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The Manhattan International Film Festival (MIFF) is an annual cultural initiative of the World Youth Alliance (WYA) seeking to recognize promising young directors committed to exploring the depth of the human condition. Previous films recognized by the festival have examined themes relating to family, community, suffering, empathy, the pursuit of happiness, truth, and the transcendent.

Submissions will be reviewed by a distinguished jury panel and the selected finalists will be invited to screen their films during the Festival Screening in New York City.  At the festival, the top finalists will have a chance to screen their short film. Screenings will be attended by WYA members and New York general public audience. At the conclusion of the festival, winners will be selected, and their films will subsequently be screened at prominent WYA events and cultural gatherings around the world.



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MIFF 2020

In 2020, young filmmakers from Lebanon, the United Kingdom, and the United States were selected based on the following criteria: Content and Relevance to WYA’s Mission, Technical Excellence, and Overall Quality. The roster of finalists for 2020 tackled the topic of human dignity through exploring themes like migration, family, death, culture and more. Aside from their differing countries of representation, finalists’ age and experience range from young filmmakers to multi-awarded veterans in the film industry.

Winning Films

Jordan Hwang (USA), “The Mask from Home”

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Jake Oleson (USA), “Please and Thank You”

Georgie Yukiko Donovan (the United Kingdom), “AMA”

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Ryan Zhang (USA), “Waiting”

Rita Attieh (Lebanon), “Emma”


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MIFF 2019

In 2019, young filmmakers from Mexico, the Philippines, the United States, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom were selected based on the following criteria: Content and Relevance to WYA’s Mission, Technical Excellence, and Overall Quality. The roster of finalists for 2019 tackled the topic of human dignity through exploring themes like migration, war, death, sickness, and more. Aside from their differing countries of representation, finalists’ age and experience range from as young as 16 years old to multi-awarded veterans in the film industry.

Winning Films

David Siev (USA), “Year Zero”

Tamino Parren (the Netherlands), “The Mirror of the Artist”

Daniela Maria Magsaysay (the Philippines), “Daybreak”

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Will Garofalo (USA), 
“Jesus Loves Bikers Too”



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MIFF 2018

The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking Life In Strides team (USA), 
“Life In Strides”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZQ4mhfLQlc]

Phoebe Holman (United Kingdom), “Towards Harmony: A Musical Integration”

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TJ Noel-Sullivan (USA), “Role Model”

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Gloria Tauk (Lebanon), “RONDO”



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MIFF 2017

Anya Zulueta (Philippines), “My 2014 Neighbor”

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Skylar Burke (USA), “Frenemy”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiTvY7TeerU]

Lin Po-Yu (Taiwan), “Breaktime”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEzQSo3Dmck]

Álvaro Hernández (Spain), “Gotta Serve Somebody”

Watch out for the trailer!


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MIFF 2015

MIFF 2015 Winners Website Banner

Nine finalists were invited to screen their films in Manhattan during the 2015 Manhattan International Film Festival. They represented countries including Finland, Philippines, Taiwan, Chile, and United States.  At the conclusion of the festival screenings, four young directors were awarded prizes for their outstanding short films, which portray the dignity of the human person with creativity and depth.

1st prize was awarded to Taiwanese director Ya-Chen Cheng for her film “Cobain and His Raincoat”. This film went far beyond delivering an action-packed plot, but included excellent character development, presenting thought-provoking facets of human nature. 2nd prize was awarded to “Watershed” by Taiwanese director Ruei-Jin Huang, for her sensitive and honest representation of family relationships portrayed through beautiful cinematography. 3rd prize was awarded to Filipino director Kristine Zuniga for her film “Bimyana”. Her beautiful story of a young girl who is both innocent and courageous, is both inspiring and uplifting. Finnish director Iina Lempiäinen received an Honorable Mention for her film, “The Silence Of Our Friends”, which takes a creative look at the theme of bullying and reminds us of the capacity for human excellence.

These winning films were screened at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office on Wednesday, March 25th, 6pm-9pm. Two of the directors were present, and the evening program also included an appearance by the WYA Chamber Orchestra performing Hummel’s Fantasie with viola soloist Faith Pak. The 2015 festival also featured guest speakers Dr. Joseph Kickasola and Stuart Tanner.

