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By Mark Bell | April 23, 2010

No, I don’t mean that you should actually climb into my car and drive up to NYC next week for some on-location Tribeca Film Festival face-time. I mean you should sit in your livingroom, home office or pull your laptop into bed with you and hang out with me with the Tribeca Film Festival Virtual thingie-ma-bob.

This year, the Tribeca Film Festival is streaming all types of films, red carpets, panels and Q&As live as they happen via Tribeca Film Festival Virtual. This evening, for example, the festival will showcase for free viewers the red carpet for Ed Burns’s latest film, “Nice Guy Johnny,” followed by an online screening of the film for Virtual Premium passholders which is then followed by the post-screening Q&A for the film, again open for the free viewers. These types of live events will go on until April 30th, and Premium Virtual passholders will be able to catch all the events whenever they feel like it, archived or live.

I’ve already seen the live component in action, during the opening press conference earlier this week, and the live video looks good. Enough so that I felt prompted to write this entry, in an effort to let you know that Virtual exists, if that somehow got by you. Simply, if you want a taste of the Tribeca Film Festival and don’t want to leave your home, this is the way to do it.

It’ll be interesting to see if this beats out the 2010 Sundance Film Festival’s less-than-stellar YouTube screening experience. It definitely has the potential to do so; giving the upfront treatment to a home audience live just feels better to me than the normal “available on-demand the week of” indie film festival distribution model, but maybe that’s because, for me, the festival environment is such a big part of the experience.

If you’re checking out the Tribeca Film Festival Virtual this weekend, you’re not alone; I’m doing it too. And I tend to Twitter about it, so check either that feed or the feed at the top of the homepage here if you want to follow along. I plan on attending the festival in person at some point next week, but writer extraordinaire John Lichman is already at the festival, covering for Film Threat as I type. So say “hi” to John if you see him.

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