Annual NYC Film Festivals

Brian Sloan

(Updated 11/14/2018)

New York City is known for its cinema culture, bolstered by a diverse lineup of film festivals happening year-round. The City’s longest-running such annual event—fall’s New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center—has been highlighting new American and international films since 1963, while the largest is April’s Tribeca Film Festival, which screens around 100 feature films and attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees. Besides those two tentpoles, a host of other movie celebrations takes place throughout the year, covering all kinds of subjects and featuring films from near and far. Here are the festivals to have on your radar (months indicate when the event traditionally begins)

Winter

New York Jewish Film Festival (January)
Co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Jewish Museum, this celebration of international cinema considers the richness and diversity of the Jewish experience worldwide.

New York International Children’s Film Festival (February)
Set over four weekends, this festival is known for its wide variety of films, showing everything from Academy Award–winning animated shorts to international features; programming covers kids ages 3 to 18.

New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival (March)
This festival celebrates Jewish culture in the Middle East, and its Pomegranate Awards for Sephardi Excellence in the Arts are bestowed on filmmakers, actors and screenwriters.

New Directors/New Films. Photo: Sean DiSerio

New Directors/New Films (March)
With a specific focus on first- and second-time filmmakers, New Directors at the Museum of Modern Art is the place to discover the newest talents on the international cinema scene.

Spring

Havana Film Festival New York (April)
In collaboration with Havana’s International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, this NYC celebration of Latin American film and filmmakers takes place in Midtown and presents a selection of films from countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Puerto Rico.

Courtesy, Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival (April)
Tribeca is the biggest film festival in NYC, with an expansive program of narratives, docs and shorts as well as episodic and even experimental works. There are also many free events and panel discussions, along with gala opening- and closing-night screenings of major feature films.

Fashion in Film Festival (April)
Imported from London, the US version of this festival takes place at the Museum of the Moving Image and presents a mix of older and newer films centered around fashion.

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Harlem International Film Festival (May)
This festival offers a broad lineup of films at the MIST Harlem event space, plus panels, meetups and parties at venues across the historic uptown neighborhood.

New York Indian Film Festival (May)
The breadth of Indian cinema is covered at this weeklong festival, which is meant to entertain as well as educate. You’ll find the best of Bollywood, independent documentaries about life on the Indian subcontinent and a whole lot more.

Courtesy, Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival

Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival (May)
This cleverly titled fest shows a mix of shorts, docs and features about the world’s most popular sport and the culture surrounding it.

Summer

Rooftop Films Summer Series (May–August)
For more than a decade, this festival has hosted screenings on rooftops and other unusual venues over the course of the summer, providing a wide-ranging look at the state of indie cinema in the US and around the world.

Brooklyn Film Festival (June)
Across 10 days in June, this festival presents nearly 150 films in Brooklyn with the aim of celebrating the borough’s cinematic history while looking at new work from local and international filmmakers.

The Lower East Side Film Festival (June)
With an eye on the best up-and-coming filmmakers, this festival presents a range of features at venues in and around the Lower East Side, along with panels and red-carpet-style events.

New York Television Festival (July)
While technically not a “film” festival, this upstart has become a showcase for new talents who are creating scripted and nonscripted shows in multiple, episodic formats.

New York Asian Film Festival. Photo: Kaoko Nakamura

New York Asian Film Festival (July)
For more than two weeks, the best in Asian cinema is screened at Lincoln Center and in Chelsea at this competitive and prestigious roundup.

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Latino Film Festival (August)
This festival, sponsored by HBO, presents a mix of US and international narratives and docs representing the best in Latin American cinema.

New York Film Festival. Photo: Sean DiSerio

Fall

New York Film Festival (September)
In addition to a main slate filled with potential awards-season contenders and the best in contemporary world cinema, this festival at Lincoln Center has sidebars featuring documentaries, restorations, retrospectives and experimental films.

Coney Island Film Festival (September)
Cinema by the seashore is the focus of this homegrown, quirky festival that features local Brooklyn films—especially those about America’s playground, the legendary Coney Island.

Courtesy, All American High School Film Festival

All-American High School Film Festival (October)
Students from across the country come to NYC to screen their nascent efforts on the big screens of Times Square’s AMC multiplex.

Courtesy, Imagine Science Film Festival

Imagine Science Film Festival (October)
The New York Hall of Science, the Rubin Museum and the New School serve as homes for this festival that looks at science from all different angles; you’ll find features, docs, shorts and special programs geared toward children, too.

Courtesy, NewFest

NewFest (October)
NewFest celebrates LGBTQ culture with features, docs and shorts that reflect the wide variety of queer experience and expression from filmmakers around the world.

Margaret Mead Film Festival. Courtesy, AMNH.

Margaret Mead Film Festival (October)
Named after the famed anthropologist, this long-running festival at the American Museum of Natural History mainly screens documentaries that consider the human experience around the globe.

Courtesy, Architecture & Design Film Festival

Architecture & Design Film Festival (October)
October in NYC is Archtober—a month to discover the ins and outs of the City’s architecture. This festival is part of that celebration, featuring documentaries (as well as some narrative films) about famous architects and classic buildings.

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Doc NYC (November)
New York’s premier documentary festival presents more than 100 films—both shorts and features—that explore a wide range of real-life subjects and compelling true stories. Venues include the IFC Center, SVA Theatre and Cinepolis.

New York City Horror Film Festival (November)
Whatever you do, don’t go in the theater! Unless, that is, you love to be scared. This fest features a frightening lineup of creepy new releases and horror classics guaranteed to make you quake.

NYC Food Film Festival. Photo: Noah Fecks

Food Film Festival (November)
This unique celebration of food and film serves up tasty shorts and features along with a side of actual cuisine, served at the theater. You can also expect to see some celebrity chefs, both on screen and off.

African Diaspora Film Festival (November)
For more than 20 years, this festival has screened films about Africa and its people, with a focus on works by both established and emerging filmmakers.


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