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Not Everybody’s Happy With Robert De Niro’s Resort Plans in Barbuda
The 17th annual Tribeca Film Festival opened Wednesday with pugnacious political words from Robert De Niro.
As the curtain went up on the 17th Tribeca, De Niro couldn't help using the festival's megawatt spotlight to direct his considerable ire at Trump.
De Niro has been among the most vocal and bluntest of Trump's critics, frequently excoriating the president. He has, for example, previously said he'd like to punch Trump in the face.
At a kickoff luncheon for press, De Niro referred to Trump as 'our Lowlife-in-Chief' and rejected what he referred to as the president's narrow definition of America.
Robert De Niro (left) took shots at President Trump (right) Wednesday night as his Tribeca Film Festival had its opening night
Festival organizers said this year's Tribeca has been programmed with some of De Niro's fighting spirit.
'In the face of this inhumanity, we stand definitely against the forces that are tearing our country apart from the inside,' said Jane Rosenthal, who co-founded the festival with De Niro, said. 'We stand with Time's Up, Never Again and Black Lives Matter and underserved voices.'
Jane Rosenthal, the festival's co-founder, wore a Girl Power shirt to the festival's opening. 'In the face of this inhumanity, we stand definitely against the forces that are tearing our country apart from the inside,' she said
Some elements of this year's Tribeca, which runs through April 29, are pointedly political. The closing night selection is Liz Garbus' 'The Fourth Estate,' an upcoming Showtime documentary series that captures The New York Times reporting on Trump's first year in office. The Jay-Z produced series 'Rest in Power: The Travyon Martin Story' documents the 2012 shooting of the 17-year-old in Florida.
The festival will also hold a daylong Time's Up event on April 28, featuring hours of conversations with the initiative advocating for gender equality. Of the festival's 99 features, 46 per cent are directed by women, the most in Tribeca's history. Rosenthal has credited that percentage in part with the makeup of Tribeca Enterprises, which she said is 80 per cent female.
The festival opened just days after De Niro appeared on Saturday Night Live as Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a sketch. Wednesday on the 'Today' show, De Niro said he would like to reprise the part.
'I hope there's a couple where I interrogate him then I arrest him and then I escort him to jail,' De Niro said, referring to President Donald Trump.
Opposition slams plans for Robert De Niro’s 250Million mega resort in Barbuda
AMERICAN ACTOR ROBERT DE NIRO (LEFT) AND HIS BILLIONAIRE BUSINESS PARTNER JAMES PACKER WHO ARE PLANNING TO REVAMP AND REOPEN THE K CLUB.
At least one group of Barbudans is still not ready to roll out the red carpet for American actor Robert De Niro and his billionaire business partner James Packer who are planning to revamp and reopen the K Club.
The resort, which became famous after Princess Diana vacationed there with her two sons, Princes William and Harry, was closed 12 years ago.
Two years ago, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda agreed to lease 555 acres of land on Barbuda to Packer and DeNiro’s company, Paradise Found, on a 198-year lease for US$6.2 million.
And according to the Telegraph, the investors are also seeking to pump another US$250 million into the project over 10 years, only if authorities agree to lease 300 acres around the site.
However, more than 300 of Antigua’s sister isle’s 1,500 residents have signed a petition objecting to the development, saying it is too excessive.
The petition is being spearheaded by the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), which has gone to court to challenge the development.
Group leader Mackenzie Frank told the Telegraph, “too much is at stake.”
“No one objects to the K Club being re-opened, but they want so much extra land,” he said.
The BPM also took to the law courts last year to challenge the Paradise Found Act, which the Government approved after agreeing to De Niro’s proposal in February 2015.
Frank insists the Act is unconstitutional and it contradicts the Barbuda Land Act.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has acknowledged the group’s right to protest, but he remains fully supportive of the development.
“We respect their right to protest, and similarly they ought to respect our right to attract good, sound, tangible investments that grow the economy and put people back to work,” he said.
Meanwhile, liaison officer between the government and the investors, Ambassador-at-large Gilbert Boustany has disclosed that the project is set to get underway during the first quarter of next year. He told the Antigua Observer, the legal action would not affect the project.
“There is no injunction; there is no stop order or anything like that on the project. And I will go further to say the people of Barbuda and even the ones who brought the action fully support the project and would love it. They are just not happy, from their point of view, with the way government handled the process,” Boustany said.
Actor Robert De Niro and Antiguan government sign US250Million property development deal
Plans by Hollywood actor Robert De Niro and Australian tycoon James Packer to build a US$250 million mega resort at one of the late Princess Diana’s favourite Caribbean hideaways, Barbuda, are being met with stiff resistance with opponents accusing government of trampling citizens’ rights to push the project through.
