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Subway-Themed Short Films Head to City's Subway Stations in New Festival

By Meredith Hoffman | January 18, 2013 10:26am

GREENPOINT — Reid Bingham wants to know what you see when you ride the subway — and he wants to share it with the rest of New York’s subterranean world.

The tunnels and trains of the city’s transit system are the topic of an upcoming film festival Bingham’s group Cinebeasts is plotting to throw this spring in stations from Union Square to Williamsburg’s Lorimer Street L stop. The group's open call for submissions requests all types of films, seven minutes or shorter, shot in or near the subway.

"We spend so much of our lives there as New Yorkers both in constant motion and waiting…It's hurry, hurry, hurry and then you wait forever," Bingham said of the underground transit network. "We want to see what else can happen in these places besides stress and noise."

Cinebeasts, whose open call lasts until Feb. 15, has already received animated shorts, music videos and art films, Bingham said, noting that the group's selected submissions will also be screened at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan.

“There’s a poverty of good cinema shot in the subway and we think students shoot it more often,” Bingham said, explaining that the original Jan. 15 submission deadline was extended to give college students a chance to participate after returning from winter break. “Our metric is quality not quantity,” he said of the pieces he planned to accept.

When the festival kicks off in March, Cinebeasts will set up viewing stations, tables with portable DVD players and digital picture frames where viewers can plug in headphones to watch and hear their film of choice, Bingham explained.

“We’ll say, ‘do you want action, comedy or romance?’” Bingham said, noting that the group would offer a variety of genres at each table, and would put out a hat to raise money for even distribution to all the filmmakers. “It’s a unique way for short filmmakers to get money for their films.”

The festival’s inspiration came from the tradition of busking — street performing — in train stations, Bingham said.

“We wanted to busk with short films in the subway and see what happens in this experiment…we have no idea what’s going to happen,” he said.

And to spice up the mix of screening options, Bingham's group has dug up treasures like "fantastic 1980's commercials from the MTA" and films of the future 2nd Avenue line's tunnel construction, he said.

"We use the subway every day but most people don’t know much about it," Bingham said. "We want to expand people's experience there."

More details on how to submit a film can be found on the Cinebeasts website.