Hopefully you've been loading up on electrolytes and getting plenty of sleep because the Tribeca Film Festival begins tonight, and boy is it a jam-packed 12 days to come. With 41 countries represented and over two hundred feature as well as short films, this year's Tribeca Film Festival is an impressive (and frankly, a touch overwhelming) array of movie treats. While the fest was started in 2002 as a boost for the depressed downtown area, the festivities have now taken over the whole city screening movies at 17 locations from the Upper West Side down to the Financial district and loads of places in between.

Tonight the festival kicks off with a gala hosted by former Vice President, and Oscar-winner, Al Gore at the BMCC TriPAC. They'll be showing the SOS Short Films Program, a series of movies about the climate crisis, as well as featuring musical performances by Live Earth music acts. Have you got Spidey fever? TFF has. As one of it's largest events, the fest will be co-hosting the premiere of Spider-man 3. The star-studded premiere will be next Monday, April 30th in Peter Parker's hometown of Queens, but there's also screenings of the previous two movies and panels on the franchise.

2007_04_arts_stilllife.jpgWe'll be pointing out some particular New York-centric movies to catch at the fest on Friday, but in the meantime, starting on Thursday afternoon, there's already loads to see. Here's three to get you started: French actress Julie Delphy moves behind the camera in the Spotlight movie 2 Days in Paris which she wrote, edited, produced, directed and stars in about a French woman bringing her American boyfriend (Adam Goldberg) to Paris. Also, a documentary in competition, Planet B-Boy, about the spread of b-boy dance culture from the Bronx to all corners of the globe and the annual Battle of the Year competition in Germany, is a lot of pop and lockin' fun. They'll be showing the movie outdoors at the Tribeca Drive-In on Saturday, Apr. 28 with some live performances by some of the featured subjects. Also, amongst the many intriguing movies in the World Narrative competition, Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke's newest Still Life, about a community threatened by the Three Gorges Dam project [pictured], promises to be thoughtful and poignant.

Other Tribeca activities worth noting:

Head down to the gallery space Gallery Viet Nam at 345 Greenwich to view the contemporary art pieces by local artists such as Chuck Close, Nan Goldin, Kiki Smith and Bruce Weber being awarded to festival winners. There's a Family Festival on Saturday, May 5 from 10 am to 6 pm on Greenwich St between Hubert and Duane Streets filled with face painting, free movies, local refreshments and more. Tomorrow night celebrate the 20th anniversary of keeping Baby out of the corner with a special outdoor screening of Dirty Dancing on the World Financial Center Plaza. Plus, don't overlook all of the panels, music performances at the Tribeca/ASCAP Music Lounge and parties galore.

Tickets for festival activities are currently available online or in person at the Main Box Office on Laight St at Canal, or at 4 other locations around the city. Perusing the online schedule you may notice for some movies there's already no more tickets available for advance purchase, but remember, if you have your heart set on a particular screening some tickets will be released at the door 15 minutes before the movie starts.

Whew, it's an exciting line-up starting tomorrow and going strong until May 6.