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Mandela, Clinton launch NY's Tribeca Film Festival
( 2002-05-09 11:01 ) (7 )

Former US President Bill Clinton and South Africa's Nelson Mandela joined several movie stars on Wednesday to open the first Tribeca Film Festival, a celebration of independent movies that organizers hope will help revitalize lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Actors Robert De Niro, one of the festival's founders, Hugh Grant, Kevin Spacey and Whoopi Goldberg were among those on hand at New York City Hall with the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and New York Gov. George Pataki to open the five-day festival that ends on Sunday with the New York premiere of the new Star Wars movie, "Attack of the Clones."

The festival had been in the works before Sept. 11, but organizers said in announcing it in December that it took on added significance after the attacks on New York's World Trade Center that killed more than 2,800 people.

Tribeca, where De Niro has lived for 20 years, is just north of the World Trade Center site, and businesses in the area were hard hit after the attacks.

Mandela, the former South African president, said he was honored to be invited to the opening and reflected on the September attacks.

"We cannot come to New York without remembering the horror of September 11, 2001," the said. "In many ways the world still lives in the aftershock of those terrible events, and the people of this city must surely still be feeling those aftereffects in their daily lives.

"The collective sorrow of a community often brings out the strength and resilience of human beings. We have watched with admiration how the people of this city rallied the community to cope with the tragedy of the events (of Sept. 11)."

The festival features scores of film screenings, discussion sessions and a street festival and is expected to bring thousands of people into the area.

"Our goal was to celebrate the power of filmmaking and@importantly to revitalize our neighborhood, which was devastated on September 11, " De Niro said.

"The past months have been a time of great mourning in New York," he said, before calling for a moment of silence. 



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