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Under the Tribeca Film Fest Hoopla: Three Other Great NYC Film Festivals

The month of April brings along much more than the highly anticipated Tribeca Film Festival.  Although this big film event, founded by Robert De Niro,  Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff, is undeniably a highlight of the New York City film festival season, there are many other great festivals that fall a little under the press radar.    Here are three New York City film fests that we recommend adding to your event calendar.

Soho International Film Festival
Only in its third year, this newbie to the festival scene will be taking place from April 13-20 at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema.  First helmed in 2009, the festival was originally founded by a group of Filipino film lovers, headed up by Jorge Ballos.  While dedicated to featuring talented Filipino filmmakers, the programming slate features new and established filmmakers from around the world that utilize innovative digital technology while also celebrating traditional narrative storytelling.  With nearly 4,000 attendants last year, this year’s festival is sure to surpass that milestone.   Films to keep an eye out for are The Night Never Sleeps, directed by Fred Carpenter and written by career cop Mike Lovaglio, Nate Taylor’s Forgetting the Girl, and Alvin B. Yapan’s Ang Sayaw Ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (The Dance of Two Left Feet).

BeFilm The Underground Film Festival
Now in its eighth year, the BeFilm Underground Film Festival operates under the belief that “shorter is better.”  Considered a prime launching point for filmmakers, many past participants have gone on to premiere their work at other renowned festivals such as Sundance and Berlin.  As a festival that specializes in only showcasing cinema of the abbreviated persuasion, BeFilm first premiered in 2004 at Laurence Asseraf’s gallery “A Taste for Art,” which featured shorts from both local and international filmmakers.    Over 500 films are submitted yearly with only 50-75 of the best short films selected.  Categories include animation, documentary, experimental, spec, and narrative.  In 2009, BeFilm became the first film festival worldwide to provide the landmark 3D Stereoscopic Category for short films.  This year’s festival will take place from April 24-28, and venues will include The Dolby Screening Room, The Disney Screening Room, The Crosby Screening Room, and The Gershwin Hotel.

New York African Film Festival
In April, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and African Film Festival, Inc.  will team up to bring you the 19th New York African Film Festival.  Beginning April 11, the festival will continue for two months, featuring screenings, exhibitions, workshops and events in multiple venues.  Under the banner theme of 21st Century: The Homecoming, the festival will feature works that explore the concepts of home and homelands.  With the goal of presenting the best of African cinema, the event also aims to explore this year’s themes through a wide variety of cinematic forms that include features, shorts, documentaries, experimental work, and archival footage.  The festival aims to present works that help transcend certain notions of African cinema.  As the press release states, “This is a truly populist cinema; one that belies the stereotype that African film is made only for export or festival audiences.”  The festival will also honor South Africa’s 100th anniversary of the African National Congress as well as the 50th anniversary of the independence of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Algeria and Jamaica.  Certain notable films are Mariette Monpierre’s Guadeloupean film Elza, Finnish filmmaker Mika Kaurismäki’s  opening night feature Mama Africa, and Relentless by Nigerian director Andy Amadi Okoroafo.