Your Guide to the 2021 Bushwick Film Festival

The 14th annual Bushwick Film Festival, running from Oct. 20-24, is just around the corner. This year’s festival takes a hybrid approach, with live screenings and special events as well as virtual screenings and panels. For the first time, the festival will also include screenplays and NFT videos.

The festival, which kicks off with an opening ceremony at Lot 45 on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m., will feature 130 independent filmmakers from 27 different countries — more than ever before, according to Kweighbaye Kotee, the founder and CEO of the festival.

“There were too many great [films] that we couldn’t not include,” Kotee told Bushwick Daily. 

Films will be available to watch online throughout the five-day festival, while a full day of in-person screenings will also take place on Oct. 23 at Regal Cinemas in downtown Brooklyn.

On Oct. 23, attendees can also opt to attend a full-day happy hour and networking event at Circa Brewing Co., which is near Regal Cinemas. The next day, audience members and those in the industry are invited to tune into the festival’s virtual Industry Conference.

Also, at any time during the festival, audience members can “enter the metaverse” and experience the festival’s NFT showcase, which features a collection of short films and panels “tackling the latest in blockchain trends.”

Now a widely anticipated event, attracting more than 1,500 film submissions from 60 countries around the world, the festival not only celebrates independent films but also contributes to the borough’s evolution by empowering underrepresented storytellers, increasing diversity on screen, and sharing stories with audiences worldwide.

“It’s been a fun and exciting road with lots of plot twists!” said Kotee, reflecting on her own personal growth alongside the evolution of the festival. “As the festival grew and we realized the potential for its impact on the careers of filmmakers and the community, we became a lot more intentional about our programming and process.”

“This year, the theme is “dimensions,” which is befitting, due to the hybrid structure of the event.

A celebration of the history, lineage and future progressions of jazz dance” 
“Struck by her supreme loneliness during the pandemic, a young woman wishes for her dog to become her boyfriend… and then endures the consequences when her wish comes true”

The festival’s live screening blocks have been curated by “fun and interesting” social themes,” Kotee mentioned.

For example, the “Let’s Talk about Sex” block, features Vincent Martell’s “Finesse,” among other films that highlight sex workers and discuss legislation surrounding sex work.

There is also an “Art as Resistance” category, which is composed of shorts that explore the ways in which people overcome societal and personal traumas through art in order to bring about change.

The last screening will include campy comedies.

“These stories are dark, witty, awkward and maybe a little sexy. They explore both the haunted and charming parts of everyday life,” Kotee told Bushwick Daily. 

“A Korean father, mired in his deceased wife’s debt, resorts to extreme measures to protect his children” in the short film Appa Appa Appa. Image and log line provided by Anna Sang Park. 

Anna Sang Park, a Brooklyn-based contributor to the festival, is the writer, director and producer of the short film trilogy “The Cho Stories.” One of the films in the series, “Appa Appa Appa,” will be having its NYC premiere on October 23 during the in-person screenings. 

“I can sit in a movie theater with some of the cast and crew, fellow indie filmmakers and a supportive audience this month and have a collective screening in New York City — it’s going to be a great celebration,” Park commented in a written statement to Bushwick Daily. “For so many indie filmmakers . . . so much of our work is writing alone, editing, working with a tiny team and now with Covid — much of that work is being done at home. So to be able to meet other filmmakers in person, see their work, hear about their process, share our stories — all of that sustains us,” she continued. 

Park is also looking forward to entering the “metaverse” and watching films online. “I am a mother, and as many parent filmmakers may agree, it’s not easy to make it to some of the screenings or events during a festival (especially on school nights or in-person) so the fact that I can see these films online is definitely a plus,” she shared.

Though Kotee hopes the festival is fully live next year, there are features of the virtual landscape that will continue to be implemented in order to make the five-day indie film event available to as many people as possible.

To see what will be offered alongside the in-person screenings and networking events this year, which includes the Bushwick Film Festival’s new streaming platform, which has a filtering option so audiences can search by genre, see the festival’s 2021 media kit, covered in a previous Bushwick Daily article.  

To see all the live screening blocks and purchase tickets, you can go here. For the full program and ticket information, head over to

All images and captions provided by Bushwick Film Festival Instagram unless stated otherwise.

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