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by Cristina Cacioppo, Director of Programming
photos by Edwina Hay

With another great festival transpiring, the whole Nitehawk team are sharing stories about the filmmakers and attendees that we encountered over the past week. We’re always pleased to hear such warm feedback about the programs and conversations, something we look forward to as we plot out the festival, from the moment we start watching submissions to when the doors to the theater open.

Opening Nite Party

This year we had sixty films, 60% of which were directed by women and non-binary people. Throughout the seven programs presented there were NYC set films, animation, documentary and narrative, and some that traversed several genres.

For the second year in a row we commissioned a festival bumper, this time from NSF alum Kelly Schiesswohl, whose innovative animation piece TRICHOTILLOMANIA! blew us away in 2022.

This year our main jury includes Lio Mehiel (Mutt), Katja Blichfeld (High Maintenance) and Kia Brooks (The Gotham Film & Media Institute), who selected the boldly playful short Dilating for Maximum Results by Nyala Moon. Jaleel Bunton (TV on the Radio) selected our Music Driven winner, the hilarious boy band send-up Fanatic by Taran Killam, and Clyde Folley (editor/programmer, The Criterion Channel) served as our Midnite program judge, landing on the also-Audience Winner Krush the Wrestler by Alex Megaro. Full list of prizes and winners included below.


Nyala Moon, Jury Prize Winner for DILATING FOR MAXIMUM RESULTS

As always, we’re grateful for the whole Nitehawk team for all of their efforts in bringing the festival to life – our bar team who come up with thematic cocktails for the parties, our server and runner staff who take care of the audience, our projectionists and content manager who juggle many formats; to our sponsors MUBI and Heard City for support as well as all of the prize sponsors.

Ana Fabrega, star of GOLD AND MUD, next to director Conor Dooley

Prize Winners
Jury Prize
Dilating For Maximum Results / Nyala Moon


FANATIC / Taran Killam

Krush the Wrestler / Alex Megaro

New Filmmaker Award

Terminally Ill / Chris Cole

Future of Films is Female Prize

Eli, Briefly / Celine Sutter

Audience Award: Opening Nite

Terminally Ill / Chris Cole

Audience Award: Music Driven

Peace Mantra / Vango Jones

Audience Award: Midnite

Krush the Wrestler / Alex Megaro

Audience Award: Matinee One

Confessions / Stephanie Kaznocha

Audience Award: Matinee Two

Flutz / Ryan McCown

Audience Award: NoBudge

Call Me Mommy / Haley Alea Erickson & Taylor Washington

Audience Award: Closing Nite
Goldilocks / Meryl Jones




by Cristina Cacioppo, Director of Programming

We’re all still smiling in the days following this year’s Shorts Festival. Back towards the end of 2022, as we were digging into the 500+ submissions we received, Desmond, John and I knew it was going to be challenging narrowing it down to the 60ish films we would ultimately include. We spent a lot of time piecing each program together, viewing all on our big screens. So when we finally found ourselves prepping for Opening Nite, we felt confident that the audience and the filmmakers would be happy with what awaited them.

One new addition to this year’s festival also made its big screen debut. Looking to engage past filmmakers of the festival, we commissioned an original bumper to open each show of the festival. We tapped filmmaker Leah Shore, who had both animated and live action pieces in the 2022 festival (Launch and Puss). The concept: I asked my father to pitch a short film and Leah used the audio, cutting it down and animating it to bring the vision to life. Leah’s work knocked us all out – they created something hilarious and unique in the short 1.5 minutes run time. The audiences really got a kick out of it, and it was the perfect way to introduce each program.


