Candyman director and gaming enthusiast Nia DaCosta is part of an advisory board to help shape how the festival recognizes gaming.

By Nick Romano
September 24, 2020 at 10:00 AM EDT
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Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

In a move that further acknowledges video games as a serious art form, the Tribeca Film Festival will, for the first time, open submissions for games to join the festival as Official Selections.

Tribeca Film Festival will take place next year from June 9-20 and the selected games will also become eligible for the inaugural Tribeca Games Award, similar to how distinguished films have been awarded in the past. This new honor will recognize games that "demonstrate artistic excellence in storytelling in a game," according to a festival announcement on Tuesday.

These moves also mark a major expansion to programming for Tribeca Games.

Candyman director and gaming enthusiastic Nia DaCosta joins The Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau, Death Stranding game creator Hideo Kojima, Electronic Arts co-founder Bing Gordon, The Game Awards producer Geoff Keighley, Remedy Entertainment creative director Sam Lake, and Head of Halo Transmedia & Entertainment Kiki Wolfkill on a special advisory board to help shape the evolution of the Tribeca Games division.

In 2011, L.A. Noire from Rockstar Games became the first video game recognized as an Official Selection in a film festival. Since then, Tribeca Film Festival has highlighted video games as a form of interactive storytelling, spotlighting titles like League of Legends, God of War, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Beyond Two Souls, Firewatch, and What Remains of Edith Finch—but not in a competition festival capacity.

The festival also played host to conversations with prominent game creators and actors. Last year, Kojima sat down with Keighley and his Death Stranding star Norman Reedus for an official Tribeca Talk.

"In the 10 years since we first welcomed a game to Tribeca’s official program, we’ve seen an exciting convergence of games, film, and immersive experiences," says Jane Rosenthal, the co-founder and CEO of Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival. "Where there was once a clear delineation between media, there is now a blurring of the lines—stories have become games and games have become stories. Broad recognition for voices at the forefront of this ever-changing landscape is long overdue, and we intend to be a home for these creators whose incredible work should be celebrated.”

Casey Baltes, vice president of Tribeca Games, says the division "is expanding in response to the enthusiasm we have seen from the games community and our audiences. Games have proven to be one of the most sophisticated storytelling vehicles today—not only with narrative but also with incredible artistic mastery, the creation of highly immersive worlds and providing meaningful connections to communities all over the world. We’re excited to celebrate games and game creators alongside film, immersive, music, art, and more at next year’s Festival."

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