As the history books dictate, the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival began this morning with neither a bang nor a whimper, but instead, a rigorously managed press event. As with any film festival's opening ceremonies, the purpose of today's press conference seemed to be three-fold: it gave the Festival organizers a chance to communally pat backs; to tip the press off to various boldface names associated with the fest; and to lavish praise on the corporations that make it all possible.

It was a strange morning. I don't think I've ever seen a group of people seem generally less enthused about the project they were shilling. Monotone script reading seemed to be the order of the day, complete with minimal audience eye contact, and facial expressions ranging from glum to smug all around. There were a few moments of genuinely felt spontaneity. Tribeca Executive Director Peter Scarlet, who Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal introduced as "someone who hasn't seen the light of day in a long time," passionately pimped the very good Restored and Rediscovered sidebar, reminding us that preservation is important because "60% of films made don't exist anymore." Josh Lucas, speaking as both jury member and representative of Poseidon, also seemed genuinely amped whilst going through his bit; at the very least, he did it without a script.

The entirety of the event could be summed up in a single moment: Late in the program, Robert De Niro read a short speech, without looking up from the page, in a singularly lifeless tone. After finishing the line, "It's great that so many people seem to show so much enthusiastic support," De Niro paused – and the press corps burst into giggles.

My notes on the rest of the event follow after the break.