Manhattan Film Festival

Our Story

Our story began in 2006 at the Tribeca Cinemas. While the Manhattan Film Festival is now an internationally recognized brand with press coverage in The New York Times, Good Morning America, The Hollywood Reporter, and many more media outlets, our beginnings told a much different story.

Following the domestic violence death of a mutual friend, two former independent filmmakers reflected life was too short and decided to give the independent film industry another go. They formed the start-up Independent Features which hosted the Independent Features Film Festival, a hybrid festival that physically took place at the Tribeca Cinemas but virtually brought the festival to a global audience.

In 2008 this concept was deemed “groundbreaking” and lead to a content partnership with former internet giant Lycos who were looking to reclaim market share Google and their recently acquired YouTube. Utterly unprepared for the corporate business world, that partnership lead to a massive debt to the parent company of the Tribeca Cinemas. It was the height of the 2008 financial crisis and the situation was dire. Ironically, it was YouTube that offered a new partnership agreement. Independent Features founder Philip J. Nelson looked at that partnership as the only opportunity they had to get themselves out of the mess they were in.

Over 70,000,000 views later the festival survived and evolved into the Manhattan Film Festival, which since 2015 runs concurrently with Tribeca providing filmmakers an alternative opportunity to screen when the entire industry ascends upon New York City.

While the Independent Features Festival evolved into MFF, the IF brand recently relaunched as a talent, management, and investment firm. Their focus is to finance select independent projects by signing marketable writers, producers, directors, and screen talent. Given their shared history, the two organizations will always work together to advance the production, promotion, and distribution of independent content!