NYC’s 5 Best Film Festivals For Spring 2014

March 19, 2014 2:20 PM

Ah, springtime in New York. The trees are budding, the snow is melting, and film festivals are popping up all over town. Here are our favorites. By Jessica Allen.

The New York African Film Festival, now in its 21st year, begins at Walter Reade Theatre of Lincoln Center from May 7 to May 13, moves to the Maysles Cinema Institute from May 15 to May 18, and concludes at BAM Rose Cinemas from May 23 to May 26. You have no reason not to go. The festival seeks to expand opportunities for African cinema in the US, to develop a non-African audience for African movies, and to promote African culture in all its manifestations.

For the past 15 years, the Havana Film Festival has celebrated Latin American cinema. This year, the festival runs from April 3 to April 11, and includes more than 40 shorts, features, documentaries, animated movies, and indies made by filmmakers in/from Chile, Cuba, Peru, Brazil, and the United States, among other countries. In addition to celebrating work by and about these diverse communities, the festival includes panel discussions to give audience members an inside look at the industry and at the issues being portrayed on screen.

New Directors/New Films specializes in movies you might not have heard of, but should have. This year, the festival—a collaboration between the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center—includes 27 features and two programs of short works from around the world. It begins on March 19, and runs through March 30. We’re especially looking forward to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a vampire movie set in Iran, and Fish & Cat, a horror movie filmed in one continuous shot.

This festival celebrates the kiddies as well as those movies designed to entertain, enlighten, and empower them. For four weeks, the New York International Children’s Film Festival screens movies from around the world, including shorts, cartoons, and features, all designed to appeal to those ages 3 to 18. You won’t find standard Disney fare here, however; most of the movies sit squarely in the art house camp. All the more reason to expose young minds. The festival opened on March 7, and closes on March 30.

Established by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff, partly to revitalize Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11, the Tribeca Film Festival receives roughly 6,100 submissions each year, with more than 380,000 people attending the screenings of those that made the cut. The movies here tend to be more mainstream than at some of the other festivals on this list, so expect red carpets, spotlights, and lots of press at some premieres. This year’s festival runs from April 16 through April 27.

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