Cristina Cacioppo and Leah Shore

Over seven shows to almost all full houses, we watched each program play to laughs, tears and applause. Many filmmakers attended, some NYC based, others traveling in. On Opening Nite we were giddy with excitement when we realized the cast of The Singles Retreat – a World Premiere by Jo Firestone – were all in attendance. As I said in my introduction to the program, we spend months watching these films, so when we meet the filmmakers and the cast, sometimes we get starstruck. This was definitely the case with The Singles Retreat, a charming comedy about seniors on a weekend trip with romantic potential. (I had also recognized one of the actresses, Bibi Elvers, in David Byrnes’s 1986 film True Stories when we showed it in January).

Jo Firestone and the cast of The Singles Retreat

The Q&As with filmmakers following each show gave insight into the films, providing an opportunity to learn more about the origins of the work, challenges of producing on a small budget, and how casts and directors worked together. It was an amusing surprise to hear from director Alex Spott that her film No Other Gods But Me was based on her realization early in her religious upbringing that the figure of Jesus was kind of a hot guy.

With parties for both Opening and Closing Nite, we had complimentary cocktails courtesy of Campari, named after a few of the shorts (The Singles Retreat, Super Happy and Hang Out 2Day) with DJs spinning records and our signature Queso fountain flowing.

The Closing Nite party was also the chance for us to announce our prize winners. Jury members programmer/writer Monica Castillo, Factory25 distributor Matt Grady and filmmaker Amber Schaefer made up the main jury, with entertainment lawyer Alex Threadgold awarding the Music Driven prize and actress Jessica Pimentel selecting the Midnite winner. A full list of winners and prizes can be found here.

Rebecca Rajadnya learning she won the Jury Prize for her film Balikbayan

Tij D’oyen, winner of the Midnite prize for his film Lollygag, with programmer Desmond Thorne

We’re grateful for the whole Nitehawk team for all of their efforts in bringing the festival to life; to our sponsors MUBI and Heard City for support as well as all of the prize sponsors. And of course we feel so lucky to have gotten to know these filmmakers – we can’t wait to see what they do next!

Movie Marquee Poems Continue

Earlier this year, Saint Flashlight relaunched a new round of Movie Marquee Poems at Nitehawk Prospect Park, and they’ve continued through the summer with both haikus about movie genres and rhymed couplets about specific films.

About Saint Flashlight:
Saint Flashlight is the creative duo of Molly Gross and Drew Pisarra, two lifelong friends and poets currently devoted to placing verse in unexpected public spaces. Their work has been seen at O, Miami Poetry Festival, Free Verse: Charleston Poetry Festival, Capturing Fire – International Queer Poetry Summit and Slam, and Poets House in NYC among the places. See more photos on their Facebook page.

Volume 11

Essayist and poet Mare Davis lives with her wife, painter Monica Shinn, in Providence, R.I., and also spends as much time as possible at a house she shares with friends in the Occitanie region of France.

Name That Movie
aussie girl shows up at school
starts out weird but ends up cool

Volume 12
Aponi K is a Brooklyn-born poet who adores Afro-futurism.

Name That Movie
a vain rose and a prince
what could unfold from youthful bliss

Volume 13

Tania Asnes a.k.a. taz is a poet and actress residing in Ridgewood, Queens with her two black cats. Witchy.

Name That Movie
violins screeching
star killed off in the opening
suspense down the drain

Volume 14
Cathy Linh Che is the author of the poetry collection Split and works as Executive Director at Kundiman, a nonprofit that nurtures Asian American writers.

Name That Movie
in need of cash a sexy crew concocts a plan
to exploit a score of wall street businessmen

Volume 15
Saint Flashlight’s final movie marquee poem was a collaboration by the following poets: Purvi Shah adores sparkly eyeshadow, pecan pie, and raucous laughter, and is the author of Miracle Marks & Terrain Tracks; Troy Woodley will wear anyone out talking about comic books and podcasts, even you, Brooklyn.Name That Movie
clever detective
thwarts hate group with subterfuge
his afro stays tight

Movie Marquee Poems Returns

Earlier this year, Saint Flashlight relaunched a new round of Movie Marquee Poems at Nitehawk Prospect Park. We last did this during renovation of the theater, after the closing of The Pavilion. This updated version includes both haikus about movie genres and rhymed couplets about specific films. Special thanks to Deanna Nokes, Mascha Mareen, Liz Zimiles and the industrious crew at Nitehawk Prospect Park for helping to make this undertaking possible.

