David Kwok is the Director of Programming for the annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York since its inception in 2002. In addition to his programming duties, David created and developed Tribeca All Access, a program to foster relationships between traditionally under-represented filmmakers from the US, Australia, the UK, and Canada with industry.
Prior to Tribeca, David spent five years at the New Festival, the organizer of the annual New York LGBT Festival. He has also held posts in specialty marketing and events.
Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2001 following the attacks on the World Trade Center to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan through an annual celebration of film, music and culture. The Festival’s mission focuses on assisting filmmakers to reach the broadest possible audience, enabling the international film community and general public to experience the power of cinema and promoting New York City as a major filmmaking center. Since its founding, the Festival has attracted over two million attendees from the US and abroad and has generated more than $425 million in economic activity for New York City.
Connection to the British Council?
At first, the British Council helped collect short films to submit to the Tribeca Film Festival. Over time, the relationship has grown between Tribeca and the British Council. This year, the British Council hosted myself and Senior Programmer Genna Terranova in London. It was a highly productive trip that helped us connect better with the British filmmaking community.
We just completed our eighth edition to tremendous success.
What originally turned you onto film?
Pretty much from just watching as many films as I could while growing up. And then I ended up studying film at university and here I am.
Career high so far?
I don’t know if there is a high yet. There have been peaks. I think for me, it’s the satisfaction from filmmakers at the Festival that keeps me going.
What was your first job in the film industry?
Interning at the New Festival while in university.
If I knew then what I know now...
I would say, especially now, that the global film industry is pretty small. Word travels fast so keep yourself in check. Put yourself out there but not in a way that taints your reputation.
What is your favourite British film?
I don’t know if I could say just one but I do remember seeing 'My Beautiful Laundrette' and it being one of the first western films that I had seen which showed Asian representation in a dramatic film.
If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be?
I would say any of the old ‘50s sci-fi b-movies. I would have loved to see how the filmmaking teams did the special effects and be creative about it.
What’s the first film you remember seeing?
It was either 'Jaws' or 'Star Wars'.
Your favourite line or scene from a film?
'Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns.'—Richard Vernon, The Breakfast Club. I have no idea but it’s the one line I always remember from that movie.
Favourite screen kiss?
Ashton Kuchar and Sean William Scott in Dude, Where’s My Car? It was so unexpected and hilarious.
Your favourite screen hero/villain
Pee-wee Herman in 'Pee-wee’s Big Adventure' was the best hero. He just is. Freddy Krueger from 'Nightmare on Elm Street' was the first film to really freak me out. I could handle Jason and Michael but not Freddy.
Who would play you in the film about your life?
I think I would be animated.