BY Georgette Gilmore | Tuesday, Jun 09, 2015 1:30pm
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Dig out your tie dye and bell bottoms and join others for a celebration of the 60’s at Montclair Film Festival’s next outdoor, free summer film on Friday nigh at Van Vleck House & Gardens—Festival Express!
Festival Express is a 2003 documentary film about the 1970 train tour of the same name across Canada taken by some of North America’s most popular rock bands, including Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.
Bring your chairs, blankets and picnics and go early for a live performance by Parent’s Who Rock’s Blastaways beginning at 8 pm.
Montclair Film Festival Summer Series: Festival Express
Friday, June 12. Live music by Blastaways at 8 pm / film at 9 pm
Van Vleck House & Gardens, 21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair, NJ, 07043
And mark your calendars for the other great films in the series this summer:
BY Georgette Gilmore | Tuesday, May 26, 2015 12:00pm
It’s (unofficially) summer and the Montclair Film Festival Summer Series kicks off this Friday with an outdoor screening of Little Shop of Horrors!
Pack up your blankets, chairs and picnics and go enjoy the fun 1986 musical horror/comedy film directed by Frank Oz starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, and Levi Stubbs as the voice of Audrey II—the singing plant.
BY James Feinberg | Monday, May 11, 2015 8:09pm
A look at two films from the 10th and final day of the Montclair Film Festival:
It’s easy to see why any festival (or moviegoer) might snap up Dito Montiel’s Boulevard — it’s one of the last films to star Robin Williams, who died in August. Williams is a welcome presence, actually, and it’s somehow comforting to spend more time with him no matter what he’s doing, but this film is not within his comfort zone, nor is it a particularly good film. Williams plays a Nashville banker who gets caught up in an affair with a young male prostitute, while trying to juggle his stoic wife (Kathy Baker), his inquisitive best friend (Bob Odenkirk), and his near-comatose father. The premise could make for a dark exploration of the underside of repressed sexuality, but the style of filmmaking is distancing and impersonal, which clashes with the deep likability of Williams and Odenkirk. The script, unworthy of Williams’ unsurpassed delivery, is borderline comatose itself.
BY Announcement | Monday, May 11, 2015 3:08pm
The 2015 Montclair Film Festival (MFF) today announced the festival’s inaugural Audience Award winners. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me And Earl And The Dying Girl took top honors in the Narrative Feature category, Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson’s Peace Officer won the Documentary Feature category, Shonali Bose’s Margarita, With A Straw won the audience prize for World Cinema, and Joshua Seftel’s The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano taking home top audience honors in the Short Film category.
“We are so happy to see the overwhelmingly positive response of our audiences to the films in this year’s festival,” said MFF Executive Director Tom Hall. “As a programmer, there is nothing more satisfying than watching audiences, filmmakers, and films discover one another. This year’s Audience Award winners prove the depth and vitality of the art of film and its continuing power to forge a meaningful connection among artists and audiences.”
Congratulations to the winners of The 2015 Montclair Film Festival Audience Awards: Continue Reading
BY James Feinberg | Sunday, May 10, 2015 4:30pm
The most notable part of this documentary on young Olympic ping-pong hopefuls in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games was not the incredible facility of the players—though, thanks to excellent slow-motion photography, that part was fun to watch. Most fascinating was the way in which co-directors Sara Newens and Mina T. Son rendered the humanity of her three stars—all high school students under the age of eighteen—and made us cheerleaders in their rapid rise through the ranks of national competitive play. In the tenser scenes near the end the audience was palpably on edge, and their were audible sighs of relief or groans at exciting moments during some of the later games. But the truly touching—and exceedingly well-filmed—moments were when Newens and Son exposed, with a well-timed shot, the depth of the rivalry between two players, or caught another just as the pressure was beginning to overwhelm him. The editing of this film is three years in the making, and it shows. Continue Reading
BY Liz George, Rob Marzulli | Sunday, May 10, 2015 2:47pm
You couldn’t walk away from last Friday’s Montclair Film Festival screening of “Mavis!” at the Wellmont Theater not loving gospel/soul icon Mavis Staples. This uplifting documentary by Jessica Edwards follows the 75-year-old legendary singer from her humble beginnings in Chicago as a gospel singer with her father, brother and sisters in the 1950s through the group’s folk and civil rights anthems (“Why Am I Treated So Bad,” “Respect Yourself”) and pop hits (“I’ll Take You There,” “Let’s Do It Again”) and up to her Grammy-winning album You Are Not Alone in 2010 with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.