About Saint Flashlight:
Saint Flashlight is the creative duo of Molly Gross and Drew Pisarra, two lifelong friends and poets currently devoted to placing verse in unexpected public spaces. Their work has been seen at O, Miami Poetry Festival, Free Verse: Charleston Poetry Festival, Capturing Fire – International Queer Poetry Summit and Slam, and Poets House in NYC among the places.


Emmy Potter is a New York-based writer and actor with the charming neuroses of a blonde Nora Ephron protagonist and the interior design tastes of a Nancy Meyers movie.

klutzes fall in love
running down city sidewalks
tripping on meet Cutes

Name That Movie
this classic nora film begins
asking can men and women just be friends

Marcus Amaker is a karaoke singer, a Kate Bush fan, an electronic musician, a donut eater, a graphic designer and the poet laureate of Charleston, SC.

who’ll choose the actor
to portray your life on screen
for us to enjoy

Name That Movie
little was his ironic birth name
a civil rights leader who sparked big change

VOL 10
Jason Koo is the founder and executive director of Brooklyn Poets and author of the poetry collections More Than Mere Light, America’s Favorite Poem and Man on Extremely Small Island.

guy meets girl but guy
would rather hang with homey
it’s complicated

Name That Movie
unlikely Asian hero hang gliders
descend to better lives by downing sliders

The new Summer Menu at Nitehawk Cinema

Summer is officially here and the culinary team at Nitehawk Cinema, New York’s original dine-in theater, has crafted a new menu to cool you down and keep you buzzed.

Nitehawk Williamsburg’s Executive Chef Michael Franey elaborates on his favorite new menu item, the Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich: ”We’re always searching for how to take things that people are familiar with and present them in new and interesting ways. This summer, we challenged ourselves to remake a classic summer barbecue dish and make it vegan. We are shredding young jackfruit and sautéing that with miso, tomato paste and a Carolina style barbecue sauce with a lot of mustard. We top the sandwich with a lightly pickled peach to bring some sweetness and some vinegar bite to cut through the richness of the sauce and umami packed jackfruit.”

What better way to quench your thirst after a big helping of Vegan Pulled Pork than our new Ginger-Lime Slushie! Nitehawk Williamsburg’s Beverage Director Rob Giles explains: “We really wanted this drink to be reminiscent of the childhood frozen treat you had during the summer— except with the option of booze. Ginger is juiced fresh and blended with sugar and lime to create a refreshingly cold non-alcoholic beverage to slurp on during one of our movies. You do have the option of adding either Bourbon, Vodka, or Jamaican rum if you’re looking to party!”

Don’t worry carnivores, we’ve got you covered with our Brooklyn Cured Bratwurst, available at our Prospect Park location. Nitehawk Prospect Park Executive Chef Blessing Schuman-Strange states: ”We’re always looking to feature products from local producers. The brats from Brooklyn cured are made with sustainable meat from farms they trust, they are also wonderfully tender and buttery. We serve them in the classic german style; sliced over house made sauerkraut with cucumber-dill and german style potato-mustard salads. I think this dish is also a great example of the ways in which Nitehawk defies what you would expect from ‘movie theater food.’”

It has always been a priority of Nitehawk to work with local producers, and we are very excited to introduce our new Nitehawk and Brooklyn Winery Collaboration. Nitehawk Prospect Park Beverage Director Nick Dodge explains: “We made a special Grenache based red wine blend with Brooklyn Winery called Nitehawk Red Blend no. 2. It’s really great to be able to work with local producers and have some involvement in the production stage of some menu items. We made a bright juicy Côtes du Rhône style blend that is perfect for summer.

