I am coming to you live from the Cadillac® Tribeca Press Lounge (which is actually in Chelsea), eating a bag of Lays® potato chips, drinking a Diet Coke® (other options were water, either of the Smart® or Vitamin® variety), and sitting next to an actual Cadillac® automobile. Should I go sit and get some MAC® makeup put on? Or go enjoy the Getty® Portrait Studio? Maybe I'll just relax here against my American Express® pillow. So many options!
I kid, I kid. Yes the Tribeca Film Festival is heavily branded, but it'd have to be, given the surprisingly large operation it is. It's a sprawling affair. Perhaps the biggest gripe about the festival is that it's not really in Tribeca at all. Well, parts of it are. Panels and whatnot take place down at the Borough of Manhattan Community college, but screenings are in Chelsea and the East Village, with various other venues sprinkled in between. So there's a lot of schlepping, though for the most part people who write about movies could use the exercise, so it's probably not worth complaining about.
Of course there are parties and oodles of celebrities flooding downtown Manhattan throughout the festival, but that's all the fancy nighttime stuff, for the glitterati (and press that wants to wander around getting quotes). The real bulk and grind of the festival is the middle-of-the-day screenings, which are decidedly less glamorous. Here is where movie critics and bloggers and other assorted troglodytes (myself included) get the chance to hobknob with the hip elderly folks of New York City who don't have to be at work. Jostling and jockeying for the best seats is de rigeur, and a strange set of social rules tends to emerge. Someone can hold a seat with a coat or a bag, but they cannot disappear for too long. Tasking a stranger to defend your position for a few minutes is fine, an expected courtesy, but (and this is a particular ahem to a particular lady from this morning) asking a certain person (ahem) to guard your seat for twenty minutes, fending off hordes of blue-hairs and confused French film critics all the while, is not acceptable. There's a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode vaguely about this — how long can you expect someone to "Mind watching my stuff for a sec?" — that should be required viewing before seat-saving begins.