2007_05_arts_deniro.jpgHas the Tribeca Film Festival been using 9/11 as way to garner publicity and interest in their event? NYMag reports that an anonymous emailer sent out a press release today "accusing the Tribeca Film Festival of lying when they claim that Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, and Craig Hatkoff founded the festival in response to the 9/11 attacks."

It's clear that the vision for the festival was imagined some time before the attacks, as the domain name for their website was registered in April of 2000. This was explained by Steven Rubenstein, the festival's publicist, to NY Mag. He said, "I've heard the founders talk at press conferences and in interviews for years about how they'd discussed founding a film festival but couldn't decide whether New York needed another one. It was 9/11 that created an urgency for it — that made them say, 'Let's stop doing our day jobs and make this happen.'"

The press release is archived here, and states:

"The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff as a response to the attacks on the World Trade Center." So claims the "About Us" page of the Tribeca Film Festival's website. De Niro, Rosenthal and Hatkoff, and scores of publicists and journalists, have repeated this claim endlessly over the last five years. That claim, however, is demonstrably false. Easily accessible records reveal that The Tribeca Film Festival was being developed long before September 11, 2001.

With rising ticket prices, a "feud" with Bowie and the High Line Festival and accusations like the above, it seems no one is on Team De Niro these days.