Festival Founder Dennis Cieri speaking at the 2015 Awards Ceremony
Festival Founder Dennis Cieri speaking at the 2015 Awards Ceremony
9th NYC Independent Film Festival is May 7-13

(released 4/13/2018)

(Editor's note: updated May 7, 2018)

The 9th annual NYC Independent Film Festival will be held May 7-13, 2018 with over 250 films from over 30 countries. The mission of the festival is to elevate independent film spanning feature, documentary, short, super short, music, art, animation, and VR.

Attendees can expect to network and participate in educational panels on topics including film distribution, music licensing, film finance, and women in film.  There will be a virtual reality showcase for a second year that is free and open to the public.

And being the festival that it is, there are plenty of films about the city of New York and produced in New York.  Here is a list of the New York City centric films including the date and time to see them.  To purchase tickets to the festival and to learn more, visit their website www.nycindieff.com.

All She Wrote (1 hour 37 min)
Directed by: Niki Iliev
Cast: Gary Dourdan, Sanya Borisova, Orlin Pavlov, Bashar Rahal, Diana Lubenova, James Tumminia When Aaron, an ex-fighter, turns to music after years of being knocked around and left with permanent mental disabilities, falls for Jana, an off-centered Bulgarian immigrant living in New York. While he recognizes that she is as crazy as him, Jana does not share the same opinion. But her brother, Bobby, an upcoming wannabe fighter, decides to convince her she is that crazy, in order to get Aaron in the ring against him.
Screening: Saturday, May 12 at 6:45pm | Producers Club

All Types of Kinds - Colorblind (5 min)
All Types of Kinds (or ATOK) is a NYC-band playing a wide variety of music ranging from rock, pop, folk, punk, funk, hip-hop, blues, jazz, and country, and sometimes all at once. The members come from diverse backgrounds that make for an amalgamation of musical textures and vibes. Their EP, "Love Songs (or songs for your ex)" debuted on Valentine's Day 2017 and they are currently gearing for dates all over the country. Ray Rubio, Billy Conahan, Berk O, and Rocco Stroker are All Types of Kinds.
Screening: Thursday, May 10 at 9:30pm | Producers Club

Alt Space (1 hour 20 min)
Directed by: Cody Kussoy
Cast: Alex Boniello, Shanley Caswell, Micah Parker
Alt Space is a psychological thriller that tells a contemporary story of what it's like to have a dissolving sense of reality. The story is told through the eyes of Julian and Liv, a young couple living in New York City. Julian uses virtual reality as a therapy device to escape his fears. He relies heavily on medication, which inevitably perpetuates his condition. Julian eventually discovers that his girlfriend, Liv, is stealing and selling his meds as a means to fulfill her gambling obsession. The plot thickens when Liv’s buyer-turned-enemy, Hunter, becomes so infatuated with Liv that he wedges himself in the middle of their relationship, causing a complex and tortured love triangle. As the story develops, we experience a synthesis of the real and virtual worlds conjoining, creating an untethered reality of lost dreams and self-vindication.
Screening: Thursday, May 10 at 7:15pm | Producers Club

A Table for All (32 min)
Directed by: Thea Piltzecker, Liz Scherffius
For many refugees and asylees, resettlement in the United States is just the beginning of the story. Finding common ground in a Brooklyn kitchen, Adwa (from Saudi Arabia) and Boubacar (from Guinea) work towards a future in the culinary industry.
Screening: Saturday, May 12 at 1:45pm | Producers Club

Back to Natural: A Documentary Film (1 hour 9 min)
Directed by: Gillian Scott-Ward
Back to Natural is a 69-minute documentary film that reveals the emotional and shocking truth about hair, politics, and racial identity in black communities and beyond. Directed by New York City based Clinical Psychologist Gillian Scott-Ward, this film is a powerful call for healing that takes a grassroots approach to exploring the globalized policing of natural Black hair. Filmed in New York City, Philadelphia, Paris, And Cape Town, this documentary explores universal aspects of the Black experience and the "New" Natural Hair movement. Join us on this journey of discovery and enlightenment while celebrating our history and natural styles that are taking the world by storm. Screening: Wednesday, May 9 at 9:00pm | Producers Club