Last week’s passage of the “Paradise Found” bill by the Antigua and Barbuda parliament paved the way for the 391-acre development, to be located on the site of the derelict K Club, which closed in 2004.
The new law, named for the De Niro-Packer resort brand, gives the celebrity partners attractive incentives, including a 25-year tax holiday, in return for building the exclusive beachfront resort, which features a yacht marina and a new airport on Barbuda.
Opponents nevertheless say that the new law, which was passed within hours of its first reading, will “wipe out” sections of existing legislation.
Critics say that among the provisions stripped by the new law are the right of the elected Barbuda Council to consider and approve large-scale property deals on the island, and the population’s shared ownership of its land.
Plans for the mega-resort, which include an eco-lodge and more than 40 upmarket cottages, each with a private pool, call for the grant of a government lease for 140 acres in addition to the 251 acres once occupied by the old K Club, The Guardian reports.
“What the government is doing and the way they are proceeding is wrong,” said opposition leader Harold Lovell, whose fellow senators from the United Progressive Party (UPP) voted against the bill.
“A very bad precedent has been set. Every other investor could legitimately claim the wish to have some parliamentary force to give them whatever they desire.
“We are being asked to trample on an act that enshrines the rights of the people of Barbuda to hold land in common and have a say in terms of any major developments.”
A year ago, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne made De Niro a “special economic envoy” in the hope of attracting more celebrity investment to the country.
Browne also hailed the American actor as “a visionary” for his work in hotel development, including a Macau casino project with fellow Hollywood giants Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese.
Progress has nevertheless been slow since, and a referendum on the island in March that approved the project by a narrow majority is now facing a legal challenge by the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), which claims the result was illegitimate because non-Barbudans were allowed to vote.
The prime minister said the government was merely acting decisively to get the project back on track.
“We did what we had to do,” Browne said. “We went the extra mile to get the project out of political deadlock and get it moving.
“If they’re going to protest with the hope that we lose the investment they’ll have to account to the people of Antigua and Barbuda.”
BPM leader and opposition leader on the Barbuda Council Trevor Walker said his group’s main objection was not the project itself, but the “grave disrespect” shown by the government to the residents of the island.
Senator Jacqui Quinn, another opposition lawmaker, accused members of the governing Antigua Labour Party of “an unpatriotic, callous abuse of power” during debate on the bill, which attracted about 400 protesters.
Browne said the project would bring a huge financial windfall for the country and generate hundreds of jobs to an island that has struggled economically.
An advance payment of US$1.85 million from the De Niro partnership after the vote in March helped to clear a 20-week wage backlog for 600 Barbuda Council workers.
“We respect their right to protest, and similarly they ought to respect our right to attract good, sound, tangible investments that grow the economy and put people back to work,” the prime minister said.
The Antigua and Barbuda government says it has signed an agreement with international film star, Robert De Niro, for an investment project valued at over US$250 million.
A government statement said that De Niro and Prime Minister Gaston Browne signed the agreement “giving the green light to the renovation and expansion of the K-Club on Barbuda into an exclusive 5-Star resort.
“We are indeed very delighted that you will be embarking on a very exciting project on Barbuda, transforming the island, making it one of the most exciting islands in the region. Your project has increased interest in Barbuda.
“The project is attracting additional investors to our country. That is why I am delighted to appoint you as a Special Economic Envoy of Antigua and Barbuda to attract more investments to our twin island state. It is my belief that your celebrity status will attract more American celebrities to Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean,” Prime Minister Browne said.
He described Barbuda as a diamond in the rough and will make a net positive contribution to the economy of the twin-island state.
“Your involvement in Barbuda shows that you Mr. De Niro, Mr. James Packer and your team are pioneers and visionary – recognizing that Barbuda represents a unique proposition for investment, giving you the opportunity to carve out a particular niche.”
“My government is very happy to be a part of this historic and significant moment. Your presence as an international celebrity is of significance and to have you as an investor and a friend of the people of Antigua and Barbuda and an economic envoy is equally significant.
“ Today is indeed an historic day for our nation and we are very pleased to have you and your team here and we are hoping that within thirty days we can conclude the deal and construction can begin in the next twelve months providing employment to the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” Prime Minister Browne told the American actor.
The award winning actor who has appeared in over 90 films, said that he was happy and excited to do business in Barbuda and pointed out the project will be unique and “great.”
Parliamentary Representative for Barbuda, Arthur Nibbs, said that De Niro was inheriting a great property and had taken over the establishment to renovate and expand under the “Paradise Found” brand.