BY Liz George | Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 3:06pm
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Darlene Love performs at opening night of Montclair Film Festival 2013. Photo: Montclair Film Festival
Montclair Film Festival started its first night of the 2013 Festival on a joyous high note — both from a screening of the film “Twenty Feet From Stardom” and an ebullient performance of “Lean on Me” by the incomparable Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love
, at Montclair State’s Kasser Theater.
As “Twenty Feet” director Morgan Neville tells it (in a Q & A following the screening, joined by Love and Montclair Film Festival’s Thom Powers) former A&M Records’ Gil Friesen smoked a joint before going to a Leonard Cohen concert and found himself transfixed, not by the headliner, but by the backup singers.
“He woke up the next day wondering ‘What’s their story?’” recalls Neville, who adds that Friesen, the force behind the film who sadly passed away before its premiere, said the resulting documentary was the “most expensive joint he ever smoked.”
You know their voices, but Twenty Feet from Stardom put you in touch with the names, faces and stories of backup singers responsible for creating some of music’s most incredible moments. Exploring both the history (with ample help from music historian Warren Zanes, because as Neville points out, “There was no map for this film. It was even hard to find articles about back up singers”) and the lives of backup singers, the film showcases Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, Judith Hill and Claudia Lennear. Many of these women are now finding their own spotlight. Continue Reading
Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 1:18pm
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Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media will present its annual student-produced short film showcase at the Montclair Film Festival.
“NJ Shorts: New Visions from MSU” – will take place on Friday, May 3rd at 7:00pm at the Bellevue Cinema 4 Theater in Montclair. Tickets to this event are $12.50 and can be purchased through the Montclair Film Festival website. From the MSU website:
“NJ Shorts: New Visions from MSU” is comprised of nine of the top short films created by students from Montclair State University’s Filmmaking BFA Program over the last year. This eclectic and impressive collection of films runs the gamut from a ‘neo-silent’ black comedy to two films dealing with children enduring the heartache of parental alcoholism and an endearing story about an elderly couple renewing lost love. Although the films’ creators are college students and recent graduates, the films are deeply compelling and possess first-rate production values of the highest caliber.
BY Christina Gillham | Friday, Apr 26, 2013 10:30am
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Growing up in Clark, N.J., Theresa Loong knew little about her Malaysian-born father’s past. Then she discovered a diary he kept while a POW in Japan during the second world war. Continue Reading
BY Christina Gillham | Friday, Apr 19, 2013 10:30am
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Like many other parts of Brooklyn, Coney Island is undergoing a massive change. What was once a quirky summer hangout for New Yorkers to soak up some sun, grab a Nathan’s Famous and hop on the Cyclone has now fallen prey to developers, who plan to open up the spot to national chains like Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Applebee’s, hotels and pricey condominiums.
Filmmaker Amy Nicholson explores this impending transformation and the effect it has had on the locals in her film, Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride, showing at the Montclair Film Festival this year.
The film centers on small-time ride operator Eddie Miranda, who grew up in the neighborhood. Eddie is the proud owner and operator of a ride called the Zipper in Coney Island’s gritty amusement district. The guys who work for him have names like Larry, Jerry, Joey and Don and, like Eddie, their lives revolve around the amusement park and the Zipper.
BY Baristanet Staff | Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 10:13am
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Montclair is known for its diversity and at this year’s Montclair Film Festival, “I Am Montclair” a short film about an amazingly diverse group of people living in Montclair — people with and without disabilities, advocates, families, and caregivers — tells an important story about Montclair, extraordinary people with exceptional stories, and the quest for a more integrated community.
The Montclair Township Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities doesn’t usually get involved with picking camera angles, scouting film locations and organizing film cameos by, to name just a few, Mayor Jackson, local students, a teacher’s assistant at the YMCA and local entrepreneurs like Alma Schneider and Baristanet’s Liz George.
But that’s just what members of the Committee did last summer. Directed by Montclair resident, Nadine Licostie, and produced by RedThread Productions and fellow Montclairian and Committee member, Lily Vakili, “I Am Montclair” is a disability awareness project that features personal interviews with an amazingly diverse group of people living in Montclair.
“The film was born out of the Committee’s interest in helping the broader community better understand what disability means and that, with education, familiarity and compassion, we can each choose to create a more integrated and supportive community,” says Vakili. Continue Reading
BY Georgette Gilmore | Wednesday, Apr 17, 2013 5:00pm
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“There are TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE in the greater New York City area. So why is it so hard to find someone you like?”