Beastly Things (5 min)
Directed by: Zev Chevat
Beastly Things is a traditionally animated short horror film, made during the director's graduate residency at CalArts. Comprised of over 3500 hand-inked, digitally painted drawings, the film is an experiment in style that uses the optical conventions of animation to make each brutal narrative moment more visceral to viewers.
Screening: Thursday, May 10 at 3:45pm | Producers Club

Cyclone: 90 Years of History on Wheels (14 min)
Directed by: Frank Posillico
The famed Cyclone, Coney Island's historic roller coaster, celebrates it's 90th birthday this year. In our short documentary, we look at the popular Luna Park ride and its long history, as told through the eyes of the people who have helped operate her, and the frenzied fanatics who ride her day after day.
Screening: Wednesday, May 9 at 9:00pm | Producers Club

Dear Mom (16 min)
Directed by: Troy Alan
'Dear Mom' is a documentary/video tour of my life in New York City made especially for my mother in Canon City, CO. Traveling to NYC would be extremely difficult for her as she is disabled and has troubles getting around. So, I decided to make this video postcard for her so she can see the places I go, the people I know, and the things I do. I hope that she finds comfort in knowing that I'm doing what I love and have good people around me. After watching the interviews with my friends in the short, I'm not sure the latter is so true.
Screening: Friday, May 11 at 2:15pm | Producers Club

Dreamland (28 min)
Directed by: Dakota Lane
Cast: Jennifer Maidman
A fast-paced and heartwarming portrait of multiple gold record winner Jennifer Maidman, and the making of her album at Dreamland recording studio in Woodstock, Upstate New York. Shot on location in the Woodstock area, Dakota Lane's film takes an in-depth and sometimes dreamy look into Jennifer's early life as a female born in a male form, and how this shaped her destiny as musician and human. Also featuring Jennifer's partner and collaborator Annie Whitehead, and legendary Woodstock musicians David Torn and Jerry Marotta, as well as an international cast of others.
Screening: Sunday, May 13 at 2:15pm | Producers Club

Earn Your Salt (8 min)
Directed by: Clint Braadt
Written by: George Braadt, Dominic Ventolora
Cast: Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Saved!, The Princess Diaries), Amir Talai Dominic Ventolora is a probationary firefighter in Staten Island just six months into his career at engine 154. As the newest member of the team, Dom shares his experience with the FDNY so far. George Braadt is a three decade veteran of the house now the acting chauffeur. He gives us insight into the work behind the engine, and sharing his stories before he became a firefighter First Grade. Screening: Saturday, May 12 at 1:45pm | Producers Club

Final Traces of the Abstract Expressionists (45 min)
Directed by: Caro Jost
Cast: Alex Katz, Irving Sandler, Jonathan Cramer, Rita Reinhardt, Karole Vail
Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Peggy Guggenheim et.al.,: what is left of their former studios, galleries, bars, meetings places in New York City today? Filmmaker Caro Jost (a famous artist herself) follows in the footsteps of these artists of an era. In a mixture of walk and detective hunt, she shows what has now become of these once important places, where art history was made and the Abstract Expressionism arised after WW II in NYC. The film is a juxtaposition of the past and the present, annotated with historical footage, interviews of living eye witnesses, like famous artist Alex Katz. It is not a typical documentary; it is more an investigative art film. Music by Morton Feldman.Rudy Burckhardt, John Cohen, Nina Leen, et.al.
Screening: Saturday, May 12 at 6:15pm | Producers Club

Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story (1 hour 26 min)
Directed by: James Lester
Cast: Hazel Honeysuckle, Gal Friday, Minnie Tonka, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Perle Noire, Jezebel Express, Julie Atlas Muz, James Habacker
Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story peels back the curtain to reveal the sexy subculture of the neo- burlesque scene in New York City. This verite documentary intimately follows four performers, each of whom has discovered a newfound identity and belonging in a world of bawdy comedy and striptease. However, they find all that glitters is not necessarily gold, as this liberating community does not insulate from the harsh realities of sexism, illness, and existential crisis. "Getting Naked" explores what it means to be an artist, an entertainer, and a woman in the toughest city on Earth. Screening: Friday, May 11 at 9:00pm | Producers Club

Giving Up (30 min)
Directed by: Kris Lefcoe
Cast: Zandy Hartig, Ben Kronberg, Dave Hill, Linas Phillips, Kyle Dunnigan, Myq Kaplan
From A New York couple faces their own deadline to either "make it" or give up their dreams. Screening: Saturday, May 12 at 4:30pm | Producers Club