Ya-Chen Cheng (Taiwan), “Cobain and His Raincoat”

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Kristine Zuniga (Philippines), “Bimyana”

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Iina Lempiäinen (Finland), “The Silence Of Our Friends”

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MIFF in the Press:

MIFF 2015 Speakers:

Headshot - Stuart Stuart Tanner is an acclaimed producer and director of documentary films for the BBC, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, and others. His most recent projects include Saving The Disposable Ones (2011), a documentary about a Catholic priest in inner city Columbia transforming the lives of thousands of children by providing shelter, love and Transcendental Meditation; Time Team (2004), an hour-long archaeological program for the Channel Four/Discovery series uncovering the mysteries of one of the first man-made monuments built on the British landscape; and Children of Vengeance (2002), a documentary for the BBC on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which won the Foreign Press Association’s Story of the Year award. Profits of Doom (2001), an investigation into the policies of the World Bank and IMF in developing nations, was chosen for viewing at the North South film festival; Death on the Silk Road (1999), focusing on the effects of nuclear testing in China, won the Rory Peck Award for Journalism; and The Mahogany Trail (1996), on the plight of Amazonian Indians whose reserves are invaded for mahogany wood being exported to foreign markets, won the Bill Travers Insight Award at the London International Environmental Film Festival. Mr. Tanner is currently Assistant Professor and Co-Chair in the Media and Communications Department at the Maharishi University of Management.
Headshot-Joe Dr. Joseph G. Kickasola is Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media and the Director of the Baylor Communication in New York program, Baylor University. He has twice served as Visiting Professor of Theology and Film at Princeton Theological Seminary, and has lectured on film aesthetics and theology around the world. He is also an active filmmaker and film theorist, combining his interest in film aesthetics with multi-sensory science and phenomenology. Select publications include essays in Film Quarterly, The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film, and The Quarterly Review of Film and Video. His book The Films of Krzyzstof Kieślowski: The Liminal Image won the 2006 Spiritus Award, issued annually for the best book on theology and film. He was an invited participant in the 2013 Workshop for Peacebuilding through the Arts (University of Edinburgh), and the essay he developed there will be published in a scholarly volume next year.


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MIFF 2014

MIFF 2014 recognized the following winners, who were selected to screen their short films at the United Nations.



Maja Šubarić (Croatia), “What we do”

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Xandrino Mangunay (Philippines), “Laum”

[youtube https://youtu.be/rA9lWQZZY7E&w=640]

Josep Antoni (Spain), “The Unforgettable Pianist”

[youtube https://youtu.be/zULvl53TtmI&w=640]

Daniel Alava (Spain), “Dummies”

[youtube https://youtu.be/2vMdJR3Im_c&w=640]

Ion Sova (Romania), “Tenebris”

[youtube https://https://youtu.be/_PpOJcInr-o&w=640]


MIFF in the Press:


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MIFF 2013

Click here to read a blog post about the 2013 MIFF, written by a Manhattan International Film Festival volunteer. The winning films can be browsed below:

Timothy Reckart (United States), “Head Over Heels”

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Anita Rivaroli & Irene Tommasi (Italy), “A Summer Tale”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpUYb6iiNcs&w=640]

Inshallah Montero (Philippines), “The Man of Squares

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Adrielle Esteban (Philippines), “Tanglaw

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MIFF in the Press:


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MIFF 2012

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World Youth Alliance’s 1st Annual Manhattan International Film Festival took place in 2012 showcasing 15 short films of young directors from Belgium, England, Spain, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Philippines, India, Pakistan, and the United States. The festival featured keynote speaker, Krzysztof Zanussi. To read more about the prize-winning directors, click here. To view their films, see below:

“Fine Dining”by Lance Katigbak (Philippines)

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“The Calling”by Cécile Mavet (Belgium)

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“The Garden”by Jason Stefaniak (United States)

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“Tengo Hambre” by Benjamin Lorenzo (Spain)

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Frank’s Tin Car” by Solomon Yaw Yeboah (Ghana)

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