The Tribeca Film Festival is one of New York's most celebrated annual events, and in a lifetime of living here I have attended a total of zero times. In my defense, the program began when I was like 11, and my cinematic preferences varied from "There's Something About Mary" to whatever "Legally Blonde" sequel was released that year.
But I'm cultured now, right? I live in one of Vogue's hippest neighborhoods. I spend more than $12 on a bottle of vodka. I wear red lipstick and stuff. I should go to the Tribeca Film Festival. Nay, I deserve to go! They should be so lucky to have me! My film interests must have aligned with Robert DeNiro's to some extent after nearly 15 years. I have no excuse to not take part in this!
Oh, yeah, it costs money. And not just standard movie ticket, your-left-arm-and-first-born-child prices, but the kind of money that I do not make at the desk job that's a stone's throw from the TFF's center. Even if I could afford to attend a lot of these events, they go on during the weekday. Evening premieres are reserved for fancy industry people, and those who Googled "tribeca film fest media pass" several weeks before it occurred to me to do so. Ain't nobody got time (or the tax bracket) for that.
No matter - like every other sacred tradition, the TFF is full of corporate sponsorship. Enter Storyscapes, the Bombay Sapphire-funded event that promised a showcase of innovative art installations, cutting-edge documentaries, and most importantly, alcohol. At least, that's what I assumed it included. The event description was conveniently vague, focusing on "important" details like the filmmakers involved and the pieces being featured with only a small reference to a "Tonic Experience bar". I RSVP'ed regardless, and told everyone I can tolerate for a Saturday afternoon to do the same. If an event has "bar" anywhere in its summary, it's a pretty safe assumption that you can find me there. Especially if said event is being hosted by a gin distributor. Might as well be a trail of breadcrumbs guiding me home.
We arrived promptly for our 1 PM time slot at Spring Studios, and good thing we did - I was asked by no less than three event organizers if I had a reservation because it was booked solid for the day. We checked in and were given two drink tokens. This bode well for my assumed drinking activities.
The venue had a few floors of exhibits, but we bypassed that artsy stuff and headed to the Storyscapes Lounge, where our "Tonic Experience" was supposedly located. Booze wasn't the only thing being offered to us. An Illy booth was set up on the left side of the floor, where the coffee brand's reps were handing out free samples of the espresso and cappuccinos you could make with their knockoff Keurigs. There were bins overflowing with Illy cold brew cans, along with containers of Vitamin and Smart Water that was up for grabs. There was also a popcorn machine, with like, the best popcorn I have ever eaten. It was smothered in butter and herbs, and served as the perfect thing to fill my stomach up with before I poured gin into it. There was also a step-and-repeat where people could pose for pictures against a TFF backdrop on a red carpet, and look they were doing something way more elitist than daydrinking in warehouse.
The "Tonic Journey" was sectioned off behind a red velvet rope. Crossing through it as a large man nodded with approval at my blue wrist band in the same moment that he turned others away made me feel just about the coolest. I felt even cooler when we walked into the dimly-lit lounge and my roommate looked at the bartender and said, "Tommy?" Turned out that the man serving Bombay Sapphire signature cocktails was someone she'd known for years. This bode incredibly well for my assumed drinking activities. For a place with a population of 8 million, New York can be a very small city.
We gave Tommy our first drink tokens and he told us the three Bombay cocktails being offered - a gin gimlet, a Tom Collins, and a negroni. I opted for the first of these, mainly for its booze-to-juice ratio but also because negronis are disgusting. The drink was great, the mint and sugar perfectly balancing out the sourness of the lime while all three worked in harmony to mask that juniper flavor of the gin. By the second one, I was feeling pretty tipsy. I took that opportunity to eat some of the free food that kept coming out by the platter - there were sandwiches, hummus and vegetables, cheese and crackers, and an assortment of other finger foods that kept us from passing out over our tumblers.
My favorite part about this event was that the other attendees did not take the sport of free cocktailing as seriously as I do, and a ton of random people gave us their drink tokens. My second favorite part was that Tommy ignored when we ran out of said tokens and kept passing over drinks to our corner of the room. My third favorite part was that, even though the ticket said we could partake in the Tonic Experience for only an hour, no one kicked us out and we stayed for almost three.
My least favorite part? When we finally decided to check out the rest of the event, we were told that we didn't have the right color wrist band. Apparently to see any of the exhibits, we needed a green one. Story of my life.
It's too bad, because Storyscapes featured a lot of cool stuff I would have liked to see. There was a documentary about privacy and the web economy, a film experience where you got blindfolded and led on an aural journey, a virtual reality gallery that put you in the shoes of an Israeli-Palestine conflict survivor, a narrative series that allowed you see from the world from the perspective of someone else, and a film about an app that is part life coach, part know-it-all, and fully terrifying. All of the exhibits are up for the 2015 Storyscapes Award, and I'm sure that all of them are deserving of the honor. Unfortunately I can't confirm that since I wasn't allowed to see them. It's probably for the best, as I was flat-out drunk by the time I left that lounge and I doubt I would have appreciated them.
So, in conclusion - I am indeed cultured enough for the Tribeca Film Fest. Just not for any of the "film" part.
To check out the full list of TFF 2015 events, visit https://tribecafilm.com/festival.