Have No Fear (18 min)
Directed by: Beata Calinska & Sarah Jacobson in collaboration with Adia Tamar Whitaker Choreographer and activist Adia Whitaker is a mother of two. Too many sons and daughters from her community have been harmed by police brutality. Frustrated by the fleeting media coverage and public attention, Adia creates a performance piece designed to engage people, using her lyrics to teach children how to stay safe during encounters with the police. Rehearsals slowly become a call to action, a form of resistance, and a way to connect with the community.
Screening: Tuesday, May 8 at 6:00pm | Producers Club

I Am Gary (35 min)
Directed by: Edgardo Mamol
Gary was bullied as a kid in the Bronx, but he trained with the Jewish Defense League to always fight back, by whatever means necessary. Now a Karate and Judo black belt, he’s strong-willed and passionate - which often gets him into unnecessary problems at work and at home. He is an ex-cop and a former rabbi, and now teaches martial arts therapy to empower disabled kids and adults. Gary's current dilemma is his divorce from his wife Raquel; they are battling in court for custody of their three children, including a daughter with cerebral palsy. Will he ever admit he could have done things differently?
Screening: Saturday, May 12 at 1:45pm | Producers Club

Kingsley (11 min)
Directed by: Ingie Enan
At the age of 18, Kingsley accidentally took the life of his friend with his brother's handgun. After being sentenced 8-20 years in prison, he thought his life was over. But while serving his years, he read 400 books, graduated with honors from his prison education program and, after his release, earned Bachelor's & Master's degrees at NYU, where he now works as a re-entry coordinator. He helps facilitate life after prison for individuals going through their own prison experiences. Kingsley's story touches on the effects of gun violence and life after prison, but more importantly, on the common humanity we all share beneath our labels.
Screening: Monday, May 7 at 4:30pm | Producers Club

Like Her (9 min)
Directed by: Eliza Laytner
Cast: Ellyn Heald, Cameron Kalajian
After years of separation, Olivia and Harley are reunited. Brought back together by an unspeakable loss, their attempts to reconnect fall short. Unsure of what to do with their grief, they journey into a wintery forest. Where they end up and what Olivia finds isn't what she expects.
Screening: Monday, May 7 at 9:00pm | Producers Club

Literally (2 min)
Directed by: Mary Rogers McMaster
Cast: Mary Rogers McMaster, Wesley Tunison
Tony and Karen are literally fed up with existing. In this social commentary, the two hyperbolic protagonists exercise their critical tongues in an unforgiving disparaging of the world around them. The irony of course, lies within the fact that they are well off enough to sit leisurely in New York City mid-day equipped with warm coats, iphones and vente coffees. Their biting observations of the world around them constantly point to the fact that the very world they tear apart is one they are actively participating in. This quick tear through millennial culture will leave you warmed to the brim with sarcasm, condescension and perhaps the desire to go get a job.
Screening: Friday, May 11 at 6:45pm | Producers Club

Longing (11 min)
Directed by: Christian Mushenko
A disconnected, wealthy businessman has everything in life, except the one thing that matters most. Finding a letter from his dead father, he reads of his fathers regrets, and hopes for his son's life. Through the letter, and a series of coincidences, a shared moment with a stranger reveals an unexpected connection that illuminates each of their emptiness.
Screening: Sunday, May 13 at 12:00pm | Producers Club

Love, Mommy (35 min)
Directed by: Yeong-Ung Yang
'Love, Mommy' is an intimate portrait of a formerly incarcerated woman who is attempting to put her troubled past aside and reunite with one of her daughters. When Kilzy Gonzalez, 37, was convicted of attempted sale of heroin four years ago, she asked her old friend, Roxanne Hunter, to care for her three-month-old daughter, Halena. It was supposed to be a temporary agreement. But two years after her release from prison, Kilzy is still fighting to get Halena back and to overcome a past that includes trauma, sexual violence and substance abuse. Will she get a second chance? Screening: Saturday, May 12 at 1:45pm | Producers Club

New York Graffiti Experience (16 min)
Directed by: Fenton Lawless
Written by: Justine Diianni
The New York Graffiti Experience was a collaboration initiated by Fenton Lawless and Justine Diianni in the mid 70's as an art education project. It evolved from a slide show presentation with music to what was called "the first real look at street and subway graffiti" by Mass Appeal Magazine. The concept was to present the earliest manifestations of what became a worldwide phenomenon. We were fortunate to secure the help and art of Cliff, a graffiti pioneer. The film includes a rare interview with him and footage shot on location in the streets and school yards of NYC.
Screening: Friday, May 11 at 9:00pm | Producers Club

