A Matter of Perspective: This NYC Film Festival Brings to Life Narratives That Fit in Your Pocket

Let’s face it: living in New York City you’re at the center of it all. There’s passion, noise, crowds and a sense of excitement and frenetic energy that never stops.

There’s a reason NYC is the “city that never sleeps,” we never seem to unplug. Don’t believe me? Just stop—right now—and look around you. How many people are buried deep into their cell phones? If it's less than three, you're probably alone in the bathroom. 

Ever wonder what exactly is so fascinating about this gadget and why are we so addicted to the unending buzz driving it?

Historically, we have always absorbed our content horizontally, but recently we’ve seen a shift in culture and the way we consume content.

In our everyday lives, we are accustomed to watching real life footage in a vertical format. Social media channels such as Snapchat, Periscope, and Facebook Live offer us a different perspective in the way we capture and tell a story.

Which makes you wonder, what are the things we tend to focus on the most and what exactly do we take for granted?

Well, NYC’s Vertical Film Festival, Slim Cinema challenges creative artists to explore this vertical composition in an entirely different light. The concept behind Slim Cinema was created last year, but it didn’t fully come into fruition until January of this year.


Founder of Slim Cinema, Michael Liu unravels this mystery by empowering creators, filmmakers, and brands to tell stories for a mobile world.

“Most people don't see the way this format redefines the way we tell stories even though it's the same surface area. Imagine working with a canvas of the same space, but the way you tell the story has completely changed. Height, depth, and levels are all more prominent in this ratio,” Liu says.

Living in NYC, we’re in constant movement. Any visual imagery with a message such as ads and billboards have to grab our attention instantaneously.

The idea of Slim Cinema is constructed in the same context. Many of the visual artists who wish to embark on the vertical film experience have to showcase a unique and creative eye for storytelling.

This year’s Winter Vertical Film Festival will include 8 to 10 films chosen from the 30 submissions. Driven by an audience vote, the winner will get $2,000 cash.

Imagine working with a canvas of the same space, but the way you tell the story has completely changed. Height, depth, and levels are all more prominent in this ratio.

When it comes to choosing contestants, Liu explains that they are looking for the interesting use of space, the aspect of storytelling and the narrative of how it’s drawn out.

“We don’t have the luxury that other film festivals have in that they are able to choose from 500 submissions, yet it’s interesting to see how people all over the world are exploring this vertical format phenomenon. We have people from London, Ireland, Berlin, Czech Republic, and many other places sending us content.”


The young creative founder also disclosed on some pretty interesting films that will be featured this year, including an animation that ironically displays how dependent we are on our phones and a film that beautifully touches in 3 minutes a social issue.

Slim Cinema provides us with an authenticity that is sometimes missed in a 16x9 format.

For instance, Liu shares that for the first film festival they had this one film where a guy was having a conversation with a group of people, but that for the entire film the focus was directed towards one guy. The rest of the footage was just audio coming from whoever the guy was conversing with.

Now, I didn’t have the honor to be at this first film festival, but speaking to Liu I can only imagine how intense that footage probably was.


By focusing on the protagonist, the viewer is able to observe his facial expressions more clearly. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition because at the same time we’re also able to detect emotions with sound, from the group of people who are conversing with him in the background.

When you think about it, could this film have had the same effect or power if it had been played in a horizontal format? Probably not.

In a horizontal composition, we would have probably been distracted by all the leftover space or background behind the protagonist. In a vertical format, the viewer is able to direct their eyes and attention on the protagonist alone and nothing more.

“I think there’s this real intimate and raw feel to vertical video since we are conditioned to view this format mainly when we record our own memories on our phone. Horizontal is more polished and curated, where vertical instantly taps into a different perspective,” Liu adds.

The idea behind Slim Cinema is to provide another dimension for creativity. To allow visual artists to think outside the box while generating positive vibes for the public audience.

"Along with my co-founders Brian Pham & Ryan Persaud, we've assembled a strong team that has built our business and pushed the vertical movement further & quicker than we imagined. We're currently planning our next moves for 2017 and confident that it will push vertical video to another level," Liu says.

Currently, Slim Cinema has been working with Nike Jordan and they are working with other clients as well. They’re also thinking of pioneering with brands to tell their story through a vertical composition.

“We’re already used to creating home videos on our phones but we want to invite everyone to explore a creative realm that they're not used to. We want people to experience the art of film and seeing those narratives in a vertical format,” Liu says.


For this reason, Slim Cinema has created a festival not only for film, but music, live art, and curated art as well. 

This year’s installment will include curated and live art from local artists, and 2 DJ sets to lay in the soundtrack. There will also be an open-bar courtesy of CIROC & BRONX BREWERY and food provided by NYC’s own Bareburger.

Overall, Slim Cinema invites us to see the bigger picture and in finding significance in every frame of life. Just imagine, how many times we’ve missed the bigger picture living in NYC?

It’s all about shifting your perspective, sometimes even the smallest detail can provide tremendous insights.

Get Your Tickets for Slim Cinema Here! Use the Code "SPOILEDNYC" and Get 30% Off!

[Feature Image Courtesy Slim Cinema] 

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