Co-founded by Robert De Niro in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks as a way to revitalise lower Manhattan, the Tribeca Film Festival is now in its 13th year. This edition features only 80 feature films, about half as many as previous Tribeca lineups, but the festival arguably has a bigger impact now than ever. Part of that expansion is due to an ambitious new partnership between the festival and Madison Square Garden Corp, which has contributed new venues like the Beacon Theatre.

The festival always attracts its share of glamorous celebrities but a number of ambitious movies are dominating the discussion of this year’s Tribeca programme, including several high-profile documentaries. Time is Illmatic charts the making of the iconic debut album by rapper Nas in 1994. For a completely different change of pace, the non-fiction film Virunga examines an endangered species in central Africa. A major figure in the film, chief warden Emmanuel de Merode of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was seriously wounded in a roadside shooting just as the documentary was making its Tribeca debut.

Tom Brook talks to the filmmakers and organisers of the festival and gives a preview of what to expect.

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