Norman Pinski Come Home (15 min)
Directed by: Aaron Rudelson
Cast: Elaine Bromka, Ray Iannicelli, Mark Gessner, Lee Tergesen
When a lightning bolt tragically cuts short the life a Jewish plumber's son, all appears lost for the Pinski family. But luckily for them, Dr. Vanderwal, a celebrated local baldness doctor is secretly a modern day Dr. Frankenstein. Once resurrected in the form of a classic horror film monster, Norman has another chance at finding himself … if his overbearing Jewish parents don't get in the way.
Screening: Tuesday, May 8 at 9:00pm | Producers Club

Nothing Changes: Art for Hank's Sake (1 hour 20 min)
Directed by: Matthew Kaplowitz
How far would you go to pursue your passion? At 87 years old, Hank Virgona commutes to his Union Square studio six days a week and makes art. Despite poor health, cancer, lack of revenue and obscurity as an artist, Hank is unrelenting in his quest to understand how life and art are the same. Screening: Thursday, May 10 at 2:30pm | Producers Club

One Eye Small (9 min)
Directed by: Jane Stiles
One Eye Small follows Eleanore and Irene, two women in the midst of personal crises, who are brought together by fate and decide to keep each other company during a night out in the city. In a way that is characteristic of a night in NYC, they encounter a slew of hilarious psychos, throughout their journey, who poke and prod them. As brave, eccentric Eleanore takes the reigns and lures Irene, the victimized crab, out of her shell, the lines of attraction and friendship blur. Just like the characters themselves, the film walks a fine line between reality and the absurd.
Screening: Wednesday, May 9 at 6:45pm | Producers Club

Poba (3 min)
Directed by: Mary Rozzi
Cast: Shawn Theagene
A dancer relives his troubled past with a pulsating car park-set performance In a new film by image maker Mary Rozzi, Brooklyn dancer Poba, aka Shawn Theagene, delivers a captivating display of movement, soundtracked by his testimony of gang life and salvation through dance.
Screening: Thursday, May 10 at 9:15pm | Producers Club

Racing Against BRCA (11 min)
Directed by: Trevor Banks
Cast: Caroline Plank
Racing Against BRCA (BRA-KAH) is a short documentary about a 28 year old amateur long distance runner named Caroline Plank, who possesses a rare genetic mutation that all but guarantees the chances she will develop cancer within her lifetime. In an effort to avoid the imminent fate of cancer, Caroline makes the decision to undergo a surgical bilateral mastectomy, a procedure that may jeopardize her future as a competitive runner. Through an honest, informative and enlightening testimonial, viewers get to follow Plank's journey before and after surgery as she strives to overcome the odds and race in the 2017 New York City Marathon. A true story of perseverance and self-determination, Racing Against BRCA is a must-watch for anybody who has been affected by cancer or hoping to learn more about the BRCA mutation.
Screening: Monday, May 7 at 6:45pm | Producers Club

Rau´l de Nieves Is an American Artist (7 min)
Directed by: Ian Forster
From his basement studio in Ridgewood, Queens, acclaimed artist Rau´l de Nieves creates an epic stained glass mural for the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Born in Mexico, de Nieves immigrated to San Diego at the age of nine and has been living in New York since 2008. "Growing up in Mexico was really magical because I got to see a lot of forms of celebration," says the artist. "I got to experience death as a really young child. That's what my work is about: it's like seeing the facets of happiness and sadness all in one place." His commission from the Whitney Museum of American Art gave de Nieves the opportunity to experiment with the tradition of stained glass, and combine this new light-infused installation with existing figurative sculptures. With gaffers tape, paper, and color gels, de Nieves created a narrative that begins with personal struggle and self-doubt, but ends with a celebration of life. In reflecting upon his father's early death and his mother's courageous decision to move their family to the United States, de Nieves sees the installation both as a form of remembrance and evidence of the achievement of an American community whose very identity is under threat.
Screening: Saturday, May 12 at 6:15pm | Producers Club

