied commentary at the expense of those less astute, seems to have vanished. And I think I know what happened. I made a movie.

The movie I made is Trucker starring the mind-blowing Michelle Monaghan, and opens in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 24th. When you first try to make a movie and it's an independent movie - and it's your first movie - it's just you with a script. People want to believe you are going to make a movie, really they do, but they just can't. They're cynical; and why not? Who hasn't had a friend or drunken party guest make the declaration "I'm gonna make a movie!" It happens a lot and so pronouncements like that rightfully provoke contempt and cynicism. But when you really do decide to actually make a movie, I've discovered you weirdly begin to speak effusively on your hopes and dreams. I think it is because if people are going to go along with it, they want to know that you actually do have hopes and dreams. And once you make your hopes and dreams public knowledge you are at the mercy of any cynic with a double espresso who once had an uncle who tried to make a movie in Mexico, but died tragically before shooting began.

But, really, this heart-wearing affliction ultimately allows you to truly believe in what you are making and come to the conclusion that you have no choice but to make it; and, damnit, finding the truth of what I believe enabled me to fulfill my lifelong mission. It also made me finally understand that cynics aren't really bad or bitter people - they're just incredibly hopeful people who have not yet made a movie.

And when I finished the film I really felt it was the best movie ever made; but, now, as a dyed-in-the-wool cynic, I only think it's ONE of the best movies ever made. And the fact that it is going to be screening in the greatest city on the planet (I thought that before I made the movie) is an absolute dream come true. I admit, I walked by the theater where it's premiering, the East Village Cinema on 2nd Avenue. It was sort of like having read about your dream car in Road and Track when you're fourteen and then growing up and actually going to the dealership to kick the tires with checkbook in hand.

I am also so excited to be part of one of the finest film festivals in the world; one I've always admired and have wanted to be a part of. I realize the fact that my film is premiering at Tribeca might cause someone to cynically believe that I am bias. And they would be correct. Cynics are almost always right; it's just that it's such an unpleasant rightness. But there really is a reason why this festival means something beyond just a market for films or a place to get drunk. Although, I hope it fulfills all those ambitions, as well.

I know that in the press releases for the Tribeca Film Festival it always says that Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal started the festival to revitalize the neighborhood after 9-11. The objective seems to have worked, but to me that effort represented a hell of a lot more.

Arguably, 9-11 did bring this country to its knees and some might say it's never quite stood erect again. But if the world views us as having dragged our knuckles on the ground for the last seven years, there have been bright spots and genuine nods to true freedom; and to me Tribeca is an example. What makes Tribeca special is this: It was founded as a response. It was founded to make a statement. It wasn't for glory, or to promote a country, or to sell the next LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. It was created by people who understood that movies give people hope in their darkest hours and that films are intrinsically about freedom. And it's that philosophy that makes Tribeca such a broad, eclectic, sometimes mind-bending, sometimes overwhelming, and finally incredible experience.

I have no religion except for one - movies. They embody the conflagration of humanity and spirituality and the self-discovery and catharsis of the heart that to me no standard-issue religion even comes close. Since the age of eleven, when I first stumbled upon The Last Picture Show at midnight on the local television station, movies have been my salvation. They taught me about the world I could see, but also what was below the surface, and made me feel like I was part of something larger, greater than myself. Ahem. I know I may be provoking the cynicism and perhaps mockery of many of my readers, here, but I really do not care as it is the truth and it is a truth shared by millions.

And Tribeca understands and fosters the idea that films go beyond the world of sales agents and distributors. The movies are from all over the world - mine is the only American film in competition - and although they show a cross section of experiences and cultures, nearly every film speaks to the condition of the human heart and an individual's longing or pursuit of freedom. And Tribeca makes sure the venues and environment in which the films screen do justice to the work of the filmmakers and the experience of the audiences. Each film, after all, is a small miracle in the fact that it even exists at all; and Tribeca knows it.

In an incredibly short amount of time the Tribeca Film Festival has become one of the premiere festivals in the world. It was founded as a mission and is still on a mission to this day - to advance the art of filmmaking and promote movies not just as entertainment but an integral and profound part of our human experience. It wears its heart on its sleeve. Any cynic can see that.

My film is having its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. If you are in New York, you can check out one of the screenings.

Thursday, April 24 at 9:00pm - Village East Cinemas - 189 2nd Avenue
Friday, April 25 at 3:30pm - AMC 19th Street East - 890 Broadway
Sunday, April 27 at 6:00pm - AMC 19th Street East - 890 Broadway
Thursday, May 1 at 9:45pm - AMC 19th Street East - 890 Broadway
Saturday, May 3 at 8:00pm - AMC Village VII - 66 3rd Avenue

Or check out the Tribeca Film Festival website for more information: