Cinephiles can celebrate New Year’s Eve their own way, as First Night Boston offers plenty of film programming as part of its all-day festivities on Dec. 31.
The Festival of International Short Films, a collection of recent family-friendly films from around the globe curated by the Museum of Fine Arts film department, screens at the MFA in one-hour increments at noon, 1:15 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:45 p.m. Admission to all screenings is free with a First Night button.
For the first time, the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square will be a part of the annual First Night celebration, now in its 37th year. First Night button-holders are invited on Dec. 31 to attend a free double feature, with the Hollywood classics “The Thin Man” (2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and “After the Thin Man” (4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.). And it’s the gift that keeps giving: Viewers will get a special discount on tickets for the month of January just by showing their First Night button at the box office.
Back across the river, First Night also hosts the “Magic Lantern Picture Show” at the Hynes Convention Center, Hall C, 1-6 p.m. This program for all ages is a trip back to the wonder of early motion pictures, featuring whimsical shorts and animated photoplays.
The Roxbury International Film Festival, New England’s largest film festival dedicated to works by and about people of color, again teams with First Night to present a film program at the Hynes Convention Center, Room 200, 7-10 p.m. Curated by the Color of Film Collaborative and ACT Roxbury, the slate includes the acclaimed documentary “The Contradictions of Fair Hope,” coproduced and codirected by Rockell Metcalf and Emmy-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, “The Contradictions of Fair Hope” tells the story of the Fair Hope Benevolent Society in Alabama, one of the last surviving examples of the benevolent societies founded just after Emancipation by freed slaves across the South. The film screened, with Merkerson on hand, at the RIFF in June.
For the first time, the Brattle Theatre will be a part of the annual First Night celebration, now in its 37th year.
Several short films also make up the RIFF program. Two animated shorts, “Murgi Keno Mutant,” about killer mutant chickens, and “The Mark,” about a young girl bullied by classmates, will be screened along with the narrative shorts “The Gift,” about a man at a spiritual crossroads, and “Listen,” about a biracial girl’s coming of age.
One of First Night’s most popular film events is the New England Anime Society’s program of Japanese animation. The society, which organizes Anime Boston, one of the largest anime conventions in North America, returns to the Hynes Convention Center, Room 312, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Once you get some sleep, you can return to the Brattle for New Year’s Day. The theater continues its own holiday tradition with the Marx Brothers, screened in 35mm prints. What better way to kick off 2013 than with Groucho, Harpo, and Chico? The Brattle’s marathon includes “Animal Crackers” (noon and 7:15 p.m.), “Horse Feathers” (2 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.), “Room Service (3:30 p.m.), “Monkey Business” (4:30 p.m.), and “A Night at the Opera” (5:15 p.m.).
Loren King can be reached at