Our chefs also devised healthier alternatives for those looking to indulge in more mindful options while at the cinema. “The Stone Fruit Salad is a lovely balance of simplicity and sophistication. We start with the spicy/grassy arugula which is the perfect base for the sweetness of local stone fruit. We’ll be sourcing whatever stone fruit is at its peak as we move through the summer harvest season. The lightly pickled cherries bring in a nice hit of acid and it’s topped off with walnuts and Stilton cheese for a little bit of texture and richness” says Executive Chef Blessing Schuman-Strange.

Sweeten up any movie this spring by treating yourself to our new Watermelon Soft-Serve-Sorbet. Sorbet has always been a Nitehawk staple and we are excited to offer a soft serve sorbet for the first time. “It’s everything I want in a hot weather dessert; light, refreshing, and cold. Who doesn’t want a mouthful of frosty watermelon to fight off those dog days of summer? I’m also always happy when we are able to add another option for our dairy free/vegan guests” states Executive Chef Blessing Schuman-Strange.

Nitehawk’s Beverage Directors Nick Dodge and Rob Giles collaborated to elevate cocktail recipes and frozen drinks to showcase seasonal accents with bold fuisions. “We usually like to offer guests a mixture of signature and classic cocktails to provide them with a varied array of beverage options for all levels of experienced drinkers. The Negroni Bianco is a culmination of these two philosophies– a classic cocktail that is based on a familiar recipe, but that has been tweaked to compliment the longer days and hot summer nights. The base spirit used Barr Hill gin, an amazing product endemic to the Northeast region that used raw honey in the distillate, and a relatively new vermouth from Lustau that provides  floral and citrus notes that results in a lighter and more balanced cocktail” states Rob Giles from Nitehawk Williamsburg.

Nitehawk Cinema blossoms this season with a creative selection of food and drink items available at both Brooklyn locations. The lineup of new dishes and signature beverages includes:

  • The Mule (frozen)

    • Frozen ginger lime slushie with your choice of: Absolut Vodka, Hamilton Black Rum or Four Roses Bourbon

  • Donovan’s Reef

    • Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Four Roses Bourbon, pineapple, lime, cinnamon, Swedish Punsch Liqueur

  • Buddy Love

    • El Dorado (3 yr), Plantation Xaymaca, Black Bottle Scotch, cashew orgeat, lime juice, Combier Liqueur d’Orange, absinthe

  • Negroni Bianco

    • Barr Hill Gin, Lustau Bianco Vermouth, gentian liqueur, grapefruit bitters

  • Cool Breeze Over the Mountains

    • Suntory Whisky Toki, barley, lemon oil, shiso, sparkling water

  • Montauk Watermelon Session IPA

  • Blackberry Farm Classic Belgian-Style Ale

  • Shacksbury Dry Rosé Cider

  • Brooklyn Winery x Nitehawk Red No.2, NY

    • Grenache based Côtes du Rhône style blend, medium body with bright spiced fruit

  • Lamb and Beef Skewers (available at Williamsburg)

    • Cucumber, marinated heirloom cherry tomatoes, mint yogurt sauce

  • Nashville Hot Popcorn Chicken

    • Popcorn chicken, Bread and Butter pickles with a side of ranch

  • Vegan Pulled Pork (available at Williamsburg)

    • Jackfruit, pickled peaches, Carolina style BBQ sauce, kaiser roll, hand cut fries or house salad

  • Lobster Roll

    • Meyer lemon aioli, tarragon, Old Bay, sweet Hawaiian bun, hand cut fries or salad

  • Stone Fruit Salad

    • Seasonal stone fruit, arugula, frisée, Stilton, pickled cherries, walnut vinaigrette

  • Brooklyn Cured Bratwurst (available at Prospect Park)

    • Cucumber-dill salad, mustard new potatoes, house-made sauerkraut