If there’s one thing about New York City it’s that the amount of culture you’ll find here is practically endless. And one great way the city likes to showcase its cultures is through film festivals.
Whether you’re into indie, love getting your pants scared off during a horror film, or simply just like to lounge out on the grass enjoying a movie al fresco, these NYC film festivals are must-attends. Find our 11 favorite New York film festivals below:
1. Lower East Side Film Festival
The Lower East Film Festival takes place in May, and includes both cinema and virtual screenings. This year will be the 13th annual iteration of the event, and it includes exclusive feature film premieres, specialty short showcases, industry panels, parties, and more. Learn more here.
When: May 4-8, 2023
Where: Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Ave. / DCTV Firehouse Cinema, 87 Lafayette St. / Virtual
The Tribeca Film Festival is put on by Tribeca Enterprises, a multi-platform media and entertainment company founded in 2003 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff. The festival works to bring together artists and audiences to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, music, audio storytelling, games, and immersive. If you can’t make it to the festival in person you can also participate in at-home virtual screenings.
When: June 7-18, 2023
Where: Not listed yet, check back here
3. New York City Independent Film Festival
The 15th Annual New York City Independent Film Festival will provide a showcase for the best independent cinema from NYC and around the world. The weeklong celebration shows the best indie films, but beyond that it also offers educational panels and presentations by industry professionals and holds live performances. The festival is held each year in June. Learn more about it here.
Where: Producers Club, 358 West 44th St.
4. New York Asian Film Festival
The New York Asian Film Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exhibition and appreciation of Asian film culture. Each year since 2002 the New York Asian Film Festival celebrates the best and boldest in Asian cinema, and it continues to introduce vibrant and vital voices ranging from explosive blockbusters to eccentric arthouse gems. Learn more on their website here.
Where: Various locations
5. Central Park Film Festival
If outdoor film festivals are your thing, we suggest you checking out the Central Park Film Festival. Typically, it takes place in mid-August and offers four days of free entertainment. This year will marks the festival’s 20th showing, so we’re sure the lineup will be extremely good. Stay up to date on their website here.
When: Typically mid-August
Where: Central Park, between Sheep Meadow and the 72nd Street Cross Drive
Though not technically a film festival, each summer Bryant Park hosts a number of free movie nights. The screenings typically take place on Monday evenings from June through August, and the lineup has just been released! Specific info for this year’s series has not yet been released, but you can keep an eye on it here.
When: Typically June-August
Where: Bryant Park Lawn
The Greenpoint Film Festival started in 2011, and they eventually had to shift their screenings to a drive-in model during the pandemic. Though last year they locked in a venue to provide drive-in, bike-in, and walk-in screenings! The festival focuses on giving voices to the voiceless in the filmmaking industry while at the same time bringing together the Greenpoint neighborhood.
When: Typically in September
Where: 211 Meserole Ave.
Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, The New York Film Festival has been a centerpiece of NY Film culture since 1963, and year after year since it continues to captivate audiences by cinematic works from all around the world. The festival takes place every fall, typically between September and October.
When: Every fall, typically between September and October
Where: Film at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, and Alice Tully Hall
9. NewFest – LGBTQ+ Film Festival
Founded in 1988 in direct response to the AIDS crisis, NewFest is New York’s largest presenter of LGBTQ+ film & media. Their mission is to give voice and visibility to the wide scope of LGBTQ+ experiences through films and programs that entertain, educate, and empower, and they’ve been a vital force in NYC’s queer cultural scene. Learn more on their website here.
When: Typically in October
Where: Throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn
10. New York Kurdish Film Festival
Established in 2017, the New York Kurdish Film Festival is a 3-day film fest takes place every fall. In recent years, the festival’s venue has been Village East by Angelika in the East Village, and the festival’s program typically features a combination of short and feature-length films, dramas, documentaries, and animations, all from various regions of Kurdistan. Learn more on their website here.
When: Every fall
Where: Village East by Angelika, East Village
11. New York City Horror Film Festival
Established in 2001, New York City Horror Film Festival (NYCHFF) is America’s largest and most recognized genre film festival around the world, focusing solely on Horror and Science Fiction. Each year the festival celebrates both the horror classics many people grew up with alongside the new horror films & filmmakers who created them. They screen approximately 50-60 films each year, which are bound to give you the chills. Learn more on their website.
When: December 7th to 10th – In person / December 8th to 11th – Virtual
Where: Village East by Angelika, East Village