-By Luke McGuire
On October 29th, the New York City Teen Film Festival will hold its seventh annual event at an independent theater in downtown Manhattan. Founded by New York City high school students in 2016, the festival is dedicated to providing valuable film experience to all New York teens. “The primary goal of the NYCTFF is to provide New York’s youth with exposure to the film festival experience without the burden of entry fees,” says festival co-director David Lillien. Lillien, a high school senior himself, believes that the ultimate objective of the festival is to “promote the next generation of filmmakers, while also encouraging creation of the art itself.” To that end, the NYCTFF has established itself as not only as one of the few public youth film festivals that doesn’t require an entry fee, but also as one of the largest youth-run film festivals in the country.
This year, NYCTFF received over 300 submissions from young filmmakers across New York City, with 22 officially selected nominees in seven award categories. These categories include Best Editing, Best Story, Best Cinematography, Best Performance, Audience Award, Best Documentary, and Best in Show. All filmmakers are affiliated with New York City, and between the ages of 12 and 18. The Best Film winner is awarded $250, and the other category winners receive $100. Every year, a group of professionals in the film industry conducts the review process, and winners are chosen based upon their reviews. This year, submissions were reviewed by Lisa Hurwitz, known for her work on The Automat, Javier Montes D’Arce, a renowned Mexican filmmaker, and Emily Kunstler, who is from the West Village and co-runs the documentary production company ‘Off Center.’ The festival is a 501(c)(3) and operates solely on charitable donations.
The festival encourages and welcomes all teen filmmakers and is dedicated to the appreciation film. At NYCTFF, the primary focus is on the filmmaker. They are determined to support independent film in all forms, which is why NYCTFF exclusively uses independent theaters for all its venues. All staff members are teen volunteers who value the art of film, and understand the importance of educating young artists, providing them with valuable experience, and promoting their work.
Luke McGuire is an organizer of the New York City Teen Film Festival.