The Best Film Festivals in New York City | Top 10 Film Festivals NYC

Posted by Grant Patten on Feb 9, 2021 7:50:29 AM

The Best Film Festivals in New York City | Top 10 Film Festivals NYC

Best film festivals in New York City

Let’s provide an overview of some of the best film festivals in New York City. Of course, there are other good film festivals in the area and this list isn’t comprehensive; however, the below festivals are certainly among the most notable in NYC.

We’ll discuss (in no particular order):

  1. New York City Independent Film Festival
  2. Tribeca Film Festival
  3. Manhattan Film Festival
  4. Brooklyn Film Festival
  5. DOC NYC
  6. Queens World Film Festival
  7. Asian American International Film Festival
  8. African Film Festival
  9. New York International Children's Film Festival
  10. Havana Film Festival in New York


New York City Independent Film Festival


Founded in 2009, the New York City Independent Film Festival (NYCIndieFF) has screened over 1,800 movies from 81 different countries since it began. The festival aims to discover the auteur filmmaker, showcasing them to the entertainment industry and the NYC public.

NYCIndieFF confers a variety of awards, including Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary, Best Short Documentary and Best Short Narrative. This festival also awards distribution deals for short films to be broadcast on ShortsTV. 

Tribeca Film Festival

Film festival: TribecaSource: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1896276328, Shutterstock


Arguably, New York’s most famous film festival is Tribeca, co-founded by actor Robert De Niro. He co-founded the festival in 2002 to spur economic and cultural revitalization of Lower Manhattan following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Each year, the festival hosts over 600 screenings. Awards conferred at Tribeca include Best U.S. Narrative Feature, Best New Narrative Filmmaker, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short and the Nora Ephron Prize. 

Manhattan Film Festival


The Manhattan Film Festival (MFF) is an annual film festival that was founded in 2006 by filmmakers. The goal of the festival is to help independent filmmakers find an audience for their work and connect with likeminded individuals in the indie film community.

Awards conferred at MFF include the Buzz Award, the Film Heals Award and the New York Spotlight Award. In 2012, MFF was named one of “25 Film Festivals worth the Entry Fee” by MovieMaker Magazine.

Brooklyn Film Festival


The Brooklyn Film Festival (BFF) is an independent film festival established in 1998. The festival’s mission is to “discover, expose and promote independent filmmakers while drawing worldwide attention to Brooklyn as a center for cinema.”

Roughly, half of films submitted and shown at BFF are by US filmmakers, with the rest coming from Europe and other parts of the globe. The most prestigious award given out at BFF is the Grand Chameleon for best film. Other awards include the Spirit Award, the Audience Award and Certificates of Outstanding Achievement.

BFF also oversees the annual KidsFilmFest for children and families. 



Date: The 2021 DOC NYC will be held from Nov 10 – 18.

DOC NYC is an annual documentary film festival in New York City. This festival is the country's largest documentary film festival with over 300 films screened each year. DOC NYC is also an Academy-qualifying festival for short films. 

Awards conferred at this festival include the Audience Award, the Grand Jury Prize, the Shorts Grand Jury Prize, the Directing Award and the Producing Award. 

Queens World Film Festival

The Queens World Film FestivalSource: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 460940548, Shutterstock


The Queens World Film Festival is “dedicated to screening exciting and innovative films as a means to spark conversation and further understanding of the experiences of others.” The festival’s Youth Initiative, public screenings in alternative spaces, community building and multimedia events all support and develop filmmakers.

Awards conferred at the festival include Best First Feature, Best Animation, Best Experimental Short, Best LGBTQ Short and the Special Jury Prize for Best Student Film. 

Asian American International Film Festival


The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is an international film festival held annually in New York City to showcase the works of both emerging and experienced Asian and Asian American filmmakers and media artists across a diverse range of genres and styles.

Founded in 1978, this film festival is organized by Asian CineVision (ACV), a non-profit media arts organization. Awards conferred at AAIFF include the Special Jury Prize, the Emerging Director Award, the Excellence in Short Documentary Filmmaking Award and the Excellence in Short Narrative Filmmaking Award.

African Film Festival

Lincoln Center: NYAFFSource: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 60234184, Shutterstock 


The annual New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) is curated around a timely theme and presented in collaboration with the Lincoln Center (pictured).

Founded in 1990, this festival is dedicated to promoting greater understanding of African culture through film. Classic and contemporary films are screened here, including rarely seen archival works.

New York International Children's Film Festival


The New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) is an annual Oscar-qualifying film festival founded in 1997 “to support the creation and dissemination of thoughtful, provocative, and intelligent film for children and teens ages 3-18.”

The flagship NYC festival has grown from one weekend of films into the largest film festival for children and teens in North America. Audience members of all ages vote on the films.

Awards conferred at NYICFF include Best Animation, Best Live Action Short Narrative and Best Live Action Short Documentary. 

Havana Film Festival in New York


The Havana Film Festival in New York (HFFNY) is an international film festival known as the Cuban and Latin American cinema celebration. The films screened at this festival demonstrate the richness of Cuban culture and its global effects, including NY, US and world premieres of contemporary Cuban cinema.

Awards conferred at HFFNY include Best Director, Best Film, Best Screenplay and Special Jury Mentions. 

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