New York City is one of the great cinema capitals of the world. On any given day, Manhattan moviegoers can catch some of the best new blockbusters and independent flicks, as well as revival screenings of beloved films. On top of that, there are many exceptional film festivals held throughout the year that invite cinephiles to see movies that they may not be able to view anywhere else.
Here, we've rounded up 10 of the best film festivals that Manhattan has to offer. Some are kingmakers come award season, and others highlight international voices and issues, but each of these festivals has a unique personality all its own.
New York Film Festival (NYFF)
For more than 50 years, the New York Film Festival has served as one of the country's most prestigious film festivals. A number of movies that premiere or screen at NYFF wind up on year-end lists and award ballots. Kicking off in late September (and running through mid-October), NYFF also has many retrospective/revival screenings and special events as part of the festival programming. Screenings for the films are held in various venues around Lincoln Center.
New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF)
The New York Asian Film Festival is one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the country, highlighting major films from China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Presented by Subway Cinema and held in late June through mid-July, NYAFF has featured some of the biggest international stars in-person for special events, including Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen. The majority of screenings take place at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater.
Tribeca Film Festival
Dating back to 2002, the Tribeca Film Festival has been a consistent showcase for exceptional international and independent cinema, with especially strong documentaries premiering each year. The festival is held in April, and screening venues include Regal Battery Park, the SVA Theater, and Tribeca Performing Arts Center.
Japan Cuts is a showcase focused solely on exciting, innovative, and important works of Japanese cinema both past and present. The film fest is held in July and dovetails out of the New York Asian Festival, which makes the middle of the summer an excellent time to be a fan of Asian cinema in New York City. Screenings are typically held at The Japan Society.
DOC NYC is a celebration of documentaries and nonfiction filmmaking, featuring hits from the festival circuit, as well as numerous features and shorts making their world and regional premieres. DOC NYC is held in November, with screenings typically taking place at the IFC Center and the SVA Theater.
New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF)
Typically held in March, the New York International Children's Film Festival affords a remarkable presentation of children's films, YA films, and family films from all over the globe. This includes animated features, live-action films, and an excellent collection of shorts. Screening venues include the Directors Guild of America Theater, IFC Center, and Village East Cinema.
New Directors/New Films
Presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New Directors/New Films presents some of the best contemporary cinema from around the planet. The festival is held in March, with screenings taking place at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater and MoMA's Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters.
Human Rights Watch Film Festival
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is an international film series committed to promoting global justice and bringing attention to worldwide human rights abuses. The festival programming is typically political, powerful, and unforgettable. The New York leg of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival takes place in June, with screenings held at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater and the IFC Center.
Scary Movies at Lincoln Center
Held from late October through early November, the Scary Movies series at Lincoln Center hosts an excellent program of horror cinema around Halloween. Programming includes premieres of new films and screenings of horror classics and cult gems. The Scary Movies series is typically held at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
Film Comment Selects
Held in February, Film Comment Selects is a festival of modern films, avant-garde cinema, and classics that are hand-selected by the writers and editors of Film Comment magazine. Screenings are commonly held at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.