Plenty of archival footage from the 1950s, civil rights era, 1970s and beyond, commentary from Mavis and her sister Yvonne — punctuated by interviews with Bob Dylan, Chuck D, Julian Bond, Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Tweedy and others—provide an entertaining chronicle of an eclectic career spanning more than 60 years. More than just a parade of talking heads, “Mavis!” gives the audience a great feel for its subject. Lots of footage of Tweedy and Mavis collaborating on their recent release One True Vine show Staples as vital and engaging.
Much of the film focuses on Roebuck “Pops” Staples, father to Mavis, friend to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and creative force behind the Staple Singers. Born in 1914 in Winona, Mississippi, “Pops” was the youngest of 14 children and cut his teeth playing blues guitar with Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson. Although the Staple Singers—Pops, and his children Cleotha, Yvonne, Purvis and Mavis—first came on to the local Chicago music scene strictly as gospel singers, you see the blues influence in their later work. Nevertheless “Pops” had his limits as shown in the movie by his reluctance to record “Let’s Do It Again” in 1975 due to the song’s suggestive lyrics—written by Curtis Mayfield, childhood friend to the Staples children. He green lighted the song, which became a chart topper. Continue Reading
Saturday, May 09, 2015 9:42pm
Tonight, Montclair Film Festival handed out jury prizes for the first time at at a ceremony at the Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School, including awards named in memory for Montclair residents journalist David Carr and documentary filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky.
Winner of the narrative feature competiton was Fidelio: Alice’s Odyssey, directed by Lucie Borleteau. The narrative competition jury also awarded a special jury prize to for storytelling to Yury Bykov’s The Fool.
The Carr award “for truth in non-fiction filmmaking,” went to Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson’s Peace Officer. The award, presented by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a longtime friend and colleague of Carr, honors a filmmaker who uses journalistic techniques to explore important contemporary subjects.
The Bruce Sinofsky Prize in the festival’s Documentary Feature competition went to The Russian Woodpecker, directed by Chad Gracia. This award was presented by Sinofsky’s long time friend and collaborator Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost I, II, AND III).
Elise DuRant’s Eden won the Future/Now prize, honoring emerging low-budget American independent filmmaking, and Marah Strauch’s Sunshine Superman took home the New Jersey Films award. The junior jury prize went to Alexandra Shiva’s documentary How to Dance In Ohio.
“We’re thrilled to be launching these awards for our fourth installment, and to honor the diverse group of talented filmmakers,” said MFF founder and Chairman Bob Feinberg. “This has been a significant year for us and it truly exemplifies the festival’s impact and growth, as we continue to lay the groundwork for many more successful years ahead.”
“This year’s festival featured over 135 films and we are incredibly proud of each and every one of our filmmakers. These inaugural awards represent the best of what our festival can offer – global stories that have an intimate, connection to our audiences and help Montclair connect to the world of cinema,”said MFF Executive Director Tom Hall.
BY Baristanet Staff | Saturday, May 09, 2015 6:40pm
There’s no place like home, especially when it’s a permanent home for the Montclair Film Festival.
Investors Bank and The Montclair Film Festival (MFF) have announced that Investors Bank will donate the building located at 505 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, to the MFF. The building will be named the “Investors Bank Film & Media Center,” and will be developed into a permanent home for the film festival’s expanding year-round programs, events, educational offerings, and administrative offices. Continue Reading
BY Liz George | Saturday, May 09, 2015 12:35pm
Photo: Neil Grabowsky/Montclair Film Festival
The chance to hear Yo La Tengo may have brought many fans to the Wellmont Theater on Thursday night to catch “The Lovesong of R. Buckminster Fuller,” but viewers come away with a new hero in Fuller, brought to life by Sam Green, director and narrator of the live documentary, a follow-up to his internationally-acclaimed 2010 live film Utopia in Four Movements. Continue Reading
BY Rob Marzulli | Thursday, May 07, 2015 3:30pm
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Moviegoers were treated to a fascinating look at the High Priestess of Soul Wednesday night during the Montclair Film Festival’s screening of “What Happened, Miss Simone?” The documentary by acclaimed director Liz Garbus (Bobby Fischer Against the World and Love, Marilyn looks at the career of Nina Simone, the sultry voiced jazz, folk, and pop artist who went from a popular musician to a radical political activist during the 1960s. Continue Reading