couple watching movie

New York City’s Must-See Film Festivals for Fall

This fall, New York City – and the Hamptons – will celebrate international cinematic excellence with four different festivals. Cut the lights, take a peek at these schedules, and start planning your film-going experiences for the next few months.

Urbanworld Film Festival (9/20-24)

Launched in 1997, Urbanworld, a five-day festival, presents a slate of films – and events – diverse in stories, cultures, and more. In the festival’s own words, “We fight tirelessly to expand the definition of ‘urban’ beyond ethnicity to include sensibility, culture, and proximity. We strive to be ‘the filmmakers festival’ and ‘the people’s festival,’ providing a point of intersection where creators and audiences meet to experience bold and diverse artistic works.” The festival also includes Urbanworld Digital, where industry experts share knowledge of the film industry, and Urbanworld Music, featuring DJs and live performances.  Prices range from $500 for a Global Access pass to $150 for the Student Access pass (valid student ID required).

New York Film Festival (9/30-10/16)

Established in 1963 by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival (NYFF) features both established and up-and-coming talent. Over 17 days, Lincoln Center will play host to everything from Main Slate official selections to newly restored classics, special events, filmmaker talks and more. Highlights include an evening with Ava DuVernay, the director of 13TH, which opened last year’s NYFF, and a talk between festival director, Kent Jones, and Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused), whose film, Last Flag Flying, opens this year’s festival. Ticket prices range from Retrospective All Access Pass at $125 to FREE, for certain events.

Hamptons International Film Festival (10/5-9)

Going strong for 25 years, the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) features long, short, fiction, and documentary Independent films, and draws over 25,000 visitors to theaters across East Hampton, Southampton, Montauk, and Sag Harbor. More than $165,000 in cash prizes are awarded at the festival, drawing a roster of top films that often go on to be Oscar nominees – or winners (Moonlight, La La Land). Box office ticket options range from Special 25th Anniversary Packages at $3500 to tickets for General Films at $15 adults/$10 seniors/$8 children.

DOC NYC (11/9-16)

DOC NYC has grown since its 2010 inception to become the largest documentary festival in America. Spread out over eight days in Chelsea and the West Village, the festival features new documentary films, panels, conversations, and connections that happen “only in New York.” Past guests and presenters include Hillary Clinton, Martin Scorcese, Michael Moore and, wait for it, Big Bird. Festival passes range from All Access for $650 ($750 after 9/21), DOC NYC Pro for $300 ($350 after 9/21), and Doc NYC Half Passes for $160 ($200 after 9/21).


Harry Potter Festival

Harry Potter Festival: Where to Eat, Stay, & LARP

Are you a Gryffindor or a Slytherin? If you’ve ever wanted to know which Hogwarts house the sorting hat would place you, take a Defense Against the Dark Arts class, or watch a Quidditch match, head to the 2017 Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Festival & Quidditch Tournament on October 20 & 21.

There’s plenty of mischief to manage at this mostly, pay-as-you-go celebration of the wizard world that brings together Potter fans of all ages. This year will be the biggest ever – doubling its size from the previous 6 blocks to 12 blocks of Germantown Avenue in the Philadelphia suburb.

Festival Highlight

Wands & Wizards Night on the Avenue: An evening of Potions, Pubs, and Magical Possibilities: Friday night from 6-9pm, the magical fun begins with photo booths, performances by aerialists, fortune tellers, and more along Germantown Avenue. Participating restaurants and pubs will offer food and drink specials, and all the avenue stores will stay open until 9pm.

Magical Make and Take Zones: On Saturday from 10am-4pm, a $20 wristband gives access to ten different areas of interactive activities designed for kids 4-12. Parents can accompany kids without a wristband, but they must have their own if they want to participate in the magical activities like make your own Golden Snitch, owl decorating, design your own crest, bubble wands, and Potter pics.

Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament: For 8 years, this event has entertained Harry Potter lovers at Chestnut Hill College. On Saturday from 10am-4pm, teams from visiting colleges and the local community compete in round-robin style Quidditch matches. The tournament is free to attend, and food, drinks (including Butterbeer), t-shirts, scarves, and more will be available to purchase.

Harry Potter Conference

Chestnut Hill College holds a Harry Potter Conference on October 19 & 20 in conjunction with the town’s festival. This annual, non-profit, academic conference allows Potter fans to truly get their geek on with scholarly presentations on the Harry Potter books and films. High school, college, and graduate students, along with faculty and community members, will present academic papers over the two-day conference. The conference is free. Registration is required for some events.

Attendee Information

  • Public transportation is preferred by attendees. Philadelphia regional transit (SEPTA) has two station stops in Chestnut Hill that are short walks from the heart of the festival. Look for Harry Potter look-alikes who frequently apparate onto the trains to greet guests.
  • If you drive, satellite parking with shuttle service to/from the festival will be available. Details can be found on the festival’s website prior to the event.
  • Closer to the event, additional details about all of the magic happening at the festival will also be added to the festival’s website, so check back frequently to see what’s been added.
  • If you need a place to stay while attending the festival, look into a Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package with perks that can save you up to $173.