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Having spent a decade covering the Toronto International Film Festival and attending several others over the last 2-plus decades, I’m left wondering why it has taken me so long to catch up to the Tribeca Film Festival. What’s not to love about New York in the springtime? A fortuitous merging of my critical and curatorial obligations has landed me in NYC for the 18th edition of this major event.

I’ve journaled my way through TIFF the last five or six years and I plan to employ the same process here, letting reader behind the curtain. For the next 10-12 days, expect to learn how this friendly neighborhood critic covers a film festival and how a relative film programming newbie scouts films for a burgeoning second-year event in the Queen City. What I hope emerges are lessons on how to attend a multi-day film festival and maximize the experience. Rather than just dipping a toe into the shallow end (catching a single screening) or succumbing to overload (by overbooking your schedule and missing out on key screenings or must-see ancillary events), I want to illustrate how to be fully engaged by a festival. That means crafting a full sensory experience. Film opens up avenues for auditory excursions, food and wine pairings, fine arts remixes, and virtual flights of fancy.

Skilled programmers and curators have been crafting samples, attempting to build fluid dreamscapes into the very real worlds we wander through every day. Communal theaters are the launchpads for new adventures in and around what can, every other day, seem like the utterly familiar and mundane.

Now that’s not New York City. Of course not, especially for a first-time festival goer like me. But for residents of the City, the great and timeless stories unfolding will certainly make the lights outside the theaters shine a little brighter.

I want that same thing to happen in the Queen City, for audiences who attend the Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival (October 2-6, 2019). Take a sneak peek through my eyes…