An underground film festival is coming to the subway next month

Cinebeasts, a DIY filmmaking collective, will feature short films about public transit during its "Subway Series," beginning in March.

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Never trust an empty subway car. NEVER.

Never trust an empty subway car. NEVER.

Every day, you'll find something entertaining happening throughout New York's subway system, whether it's break-dancers popping and locking, a couple of musicians bucket-drumming, or that dude who salsa-dances with a puppet. The MTA-sanctioned Music Under New York and Arts for Transit programs also allow creative types to showcase their art to commuters. Film screenings, on the other hand, are something you rarely, if ever, see underground—but that's about to change.


Throughout March and April, the DIY filmmaking collective Cinebeasts will host "Subway Series," a program of short films about the subway that will take place, for the most part, in subway stations. The setting is absolutely intentional, according to Reid Bingham, one of the group's cofounders. "We’re interested in the context in which you see a film as much as what we’re showing," he explains. "The subway is so big in so many people’s lives. A lot of humanity goes on there, and it’s very interesting when people can find those stories there and show them to you."


So how will it work? Cinebeasts members will set up tables at stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn on the weekends throughout the series's eight-week run. Each one will be equipped with a portable DVD player or digital frame device, with headphones. As straphangers pass by, they'll be able to stop and take in a short film or two—each selection is seven minutes long, so you'll likely have time to watch a couple while you wait for the L train in the evening. (As for whether the event has been officially sanctioned by the MTA, Bingham says that the group hasn't been working with transit officials to make this happen. "We think we’re going to tweet at Joe Lhota," he jokes.)


In addition to the underground screenings, Cinebeasts will partner with venues like Union Docs and 92YTribeca to present even more films about the subway, some of which might be related to the surrounding neighborhoods. (Final lineups are still being hammered out, but Bingham says that programs might include street-art documentaries in Williamsburg and pieces pulled from the Film-Makers' Coop at Anthology Film Archives.)


Interested? The group is accepting submissions through Friday, February 15; check out the Cinebeasts website for more details. And keep an eye out for screening dates—and for the pop-up theaters—in the coming weeks.



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