The street in front of Balthazar restaurant was shut down last night to make way for photographers and the media, as members of the art, fashion, and film communities came together for Chanel’s annual Artists dinner at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Outside, cameras flashed like lightening, but that was left behind once guests were safely ensconced in the trendy downtown eatery, which was packed to capacity. Waiters could barely move about the room to offer champagne or hors d'oeuvres during the cocktail hour, as the attendees—most of whom knew each other—genuinely wanted to take the time to mingle and chat. Upon each seat was the gift of an art book—a tradition of the dinner, now in it’s eleventh year.
The eclectic mix of notable guests, which included festival founder Robert De Niro, Emily Mortimer, Dree Hemingway, Katie Holmes, Leelee Sobieski, Chloë Sevigny, photographer Bruce Weber, sculptor Daniel Arsham, Jamie Bochert, and Julia Restoin Roitfeld (many of whom were decked out in Chanel, naturally) spoke to the common ground that is held by many in creative fields. “It’s really about the people, you don’t come here for the food,” explained Rus Yusupov, the co-founder of a little app called Vine (perhaps you’ve heard of it?), who attended last year as well. “Bumping into old friends, and new faces…I mean, it’s kind of the hottest dinner on this block.”
Other repeat guests included Hemingway, whose latest film, Live Cargo, premiered at the festival last week. “It’s nice to have a film out here that’s in competition,” said the actress. “I think it’s always fun to be in New York during movie events, because you get the best of both worlds—fashion and film.”
Indeed, the TFF encapsulates the nature of New York, a multi-industry city, and has historically had a strong connection with fashion (this year The First Monday in May, a film about the Met Gala, kicked off the festival, while last year The Artist is Absent, a short documentary on Martin Margiela, debuted). “For me, fashion is art, and it’s good that they join forces, especially in New York,” explained Roitfeld, who found it strange that the festival itself was not adequately promoted by the film industry. “It should be a much better, bigger deal, and its funny that fashion has to promote it. It’s great that they’re doing it.”
The Chanel dinner, which was held to honor the artists who contributed works to the Tribeca Film Festival Artist Awards Program, is a partnership that truly bonds this support system. Unlike other film festivals, which award trophies or cash prizes to their top films, the program (which is also sponsored by the luxury fashion brand) bestows original works of art upon their filmmakers, a practice that promotes mutual support between artists of different mediums. Artists such as Keith Edmier, Virginia Overton, and Josh Tonsfeldt, among others, each personally selected and contributed an original work of art to the collection, which was curated by Alex Gartenfeld.
Luckily, for those who were not at the dinner, the artworks are on view to the public at 50 Varick Street in Manhattan throughout the run of the festival, before they’re handed out to the TFF’s top talents. Seeing the films and viewing the works should be enough to spark conversation, and hopefully inspire others to discuss art over dinner.