For any filmmaker, having your work premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival is an incredible feat. But Tisch alumna Emily Harrold has accomplished something beyond even that.
Harrold, only 22 years old and a member of NYU’s class of 2012, was the youngest director at this year’s festival. Harrold’s short documentary, “Reporting on the Times: The New York Times and the Holocaust,” premiered at Tribeca on April 20.
The documentary, which exposes the truth behind The New York Times’ lack of coverage during the Holocaust — despite being a Jewish-run newspaper — is inspired by Laurel Leff’s book “Buried by the Times” and was featured at the Student Academy Awards in 2012.
Tribeca is an entirely different experience, especially when you’re the youngest filmmaker there.
“It was crazy,” Harrold said. “When I first found out I was the youngest, I was totally overwhelmed. Tribeca is such a preeminent festival, and I was nervous about stacking up.”
“But it was really great,” she added. “I had the opportunity to meet a lot of successful directors, and I was continually impressed by how down-to-earth everyone was.”
“In the end, we are all filmmakers, very excited to have our films playing at Tribeca,” Harrold added.
Still, Harrold admitted that the festival did have its difficulties.
“By far, the biggest challenge was fitting everything into a short amount of time,” Harrold said. “Tribeca runs for 11 days, and we, the filmmakers, are squeezing in as many films, parties and meetings as possible. It is the supreme balancing act. But, as NYU students know, running on little sleep can also be super liberating. I have walked up to and spoken to people I never would have otherwise.”
For all the big names that Harrold was able to meet at the festival, Danny Strong, actor and NYU professor best known for his work on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” may stand out the most in Harrold’s memory. Strong presented the Jury Mention Award to Harrold in the festival’s Student Category.
“Danny Strong, who I immediately recognized from ‘Gilmore Girls,’ began to speak about a film that really stood out to [the jurors] and brought attention to the world of journalism and one of the biggest newspapers,” Harrold said. “It was sort of an out-of-body experience. I’m not sure it has really sunk in.”
The experience isn’t over, as Harrold will be holding New York screenings in the coming months. She is also excited to continue working on new projects, particularly one about a woman named Miriam Moskowitz, a 96-year-old felon who was suspected of being a communist spy in the 1950s.
Having had the experience of a lifetime, Harrold feels prepared for all her future filmmaking endeavors.
“When I think about who I was and what I thought I was capable of even a year ago, I am very amazed by how far I have come,” Harrold said. “I now feel I can call myself a filmmaker.”
Jeremy Grossman is film editor. Email him at [email protected]