So asks the romantic comedy Twenty Million People, which will screen at the Montclair Film Festival on May 4 at 9:15 pm and is described by MFF as:
Brian is a cynical Jersey City barista who mocks the idea of happily-ever-after relationships. Then he falls for Ashley, a stand-up comic, and becomes obsessed when she disappears. The winning cast of newcomers, working on a shoestring budget, exemplifies the strong heartbeat of independent comedy in New Jersey.
A romantic comedy about a barista in my hometown of Jersey City—Twenty Million People has my name all over it!
BY Baristanet Staff | Tuesday, Apr 16, 2013 7:59am
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Get them while they last!
Kids upset because you didn’t get tickets to “Cinderella?” Were you disappointed because you thought you’d missed your chance to see “In A World?”
No problem–if you act fast, you can still buy tickets to those films, plus all these.
BY Georgette Gilmore | Wednesday, Apr 10, 2013 4:30pm
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Despite being knee-deep in the Montclair Film Festival, which debuts its second year on April 29, Raphaela Neihausen, made time to have coffee with me at Red Eye Cafe this week.
Raphaela Neihausen is one half of the festival director team, along with her husband Thom Powers. Born in New York, raised in Toronto, traveled the world, back to New York and now in Montclair—Raphaela is happy to call our town her home with Thom and their three year old son Bez.
Talking to Raphaela, you start feeling as if she’s an old friend—a BFF you’ve known forever. She’s warm, charming, and funny. And I found it difficult to focus on interview questions, instead of just chatting like two friends over coffee. But I managed to get some questions in.
BY Announcement | Monday, Apr 08, 2013 12:30pm
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What a difference a year makes. Last year, Alexandra Gibson, a 2008 graduate of Bloomfield High School, was embarking on her own film project “Guest of a Nation,” a film short based on a story by Frank O’Connor, set during the Irish War of Independence. Gibson first came across O’Connor’s story in a philosophy class at Bloomfield High School. She later wrote the screenplay for a college class and was encouraged by her Temple University professor to turn it into a film after getting help from an IndieGoGo campaign.
Gibson recently learned Guests of a Nation was accepted into the 2013 Montclair Film Festival and will be screened on Friday, May 3rd at the Clairidge as part of NJ Shorts: The Unexpected.
Guests depicts the unlikely friendship of four men living in a secluded farmhouse during the war. Two of the men, Bonaparte and Noble, are members of the IRA and have spent their entire lives in the midst of Irish conflicts and plight. Hawkins and Belcher are British soldiers, taken prisoner and guarded in the farmhouse. Despite the war raging outside, the four become friends over late-night poker games and religious debates. The real world, however, cannot be ignored forever. One night, Bonaparte is ordered to assist in the execution of his British captives. He and Noble are forced to choose between loyalty to their country and loyalty to those they no longer consider enemies. Continue Reading
BY Liz George | Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 12:01pm
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The big news about the 2013 Montclair Film Festival (April 29 – May 5) is that it’s bigger and better, with more than 80 films and events, nearly doubling in size from last year’s premiere event and featuring over 100 special guests including Darlene Love (Twenty Feet From Stardom); Lake Bell (In a World…), plus in-depth live conversations with Ice-T, Alex Gibney and yes, Michael Moore.
Artistic director Thom Powers shared some of the hot tickets for this year’s festival, including the opening night event Twenty Feet From Stardom, a film about backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of all time (Director Morgan Neville and Darlene Love will be Opening Night’s special guests) that had Sundance buzzing, as well as the closing night selection of Concussion, about a suburban lesbian mom seeking new thrills, directed by Montclair resident Stacie Passon. Powers calls Concussion, “a funny, sexy, provocative film that will save marriages — and maybe break up a few!”
The festival Centerpiece on May 4 is In a World…, a comedy about movie-trailer voice-over artists, with writer/director/star Lake Bell in person. Rapper and TV star (“Law and Order SVU”) Ice-T will appear at a screening of the documentary he produced, Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp on May 4 and at an “In Conversation” event on May 5. All four films are making their New Jersey premieres.
Two other “In Conversation” events round out the program on May 5. The New York Times’ David Carr and acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side; We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks) discuss “Getting the Story,” and Michael Moore leads a discussion with other filmmakers on “Dangerous Docs.”
“We set out to curate a festival that is unique to this community,” says Powers. “Montclair and northern New Jersey are home to many media professionals from the fields of news, music, comedy and family entertainment. We’re fortunate to tap accomplished locals to participate and have them as an influential audience.”
Powers wil give film enthusiasts the back story on this year’s festival tonight at Montclair Art Museum’s Free First Thursday event, with a behind the scenes of how the films are selected.
Other highlights of this year’s festival include: Continue Reading