Rooftop Refuge (5 min)
Directed by: Andrew Leibman
A short documentary about Brooklyn local, Dave Malone, and how his passion for flying pigeons shaped his life.
Screening: Tuesday, May 8 at 6:00pm | Producers Club

Spell Claire (8 min)
Directed by: Greg Emetaz
Claire purchases an antique educational toy that reignites fond memories from childhood and lays bare the sorry state her life is now in.
Screening: Friday, May 11 at 9:00pm | Producers Club

The Boneyard (12 min)
Directed by: James Verdi
Hidden along the Arthur Kill, the Staten Island Ship Graveyard is home to nameless ships, decaying with each passing tide. Underneath the hulls of these ships, a museum of stories comes alive. Screening: Friday, May 11 at 12:00pm | Producers Club

The Musician Under New York (9 min)
Directed by: Joy Le Li
"The Musician Under New York" gives an intimate view of the story of a Chinese immigrant in New York City. Zongli Lu is formally authorized by the MTA to play music in the subways--a rare accomplishment for a recent immigrant. Even more unique, Lu had no formal musical training. In China, being a musician is considered a luxury, so many parents, including Lu's, discourage their children. After moving to the US, Lu quickly found that the skills that Chinese society encouraged were not useful to him anymore. So after spending all the money he brought from China, Lu had no choice but to use the lost passion he had when he was a child. To his family's surprise, Lu not only survived on the skills they had deemed useless, but he also rediscovered his love for music. Screening: Monday, May 7 at 9:00pm | Producers Club

The Nature of Mass Demonstrations (7 min)
Directed by: Nathaniel A Lavey
Written by: John Berger
A visual treatment of John Berger's classic 1967 essay, "The Nature of Mass Demonstrations," this film explores how demonstrations are always rehearsals for political revolution. At a time when millions are in the streets, this re-interrogation of the notion of protest, political violence, and rebellion is a necessary addition to our political imaginary.
Screening: Monday, May 7 at 6:45pm | Producers Club

The World Is So Difficult to Give Up (3 min)
Directed by: Garry Waller
As This short iPhone video is a personal tribute to New York City, a homage to the amazing metropolis and in the people who call it home as they go about their rituals and routines. The video captures the quiet and stoic moments that often go unnoticed but nevertheless breathe life and color into this amazing city. The footage is accompanied by the words of the poet David Ignitor, 'The World Is So Difficult To Give Up' which is an appropriate tribute to the fleeting gestures and movements of New York's inhabitants.
Screening: Thursday, May 10 at 9:15pm | Producers Club

TOMAT,O (17 min)
Directed by: Milo Wang
Cast: Dalai Sholeh
A conversation between a man and a woman. "Do you like tomatoes?" "Yes." Screening: Thursday, May 10 at 9:15pm | Producers Club

V-Card: The Film (1 hour 21 min)
Directed by: Jamaal Green
Being a virgin today can be... hard and for one virgin it was a real problem. Dillon is 23 years old, and he has never had sex (not for lack of trying). He sets out on a journey to talk to sex therapists, porn stars, and every day people about what virginity means in a modern time. Dillon wants to know why sex is so important, and how to finally make sense of why he has been so unlucky in love. Is there really only a first time for everything or is there more than one cherry to be popped? Dillon is more than willing to find out.
Screening: Monday, May 7 at 4:30pm | Producers Club

White Mamba (8 min)
Directed by: Sean Conrad
As One of my first days living in New York I got F'd by the F train (that's why they call it the F train) and missed a show I was trying to see, so I decided to go into the city and eat some pizza instead. I got off at the West 4th Street Station and there was a pick-up basketball game going on so I settled in to watch. The players were mostly older guys who were ripped, black, and incredibly skilled. And then there was this one white kid, maybe ten-years-old, in a Kobe jersey swishing threes and talking shit like you can't believe. "What's that kid's name?" I asked someone standing next to me. Without hesitation the kid shouted back, "they call me White Mamba!" and then dribbled gleefully down the court. A first-generation immigrant from Italy, Brayan "White Mamba" Leka is a 7th grader who has earned a spot on the West 4th Street courts. Not anyone can play. But his charisma, determination, and genuine love for the game and the West 4th Street Family has ensured him not only playtime, but also respect from the other players. When I asked him if I could make a documentary about him he said, "Yeah, but only if you help me with my math homework first."
Screening: Friday, May 11 at 12:00pm | Producers Club

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