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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Kidman UN film kicks off festival
Nicole Kidman with United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan at the Tribeca Film Festival
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan mingled with stars at the premiere
Nicole Kidman, Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn were among the stars at the opening of Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Tuesday.

They were joined by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan for the US premiere of Kidman and Penn's thriller The Interpreter, set in the UN.

De Niro set up the festival after 11 September 2001 to revitalise Manhattan.

It has now become a fixture on the film calendar, with Mariah Carey and Elle Macpherson also at the opening gala.

Other stars at the Ziegfeld Theater included actresses Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz and Ellen Barkin, plus singer Sheryl Crow.

Actor Robert De Niro, festival founder Jane Rosenthal and actor Sean Penn
Robert De Niro and Sean Penn with festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal
The Interpreter director Sydney Pollack said: "It's more alive, more lively than any other city."

He was also celebrating taking the top spot in the UK and Ireland box office chart.

The Interpreter took almost 1.6m between Friday and Sunday, beating The Amityville Horror into second place with 1.3m.

The Tribeca festival will showcase more than 250 films during its 13-day run, including 60 world premieres.

Previous years have opened with About a Boy (2002), Down With Love (2003) and Raising Helen (2004).

'Right tone'

Jane Rosenthal, who co-founded the festival with De Niro, said the choice of The Interpreter reflected a change in mood since 11 September 2001.

She said: "In the first couple of years we did the film festival, we needed a comedy and we needed to laugh down here, and we very specifically looked for pictures that were going to let us laugh.

"We were trying to strike the right tone, blocks from Ground Zero. It was so much about trying to give our community a new memory.

"Now the neighbourhood is up on its feet more and I think you can have a picture like The Interpreter to open the festival."

9/11 stories

Half of the 250 films being shown are from the US, with the other half coming from 44 different countries.

World premieres include The Great New Wonderful, which interweaves five stories of post-9/11 New York, and a remake of the horror classic House of Wax co-starring Paris Hilton.

Other highlights include acclaimed BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares, about Islamic fundamentalism, and a drive-in-style showing of Mad Hot Ballroom, a documentary about New York school kids learning how to dance.

"I think it's a stronger film programme than ever, and part of the reason is when you mature a little bit, you get better," Rosenthal added.



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